How the Masters Make A Classic Yixing Teapot

How the Masters Make A Classic Yixing Teapot

You may have seen these teapots before. They usually come in hues of red and brown, with maybe a tinge of purple. They’re called Yixing teapots, and they all come from this one city, Yixing, where they’ve been popular since the 1500s. This city is flush with artisans who have dedicated their lives to the craft. Yu Ping is a traditionalist. All the pots she makes are in classical styles that adhere to strict proportions and aesthetic rules. The one that she’s making here is called shipiaohu. There are triangles everywhere. But what makes these teapots unique is the use of the local clay, known as zisha. Fired without glaze or paint, the clay has a sandy texture and porousness, which is said to help absorb and enhance the flavor of tea. It also contains significant amounts of quartz and kaolin. Kaolin, the same substance used to make porcelain, is what gives the pot a stone-like quality. And the high iron content is what gives the clay its signature red-purple hue. Of course, there are other colors as well, depending on the clay’s iron content and purity. But pure zisha clay from the mines of Yixing is a natural resource that is getting harder to come by. Demand for these teapots is high, but so is the sheer level of skill that goes into making just one. Unlike other forms of pottery, where clay is thrown on a powered wheel, Yixing teapots are shaped by pounding the clay piece by piece. That’s why It can take up to a month to make just one teapot. Zheng Yuan moved to Yixing five years ago just to learn the craft. But unlike Yu, he is not a traditionalist. Instead, he prefers to mix classical styles with his own flair. This is his version of a pear teapot. It’s traditionally made with red clay, but he used this yellow-tinged clay instead. Style aside, there’s a lot of debate about what a true Yixing teapot is. The market is saturated with fakes and cheap clay. And now with the advent of 3D printing and widespread use of molds, it’s hard for amateurs to put a finger on pricing. A fully handmade Yixing teapot is usually no less than 60 USD. And this pear one is 250 USD. But the rule of thumb is this, the mark of a truly quality teapot is a smooth pour and a sandy exterior that becomes smoother over time. Conventional wisdom says a Yixing teapot should never be washed with soap. The idea is that the tea’s flavor can seep into the pot’s pores. And the longer a teapot is used, the smoother it gets. Hey guys, thank you so much for watching. For more videos on artisans in China please follow Goldthread and click on the links below for more.

17 thoughts on “How the Masters Make A Classic Yixing Teapot

  1. Hey guys! We have a new giveaway again. It's a customized zisha tea set with a pot, a tea holder, two cups, and a great carrying case. The rule is, top most liked comment by July 17 will win! Check out our new video July 18 10pm ET and we will announce the winner! 🔥🔥🔥

  2. Amazing content as always, please keep it coming! I'm learning so much about my ancestor's culture and art, it really makes me feel proud to be Chinese!

  3. Watching these artisans make me realize I need to update my tea game. While I'm primarily a loose leaf tea drinker, I don't know if I could ever honor these craftspeople as I may be too lazy to drink "Kung Fu Tea" style regularly.

  4. I’m a Yixing teapot, Short and stout.
    Here is my handle, Here is my spout.
    When I get all steamed up, Hear me shout:
    Click on thumbs up, And help me out!

  5. Loved this video. Lots of great information, and the pear tea pot is the cutest!!! $250?! I'm surprised a more modern with yellow clay teapot would cost more than the traditional ones. However, the uniqueness and beautiful design is understandable.

  6. These are favorite brewing vessels for tea enthousiasts. I'm 'raising' a few myself as the clay is porous and tend to absorb tea aroma.

  7. I love the second guy's view on tradition! Adding new variations on the product while still honoring its roots. Reminds me of the video you guys made about Panda Express and Chinese American food. New traditions and cultural products are being created every day and it's so cool that we get to see it happening. While I can still be a bit of a snobby traditionalist when it comes to Chinese stuff, you guys have def helped me to become more open-minded 🙂

  8. These are beautiful. Should have kept making ceramics when I started making really weird cups in college.

  9. Thank you for sharing such an interesting and unique story! I especially appreciated the different perspectives of each artist. As an American trying to learn Mandarin in college, I sometimes find it a little challenging to maintain my motivation– there aren't many places on the English web to find authentic, up-to-date content about everyday life in China. Channels like yours really spark my interest and inspire me to keep learning! Keep it up.

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