Scholars tell us that the first extraordinary Yixing teapot appeared in the 10th century at the Golden Sand Temple made by a monk.
This was during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), a golden age of increasing cultural activities and widespread tea-drinking.
It took a while for the handmade production to spread throughout China, however.
Use of the Yixing teapot finally flourished during the Ming Dynasty, five centuries later (1368-1644).
Prior to the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese used tea bowls rather than a teapot for their daily tea.
The Teapot Travels To Europe
Yixing teapot history continued with patronage of the local Yixing artists at the beginning of the 19th century.
During this period, customized inscriptions were added by wealthy collectors and scholars.
World trade finally found the Yixing teapot.
European pottery could not compete with china from China for some time. The Zisha clay and pottery manufacture provided uniquely safe heating for brewing tea in teapots.
Tea and these needed serving pieces became celebrated in Europe, and became a hallmark of the British Empire.
Special Zisha Clay
These pots are made in the Jiangsu province of China, near Shanghai.
The unique sandy Zisha clay from Yixing clay pits had been used for making pottery for several thousand years.
The clay is heavily mineralized, but free of lead.
One Tea Only
The porous sandy quality of the Zisha clay allows each teapot to absorb the flavor of your chosen tea.
For this reason, people use a different teapot for each single variety of tea.
You might choose a dragon Yixing teapot to serve Dragon Well Tea and use a swan patterned teapot for your Gyokuro
Clean With Fresh Water
Never use soap with these teapots.
They should be rinsed with fresh water only, allowing the single tea flavor to season the pot over time.
Beautiful Natural Colors
While the original clay comes in a rose brown (Purple Sand), red, and creamy white colors, artists will blend other natural colors into the clay for variety.
Handling the teapot over time will enhance the colors and sheen on the outside.
Prized For Handmade Artistry
High quality Yixing teapots are handmade.
While there are many repeated designs, the handmade manufacture makes each pot unique.
Designs reflect the world of nature, pleasing shapes, and beautiful color combinations.
Their price ranges from about $30 U.S. to thousands of dollars.
Lesser teapots may be mass produced and sell for a few dollars.
The Factory Today
Today, the Yixing Zisha Factory, which opened in 1958, supplies the world with Yixing Teapots, as well as jars, vases and statuettes.
The pots are now a favorite collectors’ item, not just for tea lovers but for anyone who appreciates the beauty and cleverness of Chinese art.
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This page was last updated by Sharon Jones on July 23, 2013.
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