Yixing (Kit. Yee-zhing) is located near Taihu Lake, Jiangsu Province of China. The small town and its surroundings have been famous for tea, deposits of a special type of clay, and pottery masters for thousands of years. Yixing clay is considered the best natural material for making ceramic teapots.
Yixing teapots are made completely by hand or using a potter’s wheel. Using self-made tools, masters make 5 main parts of teapots: the bottom, the lid, the spout and the handle, which are formed into one piece just before drying. All parts of the teapot should be made of the same clay, at the same time and with the same air temperature. Any variation of these rules contributes to the appearance of cracks in the finished products. Pottery making directly depends on the potter’s skill, that is why no two Yixing teapots are alike. Some masters decorate the surface of ceramic teapots with engraved seals, decorative painting, as well as calligraphic inscriptions.
Before firing the teapots were dried for two days. Since the clay can easily crack when fired, at the first stage the trays with teapots are placed at the edge of the stove and gradually moved deeper. The firing process takes about 18 to 24 hours.
Yixing clay is divided into two main types: white mud and mountain clay
White Yixing clay tea wares are of medium grade. Yixing clay is known as zisha (Chinese. Zisha. Purple clay or purple sand) is much more valuable than white clay.
The unique granular structure and rich mineral composition of purple yixing ts’ish clay allows it to retain heat in the kettle for a long time, and also mitigates temperature fluctuations of water, which can negatively affect the taste and aroma of the tea. Iron ore, kaolinite, quartz, mica that make up the tzuish make it heat resistant and resistant to damage. over, high quality Yixin clay absorbs odors inside the tea pot 3-6 times less than other clay products, which allows you to fully preserve the fragrance of tea.
In terms of composition, Yixing clay is classified into 2 types:
Natural Yixing clay with no impurities (kitsch). Qing Shui Ni)
Mixed Yixing clay with admixtures of different colors (kite. Pingni)
How a masterpiece is made
The clay is dug up and sent to the potter’s wheel? If it were that easy, Yixing teapots wouldn’t be a legend.
After extracting the clay from the mine, the clay is left outside for several months. During this time, under the influence of the sun and wind, it becomes suitable for further processing. The peculiarities of the material and design do not allow it to be processed on a potter’s wheel. After a long and technically demanding process of preparing the raw materials, the pieces are hand-assembled. The production takes several days. The craftsman cuts the prepared pieces of material and assembles the parts of the future teapot from them. This is painstaking work that requires special skills and craftsmanship. By the way, the final price of the product depends on the latter, that is, on the qualifications of the specialist.
In China, there is a multi-step system for evaluating ceramic artisans. You’ll have to learn the theory first, and then work for at least three years under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Only after that it might be possible to assemble a good teapot. To create a masterpiece for tea ceremonies, one has to study and practice for decades.
The finished products are fired in a kiln at high temperatures (up to 1,200 degrees). All thanks to its high kaolin content. The dishes are brittle, but very hard. It can also be distinguished by its peculiar, matte sheen.
Handmade teapots are often marked by the author with a personal seal (brand). As a rule, it is placed on the bottom of the teapot. The seal indicates the uniqueness of the item, but not always the quality. Particularly sensitive masters sometimes equip their product with a special passport with a personal signature. this is already an argument, since the author hardly wants to sign for a low-quality work.
How to prepare a kettle of Yixing clay
You have bought an xing clay teapot? Super! I sincerely congratulate you, because now your tea-drinking will become a little more interesting and deeper. But before you make tea in it, the kettle must be prepared. There is nothing complicated about it. I will share with you my own experience.
In pristine new teapots you can often find remnants of tiny quartz sand. That’s normal. It is sprinkled on the raw kettle before firing, so that the lid doesn’t stick to it. Remove those tiny grains of sand. I usually blow them out. Just please do it with your eyes closed.
