Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!


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Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 27th, '12, 08:27

I am without photos for now, but I can still post text. I hope to post some photos on this at some point.

As I have mentioned in other threads, I am in Dingsu, in Yixing and I am training with Le Shen Factory (Happy Living Factory) on every aspect of teapot production, from mining raw materials through to the finished product for sale in the shop.

What I have learned and am learning above all else in Xishuangbanna and Yixing is that categories and distinctions are more hard-lined in the West. There are various methods of distinction for tea and teaware in China, and this seems to have served the heritage and culture well. Here, the different systems of categorization (for tea and for teapots) all flow together, at the same time, even when they seem to conflict. What I am seeing are viewpoints and information that go against the conventional wisdom (that I have seen, written in English), and counter to what some people have written here on teachat. Let me be clear: I am not saying "I am right, you are wrong," rather I am finding that, "I am right, and you are right".

Two very interesting items have come up in my matriculation, and I want to discuss them with the teachat community. Maybe they should be different posts, but I am lazy tonight.

1st: Qing shui ni. I have read online, and on teachat, that qing shui ni means clear/clean water clay, and that it comes from mixing zini with only water, meaning it is good, pure zini. According to the distinctions I am finding here, both in my factory and among the people outside of my company, this distinction is not the only one used. Many folks here separate zini and qing shui ni as different clays, though both coming from the jianni ore (so both a type of the larger umbrella term zini-just subsections of clay coming from subsections of raw ore). Kind of like di cao qing ni is not the same as standard zini, but is a sub-set of the zini category. In this way, qing shui ni is seen as clay coming from deeper down, near or beneath some sort of water (though I get the impression it doesn't always have to come from near water-that's just where the name came from). So all di cao qing ni is zini, and all qing shui ni is zini, but not all zini is qing shui ni and not all zini is di cao qing ni. Make sense?

2nd: Hongni. I noticed two things in Korea: 1-we sell very, very little hongni, which is very, very expensive ($500ish and up) and reserved for high-end master pots; 2-the rest of the red clay I could find was called hong qing shui ni. I couldn't figure out what exactly hong qing shu ni was, and marked it down as a difference in translation/Korean categorization.

But talking it over here with my local teacher and guide (he manages the factory, and has taken me to a number of other factories), he clarified that hongni is pretty much gone. He said there are still five mines open, but they are producing only jianni (including zini and qing shui ni, but he isn't sure about new di cao qing) and beini/lvni (ultimately duanni)-all of which are lower quality than the closed mines. According to him, most places these days sell hong qing shui ni, and call it hongni. Hong qing shui ni is a type of qing shui ni, and thus a type of zini, even though it is red. So what we see today as "hongni" (but really hong qing shui ni) is different than the historical "hongni". But, these places are selling them as hongni, and that has become the industry standard, so perhaps we can view it as a kind of "modern hongni".

Worth noting: my teacher here differentiates between how the miners distinguish the clays, how the artists distinguish the clays, and how the tea preparers/connoisseurs distinguish the clay. All these different systems conflict and compliment, and harmoniously work in tandem with one another.

Has anyone heard or seen anything along these lines, and where? Sources are always good to hear/see. Thoughts? Additions? Objections? I'm all about peer review. :D
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby MarshalN » Nov 27th, '12, 10:15

I just have one question: How is any of this info/distinction meaningful for anyone buying a pot?
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby wyardley » Nov 27th, '12, 13:29

needaTEAcher wrote:1st: Qing shui ni. I have read online, and on teachat, that qing shui ni means clear/clean water clay, and that it comes from mixing zini with only water, meaning it is good, pure zini.

Can you link to a specific post which says this? That is not my understanding that that's what qingshuini is, and it's also not something I've ever seen seriously suggested on here.

As best I understand, qingshuini is a particular layer of the raw material, so I think that thinking of it as a subset of zini / zisha makes the most sense. There has been some discussion of hong qingshuini here in the past.

I kind of agree with Marshaln that too much discussion of some of the finer points of clay types is kind of pointless. And, as you say, the categories are not so clearly defined, and there's a lot of information out there. I would bet that if you spoke to some other people, you might very well get different information. Also, while the information you are getting is probably factually correct, do keep in mind that their primary goal is to get you to buy pots from their factory rather than the many other factories in the area (i.e., to emphasize why the clays they have available are special / superior / unique / etc.).
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby ImmortaliTEA » Nov 27th, '12, 18:18

"2nd: Hongni. I noticed two things in Korea: 1-we sell very, very little hongni, which is very, very expensive ($500ish and up) and reserved for high-end master pots; 2-the rest of the red clay I could find was called hong qing shui ni. I couldn't figure out what exactly hong qing shu ni was, and marked it down as a difference in translation/Korean categorization."

