Evaluating Yixing Teapots — Part One

This is Part One in a two part series about eval­u­at­ing Yix­ing pots.
It is inspired in part by Michael Wong of
The Tea Gallery.


The world of Yix­ing teapots can some­times seem a daunt­ing mys­tery. Among tea lovers, few sub­jects gar­ner so many strong opin­ions. Pref­er­ences among col­lec­tors can be based on size or shape of the pot, the type or qual­ity of clay, age, or craftsmanship.

In this short series, we make no claims about the desir­abil­ity of any of the above prop­er­ties. Instead, we offer a series of exper­i­ments to aid you in eval­u­at­ing any type of teapot. We hope they will be use­ful in both eval­u­at­ing new teapots, and per­form­ing a “check up” on a well-loved pot.

  

As all tea begins with water, so does our explo­ration of Yix­ing. You should stick to the water you use most often and are best acquainted, avoid­ing things that might change the tex­ture of the water. Since I have been using the Maifan stones for most teas recently and have become accus­tomed to their influ­ence, I decided to keep them for this test.

Begin by fill­ing the teapot with water (bonus points for test­ing both cool and boiled water), leav­ing it some time to min­gle with the clay. Decant. Serve iden­ti­cal cups of water directly from the source, and from the pot. Note the differences.

Does the water have a thicker feel­ing, a last­ing feel­ing in the mouth, or any fla­vors picked up from the pot? From this par­tic­u­lar pot, we noticed both a live­li­ness in the mouth and a slight flo­ral taste. The pot is heav­ily sea­soned with Wuyi tea.

Also note any feel­ing to occur in your throat, pos­i­tive or negative.

When pour­ing water from the pot, also take spe­cial notice of two things.

First, how long does it take to empty the pot. Is it dif­fi­cult to empty all water from the pot? (I most often have this prob­lem with ball shaped filters.)

A long pour (> 10-15s) can be detri­men­tal to your brew­ing of sen­si­tive teas. Remem­ber to fac­tor pour times into your brew­ing. Also watch for drips, usu­ally from the front of the lid. It is not uncom­mon for even a well crafted pot like this one to lose a few drops when you first start pour­ing. Exces­sive drib­bles or drips after the very start of the pour could give a pot neg­a­tive marks — but some old pots are beau­ti­ful enough to use in spite of their flaws.

Take your obser­va­tions on changes in water and try to imag­ine how these qual­i­ties might be a ben­e­fit or dis­ad­van­tage to your favorite teas.

Read on to Part Two, where we exam­ine the effect of the clay pot on tea.

Cred­its: Pho­tog­ra­phy by Dae. Hand­some mod­el­ing by David.

5 thoughts on “Evaluating Yixing Teapots — Part One

  1. Got home an hour ago. Of course your post is up before mine… I feel like such a slacker. Looks great, there is some hand­some mod­el­ing going on! David cracked up at that credit.
    Bill from China Flair has been teach­ing this method for some years now as well.

  2. In spite of the rugged hand­some­ness, David has one very pretty hand (glimpsed in the photo of him pour­ing the drip­ping pot)

  3. @Nada

    Both hands are sym­met­ric and lovely — no flip­per baby here! I hope both Davids can join me for old puerh someday.

    @Yumcha
    So glad you could make it! Come back when­ever the bus­tle of the city becomes unbearable.

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  5. Pingback: Evaluating and Using Yixing pots | Walker Tea Review

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