After that, the teapots should be rinsed under a good stream of running water. I recommend carefully wiping it with a sponge and cleaning every nook and cranny of it. You will do this for the first and last time, because it is not recommended to wash the kettle with sponges or brushes for future use. And no detergents. Try to enjoy the process. Focus on what you are doing. At your fingertips. Let it be a little meditation for you. Somewhere around this point you should get a feeling of caring for your kettle. Save it.
Then take the pot. One so that the kettle is covered in water, and the lid fits side by side at the bottom. Do not put the lid on the edge. That way it can crack. Turn on the slowest fire you have and sit down nearby. Now you have forty quiet minutes in silence to do something for yourself. (For example, learn some new characters.).
In ten minutes the water will be murmuring. Look closely at your kettle. It will be covered in the tiniest of bubbles. Like champagne. That’s how the air comes out of the clay micropores.
At this point I add a few generous tablespoons of salt. The salt makes the water denser, tougher and disinfects it. I believe in salt! I like its simplicity and efficiency. Don’t be afraid to put too much salt in the kettle. Go ahead,!
Thirty minutes of boiling should be enough. But once again, I want to draw your attention to this. Do it on super-slow heat. So that your kettle doesn’t dance high. Good?
Then turn off the fire and let the water cool quietly. Take out the kettle, rinse it under running water and pour fresh water into the pot. At this point, you need to boil the kettle well in the brew. I know it sounds weird, but it’s tradition.
Take the brew. Anything. It can be even the simplest tea, it can even be a dry brew, or it can be something exquisite. It’s up to you. And, without sparing it, pour it into the pot. Sauté more. Don’t be embarrassed that it’s floating on top. Turn up the heat. After a few minutes the brew will settle.
The teapot should be steeped in brew for another forty minutes, and then allowed to cool to room temperature. It’s done to make the teapot soak up the brew and lose its irrelevant novelty. Boiling it in concentrated tea infusion will give it a little glossiness and tint it a bit.
You may not do any of the above. This is also an approach. And just rinse the kettle well and limit it to this. (I used to do this.). But in this case your brews will still have clay overtones for two or three months.
I assure you that after this simple and useful procedure you will feel a completely different attitude towards your new kettle. This is a Chinese experience. And it works.
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How to choose the right Isin clay teapot
Heavenly blue, mauve pearl, soaring fragrance, cool gold, green bronze What do you think it’s about? Sounds like the phrases from the lexicon of modern stylists, however, all these are the names of colors of Yixing teapots, which chronicle their history since the beginning of the 16th century.
Ceramics made of lilac sand. common name for objects made of three types of clay, red, purple and green, mined in Yixing, Jiangsu province.
The wide range of colors of Yixing ceramics comes from a combination of different factors, such as temperature and duration of firing, the original color of the clay or their mixtures. The clay area is extensive and contains different layers. The color of the clay is also due to the layer from which the clay is taken.
Summarizing the characteristics of Isin clay teapots, we can talk about their following features:
· Xing clay does not affect the taste and aroma of tea;
· However, it is able to absorb, memorize its fragrance;
· products can be easily washed with water, without the use of detergents;
· This clay retains heat well inside the teapot, preventing burns on its handle;
· unlike glass teapots, Yixing clay teapots are not afraid of sudden changes in temperature;
When choosing a kettle made of stoneware (a synonym of Yixing clay) one should pay attention to its functionality. Think about what kind of tea you will brew in it. Whether its characteristics, such as volume, height, neck width, strainer design, and so on, correlate with the characteristics of that tea. You need to take the object in your hands, assessing whether you are comfortable holding it. And, importantly, whether it resonates with you. The teapot is the only constant participant of all your tea-parties.
Let’s estimate its aesthetic characteristics: form (of which there are a great many), proportionality of details, surface texture, clay color, artistic elements.
Check if the lid is tightly pressed. Let’s pour water into the teapot, close the hole on the lid and try to drain it, if the teapot does not spill a drop, it indicates its tightness and ability to store the precious aroma of tea.
Now let’s open the hole on the lid and let the water flow freely out of the spout, so we can evaluate the stream, it should as if continue the kettle’s spout, resembling a smooth slightly curved glass arc.
