Yixing (Clay) Teapots - History and Production
History - Yixing province has long been known as "the pottery capital of China". Located 120 miles northwest of Shanghai, Yixing has long had the reputation for producing exquisite teapots. This dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1364-1644). Along with the earliest shipments of tea to Europe came this distinctive earthenware pots, initiating a tea drinking tradition that continues today.
Making the Pot - There are several varieties of clay. One clay is soft and yellow and changes into red during firing. There is also white and blue clay that are naturally found in the clay deposits. After digging, the clay is dried then pounded into a powder. The powder is then passed through a bamboo sieve to remove any stones. The powdered clay is then placed in a 5-foot deep rectangular tank pool filled with fresh water. Three days later, it is removed to a similar pit and dried out under the sun. It is then cut into blocks, which are sold to the potters. The potter takes the blocks and pounds them with a heavy wooden mallet, adding water from time to time in order to make the clay the right consistency for working. This process usually takes about two days. The clay is ready when it is cut with a knife and the cut is completely smooth and shiny with no trace of air pockets.
Teas Etc. has the privilege of working closely with the company who employs many designers and potters in the Yixing area. Our collection includes traditional designs and adaptations, as well as original designs. Once a design is chosen, the appropriate clay and potter is then selected. The potters are selected for their craftsmanship, quality and expertise in working with a particular type of clay. Some pieces even require highly skilled metal-smiths. Once created the pots are then taken to the masters for firing. This traditional time honored skill produces a tea vessel that brews superb tea while being aesthetically and spiritually satisfying.