GongFu Tea Set --- Purple Clay Teapot / Yixing Zisha Clay Teapot

Yixing clay  is a type of clay from the region near the city of Yixing in Jiangsu Province, China. Its use dates back to the Song dynasty (960–1279) when Yixing clay was first mined around China's Lake Taihu. From the 17th century on, Yixing wares were commonly exported to Europe. The finished stoneware, which is used for tea ware and other small items, is usually red or brown in color. Also known as zisha (宜興紫砂) ware, they are typically unglazed and use clays that are very cohesive and can form coils, slabs and most commonly slip casts. These clays can also be formed by throwing. The best known wares made from Yixing clay are Yixing clay 

Mixing clay" is often used as an umbrella term to describe several distinct types of clay used to make stoneware:

Zi sha  or zi ni (紫砂 or 紫泥 ; literally, "purple sand/clay"): this stoneware has a purple-red-brown color.

Zhu sha or zhu ni (朱砂 or 朱泥; literally, "cinnabar sand/clay"): reddish brown stoneware with a very high iron content. The name only refers to the sometimes bright red hue of cinnabar. There are currently 10 mines still producing zhu ni However, due to the increasing demand for Yixing stoneware, zhu ni is now produced in very limited quantities. Zhou ni clay is not to be confused with hong ni (红泥, literally, "red clay"), another red clay.

Duan ni (鍛泥; literally, "fortified clay"): stoneware that was formulated using various stones and minerals in addition to zi ni or zhu ni clay. This results in various textures and colors, ranging from beige, blue and green to black.

Initiate and cultivate a new yixing purple clay teapot

Before using a new Yixing teapot you should prepare it so that the teapot is ready for absorbing all the fragrance of the tea leaves.

In order to season a perfect Yixing teapot, and get a good taste of your tea soup, remember only use one type of tea for that yi sing teapot. Because of the micropores of the material, which giving Yixing clay its “breathing” property and potential to render fine infusion, the taste matters of tea also very gradually build up into the pot too.This is good and bad for the user. The good part is that with repeated use, the infusion itself actually improves. The bad part is that you cannot use the same pot for a different variety of tea to avoid conflicting taste substances from different tea blending together. For example, a green style tieguanyin cannot be steeped in a pot that has been used to make golden tip pure, or even a bouquet style Phoenix oolong.


Initiating a new fixing teapot – 3 method

A most serious way to initiate a new fixing teapot if you have time to do it

1)place the teapot with the lid uncovered, carefully place the pieces onto a cook ware which should be large enough to hold the water and be able to cover the entire fixing teapot.

2)Place some beancurd in the water and bring to a slow boil, since rapid boiling may damage your teapot since the pieces may possibly be hitting each other or hitting the walls in your cook ware.
3)slow boil for about an hour, let your teapot cool down in the cook ware with tea water still covering the entire teapot, let it stand for a day or so,
4)the next day you can take the teapot out and rub off any purple sand residue inside of your fixing teapot, rinse well with water only, place the teapot back into the cook ware with sugarcane and bring it to a slow boil again for around an hour or so. Let it cool down in your cook ware still covering with the tea water again,
5)the next day you may take out your fixing teapot and rinse it well with hot water. After this process, the air holes in your teapot are opened up and is ready for use. mixing teapot initial use prepare finished.


A brief  serious way that don’t use the beancurd and sugarcane

1. First cleaning

After you got your Yixing pot, give it a quick rinse in clean water and then completely submerge it in clean water to soak overnight. ABSOLUTELY no cleaning agents of any nature.
Rinse the pot again and submerge it in a fresh batch of clean water in a deep pan on the stove. Bring the water to a boil, reduce fire and let boil for 5 minutes. Drain. Rinse the pot in fresh water once. The pot is now ready for priming.
2. Priming
Submerge the pot in fresh water in the pan and put over the stove again. Turn off the fire after it comes to a boil. Put the kind of tea that you want to use with this pot into the pan of hot water and cover, as if you are making a pan of tea, with the teapot in it. Let steep for over night.
Drain and rinse the pot in fresh water once and let air dry, lid open. Your pot is primed and ready for your first pot of tea.


