Is a $10 Yixing teapot as good as a $100 Yixing teapot?
I read that cheap yixing teapots tend to be inferior and aren’t seasoned as well as yixing teapots that are $50+ in price. Some teashops also recommended me to not choose ones that are too cheap because it won’t be very good. Is this true? Please help me understand. Are cheap teapots made from fake “yixing” clay or something? And even if so, does that really mean its inferior? If I have a $100 yixing teapot, and I buy a second one for another $100 but its fake and only worth $10, will I really notice a difference? I assume they retain heat just as well, or don’t they?
Or is the price and quality difference only in the detail, the more refined finishes, watertight lids, no scuffs, etc. but the cheap teapot functions just the same?
They have a lot of cheap teapots on ebay (from $10 and up) with very nice designs, but I don’t want to waste money (or my tea!) on something useless.
I already have 1 yixing teapot that according to the seller is of good quality (cost me about 50-60 dollars) and I only use it for puerh tea.. I now would like another yixing for black teas, but I don’t want to spend another 50-60+ dollars.
Please share your knowledge, thoughts or opinions!
I think the real stuff makes a difference. You just need to find someone that carries it. Lots of options and I will link a few for you. Other people may be able to add to this.
You can get some decent pots for not too bad. Taiwan Tea Crafts has some decent pots for $35, some of them are awesome for oolong in particular.
I’ve purchased a $5 “yixing” pot. It was utter garbage. It dribbled, poured slow, and was also painted (trying to not look like it was painted, but you can see the finger prints and paint drops) and smelled like paint. One of the few times I felt a teaware was likely full of lead. Those cheap cheap pots aren’t worth your time.
But really, like anything, you get what you pay for. Best is if you can test the pot first for the teas you want to use it for and compare with a gaiwan (if needed). I got a couple tuition pots that suck for the tea I had planned for them.
I just ordered one from amazon by Adiago teas, for about 35, Ill let you know on monday how it turns out.
But Adiago teas is pretty reputable so Im guessing its not going to be too bad.
A ten dollar yixing pot is likely fake.
Unless you luck out on a good old one from a thrift shop or something, it will be a terrible teapot
True, sometimes you get lucky in thrift shops. My mother once found a tiffany bracelet for 10 bucks.
Yep! I’ve seen someone pick up a good 80s Yixing pot for next to nothing because they got lucky. Millions of pots were made, so there are still lots around, but there are also millions of fakes, so it’s quite the minefield!
Im looking for one more, a small one like 100ml preferably under 50, if I cant, Im looking at that one Mrmopar linked on ebay.
I dont have anyone to drink with and the ones I ordered is 180 and 220 ml, a little big for 1 person.
Check out some of these, all are 100ml and under $50:
thanks , thats just what Im looking for.
I prefer to use 5grams if at all possible when brewing because as a new drinker, I tend to order sample packs which are 20 grams, and that means 4 sessions, 6 or 7 grams doesnt break down well…
Let’s see what you bought for $50-60 OP. It might be a crappy pot too! :o
The difference between a $10 pot and a pot that is $100 will be immense, given that the $100 pot is really worth $100. There’s more to clay teapots than just heat retention—the difference in performance between different clays is immense.
Well, the teapot I have now was recommended by Scott from Yunnan Sourcing. It’s called "Dragon Kiln “Xi Shi” Burnt Duan Ni Clay Yixing Tea Pot". Its no longer available though.
I don’t know a lot about Yixing teapots, but I’m pretty sure that it is of good quality.
But what exactly is the difference between a $10 and a $100 teapot? Is it the difference in porousness? Are there any downsides to a cheap teapot, or only more upsides to a more expensive one?
Modern duanni is actually ok, but it’s not the duanni of old. It is really best suited to green tea or maybe young sheng/pu erh maocha or it will get ugly stains over time. Older duanni is genuine Yixing clay (the new stuff isn’t I don’t think, unless you’re paying a hefty premium for old clay), but still performs as expected. Modern duanni is the most expensive of the new clays at present since I guess it requires more careful selection and mixing of materials.
