Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby Rem » Apr 1st, '13, 12:19

So I'm coming up on the six month anniversary of getting married and, in looking forward to the first year, I want to invest in something that ages with us (or maybe I'm just a budding tea nerd who has a penchant for things that grow more beautiful with use and want to share that with my best friend/most important person)--either way the end result seems to be the same. I'm going to be starting us a yixing pot, because I'm a silly kind of romantic and want to watch it age with our time together.

I'm trying to put together understanding/research of all of this as best I can in order to make educated decisions but most of my searches are peppered with bits of explanations amongst a wash of "We assume you already know this stuff so now we'll be using the Big Words of the tea world" and I have to devolve into individual term searches and become lost again. I haven't found a yixing beginners essential guide really and would love some advice on just some basic things.

Firstly, what are good kinds of tea for marrying to a yixing pot? (I've read of pu erh and oolong being favorites but then there are graduations between those that I've never heard of and wouldn't know how to evaluate unless the tea seller themselves told me whether it was light/dark raw/not...raw?)

I know there are various different kinds of pots with reddish versions, darker brown/purple versions, and a more yellow/light colored (which all impart a different impact on the flavor)--is there a particular art to figuring out if oolong is best for this sort of clay/sand vs the other?

If there's a place to get this kind of information I'd love the links/book recommendations/forum. If I can get it peicemeal here I'd appreciate that beyond words too. In general, thank you for any and all help for a newb to yixing pots.
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby futurebird » Apr 1st, '13, 12:35

I think is a very romantic idea. Will you two drink tea together and age the pot? That sounds lovely! (I will tell this to my husband for certain... oh maybe he'd get me one of these pots for our 10 year anniversary... coming soon.)

Or is it more of an investment and less of a practical item?

If it is to be an investment, my advice is to be very careful and be ready for it to fail. People like you and I who are not experienced in this kind of antique can have a hard time buying authentic antique pots (I'm talking about stuff older than 1960)-- In fact I've never bought an antique pot for this reason. I have seen so many fakes good ones bad ones... and some pots that were likely fakes but I didn't even know.

So my advice is make certain that you like what you buy, so even if it is fake in some way it can still bring you joy.

Now if this is about drinking tea... My humble advice is that I think you have everything backwards. Don't get a pot then drink tea to match it... first find the tea that you love best...then find the right pot for it.

What kind of tea do you like best?

Matching a pot to tea is a personal thing... though most people do not drink green teas from yixing pots. those are for oolong and pureh as you already know.

As for the rest I'll let some of our resident experts help you out!
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby Joel Byron » Apr 1st, '13, 12:50

Yixing Beginner's Guide:

Rule # 1:

Buy a gaiwan and spend the extra money on better tea.

Rule # 2:

Refer to Rule # 1

That's been my experience anyway, YMMV.
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby Rem » Apr 1st, '13, 13:15

futurebird wrote:I think is a very romantic idea. Will you two drink tea together and age the pot? That sounds lovely! (I will tell this to my husband for certain... oh maybe he'd get me one of these pots for our 10 year anniversary... coming soon.)


Thank you! It is definitely for buying a new pot now and aging it by drinking together over time. The investment is just having something that has aged with us through our marriage that we've shared together (and hopefully enjoyed together quite well too).


futurebird wrote:Now if this is about drinking tea... My humble advice is that I think you have everything backwards. Don't get a pot then drink tea to match it... first find the tea that you love best...then find the right pot for it.

What kind of tea do you like best?

Matching a pot to tea is a personal thing... though most people do not drink green teas from yixing pots. those are for oolong and pureh as you already know.

As for the rest I'll let some of our resident experts help you out!


I'm from the American South natively, so tea was more common than water growing up, but only a kind of very banal tea. It's only the past five years or so I've been learning loose leaf tea and gaining a greater appreciation for what a wide variety of taste is available--I've jumped in joyously with both feet and tea culture has been a beautiful thing to learn for me.

As for teas I like, black tea is just a given, but it sounds like wasted on something as special as a yixing pot. I love the subtleties of white tea and the richness of green tea. Oolongs are the newest thing for me. Pu erh I'd only recently found out about looking into yixing teas and I haven't even had a chance to try such a thing yet. (Hopefully I've developed a pallet to enjoy it, but if oolong are so new to me probably not yet). For my partner, they're more versed than I am, but I think haven't heard of pu erh either when I tried sideways talking about the idea of the yixing pot.

I know I've got a lot of experimentation in front of me with the teas in general to find the correct tea for us, I just want to make sure I'm looking in the right place as I'd like to do this correctly. That's why I'm starting while I have months to do research and prepare. Thank you for the advice!
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby Rem » Apr 1st, '13, 13:19

Joel Byron wrote:Yixing Beginner's Guide:

Rule # 1:

Buy a gaiwan and spend the extra money on better tea.

Rule # 2:

Refer to Rule # 1

That's been my experience anyway, YMMV.


