1 (edited by ABx 2009-04-20 08:28:38)

Topic: Buying Yixing pots online

Yixing is a whole subject of study in itself, as those of you that are into it aptly show us :) There are a lot of things to consider, especially in the clay, that seem a bit esoteric to the beginner. I know there are a lot of poor pots out there with awful clay that could probably ruin a tea. Since many of us in the states don't have the ability to go to different stores and talk to someone knowledgeable, we have to buy most of our pots online. I am personally lucky enough to have a local vendor that I trust who is pretty knowledgeable and sells pots with good value, but many people here are not.

So I think that it would be really valuable if some of the more knowledgeable members here could give some basic tips on things to look for when choosing a pot - especially (but not exclusively) online. Note that I'm talking about pragmatic qualities, and not qualities that would only affect collector's value. Obviously there's only so much you can find out online, so buying online will always be a gamble to some extent, but what can a beginner look for to raise the chances of getting a good pot?

One thing I would also like to see, and I think it would be appropriate here but may warrant its own thread, is an abbreviated list of clay types and their properties. For example: "Duanni: white clay [other visible properties]. Highly porous, tends to absorb more than others like x, y, z. Often better for non-fragrant teas or teas with deeper bass notes like a, b, c."

I know that many of these things are covered in some depth in other threads here and on TeaChat, but I think that the key there is that it's in depth (even if it's not terribly deep). What I would really like to see is something akin to a reference sheet that a beginner could keep in mind when looking for a pot. I think that a good list of things to avoid would also be quite valuable here.

Some things that I have picked up myself over the last couple years:
- Find a trustworthy vendor
- Look for tight clay, which should have a sort of satin finish (not waxy)
- Stay away from anything that looks like it has tea stains, especially when they're cheap, unless you can really trust the vendor. You're not going to get an antique for a low price and there are many out there rubbed with shoe polish. (Since some seem to actually not mind this, I think it's worth keeping in mind that shoe polish contains added oils meant to nourish leather that surely get absorbed by the teapot and probably won't come out except in your tea.)

I could probably come up with more, but it's late and I'll leave it to the experts. I could be wrong in my few tips, too, but it should at least give you an idea of what I'm thinking.


Re: Buying Yixing pots online

I think it's so hard to know the quality of pot by online, to do this, one not only needs understanding of yixing 101 but also subjects go far beyond abstract athestic value and subconsciousness I think.

Everyone has different opinions and different preference, I wrote some humble(should be) opinion the other night according to my preference.

Light-Oolong (Taiwanese or TGY) - I prefer thin-walled Zhuni, reason is 1) Zhuni is very good at protecting aroma 2) thin-wall let the leaves uncooked (you know 'spinach' taste..)

Dark-Oolong (Wuyi) - Southern Chinese traditionally preferred Zhuni pots according to GongFu scripts "Mengchen pot (zhuni) / Wuyi teas / Ruoshen (thin, small cups)", I personally like Zhuni cos it can protect aroma and 'Yan Yun'.

Shu and Hongcha - I like 'breathing' clay with sand texture, like Benshan Luni, Di Cao Qing or Huanglong Shan Zini type..

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

For Duanni, I don't know..original Duanni is really rare, even Zima (sesame) Duanni is. Most of Duanni is a result of mixing a lot of clays together or none-Huanglong Shan clay. Good Duanni (Benshan Luni as well) actually doesn't get blot or stain, cos minimum temperature required is just over 1200C, these clays, you don't need a towel, just a bit of water erases all. Other good clays, all very easy to handle, clays with lots of stain and unglossy are low temp fired ones and not sandy.