At $10 you most definitely are not getting good clay (again, unless you got lucky and bought an antique at a very good price, which can happen). Even in China today, $10 is going to get you a crappy teapot that may actually be hazardous to use because of chemicals added to the clay or weird paint type finishes on top of the clay. $100 will get you better fit and finish and better clay, and possibly genuine Yixing clay if you are lucky. Real Yixing clay from the old mines is extinct, so when you buy clay now, it’s a mix of clays and other materials from other places at the low end of the market. What $100 gets you depends on what you’re buying—it could be well made and made of bad modern clay, or well made with decent modern clay, or a Factory pot with good older clay, or you might have just overpaid for a crappy modern pot, which happens all too often, even in China!
I use my Duan Ni clay teapot exclusively for ripe puerh. And as you said, the tea stains don’t really add much beauty to it.
What about those red teapots? I have seen some pictures of red clay teapots that are heavily used and the stains actually add more character to the appearance of the teapot, in a good way. What kind of clay is this?
Also, from what you’re saying it seems that yixing is just a very expensive clay in general. You know of any alternative clay teapots that tend to be cheaper, but are still good? I mean, there must be some alternatives, right…?
Nowadays it’s all hongni blends, since the old zhuni has long been extinct. They make modern zhuni that is quite good and high fired like the old zhuni (but it’s very different clay). It is the least muting of all clays used today, so is best used with teas with high notes you don’t want to lose, but when you need a little bit of muting over porcelain. Firing makes a difference to hongni performance too; I use a 185ml hongni pot for sheng pu erh and it does well in this role. All of my smaller hongni pots are used for Wuyicha and tieguanyin. I use modern zhuni for green oolongs, including Taiwanese oolongs, and occasionally Wuyicha as well.
Good Yixing clay is very very expensive now. Even good modern Yixing (which replicates the clay and designs of old) is expensive. It’s entirely possible to pay $5000-30,000 for a pot made last year. I have a few modern pots that I like, but I also have some that I feel are strange chemical clays and not safe to use…and they weren’t cheap!
For ripe pu erh, try a Chaozhou pot. They do very well with ripe pu I hear (I haven’t tried it yet), and from my experience with oolongs, it seems they would do well to mute fermentation/storage aromas. Good Chaozhou pots are also more expensive nowadays; China isn’t as cheap as it used to be and demand for good teapots is high. That and craftsman get paid more than they ever used to. China’s getting to be so expensive that they’re investing heavily in Southeast Asia and Africa so that they can control production in those areas as well.
Jianshui performs somewhat like hongni, but is different. Jianshui prices are also up considerably nowadays. I bought a $50 Jianshui pot last year or the year before that goes for $100 today!
I hope I’m not bothering you by asking for your opinion over and over again, but thank you for your extensive and knowledgeable replies. So it seems there really isn’t a cheap alternative.
However, about 2 and half years ago I did buy my first 3 yixing teapots online that were supposedly originally purchased in the 90s (although the description was a bit dubious, as the seller also said he bought them 8 to 10 years ago, which would be like 2004-2006). I kind of assumed that they’re not authentic, because the lids are not watertight when pouring, one of them mutes my Tie Guan Yin too much and the design is suspiciously pleasing as if it is trying to make up for its quality (or do these things not necessarily indicate poor quality?).
Can you tell me what you think just by a picture? http://imgur.com/a/dCmbM
The one with the spiral handle is the one I’m most curious about as I want to use a yixing for black teas, and this one seems the most fitting appearance wise.
I occasionally use the green one for Tie Guan yin, but it does mute the tea a bit more than I’d like. So I don’t use it much. This is also the only one out of these 3 I have used and seasoned. Still mutes too much though.
I don´t really use the dark brown one as it holds like 400ml of water, which is more than I would like.
