Yixing teapots are unique to Chinese gongfu tea culture and are only produced in Yixing city of Jiangshu province. This particular teapot style originated during the Ming dynasty by the famed Gong Chun （供春） potter who created the first famous Gong Chun Yixing teapot using the local Zisha clay.
Zisha, meaning purple clay in Chinese, can enhance the flavor of tea due to its special structure. Because of its practical use and unique ability to enhance tea flavor, as well as its aesthetics, it has been an essential part of Chinese gongfu tea culture, as well as playing an important role in Zen tea, or the Tao of Tea. There are many classic styles in Yixing teapot-making, including the famous “Man Sheng eighteen classic styles”. Shi Piao is one of them. Shi Piao means “stone scoop”in Chinese.
The classic style Shi Piao teapots have a smaller mouth and a big wide bottom, with the main body shaped like a pyramid. It has a straight spout, an arched bridge on the lid, and a triangular-shaped handle. The trapezoid body and the inverted triangle handle wonderfully complete the geometric aesthetics of this piece in perfect harmony, and it is yet practical enough for everyday use and simple appreciation. Due to its wide bottom, Shi Piao is ideal for brewing large loose leaf teas, such as puerh tea or white tea.
The name Shi Piao doesn’t sound like an elegant name, but it was an homage to an ancient Chinese poem, “Three thousand weak waters, only one scoop,” (弱水三千只饮一瓢). It was first named by the most reputable master Gu Jing Zhou who loved this style teapot very much and also modified the shape that is a little different than the Man Sheng Shi Piao from Qing dynasty.
This famous saying was first recorded with a Buddhist story and later became famous after the publication of the China’s most renowned novel “ A Dream of the Red Chamber”, written by Chao Xue Qing in Qing dynasty. Still, this phrase is more often used for expressing one’s love for a unique person or thing.