The art of drinking and serving tea, which many call as “Chinese tea ceremony” plays a very vital role in China. In fact, the ritual of preparing tea has held a special place in the hearts and minds of the Chinese. Although the ceremony emphasizes the tea, the overall style of tea drinking is still of great importance. Chinese teapots and tea cups are highly needed and each piece plays a role distinct from the other.
Speaking of Chinese teapots, I guess nothing is more suitable for a wonderful tea experience than the original Chinese teapot – the Yixing. Usually pronounced “E-ching”, these collectible pots are so charming and can be starkly simple with designs that are thousands of years old. Many people even claimed that these teapots are whimsical, being shaped like lotus flowers and with Buddhas and pre-Majolica subjects like vegetables, fruits or animals.
The contemporary Yixing Chinese teapots come in different shapes. The most common shapes are chairs, wheelbarrows, and other unusual styles that never fail to bring smile to one’s face.
What’s interesting to know about Yixing teapots is that its primary importance lies in its special, red clay, which is only found in the Yunnan province of mainland China. As noted, this Chinese teapot is porous and absorbs odors easily. It is even unglazed. I think this is the main reason that people are suggested to only use one variety of tea in the pot. But, after a time, the Yixing teapot will take on the character of your favorite Chinese tea.
The Yixing Chinese teapots are now everywhere and I think this is due to their “collectibility”. However, it is somewhat critical to deal with a vendor who really knows their merchandise to avoid machine-made Chinese teapots or perhaps poorly made knockoffs of traditional shapes. Like ay other product, a finely made Yixing teapot holds the heat longer and will pour better.
Now, if you are thinking of buying a Yixing Chinese teapot, then you should read on for I have mentioned below few qualities that a finely-made Yixing teapot should possess:
1. The cap of the pot must be firm and should not move around easily.
2. The body must not feel grainy.
3. The knob on the cap must be in sync with the rest of the body. It must be ergonomic.
4. It should be able to hold substantial water.
5. The Chinese teapot which is artistic and valuable usually but not always contains enough tea to serve 2 to 3 persons and not masses.
6. When water is poured out of the teapot, it should come out in a beautiful stream.
7. The handle should enable one to handle the teapot firmly.
8. Look for Chinese teapots with net on the mouth to catch unwanted tea leaves.
9. The hardness of the body should be just right.
10. The color should not be dyed.
11. The shape should be flowing and there should not be awkward proportions.
12. The pot should have unusual shapes for it indicate craftsmanship.
13. A good Chinese teapot should be made of purple clay or zhu in clay.
14. The bottom of the teapot must have a name of the artist engraved onto it.
15. Good Chinese teapots tend to have skin that feel brittle. Its walls are thinner than the inferior teapots.
Just note that Yixing Chinese teapots possessing the qualities I have mentioned above can be very expensive, so you may want to experiment first with one of the machine-made ones. If, however, you just want to buy these pots for their aesthetic appeal, then buy what really attracts you.