I’d like to get into oolong, and for that purpuse I want to buy a Yixing teapot with accessories and a tray.
I’ve got absolutely no experience in this, so I don’t know what to look for. If anyone has got a recommendation for an online shop or can tell me what to pay attention to, I’d greatly appreciate it.
I ment tea tools; the scoop, tweezers, funnel, etc. And by tray I mean the bamboo/wood ones that collect the water you spill whilst making the tea.
They’re part of a Gongfu (Chinese tea ceremony, mainly for oolongs) set. They look like this:
Although most versions don’t looks quite as nice. The tweezers are used to handle the cups when they’re hot, the scoop obviously for the tea, the funnel to get the tea into the small pot without spilling and a needle to get tea out of the spout.
I’d say learn to adore Oolongs before jumping into the whole scene with yixing.
A good teapot and accessories can be a bit expensive, and it would suck to find out that you’re not that crazy about Oolong, and have wasted that money.
You’ll also want to know beforehand what type of oolong you’ll want to use – green or dark. To figure that out, you should spend time experimenting.
I know I sound like a downer here, but I speak from my own experience of buying teaware thoughtlessly, and now having a small fortune’s worth of unused teaware in my collection. Make sure it’s something you’re going to want, and that you’re really going to use to its full potential – otherwise it’s just gathering dust, and you start to feel kind of guilty. (At least I do…)
When you do buy, though, make sure you have a good draining tray – I learned that the hard way. If you haven’t seen this ceremony, either through video or real presentation, there’s a LOT of spilling and waste water. As for the teapot itself… I’d say find yourself a good, authentic tea shop, and find a vessel you really connect to. If you’re in for the long haul, find something that you know you’ll love, rather than taking a chance with a pot from the internet.
“I’d say find yourself a good, authentic tea shop” Great advice for those for whom it’s possible. but for a lot of people (like me) that just isn’t practical.
You’re probably right that I should try a few more oolongs first. I do know that I prefer green oolongs over dark ones, but I also quite like dark ones. Does that matter when choosing your teaware?
I have seen a couple of videos and one (very clumsy) live demonstation of the tea ceremony, and I do realise that it will have to hold a lot of water.
Don’t really know a shop that sells yixing pots or a lot of oolongs, especially not nearby. I’ll probably find something in Brussels.
While I realize it’s very easy for me to give that advice, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, – a place notably influenced by a history of Asian immigration, and thus a great accessibility to various cultures (and, in my case, the teas) – but I think the advice holds regardless of one’s situation. If you’re going to get a teapot to be serious about, you should wait until you can get a good one. An Yixing is a responsibility and a commitment – kind of like a puppy. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open for any hole-in-the-wall local shops, or plan a trip to the nearest Chinatown (if there is one in a drivable distance). Or even, (this one is a stretch) see if you can find a local Yixing artist… you might be surprised.
Sometimes the road to the best things in tea are impractical – I had to spend a terrible semester at a school near LA, so I could go to the China town down there and get a much desired (and amazingly inexpensive) glass tea set, and finally get my hands on some Yellow tea. Okay…maybe I exaggerated on that one… that was more of an “I least I got something good out of it” situation, but you get the idea.
As far as I know, any Yixing will work for either dark or green oolong (as well as any Pu Erh), but then again, much of my better knowledge on Yixing pots (again, as well as Pu Erhs) comes from people who don’t necessarily have a firm grip on the English language; Chinese shopkeepers, and the Taiwanese couple from the shop I get my best things at. From what I know about Yixing, though, I think they’re all prepared more or less the same way. I could be wrong though – and if I am, I’d be rather appreciative if someone could correct me and elaborate.
And, as I mentioned in the previous message in this post, keep an eye and ear open for local shops. I found out about most of my tea haunts second-hand. Let your friends know you’re into tea, and there’s a good chance they’ll mention any shops they happen to sea. Of course, I have absolutely no clue what the tea climate is like in Belgium, so good luck :)
By the way, I apologize for any excessive arrogance I’ve displayed in this response. I’m pretty tired, and my douche-filter isn’t working as well as it does usually. Regards.
I will second the recommendation to get into oolong before investing in a Yixing. You will only be able to use the yixing for one kind of tea, so you had better love that tea before you season the pot with it! :)
Hi Shanti, I agree with experimenting with oolong before getting into yixing and the whole tea culture, but I’d like to offer one quick correction: not all yixing can only be used with one type of tea. For any of the cheaper, slip-cast yixing teapots this is absolutely true: once you’ve picked the tea for a given teapot, stick with it. But for genuine purple clay teapots, especially if they are hand crafted, you can get away with doing different kinds of tea in them. In fact, I recommend it. Not at the same time mind you, but one day one tea, another day a different kind of tea. I used to stick very closely to the one teapot, one tea rule, but then started getting into antique teapots with a focus on purple sand and red clay. I was fortunate to meet a tea master in Taiwan who educated me on this…
Hi Mark, Isn’t one of the reasons why yixing is so great is that the pot takes on the flavor of that one specific tea? That a well-seasoned pot would be able to make tea just by adding water? That the flavor of that one tea would intensify the flavors of each subsequent cup you make in that yixing? Doesn’t making multiple types of oolongs in that pot muddle the flavors and negate the purpose of seasoning a yixing? I certainly wouldn’t want my cup of tie guan yin muddled with the flavor of the dan cong I drank before, or vice versa.