You should not feel uncomfortable handling the object during all these manipulations. It is a good idea to check if the neck of the teapot is flush with the spout (not for all models). You can lightly tap the kettle and listen to how it sounds. The sound should be pleasant, ringing.
If after all the checks you can’t put the teapot back on the shelf, take it, it was waiting for you. You might even get the feeling that the teapot chose you over the other way round.
Isin clay teapots made by famous masters are a matter of art and collecting, but do not despair because of their cost and put off buying the item that will become the center of attention of your tea parties. Good-quality factory kettles are affordable and not without charm. Come to the stores of the Sea of Tea to find your teapot, and look at our online store: www.morechamag.Your kettle may be waiting for you there
About the Yixing clay teapots
Now we will talk about Yixing teapots. How to choose such a teapot, why this one, etc. д.
To begin with, I would like to say for beginners, why do you need such a small kettle, which is above in the photo. You put quite a lot of tea in it, and you don’t infuse it there for a long time, but spill it. Brewing tea in such a teapot takes only a few seconds, that’s why such a small pot is used. Traditionally, all Yixing teapots are small. The maximum volume of such a teapot is 300-350 ml.
What Yixing teapots are like
The shapes of Yixing teapots have remained the same as they were centuries ago, but there are so many that it is impossible to list them all. According to the illustrated catalog, dated the beginning of the 19th century, the variety of this unique teapot includes 20 classical forms. All of them are divided into four big groups:
As for the color, it can be any shade, ranging from yellow to deep black. How do masters achieve such a richness of halftones? For this purpose, different types of clay are mixed in certain proportions, adding various impurities: iron pyrite, metals, fired crocks, silicon dioxide, the mineral mica. Ceramics have a special tone thanks to the different temperature of firing. As for the surface of the dishes, it can be different: grainy like the peel of an orange, with distinctive small hollows and humps, fine-grained and carefully polished.
Quality tableware made of Jishe clay contains no harmful, toxic impurities, does not stain while in use, retains its original color. Glazed models are available for sale, but they are only for decorative purposes and are not suitable for making tea drinks. There are also decorated with silver, gold, inlaid with other precious metals. They can be used for their direct purpose, as decorative, but they are very expensive, they are considered to be the products of the elite class.
Teapot from Yixing clay how to tell the difference
Of all the huge mass of teapots for brewing Chinese tea, the lion’s share is made of Yixing clay. It’s logical to ask, “What are these teapots and what’s so special about them??”. That’s exactly what we’ll talk about today.
If we talk in general about the Chinese clay, then we can distinguish several main deposits. However, the most valuable, and therefore of interest is the one that is mined from the outskirts of the city of Yixing, Jiangsu Province. The deposits from this region are not only huge, but also have a different chemical composition. The quality of such material is excellent, it is very plastic, contains a high amount of iron oxides and kaolinite, after firing it acquires a porous structure, a certain lightness and strength. And this is not all the advantages of teapots made of Yixing clay.
A Little History.
The history of Yixing teapots goes far back in history and dates back to about 2,400 years. Т.е. The actual discovery of clay, its processing and the final production of wares dates back to the 5th century. up to n.э. Since the very beginning of their appearance teapots have become not just a utilitarian attribute of tea drinking, but often were the subject of aesthetic admiration and collection. The technique of execution, exactly as well as the final result was different and determined solely by stylistic preferences of the master. Someone took inspiration from the surrounding nature and created kettles in the shape of plants, fruits, flowers. Others turned to history and made teapots in the style of a bygone era, with elements of a bygone era. There were those who used mythical and divine symbols and attributes in their works. It was not uncommon for teapots to be shaped as free abstraction and geometry, a flight of fancy by craftsmen.
After the shape of the teapots was shaped, it was loaded into the Dragon Furnace for the final firing. So the shape was fixed, and the finished teapot was sent to Ningqing, the southern capital, a cultural concentration of connoisseurs of practicality and beauty. Very quickly, clay teapots took a high place in Chinese culture, along with painting, carving and calligraphy.
