If you are a fan of tea, you will surely think, as we do, that drinking tea goes beyond the drink itself and is an experience. To enjoy it, it is essential to have a good tea, but also the correct accessories that help us in the preparation and in the creation of the atmosphere of the moment.
Yixing teapots originate from Yixing city in eastern China and have become famous throughout the world for their beauty and the way they contribute to the teapot experience.
What is a Yixing teapot?
It is a very small teapot, between 60 and 70 ml, although there are larger versions. You are probably wondering why you would want such a small container when your usual cup of tea is approximately 200 or 250 ml.
The truth is that the containers you use will affect your overall experience when preparing and tasting the tea. A Yixing teapot contributes aesthetically, not in vain they are very beautiful, and, in addition, it contributes to the final flavor of the tea.
But before we talk about their contributions to the final flavor, let’s look at how a Yixing teapot is made. In the first place, far from what you may believe, they are made by hand in an artisanal way with a porous purple clay, called Zisha. In fact, it is very striking to see how the artisans mold it with their hands, cutting here and hitting there until they obtain a functional teapot.
Of course, there are manufactured versions, cheaper but without the warmth of the artisan touch.
Types of teapots
Just as you can choose from a huge variety of different teas, you can also choose from different teapots within the Yixing family.
The most common teapot is the HongNi, red; It is worth noting that there is a sub-variety known as ZhuNi which is also reddish but tends to be thinner and rarer to find and therefore more expensive.
On the other hand, the ZiNi teapot is recognizable by the purple color of the clay. If you see a green teapot with hints of yellow, you will know that it is a DuanNi, a baked teapot that is recommended for infusing roasted, aged or more intense teas.
Why choose a Yixing teapot?
Basically, because it will give another dimension to your cup of tea. The clay with which these teapots are made is a bit porous and grainy. Thus, the teapot will be impregnated with tea with each use and, as you can imagine, it will leave its mark on the next tea.
In other words, the essential oils of each variety of tea that you infuse will mark the teapot and this, in turn, will give it a very special “I don’t know what” the more it is used. Of course, it is recommended to use the kettle for a single variety of infusion so as not to mix flavors.
On the other hand, Zisha clay is rich in minerals and adds a little of them to each infusion and also maintains heat better than other more modern materials such as glass or ceramics.
Also, let’s face it: they’re cute. An advice? If you buy a Yixing teapot, take good care of it and don’t forget to rub it after each use. You will be surprised to see that instead of losing beauty, it becomes more and more brilliant.
Undoubtedly, a Yixing teapot can be a good complement to your home and an even better companion for your tea by improving the flavor of lower quality leaves and highlighting all the benefits of higher quality ones.
Tips for choosing your kettle
We have already discussed some basic guidelines above, when we talked about the varieties of teapots. But let’s look at this topic in more depth.
While you can steep any tea you like in your Yixing teapot, you may get more out of it if you choose teas that require a short steep. This is because the main drawback of these teapots is that they lose heat faster than large clay pots.
It may seem like a contradiction, since we have pointed out that they maintain temperature better than glass and ceramics; therefore, it is important to make a parenthesis here: the heat loss is not due to the material (clay maintains temperature better than other materials) but to the size of the Yixing. Being a small kettle, its water capacity is less and, therefore, it cools down more quickly than inside a kettle with a capacity for one liter of water.
In general, it is recommended to opt for teas whose infusion does not exceed 3 minutes to ensure the optimum temperature. For this reason, if you enjoy drinking oolong, pu-ehr, white tea, or gyokuro, owning a Yixing teapot can be a great idea.
Now what if you like to drink black or green tea? Does that mean you can’t opt for this kettle? Of course you can, but keep in mind that you will have to preheat the pot before adding the tea leaves and you will not be able to rest as long as with other techniques.
Having clarified these points, it is worth noting that each type of teapot works better with certain varieties of tea. While HongNi can be used with any variety, ZiNi and DuanNi are recommended for roasted or aged teas; and the ZhuNi for the most delicate teas, such as white or green oolong.
Have you decided to buy a Yixing teapot? Remember to pay special attention to its quality and, if you can, choose one made by hand. You will fall in love!