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.