teatime

  • Benshan Duanni or Benshan Lüni?

    Within the category "duanni," there is also the clay called “Benshan Duanni” 本山段泥. Another well-known clay within the “duanni” category is Benshan Lüni 本山绿泥. Although both are yellow clays mined from the same mountain, they differ in origin, composition and character.
  • Some Notes on Yixing Clay Scarcity and Pricing

    “If clay x is so rare, it should cost $1000s for a teapot made of this clay.”

    No, usually not. While you will not be able to buy an authentic zhuni teapot for $25, you also do not need to pay $1000 for one either. The price difference between more common and less common clays can usually vary between  $10-100 or so between teapots (all other things being equal). The rarity of clay is not the biggest influence on price in the zisha market, labour and the skill/reputation of the potter usually are. Fully handmade teapots are more expensive than half handmade teapots, and a fully handmade teapot by a master, even more so.

  • Lipini, the Pear Skin Clay

    1 ½ tons of rock sat in the yard behind Lin Hanpeng’s studio in Yixing while men smashed it into pieces with hammers. This rock, after crushing, separating and processing, yielded mostly tianqingni, but also some lipini. While tianqingni is seen as one of the most precious varieties of zini (purple clay), lipini is rarer still, appearing only in thin layers between tianqingni deposits.
  • Tian Qing Ni

    Tian qing ni 天青泥 has taken on a legendary status for many Yixing teapot enthusiasts. Said to be the finest variety of zini (Yixing purple clay),  most of the information available about tian qing ni can be found in sources that rely on ancient references to the clay as well as surviving examples of antique tian qing ni teapots and the raw ore (such as the examples found today in the Yixing Ceramics Museum).
  • Yixing Teapots: Most Popular Clays and Shapes, and the North-South Difference.

    This is part 2 of our interview with Lin Hanpeng, the co-owner along with Chen Chunhong, of an Yixing Teapot Studio.
  • Inside an Yixing Teapot Studio

    The first time we met Chen Chunhong and Lin Hanpeng was at the tea table of their shop in Guangzhou. Chen Chunhong chatted with us as she poured us each a cup of shu pu'er. Her husband Lin Hanpeng was discussing clay with some customers. At the time the two were very busy with a growing customer base - thanks largely to word of mouth among zisha (Yixing Clay) enthusiasts in the city. Their shop was known for the authenticity of its teapots - only using original ore zisha and focusing on functionality. They worked with a few reliable artists out of Yixing. They soon left their shop in Guangzhou to establish their own studio in Yixing.
  • Ball Filter Phobia

    Teapots with ball filters have a somewhat dubious reputation in China. For many, having a ball filter is a sign that a teapot is cheap or low-quality. To understand where this reputation comes from and how fair it is, it helps to look at where this design came from and how it has been applied.
  • Inside a Porcelain Studio: An Interview with Sculptor Chen Feng-Ji

    We were very happy to talk with Mr. Chen Feng-Ji this week. A promising young sculptor working in the medium of porcelain, Mr. Chen has devoted the last decade to improving his craft, first under an apprenticeship and then as a contract sculptor. Since 2016 he has been running his own studio, producing sculptures and tea ware for the Chinese market, and since 2019, for the international market.
  • Ruyao: What's in a glaze?

    A beautiful sky blue glaze that is both shiny and cloudy gives ruyao its defining characteristic that is best described as “jade-like.” True ruyao or fanggu ruyao can be distinguished from cheap mass-produced factory “ruyao” by this characteristic, as well as by its composition and the steps in its manufacture.
  • Yixing Clay: Qinghuini

    This week we look at another kind of Yixing clay, and a subtype of zini (purple clay), called original ore Qinghuini 原矿青灰泥.
  • Jiangponi: New Kid on the Block

    Unlike clays such as zini or hongni, the use of jiangponi for teapots does not have a long history stretching back hundreds of years. In fact, jiangponi is a very young addition to the family of clays used for Yixing teapots, only having been discovered several decades ago.
  • The 3 Kinds of Dahongpao Clay

    Much has been said about the legendary "Dahongpao" clay from Yixing. Some say it's rare, others that it's extinct, others that it's still available, and others that dahongpao teapots are fake. There is some truth in each of these claims.