Zhuni is known for not breathing, other clays sand-texture (sand here means quartz silica(like glass) not unfiltered mesh clays) clays breathe well, clay-texture clays don't do that well. Huanglong mountain clays are mostly sand-texture clay and high temp-fired.
Temperature of firing, also affects breathing. Low temp-fired one breathes well, but it leaks heat and breathing stops at some point.
It's just something I heard, don't accuse me so much :)

your comment "a sort of satin finish (not waxy)" - not sure about that, I don't know the exact reason of making pot out of kiln waxy, one thing is high temperature of firing, some story has it it depends on kiln (for example, gas kiln).
On the antique and price.. antique doesn't really have to be expensive if it's after ROC or CR. I just don't like to take after something pre-used without having fun of making new pot into antique.

I think best way is to use them and learn by oneself.


Re: Buying Yixing pots online

I read many of the posts here and I learned a bit... I observed that many tea drinkers prefer zhu ni teapots, even puerh drinkers, wu yi, dancong, light oolong drinkers, so all tea category that require gong fu brewing for best result, does this mean that Zhu Ni is the best clay for gong fu cha? I own a zhu ni and it is the only teapot I own for oolong, I am really satisfied with it, and as I read on forums should I buy only zhu ni for best results for all types of tea?
          And the information about the yixing pot absorbing the teaoils and enchancing further brews with the tea oils from previous brews is just a comercial for these teapots, as zhu ni doesn`t really absorb anything, mine has almost no smell of tea after 6 month of use, and a banko purple clay teapot smells of tea.

Re: Buying Yixing pots online

I think most pot collectors would like to own at least one or two pieces of genuine zhuni. As far as whether it's the best clay, I think it depends on the tea... I haven't seen anyone who is claiming it is the best clay for *all* types of tea. Everyone has their own theories about what pots match well with what teas; in general, I think it depends a lot on whether you're trying to soften the taste of the tea and mask any flaws it might have, or whether you want to enjoy the tea (hopefully one with very few flaws) as it is. Of course, at that point, porcelain or silver might be as good (or better) choice; our friend Marshaln mentions his thoughts about this here:
http://marshaln.xanga.com/698160666/wha … anyway-iv/ (this whole series of posts is worth reading if you haven't already)

So given that a genuine old zhuni pot is both beautiful and rare, it stands to reason that anyone owning such a pot would come up with any reason possible to use it (as would I).

as zhu ni doesn`t really absorb anything, mine has almost no smell of tea after 6 month of use, and a banko purple clay teapot smells of tea.

While zhuni is less porous than a lot of other types of zisha, I don't think it's true that it doesn't absorb anything. As far as the pot smelling of tea or not, I think this depends on the individual pot as well as the type of tea brewed in it; I have pots which retain tea smells for quite some time after use, but others which don't smell at all even after frequent use.

I have also read that red clay (whether zhuni, hong ni, or local Chaozhou clay) is considered lucky in parts of Fujian because of the color; regardless of the reason, red clay pots are traditional for gong fu in certain geographic regions.

Is the pot you have modern zhuni?

Re: Buying Yixing pots online

  Da Hong Pao clay from Yunnan sourcing, that was mined in fudong, this is a new teapot.

Re: Buying Yixing pots online

Would someone please take a look at this.


I got it online from Pure Puerh (who are great people), described as new pot from old clay. It has a chop on the inside side wall that I can't photography and a small chop on lid. It feels a little thicker than some. I feel like it's hand made at least in part because of tool marks on the inside.

Does anyone have a suggestion what tea to try? I'm thinking Taiwan oolong.
Does anyone know if this shape has a name.

Any and all info appreciated.

7 (edited by brandon 2011-03-03 23:51:35)

Re: Buying Yixing pots online

Clay looks like Zi Ni or Pin Zi Ni - I estimate it at medium-low porosity, definitely makes an appreciable reduction in aroma.
So Taiwan oolong would not be my first guess. I like to pair this kind of clay with aged puerh or high fire wuyi/tgy.

BTW, I buy the claim of 'new pot old clay' and it looks very nice. Good buy.

Re: Buying Yixing pots online

Thanks Brandon!