I can’t comment on those specific pots since everything went a little funny in the 90s and lots of factories started making pots; before this, all pots were made by one main factory. I don’t know each and every pot made by State Factory 1/2/5 in the 90s (yet), so I can’t comment on whether those pots are any good. Just because a pot is muting, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real…muting is very desirable with certain teas (heavy traditional storage pu erh and dark roast oolongs, for example). Also watertightness is very uncommon with older factory pots. Modern pots are almost always watertight, even cheap ones nowadays, since that’s what the market wants. I’d rather have an older pot that dribbled, but was made with good clay, than a new pot made with who knows what clay and perfect lid fit and pour.
The green one looks like chemically altered clay and is probably not something you should use; it was made to imitate older Benshan lvni clay, which is $$$ if you can find it today.
The 400ml pot sounds good for ripe pu erh or aged sheng. I’m using a 200ml pot for liu bao right now, but I use 500ml pots for greens and heicha (including pu erh) regularly. Throughout China, big pot brewing is FAR more common than the gongfu style that everyone is nuts about. It’s like brewing drip/French press vs espresso. Not everyone has time, space or the will to make espressos all the time. Bottled tea is totally a thing in China too. lol
I was actually less suspicious of the green one, as it has alot of those specks that I always thought was typical of yixing clay. Or does this not really mean anything?
I wouldn’t mind using a larger teapot to brew tea, but I mainly drink tea by myself. Presumably they more commonly drink tea together in China.
Flecks are very easily faked by mixing stuff in, including sand, glass, and even metal flakes. You can still use a larger pot for yourself; just use less leaf and brew for longer. I use 500ml pots by myself all the time. I’ve seen a 1.5 liter pot used for tieguanyin that was then consumed in 20-25ml cups. LOL. And that was at a Teochew-owned restaurant (they are the most famous group in China for gongfucha).
I see. Perhaps I give the large teapot a try. But who is to say that this one isn’t chemically altered just like the green one? Is there any way I can test this? Also, if through some test you were to find out one of your teapots was fake, but safe to use, would you still use it? Or would you be able to tell it was of poor quality just by the way it brews your tea?
‘Fake’ pots could just mean modern blended clays, but still made in Yixing and half-handmade. Fake could also mean poisonous clay. Pour boiling water in the pot, pour it out, and smell it. If it smells like anything but clay and hot stone, it may well be chemically adulterated. I’m using a modern zini pot right now that I DONT like the smell of, but I’m still using it to see if the smell dissipates with time. I think purple clay is something they can’t fake very well, and they’re adding something to the clay to get the purple color close to the older stuff (and failing). I am testing modern pots for suitability for sale on my site and so far 3/4 modern purple pots I’ve tested smell off to me. The one that doesn’t smell off is EXPENSIVE, as expensive as an 80s-90s factory pot, but is made better than the factory pots and makes darn good tea as well. Supposedly it is made with genuine Yixing clay. Whether or not it is made with old clay, it is a GREAT pot.
Ken, with modern pots, it can be trial and error. With older pots, buy from trusted sources and be prepared to $pend…
Hey, I did as you recommended and poured hot water in my teapot, poured it out again and gave it a smell. I don’t know exactly how it is supposed to smell, but I don’t detect anything that to my nose seems clearly chemical or paint-like.
Also, it has 2 stamps on the inside of the lid, one on the handle and one on the bottom of the pot. But I assume that this indicates nothing about authenticity, right?
But apart from poisonous clay, lets say a teapot is made from fake clay and is completely safe to use, can’t it then be used as if it were a yixing teapot with decent results? My use will be for my black tea which I have way too much of, but don’t really drink because it only has better flavor when brewed quite strong, but then also becomes astringent and bitter. I was hoping that with yixing I would be able to keep the good flavor, but mute the astringent and bitterness. Is this a trait that is exclusive to yixing clay?
Also, thank you again! You are a treasure of knowledge!
Good, if it doesn’t smell chemical-like, then it is probably safe to use. The stamps alone mean nothing and are commonly faked, even on the cheapest of the cheap nasty pots. Where they matter is with older pots as part of the overall examination of the pot. I got some fake 70s pots with faked lid seals last year and they tried to copy every detail, but I now see how obviously fake they are.