Yixing is now China’s ceramics capital. than a thousand craftsmen work and live in it. Many of them hold the title of “Great Masters”, their products can be seen in museums and at competitions. However, most of the work here are ordinary, simple potters who work hard day in and day out and make new dishes.
About Yixing Clay. Features and properties.
In brief and generalized, the Yixing clay can be divided into two groups according to its value: from the upper layers and the deep layers. And now let’s try to understand the nuances and details.
The clay from the surface layers is very soft. However, it is customary to make only “rough” utensils and other products. The cost of such products will be low, because the structure of the material has no valuable substances and minerals.
The clay from deeper layers is mined from 100 to 150 meters under the surface of the earth. It has a good composition, which was mentioned above. Once extracted, the fossilized clay is ground to a powder, water is added and reduced to a plasticine-like consistency. This is followed by maturation, which stabilizes and structures the composition. Some time ago this process could take up to 100 years. Today’s pace and the volume of crockery required do not allow the clay to mature, which affects its quantity and price accordingly. On this occasion, it is even said that clay reserves are rapidly depleting and becoming less and less in total mass each year.
All this clay boom and excitement gave a boost to another region of China, reviving the old pottery industry there. Nixing pottery (坭兴陶). We will talk about it a little further.
Returning to the topic of Yixing clay, I would like to say that in addition to age, an important aspect is the mineral composition. It is he who ultimately determines the color of Yixing clay. In spite of all the divisions and gradations, it has a generalized name, Zi Sha (紫砂). Translated, it means “purple sand.”. There are many kinds of it. It is not uncommon that these species are mixed with each other, thus obtaining new shades and colors.
If we talk about the detailed classification of Yixing clay, you need to take into account factors such as the depth of occurrence and its area, composition, fossilization, color and more. Let’s focus on the last point in this article, namely the color.
The gradation of tzu sha by color:
Each of these varieties also has a large number of shades and tones. An important aspect that determines the final color of the kettle is the temperature at which the firing is done. If we take one material and treat it with a temperature difference of 30-50 degrees, we will obtain different colors and shades. For example, if we treat it at 1170 degrees, we get golden brown,” says Liu Ni. At a temperature of 1200 degrees the output of the product will have a greenish-yellow hue. And at 1250 degrees we will see the blue color of the cookware.
About teapots. Artistic component and functionality.
So, we briefly reviewed the main points that are inherent in the material for making teapots. Now let’s move directly to the subject of our topic. I would like to point out that for the Yixing teapot two important directions are applicable, the artistic part and the functional features.
In terms of art, we want to divide the teapots into four types:
Utilitarian teapot. This is a simple and mass production. It is not uncommon to see the expression “stamping” applied to them. Usually it is the clay of mediocre quality, as well as often not the best final functionality of the teapot. The cost of such a product is quite cheap, teapots are available for the mass consumption segment.
A handmade teapot. Here already want to note a more beautiful, elegant design. A large number of forms, peculiarities and nuances, which contribute each master. It takes much more time to make one teapot, because there is a need for a final check of good, quality performance.
A special performance of a teapot. To this type we can refer finished products, which are made by masters of their craft, famous craftsmen. In such teapots there are no defects and unnecessary details. Aesthetics and functionality are of the highest level. This category is very valuable among collectors. The main features here are “rarity” and “exclusivity. Such teapots are not made the same way twice.
Ultimate craftsmanship. To this type of teapots could be attributed exclusive pieces of the best masters, titled potters. Often such items are bought not for making tea, but in order to exhibit them in a special place at home or in a museum, for example.
How to choose your first Yixing Zisha (purple clay) teapot? | Chinese gongfu brewing | ZhenTea
And now a bit about the functionality. It is usually closely related to the art part. The higher is the level of craftsmanship and production of the teapot, the higher is its functionality. What is meant by this word?? It’s simple. the ease of brewing, which includes both the elementary backlash of the lid, the thickness of the walls, the symmetry of the handle, cup and spout, and the quality of drainage.
