The Xi Shi teapot, originally known as the Wendan teapot, represents an exquisite refinement among teapots of its kind. It draws inspiration from the legendary beauty, Xi Shi. Its complete name is “Xi Shi Ru Hu,” which translates to “Xi Shi Breast Teapot.” The teapot’s graceful form resembles the voluptuousness of Xi Shi’s bosom, with its round body resembling a full breast, and the knob on the lid representing a nipple. The spout is elegantly curved, and the handle is designed in a pouring ear shape. The teapot showcases a truncated cover style, while the bottom exhibits a slight inward taper near its base, creating a distinctive aesthetic. However, as time passed, the term “Xi Shi Breast” was deemed inappropriate, leading to the teapot being commonly referred to as the “Xi Shi Teapot.”
The historical story of the Xi Shi teapot has been documented in the literature of Yixing teapots, and its initial creator was Master Xu Youquan.
Xu Youquan, the pioneer of this teapot style, received high praise from Wu Meiding, a scholar from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, who referred to Xu as “the one who combines the essence of the past and present, exhibits profound changes guided by the heart, and approaches the Dao through skillful craftsmanship.” Wu Meiding gained recognition for his 1,500-word poem titled “Yangxian Minghu Fu” (Ode to the Yangxian Teapot). Wu Meiding’s great-grandfather, Wu Yishan, was a successful scholar in the Ming Dynasty. Although it is unclear who exactly Wu Yishan was, his servant, known as “Gongchun,” gained fame. While serving the young master, Gongchun supposedly learned the art of teapot-making from the temple monks in Yixing. Inadvertently, he became the founder of purple clay teapots.
The lineage then continued with the “Four Great Masters,” Zhao Liang, Dong Han, Yuan Chang, and Shi Peng. Subsequently, Shi Peng’s son, Shi Dabin, rose to prominence, and one of his most talented students was Xu Youquan. Wu Meiding’s father had a close relationship with Xu Youquan and invited him to their home to study and create purple clay teapots, leading to a remarkable chapter in their story. Wu Meiding, deeply influenced by this environment, was unaware that his involvement and dedication had already left a significant mark on the history of purple clay teapots.
Design Of Xi Shi Teapot
The design of the Xi Shi teapot can be described as follows:
- The Xi Shi teapot has a plump and rounded body. The spout is crafted using the technique of hidden joint, while the handle is made with a contrasting method of visible upper and hidden lower portions. This meticulous craftsmanship ensures that the curves of the spout and handle seamlessly blend with the teapot’s body, creating a smooth and natural transition.
- The design of the Xi Shi teapot emphasizes a sense of balance without any exaggerated or heavy elements. The knob on the lid should not be oversized but instead delicate and elegant, displaying a rounded and upright shape that ascends gracefully.
- Generally speaking, the Xi Shi teapot is not suitable for large-sized designs. It is best to maintain a capacity between 90-200mL. Going beyond this range would make it challenging to capture the delicate and charming essence of the Xi Shi teapot.
Tea Suitable For Xi Shi
The Xi Shi teapot is suitable for brewing the following types of tea:
- Green Tea: The Xi Shi teapot’s lightweight and porous body make it ideal for brewing green tea. The teapot’s characteristics, such as its gentle heat retention and balanced infusion, complement the delicate flavors of green tea.
- Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy): The Xi Shi teapot’s tall and cylindrical shape, reminiscent of a well railing, makes it well-suited for brewing Tie Guan Yin tea. The teapot’s design allows for the leaves to unfurl and release their complex flavors, resulting in a delightful infusion.
- Fresh Oolong Tea: The Xi Shi teapot is particularly suitable for brewing lightly roasted or green-style oolong teas. Its shape and size enhance the brewing process, allowing the tea leaves to expand and infuse the water, bringing out the unique aromas and flavors of fresh oolong teas.
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