Pointers For Buying and collecting the Zisha (Clay)
raw material for making Zisha teapots comes from
clay, which falls under three main categories
of Zisha (purple) , Duanni (yellow) and Zhuni
(red) clay, commonly known as arenaceous clay.
This clay is mostly found deep in a layer under
sedimentary rock formations, which can range from
10cm up to one metre in thickness. Research shows
that Zisha clay contains a high concentration
of iron. Under the ideal firing conditions during
production, i.e. when the accuracy of the high
and low temperature conditions are well controlled,
the Zisha teapot can truly capture the origin
of the tea essence. Moreover, with prolonged usage,
the teapot becomes even more lustrous.
it is assumed that all earthernware pots are made
of Zisha clay but this is untrue. Only pots and
utensils made from Jiangsu Yixing clay can be
regarded as high quality Zisha ware. Naturally,
a superior Zisha teapot should also be aesthetically
pleasing besides, the use of premium raw materials.
matters that investors in Zisha clay teapots are
most concerned about: Is it really Zisha? What
is the quality of the teapot? How do you know
if you are getting value for money?
the ages, the Zisha teapot has always epitomized
the perfect marriage of form and function. Widespread
commoditization has flooded the market with Zisha
pots, sold at affordable prices to the general
public. In truth, the price of a teapot with fine
craftsmanship and visual beauty would run into
thousands of Yuan. Practically speaking, mass
market teapots can only fulfill the functional
aspect. Consumers are usually concerned about
two matters: the raw material or clay and the
workmanship. For starters, it must be understood
that Zisha clay is not necessarily purple in colour.
The "Duanni" clay is white, "fortified
clay" is green, "Zhini" is purple,
"Zhuni" is red, and so on.
greatest virtue of Zisha pottery is its highly
porous structure. It should be understood that
the clay in its unprocessed form cannot be used
directly to make Zisha pottery. The clay must
undergo various processes of refining, panning,
filtering, etc to render it usable. Good clay
is even in colour with no visible imperfections.
Refining and panning ensures the purity of this
should be pointed out that, to achieve certain
artistic effects, a pot maker may add some unprocessed
clay or fine clay powder, which may or may not
be in the same colour as the original clay. Blending
raw clay of different colours can produce stunning
effects. Since different-coloured clay types have
different shrinkage ratios, many trials must be
carried out before the blending process is successful;
it is definitely not easy. Occasionally, some
products display a granular effect on the surface,
resembling orange peel or pear skin. This is actually
a special "granular skin" effect, not
to be confused with the flaws of an inferior product.
This technique is most frequently observed in
pottery made from Zhuni clay, as it has a particularly
high shrinkage ratio which renders it highly malleable
after firing. Adding burnt pottery fragments reduces
the shrinkage ratio, increases yield and alters
the aesthetic appearance. What's known in the
market as "pear-skinned Zhusha" and
"Pomegranate Rind zhusha" refers to
this type of pottery.
conclusion, an authentic Zisha teapot should be
uniform in colour and free from defects. Even
"twisted clay" and "granular skinned"
teapots have very pure colour. The value of Zisha
pottery is determined by the level of craftsmanship.
So, how do you distinguish between a bad and good
teapot? Making a good teapot is time-consuming.
Like a painting, a Zisha pot is more than just
the end product. More important are its unique
outlook, charm, and style.
Zisha teapot is also about expressing the maker's
ideas and style through his craftsmanship. Aside
from the aesthetic and functional aspects, a work
should express a distinctive character that makes
all the difference in the price of a teapot. So,
how do you distinguish between good and bad craftsmanship?
Teapot makers emphasize cost-effectiveness while
buyers prioritize value for money - considering
these factors, how do we apply what we have learnt
from our observations to achieve a win-win situation
Customs - The Fascination of ZiSha Teapot
and Nurturing the ZiSha Teapot
In addition to purchasing and using a teapot correctly,
true connoisseurs should understand the proper
techniques of nurturing a teapot. Pairing the
right tea with the appropriate teapot, the various
techniques of brewing tea, the correct way of
using and nurturing a teapot - all these are forms
of knowledge and skills. Once we grasp finer points
of nurturing a teapot, we are less likely to ruin
a valuable teapot. Using the correct techniques
to brew tea will bring out the best attributes
of a Zisha teapot, and even spark interest in
experienced tea and teapot connoisseurs agree
that the Zisha teapot is best suited for brewing
semi-fermented teas such as. Tie Guan Yin and
Oolong Tea and fully-fermented teas such as Pu-Erh
tea. Due to its tendency to conserve heat for
long durations, the Zisha teapot is unsuitable
for brewing green tea and other related varietals;
the high temperature would destroy the green tea's
nutrients. Green teas such as Longjing, Mao Feng,
Shou Mei and Biluochun are ideally brewed in glass-made
teapots. Other than enjoying the view of floating
tea leaves, one can also preserve the green tea's
nutrients. Of course, these rules are not hard
and fast; the tea drinker's personal preferences
and experiences also play an important role.
like a Zisha teapot's shape, size and raw material
also determine the type of tea suitable for brewing.
