|A History of Tradition and Art |
county is considered the pottery capital of China, and is situated in
the southeastern province of Jiangsu. The region is renowned not only
for its yixing ware and green tea, but also for its countless artisans –
painters, poets, calligraphers and ceramicists – spanning the last 500
years. Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), yixing teapots have long been
acknowledged by tea connoisseurs as the best vessels for brewing teas.
|Unique Clay |
clay deposits from the region produce an array of textures and colors,
ranging from purple-brown, tan to deep, orange-reds. Because of the
porosity of the clay, the fragrance of the tea absorbs into the pot,
thus "seasoning" it over continual use. This contributes to the
enjoyment of the beverage, as each pot develops an essence of its own.
from the area’s craggy cliffs and painstakingly refined, this
remarkable clay is an achievement in both strength and delicacy. The
clay body is dense, lightweight and can retain intricate details in the
sculpt. Once fired, it undergoes little contraction, which minimizes the
loss of heat and aroma.
yixings were different from other ceramics in China not only in its
unique clay, but in the fact that they were not thrown on a wheel - they
were individually hand crafted. Unique variations flourished over time
in many workshops, and artists took pride in their work by signing each
pot they made with a chop, or seal. The tradition of signing started
during the Ming Dynasty, when potters were associating with scholars and
artists in this thriving region. This created a beautiful fusion of
sculpture, stone carving, calligraphy, poetry and art - all in this tiny
|Choosing a teapot and taking care of it |
there are two styles of pots – the decorative and the practical. The
decorative ones are generally used for display purposes. Sometimes, both
elements marry gracefully into one piece.
How can one know if a
practical yixing is of good quality? Aside from it being aesthetically
pleasing, there are many more factors to consider! The shape of the pot,
along with how smoothly the liquid pours, can affect the final outcome
of the tea being brewed. The lid should be a tight fit. Test this by
filling the yixing with plain water. While pouring, cover the tiny hole
on the lid with a finger; water flow should stop. When pouring, the flow
from the spout should be direct and precise - liquid should not be
dribbling onto the counter. Also, the interior of the teapot should have
a smooth finish, with no cracks.
Traditionally, a brand new pot
will often contain some fine clay residue, as well as a taste produced
by the final firing. Start by submerging a new yixing inside a larger
pot of simmering water for at least 20 minutes. Tea leaves can be added
to flavor the water. This will clean out the pores of the pot, enabling
it to “breathe” in the flavor of the tea.
Tea aficionados have a
dedicated pot for each type of tea, to keep the flavor consistent with
the seasoning. We recommend having a pot for each type of tea category –
be it oolongs, pu-erhs or black teas.
A yixing pot should never
be washed with soap; merely rinse out with cold water. Frequent use
seasons the teapots, giving more depth of fragrance to the tea being
prepared. The more tea brewed, the more luminous the vessel will become
over time. The Chinese aptly call this "yang hu", which means raising
the pot, so it can grow more beautifully in the years to come.