Non-Yixing clay can absolutely be used, but whether or not it makes good tea depends on the pot. I think the green pot might work well to reduce the astringency and bitterness, but try it in all three pots. You don’t need to reseason pots if you’re just trying new teas in them. If you want to see if your clay pots work to reduce astringency and bitterness, try them out and see! :)
No problem, I’m still learning, but I’ve had to handle a lot of pots and waste a lot of money to get where I am and I still have a long way to go! I hate scammers with a passion, and the Yixing world is full of them, so I am glad to help however I can.
I see… I just gave this yixing teapot another try with Tie Guan Yin, and it definitely takes away most astringency and bitterness as I just steeped the tea for a long time to test it, but it also mutes the tea way too much. It takes away all the floral notes and leaves only a creamy flavor. Is this something that will go away after more use? I must have used it at least 10-20 times and I also seasoned it heavily by boiling it with a bunch of tea (I did it with a towel at the bottom of the kettle so it wouldn’t break). Having seasoned this teapot and used it a bunch, does that mean it will always keep muting my tea this much?
Also, thank you for your sacrifice! Haha. I can imagine the frustration of being lied to and consequently scammed shamelessly. I watched this documentary on Chinese antiques some time ago. It was about how antiques are faked so much, some so well that even experts have difficulty discerning their authenticity. You might like to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-DXKEHkcZk
Antique forgery is rampant, even down here in Hong Kong, and difficult to prove. A store asked me for $12,000 for a Mengchen lao zhuni pot (that wasn’t, lol). I played along for entertainment and took pics and all so I wouldn’t offend the guy by laughing in his face, but it was pretty evident that it wasn’t zhuni. I just wanted to see his spiel. :D
There’s plenty of fancy Yixing pots for sale here in HK, but…not cheap. AT ALL. I know of vendors asking for $300-400 for 80s pots. They might get those prices down the line, but in 2017? Unlikely unless someone REALLY likes the pots they have for sale or have a lot of money to burn and don’t keep up to date with market prices.
If the pot is muting now, it will always mute heavily. Sounds like a good pot for traditional storage pu erh or dank shu pu.
Too bad… Because I already have a teapot that I use for ripe puerh, and I don’t drink much raw puerh. Also the teapot has a flat bottom, so the shape seems ideal for Tie Guan Yin… Perhaps I’ll try to switch the pots… Making the puerh one for black tea and the one I use for Tie Guan Yin for puerh. But will puerh tea brew worse in a flat pot?
Flat pots are better for pu erh, round pots are better for TGY. That’s the conventional wisdom. I’ve never tried a flat pot for TGY myself! The idea is the round shape allows the leaves to expand the way they want to. I strongly prefer red clay for black tea, or porcelain, if the tea is smooth and has high aromatics.
I thought flat pots were good for TGY for the same reason. Because of the larger leaves it needs a larger surface to expand making a flat pot a better option (or so I heard).
But I changed my mind just now. I don’t think I will brew puerh in the flat pot, as the stains will probably be ugly on the green (http://imgur.com/a/dCmbM)
Why do you prefer red clay for black tea? I was looking for a red pot for black tea as well, but mainly for aesthetic reasons because judging from pictures they seem to season beautifully.
Also, if a clay teapot is artificially given a color, is it always bad or could it also be harmless? Or are there no ways of telling and its just a risk whether its harmless or not? I’m asking because I’m thinking of buying a $5 “purple sand tea set,high-grade tea pot, teapot, authentic hand- masters” (seems legit…) teapot just to experiment with. I can’t allow myself to buy another pricey teapot, so I will either use one of my 3 ones from the supposed 90s, convert my current round puerh teapot into a black tea teapot which I’d rather not do, simply use a gaiwan (which is exactly what I want to avoid with the black teas I currently have, as these black teas only release their flavorful notes when brewed western style, but consequently they also go bitter and astringent) or buy a new cheap teapot and maybe get poisoned.
