TEA POTS & ACCESSORIES

XI SHI YIXING CLAY POT

STOCK CODE: CL-YXCLAY
QUANTITY: 200ml

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in stock £ 64.00 zero rated

Authentic unglazed Yixing Zisha clay pot for the most discerning tea experience.

 

 

After many requests we are proud to offer genuine Yixing clay pots to our clients.

This is one of the best and most enjoyable ways of brewing tea.

Our Yixing pot is included in the GONG FU GURU tea ceremony set and available to buy separately (for those who already have a ceremony set or wish to have more than one pot for brewing different tea types).

Read on to learn about what makes this pot so essential for any tea lover.

 

GENUINE YIXING CLAY

There are many fake Yixing pots out there, some are made with decent clay from another region but others are synthetic or made with non-porous materials (which defeats one of the purposes of brewing in clay).

This pot is made with genuine Yixing Zisha Stone (not earth) clay. This clay has the perfect characteristics for brewing tea:

1. Rich in minerals such as Iron Oxide, Kaolinite and Quartz which react with the tea to improve smoothness and taste.

2. Excellent at holding heat to maintain a consistent brewing temperature.

3. High porousity, allowing the tea essences to be absorbed by the pot and the clay to quickly season your brew.

 

HALF HANDMADE MANUFACTURING

Fully handmade pots require the skills of an artisan who usually has about 20 years to learn his or her craft and therefore they are eye-wateringly expensive. If anyone is selling a 'fully handmade' pot for less than £200 then we would suggest that you question their honesty.

This pot is half-handmade which means that the main shape is created by putting the clay into pre-made molds before sculpting the handle and spout by hand. A large proportion of the process is done by hand and in the West we would certainly call this ‘handmade’ but in China this is referred to as half-handmade.

 

XI SHI SHAPE

There are a few classic Yixing Pot shapes and this is one of our favourites. The pot is beautifully balanced and feels wonderful in your hands. One thing that you should look out for with Yixing pots is that the top of the handle, bottom of the lid and tip of the spout are perfectly level making for a lovely pouring action.

 

This picture shows that the spout, lid and handle are all level.

This Xi Shi shape is suitable for all types of tea brewing as the bulging shape gives plenty of room for leaves to expand within a small chamber.

 

 

 

The lid is tight fitting which is crucial. One of the signs for poor quality pots is a loose and rattling lid. A tight fitting lid means that the heat stays in the pot while brewing and that you can pour water over the pot without it entering the brewing chamber. A tight lid ensures that the pouring action is not messy.

 

The capacity of the pot is 200ml but once leaves are in the pot you will be pouring about 180ml of tea which is a perfect quantity for 1-4 people.

 

CORRUGATIONS AND POROUSITY

 

 

Take a look at the close up pictures of the clay and notice the bumpy and rough surface compared with a lower quality clay (on the right). These corrugations allow the clay to expand and contract during use and improves the porous nature of the pot. Whenever a tea is brewed the pot begins to breathe. The tea essences can enter the clay which will subtly add flavour to subsequent brewing. The porous nature of the pot means that the minerals in the clay will have a greater effect on the tea too. This granular appearance is a sign of good Yixing pot. A shiny hard surface (when a pot is new) usually means that the pot is less porous.

 

HOW THE YIXING POT AFFECTS FLAVOUR

In our opinion the biggest effect that brewing in a Yixing pot has on your tea is the instant reaction of the clay minerals interacting with the tea NOT the flavour added over years of seasoning.

If you brew any tea in a porcelain or glass pot and compare with the same tea brewed in a Yixing Pot you should notice a difference. The tendency is that the Yixing adds a roundness and softness to the tea and allows tea to be brewed stronger without too much bitterness or astringency. Sometimes you may not want this softness and prefer a crisper mouthfeel (as is usually the case with green tea) and therefore you may prefer certain tea brewed in glass or porcelain. However, for oolong, black and PuErh teas the Yixing can make a rounder, fuller and smoother brew that allows you to brew a richer drink without the excessive bitterness.

The fact that the clay will absorb some of the volatile aromatics of the tea with every use is very attractive to many tea drinkers. It means that the pot becomes cured and can turn more affordable tea into more expensive tasting tea and make the best tea taste even richer. In our opinion, this effect is subtle and takes many hundreds of brews before it is noticeable. We will discuss the seasoning process in more detail further along this article.

 

PATINA

If you pour the tea wash over your Yixing pot whenever you brew tea then the tea oils will begin to enter the exterior clay. After many uses you will notice that the pot begins to develop a richer colour and shiny, more alive surface than the matt clay of a new pot (especially if you buff with a soft cloth). This is called the Patina and represents the pot improving with age. Many tea lovers enjoy cultivating this patina as a part of their journey into tea.