Hi Shanti, this is absolutely true of the lower grade yixing. Once you choose a tea to go with a cheaper yixing teapot you should absolutely stick with it. Flavours and aromas would absolutely be muddled. With antique purple sand and red clay yixing the story is a bit more complex however. As a rule you should stick to one type of tea for these pots, but because of the clay processing technique they have gone through (a process that was lost during the political turmoil in China from the fall of the Qing dynasty to the demise of the republic and then the cultural revolution) it is actually ok to pour the odd other tea through them. i.e. a purple sand pot you normally use for pu erh really does interesting things to a fresh oolong. It doesn’t detract from teh flavours and energy but enhances them somehow. The same is true of the odd cliff tea poured through a pu erh pot. I do not pretend to understand the intracacies, just that it works. Furthermore, by pouring the odd fresh oolong through a primarily pu erh, antique teapot you will enhance the shiny patina, giving it that extra gleam. These are not your average yixing teapots however. They’re hard to find and they’re expensive when you do find them. I’ve never found one in North America. I’ve only ever found them through contacts in Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong. And just to emphasize, this is only true of purple sand (zi sha), red clay (zhu ni) Yixing teapots made from the lost clay process.
Thanks for the explanation :) I’m still familiarizing myself with yixing and teaware and your explanation cleared up a lot of questions I had.
Hi Shanty, no worries. I’ve been drinking tea in the gong fu method for over five years now, and even studied under a tea master in Taiwan but I still consider myself a student of both tea and teaware. It seems the more I learn the more there is to be learned… Anytime you have questions, feel free to post or PM and I’ll be happy to respond. If I don’t know the answer I’ll look it up! I’ve got some great hard-copy resources here I collected while in Taiwan that seem to be out of print…
Shanti, you have me a great idea- putting water in a heavily seasoned yixing and using that to flavor matcha, that could be interesting;)
I will agree with Shanti, Love the tea prior to investing in hardware for that tea. If you do want to try oolong tea prior to loving it and want it in a Yixing teapot you can get one less than 20 dollars (if you can’t let me know I will be happy to help you get a true Yixing teapot for less than 20 dollars for your oolong tea). Don’t spend lots of money up front until you love it. Love the tea not the accessories.
Where do you get a Yixing teapot for less than 20 dollars? The least I’ve seen was around 30 to 40 dollars.
jadeteapot, while I competely echo your warning about large premature monetary investements for some people (although I realize not all), the tea experience is just as much about the accessories/teaware as the tea.
Cofftea. I do agree that tea is about the experiance of tea it is about the accessories and teaware as well as the tea. I am with you 100%. I just think of my friends who go all in and think oh wow its not what i like. So prior to any investment in hardware I always suggest making sure if you don’t know.
Fcmonroe: I have been able to locate yixing teapots from china that are not large in size but but I can offer for less than 20 dollars. Well 19.95. If you use the coupon I offer of 15% off “New2009” First page of checkout it move it below 20 dollars.
Thanks! This may be something I order with my next paycheck. I’m interested in Yixing, but I have too much stuff and not enough storage space right now.
Can you PM me about the small Yixing teapots that you have on your website?
Jonas, if you do decide to eventually get into the gong fu cha method of tea brewing, I’ve got a lot of the accessories at my store www.cloudwalkerteas.com. Take a peak when you get a chance. We’re small enough that we can take requests and fill them by request as well.
Check out this teachat link:
I found the information in this link to be very informative.
Good luck with finding the Yixing that makes your heart sing:)
Here’s a gorgeous one w/ legs! http://www.yixing.com/product_detail.html?sku=7030 I’ve never seen one w/ legs before…
I just got my VERY FIRST YIXING! I’ve never even seen one in person before. I know this is gonna sound really weird, but I smelled it. And it smells like black pepper. I found that very interesting. Not that I know what I expected it to smell like… I do have another clayware piece that isn’t yixing- Lupicia’s $9 red clay pot and that doesn’t have a scent.
It may be something to that style or clay mix. Many Yixing teapots have diffrent clay or additives added to the clay in manufacture. This is to change the color of the clay in blending. Not all may smell the same. That is interesting black pepper.
You’ll have to go to Samovar’s website. I have no digital camera and I don’t know how to upload pics.
Some new yixing smells like brick soaked in water to me. I usually let a new yixing “take shower” (with hot water) when I drink tea. After many showers the teapot will not smell anything. Some high fire teapots don’t have much smell from the beginning.
This is one of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen. If you’re into Yixing, you’ll enjoy watching this women create one of the clay pots from scratch.
Thank for posting this link. I loved it. My wanting for a Yixing may have just been renewed:)
I absoulty love mine, I have a little gold bag I can carry it in. Everyone at work thinks I am a bit off but I honestly don’t care. It keeps the leaves nice for resteeping and also makes a great cup of tea!! This is the one I carry around. https://www.jadeteapot.com/shop/product.php?productid=16187&cat=264&page=2 The little padded bag makes it easy to carry around, it is protected from travel in the car, elevator, office and life, as well as helping keep the teapot warm. I say to anyone that wants one even on the little level, dive in and just do it. You don’t have to spend hundreds but give it a start you can always add to your collection but if you don’t start your collection where is the fun?
For all new Yixing pots, it always have the odor, something like the fire aroma, and clay smell as well. So in China, we need to wash the inside of the pot before brewing any tea. Wash the tea pot is super simpler. You just need to pour hot water into the pot, and let the water sit still there for several hours and then re-change the hot water inside the pots, which continues for two day. Then dry your pots compeletly and there is no odor at all, since the hot water have already absorded all the odor from your pots.