Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...


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Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby auhckw » Nov 18th, '10, 21:20

I would like to summarized what I've learned about Yixing clay for the past 1 week from a teashop (TC). Previously I know nothing about Yixing clay, and I hope what I've learned is correct, so correct me if I've learned wrong :)

General Info

Yixing is the name of a place where it is famous for producing clays for teapots, there are other places which produces those similar clay out of Yixing such as Chao Zhou, Sado, etc. Place to mine clays are usually from Mountain or Mines.

Some of Yixing clay is getting depleted/extinct, where new teapots are made based on previous harvested clay which was mined and stored long ago. Government has even prevent some of the mining from certain area and not releasing new license to mine them.

Back then, there is this Factory No. 1. It is the main factory that produces Teapots. The Factory is no longer operational but there are many sub studios in it that is making teapots. There are also many artist and freelancer who are doing it too out of the studio.

Types of Clay

The word Zisha is the general word for the clay. There are 3 sub categories of Zisha:-
-Zini (Purple clay) - Also known as Zisha
-Hongni (Red Clay)
-Duanni (Green Clay)

There are many sub categories for the 3 types of clays too, Eg, Zini has a subcategory called Di Cao Cing, etc, Hongni has a subcategory called Zhuni, etc.

In general in order to make a teapot, the clay is mixed, cause by itself it is too soft to form the shape. It is a matter of what they mixed. Mixed with own kind of clay / cooked clay? Mixed with sand? Mixed with chemical to produce/mimic certain kind of clay? The level of mixture?

Firing method/temperature for baking the teapot will also differ the colour of the teapot of the same category. And for some kind of teapots, some chemical are purposely put in to make it become black, other colours and glossy.

So in terms of functionality how does it defers?

Zini:-
-Smoother feeling on the throat
-Reduces bitterness, astringency
-More porous
-Retain heat lesser

Hongni:-
-Produce lesser smooth feeling on the throat like Zini. The feeling is more on the tongue and mouth area
-It will beef up the aroma and flavor of the tea compared to Zini. Bringing the higher note of the tea
-Less porous
-Retain heat better

Duanni
-Not as smooth as Zini
-Not as aroma and flavor as Hongni
-Balance?

If the tea itself is bitter, Hongni will boost it up so it would be better to go for Zini that is able to absorb it better it is more porous. But if the tea itself is the kind of roasted (oolong) or has weaker aroma and flavor, using Hongni would be good as it improves it.

Choosing which clay for which tea can differ from one person to another depending on how the person likes his/her tea. So there is no rule for what can go in or not in the pot, or what is better or lesser good for the pot. So trial and error till you find yourself what you liked. But it is always best to dedicate the pot for a certain kind of tea and not mixing too much.

Modern vs Old clay

People usually say Old teapots are better as it is better/purer clay. It may be true, but workmanship and firing techniques used back then may be of lesser quality and consistency as Modern teapots. And clay no matter Modern or Old are still clay from thousands of years old from the ground. Clay did not come out of yesterday.

How to check a teapot?

-The front spout and the back handle should be aligned
-Look out for hairline cracks. This is usually more obvious after the teapot is rinsed with hot water and cooled down
-Pour some hot water in, let it sit for a while. Pour out the hot water. Smell the inner pot for any weird chemical smell
-Holding and pouring of the water should be smooth. There shouldn't be a lot of leakage from the cap
-The shorter the time for it to pour the water out, the better it is for not over steeping the tea leaves
-Tilt the teapot 90 degrees and cap should not fall off. Be very careful
-Depending on the design of the teapot, while pouring, cover the hole on the cap and the water should stopped instantly
-If the hole is not reachable, put in some water (3/4 full), while holding the hole on the spout, turn the pot upside down and the cap should not fall off. Be very careful

How to open a new teapot

Traditional method is to boil it, then put in some tea leaves you want for the pot to be dedicated, and cook it. But this method may be dangerous as it may clog the pores of the teapot and also may cause uneven glossiness next time.

This was recommended instead:-
-While washing the teapot with water, use something soft and wipe the inner and outer part of the teapot
-If it is dirty, you can use a toothbrush and gently scrub it
-Once done, fill up the teapot with normal temperature water and let it sit for a while
-Pour hot water on the outer side of the teapot
-Then pour hot water into the teapot which has the normal temperature water in it and let it overflow
-Pour out all the water, and fill it up with hot water on the inner to the max and wetting the outer pot. Repeat this step couple of times

Teapot Maintenance

While using the teapot for brewing, use a brush and brush away the leftover water on the outer teapot so that it will not be stained on the particular area

After cleaning the teapot (just remove the leaves, rinse with hot water, don't use soap), open up the lid and leave it to dry. Leave the lid open for couple of days. It may look dry on the outside, but inner side may be still wet.

