The simple and eternal beauty of Chinese Yixing teapots is fascinating. It is so attractive that one of the best advice Teaparker gave me 6 years ago was to be very careful with them. Don't rush into teapots. The world of teapots can be as complex and tricky as the world of tea leaves. And while most tea is still just made by simple farmers, the nicest teapots are made by artists. Prices quickly get out of control and most of one's tea budget could go to the purchase of teapots if one isn't careful. Sometimes, a whole nation can be caught up in this fever, as it happened in Taiwan in the 1980s. Some people even mortaged their homes to purchase just 1 or 2 teapots! It was as crazy as the financial markets' recent wild rides.
So, since I started learning about tea, I mostly brew my teas in a porcelain gaiwan. This is the most neutral way of testing and tasting tea. Why use an Yixing teapot if you can make tea in a (much cheaper) gaiwan? The reason shouldn't be aesthetics, but taste. Because some teas do taste better when brewed in an zisha clay teapot. This is a good and easy angle to evaluate and understand teapots: does it make good tea? At least, it should be better than when made with a gaiwan. Teapots aren't 'Art', rather, they are folk art in the sense that their true value lies not in owning one, but in using it. So, it's not who made it or when that's important, but how it performs.
Function is the main criteria in my teapot selection. The clay of these 3 additional teapots is untainted zisha, fired at high temperature in a traditional kiln. The pictures were taken with today's sunlight. It looks as if they come alive. In the shade, the color of these 3 zisha teapots is the same as this Shi Piao Hu (picture right). These simple shapes are naturally elegant.
From up to down:
- He Huan Hu, 141 gr and 17 cl. Single hole. Tea pairing: roasted 'Dong Ding' Oolong.
- Shui Pin Hu, 134 gr and 13 cl. Flat, 7 holes filter. Tea pairing: roasted Oolong/Baozhong or strong tasting puerh,
- Qing Quan Hu, 210 gr and 20 cl. Single hole. Tea pairing: Roasted 'Dong Ding' Oolong.
Price: same as the zisha Shi Piao Hu in my selection.