For example, a small teapot (with water capacity
lower than 70 ml) is unsuitable for fully matured
tea leaves but is appropriate for crushed tea
leaves. A round teapot, especially the small doliform
teapot, is ideal for big leaves. Generally, most
round teapots can be used for any kind of leaves;
most importantly, we need to consider the tea
leaves' degree of expansion during the brewing
evaluating small Zisha teapots, tea experts believe
that `the potterywork is the essence of a pot,
the smaller the pot the more valuable it is';
when serving tea, a small teapot contains and
does not diffuse the fragrance and the taste of
to demonstrate the tea's visual beauty, aroma
and flavour, small is better than large and shallow
is preferred over deep.
regardless of what kind of tea you brew, it is
advisable to stick to one kind of tea for a specific
teapot if possible. Over time, the teapot absorbs
the fragrance of the corresponding tea. With prolonged
usage, you can actually obtain the tea fragrance
just by adding hot water into the teapot, without
putting in tea leaves. A teapot that is used to
brew different types of tea will result in an
impure-tasting brew as the original tea flavor
will, naturally, be affected.
treatment of a new teapot is another important
aspect of tea nurturing. First, place the covered
teapot into a separate container filled with water.
Make sure the container is clean and big enough
to soak the teapot completely. You can also add
a small quantity of leaves and boil at low heat.
During this process, be careful not to let the
tea lid and teapot come in contact with the walls
of the container, as the delicate teapot may get
damaged. Simmer at low heat for 45 minutes to
one hour before turning off the stove. Let teapot
cool inside the container. You may repeat this
step, but first, remove the teapot and clean any
sandy residue inside the pot with clear water.
This procedure opens up the pores of the teapot
in preparation for future use.
simpler technique for treating a new teapot is
to pour boiled water into the teapot, soak for
about 15 minutes, then drain. Next, add a small
amount of tea leaves, and again, add more boiled
water, let it soak for 15 minutes, then discard
the water. This method is more convenient and
practical for most new teapot users. A key point
to remember: don't use just any kind of detergent
or soap to clean a Zisha teapot; it will leave
behind a smell. Simply use boiled water to rinse
the teapot. After that, open the cover of the
teapot and let it air dry.
Customs - The Fascination of ZiSha (Clay)
an authentic Zisha teapot from a fake
As a commodity, the Zisha teapot is the same as
other products. In terms of production and sales,
there are three grades of quality: high, medium
and low or crude, fine or premium. Fake or inferior
versions are also widely available in the market.
Therefore, whether it is for one's own use or
investment purposes, one should have a basic understanding
and knowledge of Zisha pots. This is to avoid
buying a Zisha teapot that has no value or worse,
one that doesn't function well.
how do you grade a Zisha teapot? We will describe
a simple method of comparing average, fine and
premium grades of teapot.
Refers to the general popular goods. Its target
is the mass-market consumer such as ordinary households
and teahouses. The workmanship is unrefined with
no distinguished features, usually produced in
large volumes to bring the price down. It is not
suitable for use in the art of tea appreciation.
However, even average teapots can also serve useful
functions in tea drinking, thus they are considered
economical yet practical.
Craftsmanship is superior to the average teapots.
Generally, they imitate celebrated high- quality
teapots from ancient times. Workmanship is considerably
good, though incomparable to the original teapots.
While these are made by skilled craftsmen, they
are churned out en masse and are thus affordably
priced. The quality and usability of these teapots
are definitely above average but lack uniqueness.
As it is mass produced, its value as a collectible
Exquisite teapots made by famous craftsmen.
While production is limited, you do get more than
one unit of each because it's impractical to make
only one Zisha pot each time. When making a premium
teapot, a prototype is generally duplicated into
a few tens. Premium teapots fetch very high prices,
far exceeding the average price of other normal
Zisha teapots. Such pots are collector's favourites.
Its quality, craftsmanship and design are ranked
highest among all the Zisha teapots.
Zisha teapot has penetrated the teapot market
by offering a blend of aesthetics and function.
The high market demand for Zisha teapot was also
spurred by the "Tea on the Road" movement.
Driven by the impact of commoditization, huge
volumes of Zisha teapots in varying qualities
surfaced rapidly in the market. This development
also means that the technique of making imitation
Zisha teapots have grown more sophisticated. Thus,
a buyer who lacks sufficient knowledge would be
incapable of telling if one is genuine or not.
A recent trend is the imitation of other famous
craftsmen's teapots. Another way is by counterfeiting
old products. Residual tea stains are accumulated
in a teapot to make it look aged. Then, a skilful
craftsman uses a special clay to customize the
teapot. Next, a seal design is configured by computer
to make it seem authentic. This type of Zisha
teapot is the hardest to distinguish.
real teapot lover would appreciate any teapot
in their hands, whether by famous craftsmen or
counterfeiters. However, what does matter is the
visual enjoyment you will experience when the
teapot suits your preferences, as well as feel,
the model's uniqueness, and color of the teapot.
The ease of use when pouring, how the water flows
when poured, and the drinking of authentic-tasting
tea are also important. A Zisha teapot chosen
according to the above will bring the joy of tea
culture to the teapot lover.