 

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR YIXING ZISHA POT

This pot is unglazed clay and therefore should be cleaned of any clay dust before use. The pores in the clay have to be cleared and the clay should be allowed to expand fully.

The easiest way to do this is to boil the pot:

 

1. Sniff the pot, it should have a quite raw clay smell.

2. Rinse the pot a few times in water until the smell is lessened substantially.

3. Take a saucepan and fill with water.

4. Place a clean tea towel in the saucepan to cover the bottom – this is to stop the pot and lid from possibly breaking.

5. Submerge the pot and lid separately in the water and place lid on saucepan.

6. Turn on heat and bring the water to a gentle boil.

7. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil for 30 minutes.

8. Switch off heat and allow the water to cool. Remove your pot and lid. It is ready for brewing.

 

HOW TO QUICKLY SEASON YOUR YIXING ZISHA POT

You will be seasoning your pot with every brew but some people wish to speed up the process. The method below can be used but we feel that seasoning naturally develops a better flavour as this method can bring a bitter or stewed nuance to the seasoning. It is very subtle and entirely up to you!

 

1. Take a saucepan and fill with water.

2. Place a clean tea towel in the saucepan to cover the bottom – this is to stop the pot and lid from possibly breaking.

3. Fill the pot with you tea of choice.

4. Submerge the pot and lid separately in the water and place lid on saucepan

5. Turn on heat and bring the water to a gentle boil. Some of the leaves will escape (which is fine) but the majority should stay inside the pot (we are most interested in seasoning the interior clay).

6. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil for 30 minutes.

7. Switch off heat and allow the water to cool. Leave the pot in the strong tea for 24 hours.

 

SHOULD YOU USE ONE TYPE OF TEA FOR YOUR POT?

Because the pot will slowly absorb the essences of the tea, many people will select one type of tea to brew and never use any other tea. Some people have a very narrow range (Fujianese black tea), others have a wider range (any dark oolong) and others will brew very widely (any black, puerh or oolong).

This is a matter of personal choice. As we said previously, the biggest effect on flavour is the interaction between the clay and the tea. The seasoning is more subtle and we see nothing wrong with seasoning the pot in a variety of tea types for a more universal tea seasoning. In the same way, we appreciate the desire to influence the tea flavour according to specific tea types and purchasing extra pots for other types.

Traditionally, Yixing pots are used for PuErh (raw and cooked), Oolongs (especially darker) and Black tea. This is because these types tend to be suited to hotter and sustained heat brewing which is ideal for clay with its slow heat conduction. Green, Yellow and White are suited to either cooler brewing or a more delicate flavour profile which is less suited to Yixing brewing.

Whatever you choose to do. Have a think about it before you begin brewing and seasoning your pot. These are not ornaments, they are meant to be used! So pick tea that you enjoy and that you will be brewing regularly.

 

BASIC INSTRUCTIONS

These are some guidelines for brewing with your Yixing Zisha pot. It assumes that you are brewing Gong Fu style with a water catching tray.

 

1. Pour boiling water over the closed pot (lid on) – this begins to open the pores of the clay and prepare it for brewing.

2. Fill about 1/3 of the warm pot with the tea leaves – sniff the aroma as the warm pot releases some of the aromatics of the tea.

3. Fill pot with suitable temperature water until about to overflow. Use the lid to scrape any foam from impurities away. Place lid and the water will flow out of the spout to flush the pot with the tea.

4. Pour away the tea wash into a Gong Dao Bei or other container. The pouring action should be a quick turning of the pot so that the spout is pointing straight down whilst holding the handle and the top of the lid (do not block the lid hole).

5. Lift off the lid and bring to your nose to smell the tea aroma (this is vastly superior to smelling the wet leaves).

6. Pour suitable temperature water into the pot. You do not have to fill to brim but bring water close to full. Place lid.

7. Pour the tea wash over the pot avoiding the holes of the spout and lid – this will eventually lead to a patina shine.

8. Pour the tea into the Gong Dao Bei or cups to drink. Remove the lid of the pot in between brews to prevent the leaves from stewing.

9. After you have finished your tea session you could fill the pot with room temperature water over the leaves and leave them for 12-24hours. This will increase the speed of seasoning.

10. To clean, remove leaves and rinse with hot water. NEVER USE washing up liquid or other detergents.

11. It is really important that the pot is left with the lid off to dry thoroughly. Do not place lid until dry otherwise the pot will develop a musty smell.

 

THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF FORM AND FUNCTION

Our Yixing clay pot has a beautiful shape and tactile aesthetics. For the look and feel alone, it is a pleasure to have in your teaware. Added to this is the perfect functionality – slow heat conduction, porousity, tea mineralisation, smooth and fast pouring action. This combination of form and function is the reason why Yixing pots are the timeless symbol of true tea brewing.

 

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