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Yixing clay teapot, embodying the essence of Chinese tea art


Yixing clay teapot or Zisha pot (literally means purple sand pot) is considered a precious piece of traditional Chinese tea art with a history of more than 2400 years. Yixing clay is baked at lower temperature than porcelain. It is unglazed. All of the teapots look much the same to untrained eyes - no more than 10 to 15 centimeters in height and diameter, of dark non-glossy surface, with a matching cap on top and mouth on the side. The teapot absorbs a small amount of the tea as it brewed inside. To maintain the consistency of the flavor, sometimes the user has several pots for different type of tea.


Yixing is a city in Jiangsu province, which has been part of the Yangtze Delta. Yixing clay is made by grinding and weathering these rocks. Which are rich preserved in Yixing. Yixing clay has three basic tones of color: purple, red and green. Whichever tone it is, the clay is mostly dark and unglazed, not glossy and shining bright like porcelain.



In the old time, owning clay teapot is even a symbol of social status. Dated back to the 15th century, Chinese artists and intellectuals began to be involved in making teapots. They composed poems, created paintings and printed personal seals on the pots. They would have their own pots tailor made, with original calligraphy, paintings and seals added. Most of the renowned teahouses in Yixing don't open until almost noon, and guests linger until late at night, enjoying tea from fine ceramics and an exhibition of Yixing teapots.


In recent decades, Yixing clay teapots have risen rapidly in value. A handmade Yixing clay pot may sell for a few hundred or thousands of Yuan. Souvenir pots can be purchased for 20 to 100 Yuan. It is unlikely to be handmade or of pure purple sand. Quality of the clay, the handicraft, artists involved and so on, all play a part in determining the price of a Yixing clay teapot. Now Yixing clay might be the most expensive mud in the world. A Yixing clay teapot sold for more than 12 million Yuan ($1.96 million) at a Beijing auction in 2010.

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