All these nuances must be taken into account in order to use the utensils in the most productive way. So, for example, a strong backlash of the lid can contribute to the leakage of tea from under it. Not critical, but not exactly pleasant. Wall thickness and pouring speed depends on how much of the final infusion you get. The symmetry of all major parts affects the correct and quality performance of the vessel as a whole.
Choosing a kettle. Continuing on to functionality. About the main thing.
Probably the most important question that people often face when first approaching the choice of a teapot is “Which one to choose?”. First, let’s define the shape. Nowadays, there are a huge number of varieties. However, they can be segmented into 4 main groups:
Jin Wen Qi. Ribbed.
If we talk about shapes and functions, we can generalize about the types of tea that will be brewed in the teapot. For example, for Oolong tea from Taiwan or southern Fujian, cone-shaped or round teapots are the best. For “Guangdong” and “Wuishan,” elongated teapots with a wide, open neck are best. For kidney, fine-leaf teas it is best to use kettles with a short and wide spout. The shape here does not play a fundamental role.
So, after we understand what shape we want, we can move on to the next point. the thickness of the walls. Yes, that too can play an important role in brewing. For aged teas, shu puers, hei cha, aged sheng puers, red tea with a lot of leaves, oolong with a strong fermentation, the tea pots with thick walls are the best choice. They are able to retain heat well, which these teas are very fond of. The best way to uncover weakly fermented oolong, red kidney teas, as well as yellow tea is to use a kettle with a fast drain and a thin wall.
And the most important rule of choice. the kettle must first of all like you. Take it in your hand, see how comfortable and pleasant it feels. Pay attention to symmetry. Be sure to check how the lid is lapped, how the water drain works. Well, and trust your own taste. There will be other teapots in the future, and the first ones will remain a nice reminder of the beginning of the journey.
Nixing pottery as an alternative to Yixing pottery.
The city of Jinzhou today is named the southern capital of China’s ceramics production, following the town of Yixing. Development and growth of the fishery in the region has served tourism. It was he who revived the interest in the work of the local masters and triggered the revival of the local ceramic art.
So, let’s have a quick look at what this Nixing ceramics is and what it represents. First of all, right away we want to start with the material used for making these dishes. it’s a mixture of two clays from this region: white and red.
In the process of mixing these rocks, the composition is obtained with a fairly high percentage of aluminum, reaching about 15%. The figure is quite high, especially when you consider
Its compared to the Yixing materials, in which the percentage of the same aluminum varies in the range of 20%.
As for the porous structure and firing temperature, everything is almost the same here, as with the Yixing teapots, there are no strong differences. The only thing in which Nixing clay is inferior is the shrinkage. Its degree is much higher than that of tzu sha, so the variety of shapes of the products is greatly reduced. Can it be called a significant disadvantage. well, maybe. Though quite debatable.
The whole production of these teapots is made on a potter’s wheel, no gluing of parts, etc. Only handmade, only whole teapots.
Another nice feature of Nishin teapots is the unique color palette of the product. This happens because of the mixing of materials and the uneven access of oxygen in the firing process. All this creates a unique color range, which will not be repeated in any other teapot.
An equally nice factor of the Jinzhou teapots is their price. Compared with Yixing products, they are much cheaper. This happens because most of them are made in large factories, when in the process involves several people. Teapots with an exclusive copyright work are extremely rare here. However, this does not affect the quality and certainly not the brewed tea.
Here we have briefly dealt with another region for the production of ceramics, which today is gaining momentum and growth rates.
Features of Yixing teapots and care for them.
As mentioned earlier, the Yixing clay is porous. This is something to keep in mind when using them. What does it mean?? Such teapots tend to absorb in the walls of the tea that you brew. This is called the “wear and tear” of the kettle. On this occasion it is not recommended to brew different teas in the same pot, it may lead to mixing and distort the natural taste and aroma of the brewed tea.