Rolled oolongs expand outwards and upwards, so in Fujian, round pots are used (shuipings are my personal favorite for anything rolled). Flat pots are ideal for Wuyicha and pu. That’s just standard policy, but try different pots and see what you think!
Ah yes, you have a green pot. That pot sounds like it’s pretty much only good for rough sheng pu, since you said it’s muting.
Black tea doesn’t need muting, usually, so red clay is my choice for keeping the aroma and improving body. I prefer porcelain for good red teas, though, since there’s so much delicate flavor that there’s no reason to mute it. Good dianhong and jinjunmei aren’t rough at all.
Just say no to cheap pots. What’s your health worth?
The really need some testing or something on these to at the very least designate which ones are safe to drink from coming into the country, at the very least the ones on ebay and amazon need that.
There’s a lot of unsafe stuff coming into the US all the time…it’s just the nature of international trade. Lots of dangerous stuff made right in the US; think pharmaceuticals that cause heart valve issues, for example. A lot of people don’t care about the end consumer and just want to make a buck. Plenty of that stateside too, but the US has a decent legal framework to keep people in check. China has more rules than before, but it’s still carpe diem most of the time, as it is in much of Asia.
In an ideal world, people would go to jail for selling dangerous teapots, but there’s enough going on that bad teapots aren’t a major concern. I just lost $1,000 on fake pots that were made to look and feel like 70s teapots, and I am trying to chase it up legally. Yixing collecting is a dangerous game, and a lot of people running after Yixing pots have more money than sense. I’ve seen lots of bad pots in use in China and elsewhere in Asia. Sometimes people cherish their fake pots just like they’re real, which is always a little upsetting.
Im surprised Amazon would allow dangerous things to be sold on their site, as it would put them at some legal risk if someone got sick.
I just want something decent to brew ripe and raw pu’rehs in. Dont need fancy, just something to give a decent brew.
I feel pretty safe with the one from Adiago, as they are reputable and decently big, and it wouldnt do well to sell unsafe pots, it might not be genuine, but I suspect it will brew up decently.
I don’t know if any of the pots sold on Amazon are actually dangerous, and neither does Amazon. All I know is some of the 2016 pots I’ve bought from China are somewhat suspect, and especially the purple clay. I’m lucky that I have a good stash of 70s-90s pots (and even a 60s pot!) made with older clay, but I want to find good modern alternatives for my buyers. So far I’ve identified a few I feel are good.
Can’t speak for Adagio but I really doubt they have any clue if the teapots they sell are any good or even safe…there is no legislation on clay teapots at all. I’d wager that Adagio teapots are pretty crappy, actually!
I came across a stash of 80s-90s pots that are only 30ml. Safe, make great tea, but too small for some. Great for one person drinking! They’re up on the site already.
I just got a modern zhuni pot in that is ideal for rolled oolongs and I feel it is site worthy. I won’t be putting anymore products up until I move into a new home, though, as that is looming over my head, and then I’m off to England for a week! :P
Okay you convinced me, I ordered one.
Will this work well for young raws? This is mostly what I have right now.
And now I will have a comparison to what a good one should look feel and smell like.
Thanks, I just got your order! I wouldn’t recommend the pot for young raws; aged sheng, shu, or roasted Wuyi oolongs would be better (especially oolongs, IMO). For young raw pu erh, porcelain is fine, or high fired hongni, since young raw is pretty much green tea (just assamica vs sinensis). While I do use red clay for young sheng, porcelain works just fine.
Wonderful I do have some ripe pu’erh’s that need drinking! I dont have many aged raw’s yet..
Aged raws can get expensive…I saw some 4 and 5-figure (USD) aged raws earlier today. :D
The good news is good shu’s are very very reasonable. I got a few from crimson lotus, im letting sit for a bit before drinking. Ill save them for trying in this pot!
Thank you for the help!