Whether or not to polish the teapot, some say it is not advisable as it will make the teapot look too glossy or unnatural glossy.
Last edited by auhckw on Nov 19th, '10, 02:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby chrl42 » Nov 19th, '10, 01:05

auhckw wrote:The word Zisha is the general word for the clay. There are 3 sub categories of Zisha:-
-Zini (Purple clay) - Also known as Zisha
-Hongni (Red Clay)
-Duanni (Green Clay)

There are many sub categories for the 3 types of clays too, Eg, Zini has a subcategory called Di Cao Cing, etc, Hongni has a subcategory called Zhuni, etc.

In general in order to make a teapot, the clay is mixed, cause by itself it is too soft to form the shape. It is a matter of what they mixed. Mixed with own kind of clay / cooked clay? Mixed with sand? Mixed with chemical to produce/mimic certain kind of clay? The level of mixture?

Modern vs Old clay

People usually say Old teapots are better as it is better/purer clay. It may be true, but workmanship and firing techniques used back then may be of lesser quality and consistency as Modern teapots. And clay no matter Modern or Old are still clay from thousands of years old from the ground. Clay did not come out of yesterday.


Many thanks to great master from Malaysia :D

Let me toss some coins as communication is the very last stage of Yixing journey (at least that's what they say)

People often double-use the term green clay (lvni) and Duanni but they are not the same, Lvni is sort of subcategory of Duanni, because purity is very highly important in Lvni.

Also they are many clays themselves are plastic enough to shape on its own without mixing. Then there are clays not plastic enough for using soley. Like Lvni, factory-1 Qing Shui ni, Da Hongni etc, there are also clays that often sees a failure of firing, example is Zhuni and Di Cao Qing. So former and latter are different, also reason for mixing is different.

For old/new clays..it's undeniable old days had better clays, but it doesn't mean old pots are made of all good clays. I don't know much about wood-kiln, but factory-1's heavy oil tunnel kiln (goverment-owned) is said to idle for Zisha, noticeable is they just operate to fire one time quick and high. Merit is every pots receive the same amount of heat and light, and pots coming out of it tends to be shiner, brighter, gets seasoned faster and breathes better.

But delicate clay like Zhuni needs a personnel watching and adjusting (temperature), so today's environment is just fine I believe. My opinion.
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby JBaymore » Nov 19th, '10, 11:30

Anyone interested in schollarly work on Yixing teapots might want to take a look at this book by a friend of mine. Unfortunately, he passed away a few months ago at far too young an age.

http://www.marvinsweet.com/publications/Yixing.pdf

http://www.amazon.com/Yixing-Effect-Ech ... B003OPJ4KA

http://www.sheffield-pottery.com/product-p/msye.htm

viewtopic.php?f=11&p=160876

best,

...............john
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby alan logan » Nov 19th, '10, 13:02

+ 2 pages worth reading (have certainly been mentioned here):
http://terebess.hu/english/yixing1.html (scroll down to "YIXING TEAPOTS" section)
http://terebess.hu/english/yixing2.html
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby tea.and.peace » Oct 17th, '11, 21:59

I'm new to this stuff so forgive me.

I have a pouring vessel, and am experimenting with green oolongs.

Does the yixing teapot have the same duties as a vessel ? Is it just personal preference on if you use a pour vessel, or a yixing teapot ? Or does the teapot serve a different purpose ? Is it just a choice of clay, or porcelain ? Some prefer clay. Some prefer porcelain.

Could you enlighten me a little bit ?
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby bagua7 » Oct 17th, '11, 23:21

Vessel is any material suitable to brew tea: glass, porcelain, clay, cast iron, etc.

My experience is limited to the following:

1. Glass. I am not very keen of thin glass anymore, when brewing green and white tea, because it has the habit of infusing them with an artificial taste.

2. Porcelain. It gives you the whole range of flavours associated with the tea you are brewing. So to speak you 'get what you brew.'

