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Spring, 2002 Newsletter - Homepage
  Introduction: "The Practical Teapot"

   During the Song dynasty (960-1279) tea was prepared by whipping powdered green tea with hot water, to form a thick, frothy liquor. A shallow bowl was used for the preparation and drinking of the tea. In later years the favored method was to steep the leaves in a pot of hot water, just as is done today. This new method of tea preparation had a major impact on the potter's craft throughout China and later in Europe.

   The teapot, which replaced the shallow bowl of whipped tea, became one of the most important products of artisans of the Ming dynasty (1368-1643). The introduction of tea to Europe toward the end of the Ming dynasty soon created heavy demand for China teapots. European potters began to copy the popular China wares, and eventually they were able to produce quality products. The teapots that were copied most frequently were the popular blue and white glazed pots made explicitly for export. The most treasured pots among the Chinese artists and intellectuals were the unglazed purple clay pots of Yixing province. Yixing pots are still being produced today by some of the most accomplished Chinese artists.

   Clay used in the production of Yixing pots is extremely fine, with an iron content of over nine percent. As a result of the fineness of the clay and the high iron content, the fired product has an unusually smooth finish and phenomenal strength. Yixing teapots are made in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Often they are made as an expression of artistic creativity rather than for daily use. Classic Yixing teapots intended for daily use tend to be fairly simple in design. A few words of caution: most so-called Yixing teapots sold today are cheap reproductions using clay of unknown origin and are considered novelties. They have no value to serious collectors.

Read more in The Practical Teapot: From Ming Dynasty Yixing Teapots to the Latest Chatsford Series

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