If I remember correctly, the 40 ml red-clay shui pings that Tim used to stock on MTR are labeled as Hong Ni on the page where you can see all 3 different clay shui pings, however, when you click on the actual teapot to get to its specific page for information the red shui ping is then labeled in more detail as Qing Shui Hong Ni (fine red). This leads me to ASSUME that Qing Shui Hong Ni is either finer than traditional Hong Ni in terms of size of particle or finer in terms of a higher quality. I love traditional Hong Ni and know very little of the distinction between it and Qing Shui Hong Ni and wonder if it is in fact the same clay that you are referring to as Hong Qing Shui Ni because they could be 3 separate clays and not just 2. Anyone who can share some more info would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby MarshalN » Nov 27th, '12, 20:57

wyardley wrote:Also, while the information you are getting is probably factually correct, do keep in mind that their primary goal is to get you to buy pots from their factory rather than the many other factories in the area (i.e., to emphasize why the clays they have available are special / superior / unique / etc.).


We have a bingo!
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 27th, '12, 21:37

MarshalN wrote:I just have one question: How is any of this info/distinction meaningful for anyone buying a pot?


I think this info/distinction is meaningful for anyone buying a pot for a number of reasons, primarily so that people can be more aware of what they are buying. I believe an educated consumer is the best strategy to positively alter the industry.

But much more than that, it is not about buying any specific pot, and more about being curious and wanted to know more, and learn more. Since I am learning a lot here, I want to share that with anyone else who cares to learn. If you already know this stuff, then rock on, but a lot of folks are just as confused as I have been.

wyardley wrote:
needaTEAcher wrote:1st: Qing shui ni. I have read online, and on teachat, that qing shui ni means clear/clean water clay, and that it comes from mixing zini with only water, meaning it is good, pure zini.

Can you link to a specific post which says this? That is not my understanding that that's what qingshuini is, and it's also not something I've ever seen seriously suggested on here.

As best I understand, qingshuini is a particular layer of the raw material, so I think that thinking of it as a subset of zini / zisha makes the most sense. There has been some discussion of hong qingshuini here in the past.

I kind of agree with Marshaln that too much discussion of some of the finer points of clay types is kind of pointless. And, as you say, the categories are not so clearly defined, and there's a lot of information out there. I would bet that if you spoke to some other people, you might very well get different information. Also, while the information you are getting is probably factually correct, do keep in mind that their primary goal is to get you to buy pots from their factory rather than the many other factories in the area (i.e., to emphasize why the clays they have available are special / superior / unique / etc.).


As I have said before, I don't agree that it is pointless to discuss this stuff. I find it very, very fascinating. Any academic, theoretical discussions can be viewed as pointless when compared to the practical applications, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't engage, if we enjoy it and if people enjoy reading abut it!

I'll look for it post I am thinking about. It was about di cao qing. Perhaps I misunderstood something there. Regardless, I am glad that you are writing in the same understanding as I have acquired here!

As per the factory, they are not trying to sell me anything! I am already in the company, and I have no money to buy anyways! None of this is about money, except to say that they hav given me a lot. My company has engaged the factory entirely, and we only stock their teapots (I will sell other teapots on a separate website.....which I will talk more about next year). They are just trying to teach me. The hongni pots they make-I won't be buying or selling, as they are out of my price range. They know that, so it isn't about them trying to dupe me.

As per Tim's pots, that is interesting. I was thinking about them last night, thinking that I bet they were hongni, and wishing I had one! Interesting that they are hing qing shui ni. As I understand it, particle size is not the defining factor (since they can grind up to different sizes and sift/sieve), but rather the raw material used.
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby MarshalN » Nov 27th, '12, 23:04

needaTEAcher wrote:But much more than that, it is not about buying any specific pot, and more about being curious and wanted to know more, and learn more. Since I am learning a lot here, I want to share that with anyone else who cares to learn. If you already know this stuff, then rock on, but a lot of folks are just as confused as I have been.


I think this is actually more confusing, because most people don't know (or for that matter, care) about these very fine distinctions. Also, keep in mind that these distinctions really only started appearing in the last 20 years or so. Before that, things were either zisha, duanni, or zhuni. That's it. Nobody cared much for the finer differences. It's only when private factories started that these things became a topic - and it's mostly to get people to buy more pots.
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 28th, '12, 08:23

MarshalN wrote:Also, keep in mind that these distinctions really only started appearing in the last 20 years or so. Before that, things were either zisha, duanni, or zhuni. That's it. Nobody cared much for the finer differences. It's only when private factories started that these things became a topic - and it's mostly to get people to buy more pots.


+10, and I think that all these distinctions will continue to change and grow. That is part of what I am getting at with all this. And as per nobody caring, I would go so far as to posit that the concern with clay type comes with the Western influence, and it is more the Western market that is concerned with these distinctions. We like to try and put fluid things into little boxes (like colors: this is orange, that is orange-red; or species: this species became that species around this date or that date). Folks I talked to in Malaysia, Korea, and China (and the Taiwanese tea people I have had session with) seen completely unconcerned with clay type, though many masters with whom I have sipped prefer this or that for this or that.

