If you are exploring the loose tea world and brewing in Gong Fu style. You must have heard of Yixing clay teapot.
A Yixing teapot is a teapot made from Yixing clay. Yixing clay is a type of clay that is found in the Jiangsu province of China. The clay is known for its ability to absorb the flavors of the tea that is brewed in it.
You have conducted your research and found loads of information. The different shapes, colors of the teapot makes you feel fascinating, but confused at the same time.
So how to choose the right Yixing clay teapot for yourself? In short there are four factors you should consider.
- Decide what material you want your teapot to be made from.
- Think about the shape of the teapot.
- Consider the size of the teapot.
- Consider how the teapot is made.
We will explain in detail in the following section. You’ll be sure to find the perfect Yixing teapot for you!
Decide what material you want your teapot to be made from
You’ve probably heard a Yixing clay teapot should only be used for one type of tea. So understanding which Yixing teapot is suited for your favorite tea is the key to answer of our question. We will introduce the common materials of Yixing teapot and their recommend teas for your reference below.
There are many types of clay used in Yixing teapots, the major ones are divided into 4 types: Zini (purple clay), Hongni (red clay), Duanni and Lvni (green clay). There are also some rare clay materials, such as black clay, colorful clay, black sand material, jasper sand, and so on, which are rarely used in the production of Yixing teapots. So we will not discuss them for now.
Each clay has different kiln temperature, molding temperature, sand concentration, crystallinity, and its own characteristics, making it suitable for different types of tea.
Zini is the most common type of clay used in Yixing teapots. It has the beautiful purple color, this type of clay has the ability to absorb the flavors and aromas of the tea leaves.
Zini is best suited for brewing light fermented tea, such as light roast oolong raw tea, yellow tea, and puerh.
Hongni is a red clay that is mined from deeper in the earth than Zini. It is located at the bottom of the tender clay and ore layer, with a trivial shape and a slightly lower kiln temperature, making it more suitable for making small teapots. That’s why a lot of small Xishi Yixing teapots are made from Hongni. The finished product is mainly red in color.
Hongni is highly crystalline and can quickly yield the aroma of tea leaves. It’s most suitable for the high aroma tea such as rock tea, puerh, oolong, Tieguanyin, etc.
It is produced in Tuan Mountain, the northern foot of the junction of Yellow Dragon Mountain and Green Dragon Mountain. This kind of clay is naturally mixed with Zini and Lvni of this mountain together.
After firing, Duanni shows bronze or yellow reddish color, is really elegant.
It is suitable for brewing a wide range of tea types, such as puerh tea, heavy fermented tea (black tea), oolong tea, green tea, red tea, etc.
Lvni, commonly known as “mung bean sand clay”, has the color of mung bean skin and is tantalizingly green. The teapots made from Lvni is elegant and simple. It is delicate and rich in granular beauty. The color of Lvni teapot is greenish-yellow and gradually turns into a warm and bright color after aging, with a good texture and easy brewing.
Lvni Yixing teapot is suitable for making teas such as light roasted oolong tea raw tea, medium roasted or heavy roasted Tieguanyin.
In fact, there is no rigid rule on what clay matches what tea. It is rather the experience summed up by people who feel that a certain combination can bring out the aroma of tea and achieve a relatively perfect harmony between “tea” and “pot”.
There is also a popular saying that the teapot should have the same color as the tea broth. It can be a simple rule to determine your teapot color.
Think about the shape of the teapot
What is the relationship between the shape of a Yixing teapot and the tea leaves?
Basically, a good Yixing teapot allows the tea to fully release its own aroma. So you need to first understand what kind of tea you like to drink. What are the characteristics of this tea, and what kind of environment is needed to unleash its fragrance. Then choose a suitable shape of teapot according to this characteristic, such as whether it is tall round, tall square, short square, or short round.
For example, if you like to make red tea. Since it is a fermented tea, it needs to be steeped at a high temperature to fully release the tea flavor and make it more sweet and mellow. Therefore you need to choose a tall body small spout teapot. And the tea leaves can be fully smothered in it. A short body large spout teapot is suitable for making unfermented tea.
If you like to brew ripe puerh tea, then you can choose a square shape teapot or a tall round large spout teapot. These teapots have large internal space, which helps to dissolve the stale flavor of puerh tea.
In addition, the teapot and the tea should be consistent in their charm.
For example, rock tea has a very tough impression to people. If you use feminine teapots such as Xishi and Mei Ren Jian (Beauty Shoulder) to brew rock tea, it is like putting ladies’ clothes on a man. But if you use a masculine teapot like Shi Piao, it will be a good match.
Last but not the least, a Yixing teapot will company you for a long time. So make sure to choose one that matches your aesthetic taste. There are hundreds of shapes of Yixing teapot. Each of them has the unique beautiful design. We will cover them in another post.
Consider the size of the teapot.
The capacity of a Yixing teapot can often be overlooked when choosing a teapot. But it is very important as it is so closely related to your daily tea drinking scenario.
According to the capacity, a Yixing teapot falls into small, medium and large pots category. They are suitable for different tea drinking scenarios, and you can choose as per your daily needs.
- Small teapot: 200cc or less, suitable for one person, to sip and enjoy a leisurely time.
- Medium teapot: 200cc~400cc, suitable for three or five friends to enjoy tea and talk.
- Large teapot: 400cc or more, suitable for small gatherings.
For those who often host tea sessions with friend, they often have three teapots at home. A small one for brewing tea, a medium one as a fair cup, and a large one for boiling water. And because one Yixing teapot serves only one tea, many friends like to taste different tea, so sometimes they buy even more teapots.
Consider how the teapot is made.
The price of a Yixing teapot is largely determined by its production process.
There are three processes of making Yixing teapots on the market.
- Fully handmade. (Price High)
- Semi handmade (Price Medium)
- Machine-made. (Price Low)
For the fully handmade teapots made by famous artists, the price is even beyond reach.
To choose the right Yixing teapot, you should consider your actual needs.
If you are collecting Yixing teapots, then you should choose a fully handmade teapot made by a famous artist.
If you are buying a Yixing teapot for your daily tea drinking, then just choose the right one for you according to your budget. From the tea drinking point of view, there is almost no significant difference between the three types of teapot.
As for machine-made teapots, there is nothing wrong with the process. However, there are many machine-made pots that are not using Yixing clay as the material, and even some unethical merchants use chemical materials. This kind of chemical pots can be harmful to our body, so if you see particularly cheap teapot, don’t buy it. It’s very possible that you encountered a chemical pot.
A good Yixing teapot will last you a lifetime. So it’s worth taking the time to find one that’s just right for you.