Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?


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Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby futurebird » Mar 30th, '13, 10:36

I'm looking through sites like taobao and cart100 (which is really taobao) the diversity of teapots is great, but try to find something small? No luck so far... I'm not just talking yixing pots, but modern celedon, porcelain... anything really. It's just an easy size to find.

American stores and ebay are not much better. Is it due to low demand, or due to it being difficult to make a small pot?

But millions were made in the yixing factories. (why did they close? no more clay?)

This is what I don't understand.

Another way of asking this is why are there 100 pots in the 200-400ml range for every 1 below 120ml.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby tingjunkie » Mar 30th, '13, 11:03

I think all of us westerners ask the same question. :wink:

1) Smaller pots are harder to make well. Larger pots generally allow for more ornamentation or style. Think about an oil painter making a portrait on a post card vs. a larger canvas.
2) There is less demand in China because people generally drink more tea, and have the opportunity to share tea with multiple friends more often.
3) Despite the point about smaller pots being difficult to execute well, larger pots often sell for more money because a) there is a silly human idea that bigger is better, and b) many top level potters enjoy making larger pots because of the 'larger canvas' thing.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 30th, '13, 11:21

I've been pondering a similar question recently - why some of my American friends with bigger hands than mine prefer much smaller pots than me :D
And I agree with tingjunkie's analysis. Besides, I will add that Yixing people mainly drink green tea and black teas. So I can imagine many of the yixing teapot craftsmen don't have oolong or the need of small teapots in mind at all.
Still, it's somewhat mysterious to me why there seems to be proportionally more American tea drinkers than Chinese tea drinkers who fancy very small teapots.
From some small teapots that I've seen in Chinese market - first of all, there aren't many of them. Secondly, it's hard to express the real style on a small teapots. Many of them are *compromised* "fanggu", "xishi" or some classic styles that you could easily find the deviation from the standard style. Besides, any small deviation of angles or alignments are visually enlarged on small teapots. So most small teapots I saw in the market, I ended up not willing to buy. And I can imagine teapot craftsmen aren't willing to make a lot of them.
But interestingly, among Chinese tea drinkers, I've seen similar movements of urging yixing teapot craftsmen making teapots as small as 100-120ml. Even that size is not as commonly seen as larger ones in China.In one TGY tea forum in China, the host ended up finding a TGY loving yixing guy who made a 130ml "forum yixing" for many of us. I think if the teapot artists drink the teas similar to yours, they are very likely to make teapots you need. :D
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby tingjunkie » Mar 30th, '13, 11:29

gingkoseto wrote:Still, it's somewhat mysterious to me why there seems to be proportionally more American tea drinkers than Chinese tea drinkers who fancy very small teapots.


I'll take a guess on this. I think westerners who use Yixing pots are generally attempting to be connoisseurs of fine tea, who seek out expensive high quality teas and often drink alone. We also pay more for these teas through the premium of online store mark-ups. Hence, we want to conserve and ration or teas, but drink them in a high tea to water ratio to push them to the limits and get the most out of them. Of course, there are many connoisseurs in China and the east as well, but there are also many there who just drink lots of inexpensive tea as part of everyday life, or drink tea with groups of people. For them, tiny pots make little sense.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby futurebird » Mar 30th, '13, 11:37

I like to have 2 or 3 different teas in one day to compare. If I fill my larger pots it's very wasteful.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby tingjunkie » Mar 30th, '13, 11:44

futurebird wrote:I like to have 2 or 3 different teas in one day to compare. If I fill my larger pots it's very wasteful.


Exactly! Because you are brewing in true gongfu style, and (I'm just guessing) often drink alone. I think many in China use their 200ml+ pots to brew in a more relaxed semi-western or "grandpa" style, where they might put in 7g of tea in a 250ml pot, and brew it 4+ times over the course of the day as they work or go about their business.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby theredbaron » Mar 30th, '13, 12:09

One reason is also that drinking tea in very small pots has been mostly a southern Chinese custom. Most central and northern parts of China do traditionally drink in larger pots.
The renaissance of tea culture and art has mostly been driven by Malaysian, Hongkong and Taiwanese Chinese - which to the most part are Southern Chinese.
Also in China different teas are to the most part consumed locally - that means that central Chinese mostly drink green tea, etc.

In areas with many Southern Chinese plenty of small pots are available, such as in SEA and southern China. But people there do not need to buy on the net, they just buy locally, as they have always done, and inspect the pots they buy directly.

The market for westerners is still miniscule, driven more by enthusiasts that by possibility for real profit.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby yanom » Mar 30th, '13, 12:15

Redbaron: are those small pots in the 30ml to, say, 60ml bracket? I always felt in a Chinese context 80ml to 120ml counts as "small".

Presumably, it's also rare to do the whole trying several teas in one day thing on your own -- that hobbyist approach would be done with fellow hobbyists or collectors?

Drinking tea simply to enjoy, and doing it alone, doesn't need anything smaller than 100ml, if you're just having one puerh that day and plan to get a couple of hours worth out of it.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 30th, '13, 12:22

Oh, just to clarify. I'm not saying it's mysterious for me to see people using small teapots of 120ml or even 90ml. But it's a little mysterious for me to see people looking so hard for small teapots of 50ml or smaller. And I'm comparing connoisseur level Chinese and American tea drinker, and not comparing drinkers of different styles or different teas.
Yeah I think price of tea, amount of tea, companionship all play a role in this phenomenon. But besides all this, I feel there is still a little mystery left.
I remember seeing quite a few Chinese people using smaller gaiwans (like, maybe 60ml-70ml). Not many, but not extremely rare. But by far not as many using smaller than 50ml teapots. Currently retained in my memory there is only one, and maybe a couple of more that I've seen. So I think it's a very interesting contrast between tea drinking trends.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby yanom » Mar 30th, '13, 12:30

Agree: I can see why you'd want a 50ml teapot if you were drinking three different types of pricey tea alone each day and had time to gongfu all of them. But not otherwise.

