As we discussed last week, there are a lot of reasons to love Jian Shui teapots, and while they can be the more economical option, Yixing still holds a very special place in our hearts. Here are five reasons we think you should consider adding a Yixing teapot to your collection as well.
- Piece of History
Yixing teapots hail from their namesake, a city located in Jiangsu province. Established during the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century BC, the teapots didn’t begin making an appearance until some time during the Song Dynasty, almost 1,300 years later. It would be another 200 years, under Ming Dynasty rule, when the Yixing teapot would finally begin assuming the form we are all familiar with today.
- Porous Clay
Unglazed, Yixing teapots are famous for their strong, porous clay, making them suitable for a lifetime (and more) of use when properly cared for. What is especially advantageous about the porous clay is that it absorbs the oils from the tea used in the teapot, which means that over time, the flavor of your tea is continually enhanced. The obvious downside is that you should only use one type of tea in an unglazed teapot, but when you taste the difference this makes in your cup of tea, you’ll quickly understand why this is a good thing. Nothing compares to tea prepared in a well-seasoned Yixing teapot.
While it is becoming increasingly common to press clay into molds when crafting a teapot, there are still a number of artists dedicated to bringing to life a teapot using the traditional methods—entirely hand-crafted. It can be a humbling experience to hold in your hands a teapot that appears nearly perfectly symmetrical, knowing that an artist poured hours into meticulously and methodically shaping the clay by hand. Indeed, mastering these techniques can take years, and this partially accounts for the cost of some Yixing teapots. We are careful to ensure that each teapot in our collection was made using these traditional methods.
- Beauty in Simplicity
Occasionally, you might find something like an intricately carved Yixing teapot, double-walled with elaborate, ornate designs. To untrained Western eyes, these can look like pieces of art, but all too often, the exotic, busy appearance is designed to conceal imperfections and defects. This is why some of the most highly coveted Yixing teapots are rather plain. A plain teapot will quickly reveal its weaknesses—an abnormal spot, unwelcome change in color, unusually thick or thin part of the vessel. Only the most careful of artists have the skill and patience to endeavor upon bringing to life such a pure, perfect form, and it is this perfection that aids in brewing the ultimate cup of tea. When such artists are inspired to enhance their teapots, they do so without detracting from the form, putting the same care into etching subtle designs and phrases into the sides of the teapot rather than anything loud and distracting.There is no question that Jian Shui teapots are easy to admire and a lot of fun to use, but for the reasons above, Yixing will always be a favorite. Fortunately, like children, we can love them both, even if they’re a little bit different.