Yes! Gaiwan is my first purchase it looks like from even a cursory look through the yixing side of the forums. For the extra money on better teas, do you have advice on good tea suppliers? Where I previously lived there was a wonderful privately owned tea shop with a very passionate owner who I trusted emphatically about such things. But alas I've moved recently and my newest go to supplier I only know of is Adagio (which I've overall loved thus far).
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby futurebird » Apr 1st, '13, 13:33

What kind of tea? If puerh I'd say get samples, banna tea, essence of tea, and sampletea.com are all good for puerh and some oolong too. There are other good places to shop, but these have small samples (think one or two sessions with the teapot) for $5-$20 of very good teas. That way you can spend say $150 and get 12+ fine teas to try... and about 30+ sessions.
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby ethan » Apr 1st, '13, 15:44

REM, If the 2 of you will enjoy buying a teapot & playing w/ it w/o spending > you can afford, then go ahead.
I have 1 yixing pot that seems like it may never add to the flavor of tea. I have hoped to find the right tea for that pot & hoped the pot would season etc; however, it may just be a vessel that holds the tea & water to let them do what they can together on their own. I love the way it looks, & it cost < $25, so....
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby tingjunkie » Apr 1st, '13, 18:08

Hi Rem,
It's a very lovely idea. I hate to answer questions with more questions but...

1) Are you and your partner looking to go deep down the tea rabbit hole and become connoisseurs of high quality tea in the future, OR, will tea likely be just a simple way to spend some peaceful time together and enjoy each others company? If you are looking to get serious about tea, you will almost certainly eventually gravitate towards teapots that are about 150ml (5oz) or less, but if you are going to stay casual drinkers you might want to look at pots 150ml and up.

2) Do you anticipate using this teapot many times per week, or only a few times per year on special occasions? The quality of the clay should be important either way, but if this is a pot you will use very often, you probably want to go with a nice simple shape. If it's going to be a special occasion pot, you can get a little more ornamental with it. Also, if this pot will only get used a few times per year, selecting a nice clay that will gain patina quickly will become more important.

3) Most importantly, what's your budget? Since you are just discovering teas and are unsure what tea you'd want to pair the pot with, there are some clays that (in my opinion) are great at handling a wide range of teas quite well, whereas other clays are quite limited in the teas I'd pair with them. In general, higher fired clay can be paired with more teas, and lower fired or especially porous clays pair with less. Obviously, the larger your budget, the better chance of affording a pot with great versatile clay, and the better chance you will end up with a pot that's a joy to use and admire.
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby bagua7 » Apr 1st, '13, 20:57

Rem,

What specific types of tea are you thinking of drinking?

Here's a good reading to get you started:

http://www.thechineseteashop.com/how-to ... eapot.html

Additional info provided by a user called chrl42:

Light oolong (Taiwanese or TGY) - I prefer thin-walled zhu ni, reasons are:
1. Very good at protecting aroma.
2. Thin-wall let the leaves uncooked (you know 'spinach' taste..)

Dark oolong (wuyi) - Southern Chinese traditionally preferred zhu ni pots according to Gong Fu scripts “Mengchen pot (zhu ni) / Wuyi teas / Ruoshen (thin, small cups).” I personally like zhu ni cos it can protect aroma and 'yan yun'.

Shou puerh and Hong cha (red tea) - I like 'breathing' clay with sand texture, like benshan luni, di cao qing or Huanglong Shan zi ni type.

Sheng puerh - for young ones I'd pick 'breathing' clay above, for Gushu and aged ones I'd pick zhu ni. Because I like zhu ni's honesty, which means it just brews as it supposed to be (like porcelain) without anything missing, just good for retaining heat.

Additional note to the above:

Phoenix Mountain oolong (dancong) - These are very fussy teas. Stick to porcelain to brew them unless you accidentally find a pot that likes them.

Check Jing Tea Shop's pot display and their pairings. It can give you a rough idea of what you are looking for.

Yixing pots I use for the teas I drink:

1. Shou puerh: zi ni, di cao qing, duan ni, qing shui ni and jiangpo ni
2. Sheng puerh: duan ni, qing shui ni
3. Chinese green tea: well-seasoned duan ni
4. Red tea: zi ni
5. Wuji Rock oolongs: hong ni, new zhu ni
6. Dancong oolong: qing shui ni, zi ni (high fired in both instances)
7. Taiwanese high-mountain oolongs: as per no. 5


As a final note, ultimately the teapot will choose the tea.
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Re: Yixing Advice for a newb starting a tradition

Postby theredbaron » Apr 2nd, '13, 01:51

As others have suggested here, i would first find out if you like Chinese Oolong and/or Pu Erh teas, and if you stick with it.

That means learning about tea first. Initially you can read many forum posts here, and learn how to prepare. I would initially buy a cheap Gaiwan set, just to see if this way of drinking tea suits you, and try a variety of tea samples of the different companies that are talked about.
If you think of getting more serious, then you will not get around to also learn and try with knowledgeable people in person (such as in established tea shops specialized in Chinese tea art).

Quality Yixing pots generally come last. It is very difficult to find good pots nowadays. Not because they are not around, but the vast majority offered on the market are crap. Especially when you are living in the west, it is not easy to find a good tea pot, and not all that is offered on the net is genuine, or of quality (Stay away from ebay - 99.99% of pots offered there are a complete waste of money!).

I would not be too hung up on the different clays though - a good quality common Hong Ni (red clay), or common Zisha (purple clay) as was used in commercial pots up to the 1970's or 80's is good enough (for most tea lovers those sort of pots are the pots they look mostly for), and far better than some supposed fancy clay that may be not pure or even fake.

Don't be fooled by so called "artist's" pots - true artist's pots are extremely expensive (some of them are worth the price of a house).

Drinking and appreciating Chinese tea is a life long pursuit, and it takes years/decades of learning.
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