A simple way for the yi sing teapot initial use

The above way that initiate a new fixing teapot for using cost long time. In fact it is not a must procedure to follow when you don’t have much time, so whatever…better than never, there is also simple way for the yi sing teapot initial use:
1. Fill your yi sing teapot with newly boiled water and allow the water to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the water.
2. Fill the teapot a second time with newly boiled water and add one teaspoon of your favorite loose tealeaves. Allow this tea to sit for a period of 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Drain the tea, your new yi sing teapot is ready for use!

Tips: If you ever made such mistakes, re-prime the pot all over again, but boil it with water two times in the cleaning step instead of once. (read the paragraph below for cleaning)

With continued use, the purple clay from which Yixing teapots are made will absorb the flavors of your tea, becoming more seasoned with each use. Over time, the color, flavor, and aroma of your tea will develop a richness that is unique to each teapot. For this reason, Many people dedicate a specific flavor of tea or at least a specific type of tea to each Yixing teapot.

Process of cultivate Yixing teapots

If you’re getting an Yixing teapot and you want it to give you back the best flavor possible, you’re going to have to care for it properly. The means saving a little bit of each steeping to “feed” the pot (pour over the pot to help more tea get into the pores), the finer your pot, the more likely you are to use it, and the more likely you are to actually invest the time in caring for the pot properly.

STEP 1

Before using your prized Yixing teapot, checked how whether the air vent is clear of blockage. Test the flow of water and if it is not smooth, clear the holes inside the spout of any debris. Finally examined whether there are clay deposits within the teapot, which if present can be easily removed by scraping it with a wooden or bamboo piece.

STEP 2

Before using the teapot, determine which tea leaves you are going to brew in it. Do not brew different kind of tea leaves in the same teapot. Mixing clay is very porous that’s why it is such a good vessel for brewing tea as it’s able to retain the as well as trap tea particles in these pores. With frequent usage, more and more tea particles are trapped and every time you brew tea, fragrance is released which when mixed with the current brew makes the tea taste better than if it was brewed in a new teapot.

After you have determined the tea to use for this teapot, do not start using the teapot yet, but use it as a “Gong Dao” (justice) pot where tea is poured into it before being poured into tea cups.

STEP 3

Every time you brew tea, use the teapot as “Gong Dao” pot and always pour the first infusion (which we normally discard) over the exterior of the teapot. If possible, reserved the last infusion (which is already diluted) to rinse the exterior of the teapot. This enables the tea oil to stain the exterior of the teapot and helps patina to grow.
STEP 4
At the end of each session, letting the pot dry completely between uses (to avoid mold and to help the flavor “set” into the pot… if you use a wet post, then a lot of the flavor will just get washed away instead of building up nicely). Before the next session, repeat Step 3 again.
STEP 5
When you start brewing tea with this teapot, always rinsed the teapot (from cap down) with the first infusion. At the end of a session, use a tea cloth to wipe and polish the exterior surface of the teapot. Continue doing it for another 3 months and I guarantee that a rich patina will grow on the surface of the teapot.
Your teapot will start to look lovely and somehow you can swear that the clay seems very much different compared to when you first bought the teapot.
The above is what tea connoisseurs meant when they say “Yang Hu” or “cultivating a teapot”.

If your fixing teapot can in anyway contribute to this tasting, this ultimately aesthetic experience of the senses, it will in the end also make the tea taste better on a psychological level. Something coming out of a lovely vessel will make your more positively disposed towards the tea that’s coming out of it. This placebo effect should in turn help you taste more interesting things in the tea by helping to make you just a little more open minded and positive.

The method of use and care Yixing teapot

After finished the new pot initiate process, now you are now ready to use Yixing teapots for preparing your first pot of tea.

1. Fill your Yixing teapot with freshly boiled water to heat up the pot. Drain the water.

2. Put one teaspoon of tea leaves into your pot. Again, fill the teapot with freshly boiled water. Drain the water quickly to rinse the tea leaves.

3. Fill the teapot a third time with boiling water, allow it to steep for at least 1 minute and enjoy your tea

Yixing teapot give the best flavor when used in gong-fu, even really casual gong-fu enforces just a little bit of ceremony on the drinkers, because you drink short, small stepping out of small cups. Small cups means you have to sip your tea (savor it, taste it), instead of just drinking out of a mug.

It’s the difference between drinking to quench thirst and drinking to appreciate tastes, flavors, textures. This is tea as an experience as opposed to tea as a beverage. Tea that tastes with care will always taste better, because you are paying attention to it. You are looking for the good things in the cup, and so they are easier to find. It just tastes better, which is awesome.