No problem! I’ll just finish with this—shu can also go for top dollar. It can age into something sweet and delicate, or something super smooth, depending on aging. I like it when my shu gets a date-like taste and sweetness to it! :)
I am sitting on some of that good shou now. Jay thanks for sharing your pot knowledge with us. Much appreciated!
Ill post a full review of this pot when I get it in 2 weeks. And have a chance to season it and drink a few teas.
That being said the Adiago one did arrive today and there was only the tiniest bit of smell to it, which I was able to get rid of by giving it a 2 1 hour boils in used ripe leaves. Its clearly not the quality of the better ones. I did drink a mini tou from teavivre and it was pretty good. Ill see how it develops over the next 2 weeks.
One more question for the tea guru’s here, can you mix aged raw and ripes in the same pot without doing a reseasoning.
Maybe short term but both would benefit from their own pot. And any pot will take longer than two weeks to season in. I would say closer to 6 months to get it almost there.
Just curious because that one will be my “good” pot, I really trust what he said, because he seems incredibly knowledgeable, so I spent a little more than I intended for a good quality one. It will get more use if used for both.
You can mix traditional storage raw and ripe pu erh in the same pot. Ripe pu erh is meant to replicate Hong Kong-style aging; you’ll see what I mean when you try the pu erh I sent you!
Also DO NOT boil the pot I sent you. I never boil Yixings anymore as it is a good way to break them if they bounce around too much. I make tea with them once or twice (I don’t drink this tea) and then give the pot a smell. To detect any funny odors, you have to put boiling water in the pot and then pour it out. It’s possible you got a good serviceable pot from Adagio—got a link?
I only know very little about Yixing so far…much of the knowledge that is available is only available in Chinese, and I don’t read it (yet)! :)
Also…last thing…mini tuos tend to be the worst pu erh you can buy, unless you buy the good stuff from reputable factories/vendors. The tea reserved for cakes tends to be the best quality.
Teavivre seems to have a very good rep here. I got it from them. And yes links to both coming up.
Thank you, this is all helping quite a lot. I also hope this is helping the OP, as I seem to have absconded with their post..
I have that Teavivre ripe mini tuocha, it is a nice puerh, nothing spectacular mind you but good from what I remember.
Can’t comment on the pot without having checked it out myself, but it definitely isn’t real qingshuini, or real zisha for that matter. :) Modern clay blended to replicate the clay of old at that price point.
Also that dragon egg style is perfect for rolled oolongs and perhaps black tea or green tea (if you like brewing green tea in small pots). I got this modern zhuni dragon egg yesterday. Someone requested one for Taiwanese oolongs and I decided to buy one for myself to see if it was site worthy (it is)!
Will do! It is a great size for rolled oolongs. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I have no doubt it’ll perform well. I’ve decided I’ll only sell pots I’ve tested myself because that’s the only way I’ll know if they’re any good!
Not sure if it has been mentioned here, but besides inferior clay, the $10 pot was made by machine in quantity. It will never be as good as a pot made by an artist. At $100 you are just starting to get into the range of hand made pots. At about $200 all the pots should be fully hand made.
Even at $100 you’d probably not be getting a fully handmade pot. Fully handmade pots are entirely shaped by hand (and sometimes this is evident from finger grooves and even fingerprints); even fancy Factory 1 pots that go for $1,200+ have segments of their bodies made with molds and then they’re put together, slab style. A fully handmade pot made with real zisha would be very expensive today. It is, however, possible to get cheap handmade pots made with cheap modern clay. I have one that was sold as an antique. It isn’t, but it is a nice little pot regardless, and has a certain rustic charm.
Basically you get cheap and very high end fully handmade pots, but I’ve never seen anything mid-range made with decent clay that is fully handmade. Half handmade is the norm with fancy pots, and with 2016 pots in the $100~ range, almost all the work is done with molds with just a tiny bit of finishing by hand. Whether or not a pot is handmade means very little to me; it’s really all about the clay for me, since even the nicest handmade pot for $1,000 is crap if made with crap clay.