So really, I am just throwing out a set of distinctions that I am finding, in hopes that someone, somewhere out there, will be happy to read it. I'd like to think I didn't waste the effort of typing and submitting, and no one even read it!

I know it is confusing, but it is confusing if I say something or if I don't, so I don't feel bad about throwing in my 2 cents, since I think my 2 cents are worth hearing. People can read this, along with everything else, and then they have to decide for themselves what they believe, and what their truths will be. I am right, you are right, harmony and all that stuff.
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 28th, '12, 08:35

Also, I found this post from wyardly that is excellent:

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=16704&p=212509&hilit=+qing+shui#p212509

Actually, I forgot about this one. I have been talking so much about clay the last two years that it is all blending together! A nice problem to have, all in all. :D

But that is not the one I am referencing above. I can't find it now, and don't have the energy to try with the long load times here. Someday I will see it again and post it. If anyone else finds it....+10 points!
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby MarshalN » Nov 28th, '12, 09:31

It's much more useful if you, say, tell folks what you think regarding how they perform when brewing tea. I think that's a topic people love to hear more about.
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby ethan » Nov 28th, '12, 11:28

MarshaIN, I agree w/ you that most people want to know what pots to buy to be able to drink ideally prepared tea for their tastes:
Which flavors will be blunted & which highlighted by which pots? This pot called _____ is great for ______tea; this pot is terrible for that; etc.
I'd like to think that most people would not be bothered by the story of how one, who is generous enough to share, learned what he knows, if main points of a long post are introduced in the beginning & repeated at the end. Like this:
MarshaIN, I agree w/ you.
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby blairswhitaker » Nov 28th, '12, 16:09

wyardley wrote:
needaTEAcher wrote:1st: Qing shui ni. I have read online, and on teachat, that qing shui ni means clear/clean water clay, and that it comes from mixing zini with only water, meaning it is good, pure zini.

Can you link to a specific post which says this? That is not my understanding that that's what qingshuini is, and it's also not something I've ever seen seriously suggested on here.

As best I understand, qingshuini is a particular layer of the raw material, so I think that thinking of it as a subset of zini / zisha makes the most sense. There has been some discussion of hong qingshuini here in the past.

I kind of agree with Marshaln that too much discussion of some of the finer points of clay types is kind of pointless. And, as you say, the categories are not so clearly defined, and there's a lot of information out there. I would bet that if you spoke to some other people, you might very well get different information. Also, while the information you are getting is probably factually correct, do keep in mind that their primary goal is to get you to buy pots from their factory rather than the many other factories in the area (i.e., to emphasize why the clays they have available are special / superior / unique / etc.).


ck2998 wrote:Thanks for the points raised.

I can now understand why Qing Shui Ni (Clear Water Clay) and Di Cao Qing (Bottom Mined QingShuiNi) are so named.

Given a pot in front of me, how can I tell if it is Qing Shui Ni from the other ZiSha?
Is there a particular colour or feel that I should go for?

finddream2020, can you include the Chinese character of "ji yan" and "jin sha yin xian"? Given my knowledge of romanised Chinese, I guess "Jin Sha Yin Xian" means "Golden Sand Silver Thread"



This thread viewtopic.php?t=9129 deals with the subject perhaps this is where some of these ideas have arisen from?
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby wyardley » Nov 28th, '12, 16:20

blairswhitaker wrote:This thread viewtopic.php?t=9129 deals with the subject perhaps this is where some of these ideas have arisen from?

And this says essentially the same thing, namely:
Qing Shui ni is usually mined from mid part of Zisha ore
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 28th, '12, 21:05

apache wrote:I read a blog it said qing shuini is referring to the way the clay is mix with water only and no additive. So in a way di cao qing can be qing shuini as long there is no additive, but qing shuini may not be di cao qing. She also said real zhu ni is yellow before put inside the kiln. Zhu ni can be difficult to work with, as it contract a lot after fire (18 to 25%), so only around 70% of pots survive the kiln.

For the flake zhu ni, red dye and glass are used to make it appear bright red with glossy looking, but it is best to avoid these kind of pots.


That sounds right, and I have seen it online elsewhere. Thanks for finding it, Blair! I was always confused by there being different definitions. I really like how varied reasons and distinctions can be, and how they exist at the same time, all being correct. That sounds right.
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Re: Qing Shui Ni? Hongni? Clay mania!

Postby MarshalN » Nov 28th, '12, 22:29

You know, there's no real need to speculate. There's an endless source of information online about different kinds of clay. You just have to read Chinese. This is on Qingshuini

http://baike.baidu.com/view/2560409.htm
http://tieba.baidu.com/p/349322712
http://collection.sina.com.cn/zsbk/2012 ... 1757.shtml
http://www.51pot.com/shop/muds-detail-y ... uini.shtml
http://www.360doc.com/content/11/0313/1 ... 2282.shtml

Basically, it's just aged and processed zini without adding other clays.

I'd imagine google translate should do a good enough job to satisfy anyone who wants more info on these things.
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