The reason of care your Yixing teapot

Since only Yixing teapots contain thousands of air holes or micro-air pores, besides being able to keep the hot water hot for a longer time and brew teas better, these air holes can also self seasoning the teapot by absorbing the aroma from the tea. These characteristics can only be found in the purple sand, therefore, Yixing teapots are most used by the serious tea drinkers.

Serious tea drinker like myself, I have been using one teapot for only one type of tea in order not to mix-up with the tea aroma in that teapot. Normal tea drinkers may find using two or three Yixing teapots sufficient, one for green tea(but make sure to cool your water temperature), second one for Oolong tea and a third one for black tea. Brewing a cup of good tea has many factors besides using a good Yixing teapot, different tea requires different methods to brew, When purchased a new Yixing teapot, do not use it to brew tea right the way, it needs to be treated with preparation work in order to have these air holes functioning properly in the purple sand.

An Yixing pot is at heart an extremely fine, specialized tool. Compare it to a fine chef’s knife. If you’re going to invest in a good knife and you really care about having one that cuts well for you, then you might as well get a good one. You also have to make sure you’re caring for it properly. For a knife, this will mean using a wet stone and a steel often to keep the blade sharp and straight, not just an automate sharpener once or twice a year. This is what I meant when I spoke of raising and cultivating a tea pot. I was speaking of the technical act of actually caring for the teapot well in order to make good tea, not of fetishizing or anthropomorphizing an object unnecessarily.

How to clean and prevent mold growth in Yixing teapot

Since the Yixing clay has the unique characteristic of absorbing the flavor of your tea, washing with soap will take away from that unique quality.so never clean Yixing teapots with any detergents or cleaning agents, just rinse with hot water after each use would be sufficient, pat dry with soft towels if preferred, leave the lid uncovered till it is fully dried. Tea stains may build up on your teapot after many used, don’t worry about getting it off, collectors are always looking for tea stains as this is one of the characteristics required for a good old and antique teapot. Avoid having dust and grease get to the teapot. We have seen a good old teapot which has scaling tea stains, to a collector’s point of view, this kind of Yixing teapots worth much more value and is rare to find.

If you’re not already doing this to your fixing teapot, here’s what I might recommend.

1. After you remove all of the tea leaves, do a quick swish with boiling water to make sure you’ve removed all of the small debris. Empty it out.

2. Then, pour fresh boiling water into the mixing teapot and cover with the lid. Pour boiling water over the pot, too. Let this sit for a few minutes (until the pot is cooler to touch).

3. Pour out the water, making sure to check inside for small debris again. Don’t pour it all out right away.. save a little bit to swish and pour out of the top (rather than the spout).

4. Then pour in just boiled water, replace the lid, and pour boiling water over the pot one more time. Pour our right away, and remove the lid.

Using boiling water as a “rinse” should help with 1) finding any little particles and getting rid of them.. 2) Making sure that the last thing to touch the pot was super hot so that it evaporates very quickly (instead of cool water that sits and evaporates over two days). The boiled water should evaporate off the hot pot within a minute. I find this more ideal than will water evaporate off of a cold or room temperature pot, since no dampness can stick around in the dark, cool recesses of the pot and spout.

At this point, you can also take a very clean piece of cloth or suede (you can even dedicate one to your Yixing teapots) to lightly rub the outside of your pot. If you do have hard water, this will help to even out any water residue. You can even have a little bowl of boiling hot water to (lightly!) dip the cloth in and rub on the outside of the pot.
Finally, you could even use a dry part of that cloth to pat away moisture left on the inside of the mixing teapot.
All of these things should help the mixing teapot dry quickly, without tiny leaf residue, and with less hard-water buildup (or at least more evenly distributed build-up). None of these are required, and you can experiment with what works for you, but since you’re having so many issues with mold, I would suggest doing as many of these steps as you can, and then slowly removing whatever steps don’t work for you over time.
One more quick tip:

be sure you’re checking the spout for loose leaf debris. Sometimes small particles can get stuck in the filters. I find bobby pins (with the end-protectors removed) or thing pure needles (or just plain needles!) helpful for getting in there and manually removing anything that doesn’t want to come out with blasting water wrong way through the spout.