Some Chinese masters even say that it is best to use a separate teapot for each variety. Most likely it is just a sales pitch and personal interest. Because the more you drink different teas, the more you need teapots. Simply brew puerh, oolong, and red teas separately, that’s all.
In terms of care for the kettle is not allowed to use chemical and synthetic detergents. Again, because of the structure of clay, which absorbs everything. Simply remove the brewed tea from the inside, rinse the outside and inside, put it to dry. If you need to remove plaque or stone from the water, you can use a clean brush and a little baking soda. After drying it is recommended to wipe the kettle with a linen or cotton towel.
In our store, which is located in the city of Chisinau, the more you drink tea, the more you need tea. Minsk, 28 Independence Avenue, you can always find your kettle. Also you can buy earthenware teapot by ordering in our online store with delivery by courier over the city of Chisinau. Minsk or by mail throughout Belarus.
What are Yixing teapots
There’s a town called Yixing in central China. There are deep mines around this city, where the Yixing clay is mined. It’s porous and it’s the perfect material for creating tea ceramics.
Yixing teapots. It’s a world where you can go and study it for years. I could talk about Yixing teapots for ages.
Yixing teapots are said to be optimal for brewing dark puerhs, puerhs, dark oolong. It’s a consumer tradition that has developed over the years, if not centuries. In China, it is customary for light oolongs to be brewed in faora, red and green teas. in glass, but puerh and dark oolong. in Yixing teapots.
Yixing teapots. is definitely a fetish, a tool for brewing tea, a work of art. It’s such a multi-dimensional area.
The cheapest Yixing teapot you can buy today should cost 15 yuan. The most expensive Yixing teapot I’ve ever seen in my life cost 385,000 yuan (that’s almost 4 million yuan).rubles!). For this money you can buy a good car. And such a teapot will be bought, it is not a showcase, not an example beyond common sense. This is a store that specializes in selling expensive Yixing teapots, worth 200-300 thousand yuan. There is a demand and a consumer for them.
In China, there are 100 of the best makers of Yixing teapots. Every craftsman wants to get on that list. It’s like getting on the Forbes list. Because if you are in such a list, it ensures a comfortable life for the craftsman and his next generations. Because their teapots are measured by a completely different price tag. These are teapots, which are worked on by skilled craftsmen who can make such teapots for 1-2 months, or even half a year. Everything is polished there, everything is aligned, there is just perfect geometry. You brew tea in it and get a perfect, long stream that does not crumble. It fits perfectly in your hand, it feels good to hold, it’s pleasing aesthetically.
Calling things by their proper names, it’s certainly a fetish, but it’s one area where a moment of exaggerated overvalue is possible.
How many teapots should a real Jedi have?
On the internet or among your tea acquaintances you might come across the opinion that every tea should have its own teapot. Over time, it really does. How it happens. A person buys his first Yixing clay teapot and starts to brew everything in it. This is something I encounter daily in my tea business. Our customers buy their first teapot and make tea in it. Then they get a second kettle. It’s only a question of time, but it will happen sooner or later. Then they start separating: the light teas are brewed in one, the dark teas are brewed in the other. in another. Then a third teapot comes along and then they brew light puerhs in one, dark puerhs. in another, and everyone else. in a third. Then comes a fourth, and so on. It’s an endless game until there are 20 of them, and then each teapot fits a particular kind of tea.
Yixing clay teapots (there is such a term, professional jargon) they are brought up, that is, as if they grow into the tea you brew in them. Over time, they become glossy, they get like a patina on. And in China you may encounter a situation, for example, when a lao shi teacher, shifu (in Chinese, a teacher) takes a student, trains him from the age of three kung fu and educates him up to the age of 18. And at graduation, when they say goodbye, the teacher gives the student a teapot and says, “I’ve been using this teapot since the day you and I started school.”. And this is such a nurtured and nurtured teapot, it has already changed its color five times. The student takes this teapot as a gift and it becomes something very important to him.
Isin clay teapot. it’s not just a tea brewing device. The Chinese give them a much larger and deeper meaning.
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