3. Clay. Can either ruin your tea experience (poor quality of the clay being used, inappropriate clay for the tea being brewed, type of teapot or thickness of the teapot's walls) or enhance it, i.e. when brewing green puerh, using a teapot made of a porous clay like duan ni or di cao qing the bitter or astringent component of the tea will be mellowed while keeping the notes associated with the particular young puerh you are brewing: plum, floral, licorice...
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby tea.and.peace » Oct 17th, '11, 23:27

I see so basically it is just personal preference kind of thing.

I have a porcelain pouring vessel. The yixing pots look pricey. I'll need more experience, and a lot more yixing research before I ever consider one.

Happy with my current porcelain vessel though.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby Herb_Master » Oct 18th, '11, 09:56

tea.and.peace wrote:I'm new to this stuff so forgive me.

I have a pouring vessel, and am experimenting with green oolongs.

Does the yixing teapot have the same duties as a vessel ?


I am not sure what you mean by pouring vessel, a little more detail on yours, would be useful.

There is a pouring vessel called a Cha Hei - variously translated as - Pitcher, Fair Cup or Justice Cup. Any small Jug or Pitcher could be used as one, even if it was not produced for that purpose.

A Cha Hei is not intended as a brewing vessel.

There are many methods of brewing, amongst them could be found a linear thread from Gong Fu brewing through to Western style brewing.

At the Western end of the thread a relatively small amount of leaf to a larger teapot will require long brewing infusions, and will probably get a maximum of 2 infusions from the leaf..
At the Gong Fu end of this thread a lot of leaf in a much smaller teapot will require short tending (with high density of leaves) to very short infusions. The leaves will usually allow multiple infusions, and with high quality leaves the number can be very high.

Pouring the tea from the teapot into cups, one by one can take many seconds, all the while you are pouring the liquor in the teapot is continuing to extract from the leaves. If the infusion was timed at 10 seconds, and pouring into 4 cups took 10 seconds then the 1st cup would have been brewed for about 12 seconds but the 4th cup would have been brewed for about 18 seconds.

Pouring from the teapot into a Cha Hei, results in 1 homogenous infusion, which can then be poured into the 4 cups, resulting in a Fair share for all.


Cha Hei's are not designed for brewing.

There is a further method of brewing, commonly in a Tall Glass, or other suitable vessel, which is usually referred to by Tea Chatters as 'Grandpa Style'. To the Leaf water is added, after suitable infusion,one starts to sip from the glass, when the brew is starting to get (too) strong more water is added.

A Pouring vessel could perhaps be adapted for the 'Grandpa Style' of brewing, pouring into a cup, rather than sipping from the Pouring Vessel.

Yixing teapots are designed for brewing, the smaller ones are a common choice for Gong Fu brewing, the Larger ones may be used further up the thread to Western style brewing. Yixing teapots have their own properties, teapots made from other clays, glass, porcelain etc can also be used for brewing, with or without a Cha Hei.

And then there is the whole world of Gai Wan and Gai Bei. A very attractive and usable Gaiwan can be purchased for a fraction of the price of a Yixing Teapot and will give you far greater control (and pleasure) over the brewing process.
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby tea.and.peace » Oct 18th, '11, 11:22

Herb_Master wrote:
tea.and.peace wrote:I'm new to this stuff so forgive me.

I have a pouring vessel, and am experimenting with green oolongs.

Does the yixing teapot have the same duties as a vessel ?


I am not sure what you mean by pouring vessel, a little more detail on yours, would be useful.

There is a pouring vessel called a Cha Hei - variously translated as - Pitcher, Fair Cup or Justice Cup. Any small Jug or Pitcher could be used as one, even if it was not produced for that purpose.

A Cha Hei is not intended as a brewing vessel.

There are many methods of brewing, amongst them could be found a linear thread from Gong Fu brewing through to Western style brewing.

At the Western end of the thread a relatively small amount of leaf to a larger teapot will require long brewing infusions, and will probably get a maximum of 2 infusions from the leaf..
At the Gong Fu end of this thread a lot of leaf in a much smaller teapot will require short tending (with high density of leaves) to very short infusions. The leaves will usually allow multiple infusions, and with high quality leaves the number can be very high.

Pouring the tea from the teapot into cups, one by one can take many seconds, all the while you are pouring the liquor in the teapot is continuing to extract from the leaves. If the infusion was timed at 10 seconds, and pouring into 4 cups took 10 seconds then the 1st cup would have been brewed for about 12 seconds but the 4th cup would have been brewed for about 18 seconds.

Pouring from the teapot into a Cha Hei, results in 1 homogenous infusion, which can then be poured into the 4 cups, resulting in a Fair share for all.