Also: isn't it more accepted throughout Asia (could be completely wrong here) to simply lengthen steeping times slightly if you've got a 100ml pot and only plan on using a 3g or 4g chunk of puerh? Whereas English language online forums seem much "stricter" about always keeping the leaf to water ratio high.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby futurebird » Mar 30th, '13, 12:53

gingkoseto wrote:I remember seeing quite a few Chinese people using smaller gaiwans (like, maybe 60ml-70ml). Not many, but not extremely rare. But by far not as many using smaller than 50ml teapots. Currently retained in my memory there is only one, and maybe a couple of more that I've seen. So I think it's a very interesting contrast between tea drinking trends.


I think to American sensibilities "fancy" tea is brewed in a teapot while cheap tea is brewed in a cup. A similar thing happens with "testubins." -- So many people at work have asked me why I don't use "one of those iron pots because they are the best"

Heck I used to think that too. Brewed puerh for years in an iron pot. Even white tea (no wonder I found it so difficult to get right!) Iron pots are the best looking to a casual observer I think-- they have substance. Gaiwans are not glamourous.

I can't even get over this bias now that I know better. Using teapot gives me a great deal of joy--

Also, when I was in college I could not afford a teapot, so I had two tea cups in a saucer... by that time in my life I was already very much in to loose tea (I couldn't afford a teapot because I spent all of the money on tea!) I brewed tea the way that my grandmother did by putting loose tea in a cup, then hot water then the saucer on top, strain with the saucer in to the other cup. Essentially a gaiwan. The first time I saw one in a store I thought "never again!" LOL

Well, now I have like 8 of them.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby theredbaron » Mar 30th, '13, 12:57

yanom wrote:Redbaron: are those small pots in the 30ml to, say, 60ml bracket? I always felt in a Chinese context 80ml to 120ml counts as "small".

Presumably, it's also rare to do the whole trying several teas in one day thing on your own -- that hobbyist approach would be done with fellow hobbyists or collectors?

Drinking tea simply to enjoy, and doing it alone, doesn't need anything smaller than 100ml, if you're just having one puerh that day and plan to get a couple of hours worth out of it.



Most Chinese i know use 80ml as the smallest, to 120 ml pots. I am not so familiar with size count in ml, most here count by 2 cup, 4 cup, etc.
The 2 cup pots (which i guess are somewhere around 60 ml) are usually only used when people drink alone, which is quite rare. In the tea centers, tea drinking and appreciation is quite a social thing as well.

Also, more important than size is quality of the pot, quality of clay, age, etc.

Many people say that less than 2 cup is too small for the tea to properly develop, and ideal is the range of 80 to 120 ml. My favorite pots are about 80ml, when i drink alone (which i mostly do).
But some other say that even bigger pots are better. Who knows?

I have one pocket traveling pot, which is really tiny. At home i generally use it only when i am in a mood for tea, but don't really want to take in much liquid, or if i have only very little good water left, and am too lazy to get some.

I have some 120 ml (i guess, they are around 4 cup size) pots, i mostly use them, when alone, when i have some not so valuable tea, and drink it over the day and into the evening.

I am most comfortable though with my (about) 80ml pots. Any more, and i will have difficulties to finish. And i am mostly not into sessions over several days, i think the tea looses too much in taste when left overnight. And especially in this climate not so good bacteria can grow and develop quickly.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby theredbaron » Mar 30th, '13, 13:02

futurebird wrote:Gaiwans are not glamourous.



From what i have learned and seen - gaiwans are to test different teas, and for green tea.
I don't particularly like gaiwans, other than for Chinese green tea. Which i rarely drink. I found that Chinese green tea does no travel well, and is best at the source - directly at the tea gardens, brewed with local water.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 30th, '13, 13:13

yanom wrote:Also: isn't it more accepted throughout Asia (could be completely wrong here) to simply lengthen steeping times slightly if you've got a 100ml pot and only plan on using a 3g or 4g chunk of puerh? Whereas English language online forums seem much "stricter" about always keeping the leaf to water ratio high.

That's actually another interesting contrast that I've noticed between Chinese and American tea drinkers. There was a leaf/water ratio vote on puerh forum, and I saw a few on Chinese tea forums too. Again, it's a comparison between both connoisseur level, both gongfu style (although gongfu style is not traditional style or puerh...), if my memory is right, on Chinese side, the most common ratio is 5-7g in 150ml, and on teachat side it's much higher ratio. There are a lot of outliers on each side, but the contrast is obvious. But for the leaf/water ratio, I feel it's partially because Americans have stronger stomachs averagely. It's not physically possible for everyone to handle high ratio, if if they want to.
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Re: Why aren't small 30-120ml teapot not manufactured new often?

Postby futurebird » Mar 30th, '13, 13:15

I think 80ml is an excellent size. With smaller pots I have to do two infusions to get my favorite cup full, drinking just 30ml of tea isn't enough to fill the mouth.

But I still use the smaller ones because of well...stinginess. Some of the teas I like costs like $3+ per gram. It's nice to be able to brew just $10-12 worth of such teas... though it's more labor intensive.

Some of the time I fill the fairness cup which takes 4-5 infusions with a 40ml pot. The advantage is the tea is at the perfect temperature once I'm done. (still to hot to drink, butt it cools in only a min or two, rather than taking forever...) And I have a nice large sample of the tea to enjoy without interruption.

My point is if I were very rich and les concerned about wasting tea I'd just buy morre tea and use 80ml rather the 40ml. -- though I don't know it seems like a shame not to infuse the tea until it has nothing more to offer.
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