Yixing - Purple clay tea pots from Taihu, Jingsu province
Having a good tea is nice, but having a suitable teapot you will get out the up most of your leaves. Most commonly chinese tea is brewed in Yixing teapot, a kind of stoneware, made of a stone mix, which is digged of mines and burned in kilns resulting in mainly red tones, because of the high contents of iron.
Yixing describes actually a town, situated on Lake Tai in the est of China, a two hours trip from Shanghai. The clay itself called Yixing Zisha or Yixing purple clay and indeed Zini clay looks a bit purple or brown purple, where as Zhuni is a very red soil and Duanni, the third kind of Yixing clay, has a huge color range from yellow to nearly black.
Preparing tea in a Yixing teapot influences the taste of the brewed result, knowing the qualities of Yixing clay, leads to a controlled influence, i.e. young raw Pu-erh is naturally a bit bitter and astringent, those tastes can be cushioned by using a tea pot with more porous surface, Duanni or low fired Zini clay. If a tea is of more subtle nature, influences of the clay should be small as possible, either you go for a porcelain pot, like professional tea tasters use them for all tea making tea qualities comparable, or you use a more smooth surfaced pot like a high fired Zini or Zhuni clay teapot. Beside the influence of used material on the brewed tea, the shape of the teapot, has an influence, too. Luckily this influence is less significant, letting us more choice in selecting a suitable teapot, but a high profile is recommended for tea, which are compressed and need a higher pressure to release its taste, like rolled Oolong or dark tea cakes and bricks.
The history of Yixing teaware dates back to early Song dynasty, so around year 960 and continuously developed through Ming and Qing to contemporary craftsmanship and its techniques and shapes. Making a living from teapot is not the easiest choice, but enhancing and certifying your skills to national levels, is a common target. A Yixing craftsmen career path starts by following some masters to learn the masters specialties. During the learning, an own speciality is developed which is the basis to differentiate and for collecting certifications. Starting by provincial levels and continuing development to national levels.
Beside the clay, the craftsmen development stage, the way of producing a tea pot influences the brewed tea. Most Yixing teapots, especially affordable ones are made by putting forms together and closing the seam by elapsing with watery clay. This involves a lot of hand work, already but is not a fully hand made tea pot, which depending on craftsman level and used material is sold for at least 300 € each pot.
Smaller pots by Yan Liping
Medium pots by Yan Liping
Bigger pots by Yan Liping