Cha Hei's are not designed for brewing.

There is a further method of brewing, commonly in a Tall Glass, or other suitable vessel, which is usually referred to by Tea Chatters as 'Grandpa Style'. To the Leaf water is added, after suitable infusion,one starts to sip from the glass, when the brew is starting to get (too) strong more water is added.

A Pouring vessel could perhaps be adapted for the 'Grandpa Style' of brewing, pouring into a cup, rather than sipping from the Pouring Vessel.

Yixing teapots are designed for brewing, the smaller ones are a common choice for Gong Fu brewing, the Larger ones may be used further up the thread to Western style brewing. Yixing teapots have their own properties, teapots made from other clays, glass, porcelain etc can also be used for brewing, with or without a Cha Hei.

And then there is the whole world of Gai Wan and Gai Bei. A very attractive and usable Gaiwan can be purchased for a fraction of the price of a Yixing Teapot and will give you far greater control (and pleasure) over the brewing process.


I have two different size gaiwans. The one I use depends on amount of people drinking. I will do multiple infusions, and each infusion is longer. Then after the infusion I pour that into a pour vessel. Then I take tea in pour vessel, and pour that into tiny tea cups.

You provided a bit more info then I was looking for. I'm still new, and I get confused easily. Though I understand now the yixing is for brewing, and pouring. So it is a different process then what I do currently.

I really like the style I'm using currently. I just like the process. I see some retailers call it a pitcher rather then a pouring vessel.

I thought I could get a nice small yixing to use as a pouring vessel, but most of what I have seen is larger in size. However I have not looked that hard yet, and really my smaller gaiwan has pretty much resolved my issue. So a yixing is not on my radar as much now. I was just curious of the yixing main purpose to use on. I think you clarified it for me. Thanks.
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby Herb_Master » Oct 18th, '11, 12:38

Mmmn, you mentioned teapot, which made me think you wanted to brew in it. You can decant from your Gaiwan into any pouring vessel.

And you can get Cha Hei made from Yixing Clay

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Dragon-Tea-House/Yixing-Clay-Cha-Hai-/_i.html?_fsub=11838261&_sid=150831608&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

http://zishayixing.com/catalog/33
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby wyardley » Oct 18th, '11, 13:12

I don't understand what you mean by pouring vessel. Obviously you need to pour the tea out of whatever you brew it in somehow....

As far as using a fair cup or similar device vs. pouring directly from the brewing vessel to tea cups, that's a matter of style, and has almost nothing to do with what you're using to brew the tea. Whether you're brewing with a Yixing teapot or another kind of brewing vessel, you can either pour straight into the drinking cups, or pour into a fair cup first, and then from there into the teacups.

The main reasons to use the fair cup is:
1) Easier when serving lots of guests, (and sometimes when just serving yourself).
2) Ensures consistent strength between the cups you're serving more easily than when pouring directly from the brewing vessel.
3) Will cool the tea down slightly, which may or may not be what you want in a given situation.

Main reasons to pour directly into drinking cups:
1) Doesn't cool down the tea as much
2) Simpler, less fussy, and more traditional, requires less equipment
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby tea.and.peace » Oct 18th, '11, 16:24

Sorry to be confusing. I just wanted to know the purpose of a yixing. Basically the yixing pot replaces the gaiwan. So it is just a alternative brew method.

This link below shows my pouring vessel. I thought pour vessel was a common term in tea ware. Sorry.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/barefoot_c ... hotostream
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Re: Yixing lessons/advices - Share yours here...

Postby tea.and.peace » Oct 18th, '11, 16:28

Herb_Master wrote:Mmmn, you mentioned teapot, which made me think you wanted to brew in it. You can decant from your Gaiwan into any pouring vessel.

And you can get Cha Hei made from Yixing Clay

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Dragon-Tea-House/Yixing-Clay-Cha-Hai-/_i.html?_fsub=11838261&_sid=150831608&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

http://zishayixing.com/catalog/33

Those look nice. No not to brew in you are correct. Being a slow drinker my tea was getting too cool in my pouring vessel. So originally I was looking at a yixing pot since they had lids. To hold the brewed tea temperature better. Though I found yixing pots to be too large, and expensive in what I was trying to resolve. Hope that makes sense.

I realized my gaiwan was too big for one. With my slow drinking the tea would cool in the pour vessel, and too much tea per infusion. I got a smaller gaiwan so that basically solved my issue.
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