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Dragon Phoenix Yixing Teapot Review

November 12, 2019 No comments

Recently we received pictures from a visitor, who wanted our opinion on a very special teapot. Below in this post, you can see his full email.

Here's are two pictures:

The first impression is that it is a very unique teapot with dragon and phoenix carvings. These two creatures often appear together in Chinese art such as paintings and porcelain. Phoenixs and Dragons are creatures that hold each other in balance. A phoenix is feminine while a dragon is masculine, like yin and yang.

What's also unique about the teapot is that it's a double layer teapot, allowing openings on the outside layer. You don't see such teapots often, and it kind of reminds us of Lucky Spheres/Balls made from multiple layers of Jade. We're sure that the artist who made it, got his/her inspiration from those balls.

So while the teapot shape definitely is not a classic Yixing shape, such as Shi Piao or Jing Lan, it's definitely unique. There's absolutely nothing wrong with unique and modern shapes. Nowadays artists are experimenting with new shapes in hope they become classic in the future. The choice of classic versus more modern creative shapes is like having either a taste for classic versus modern abstract paintings.

The clay

Our impression of the clay is that it appears to be too smooth to be real Yixing clay. It lacks this stony structure and it doesn't appear to be very porous. So most likely it's generic clay. We therefore do not expect much result in flavor absorption by the clay.

Is it unsafe? Most likely not, these teapots are still fired at high temperature, so if there's any unhealthy substances or impurities, it's most likely fixed inside the teapot. It's, however, important to clean the teapot well, and remove the loose parts inside. It's highly recommend to also season the teapot for first time use. This will definitely remove any odors and all loose parts.

Craftsmanship

The outside of the teapot appears to be made using a mold to get the dragon and phoenix patterns. The holes are then cut afterwards by hand.

When looking at the inside of the teapot it appears to be handmade, but it's somewhat sloppy. We do not see any marks of tools that are generally used for handmade teapot to make the inside more smooth. This may be hard due to the unusual inside shape. The layers also appear to be very thick. Fine Yixing teapots usually are more elegant and thinner.

The filter surprisingly also appear to be handmade, but it's also a little sloppy. Normally this kind of filters are made using a mold (even for handmade teapots), which doesn't seem to be the case here.

Most likely, this teapot is made inside a larger workshop in which quantity and efficiency matters. To make this teapot perfectly would take many days (and would cost a lot), but we estimate that this teapot is handmade in less than an hour using a mold for the outside design.

Because we expect that many pieces will not appear successful after oven firing, it's not rational to use good clay. This would further support our view that the clay used is most likely not very high quality.

The bottom of the teapot has the stamp markings of the workshop. Most artists/workshops also stamp the inside of the teapot lid, which isn't the case for this teapot.


Is It Worth 90$?

This teapot was acquired for 90$. Is it worth it? That's a question that's hard to answer. Overal the clay appears to be generic, but the teapot is very unique and semi-handmade (though the finishing is somewhat sloppy and most likely a mold is used for the outside). So it can be worth 90$ to someone who simply loves the unique shape and design. The price seems also be reasonable given that it was acquired by a local store as the middle man and the artist also need to earn their fair margin. At last, there's also shipping costs involved.

If you compare it to our 90$ teapots, ours are fully handmade from original clay and more fine. However, the shape is classic and definitely not as exotic as this teapot.

Semi-handmade versus Handmade

Semi-handmade teapots in practice doesn't have to function less well compared to fully handmade pieces. In practice, however, we do see that handmade pieces are better tested, simply because so much more time has gone into it.

The same reasoning holds for the quality of the clay. In theory, you could use very high quality clay for a semi-handmade teapot. Yet, in practice it's more rational and logical for good clay to be used for finely made teapots that fetch higher prices on the market.

At last, for teapots that are very expensive, it's not just the use of clay that determines the prices, but also how well the craftsmanship is. Teapots made by artists with the highest level of certification also are generally more expensive. For example, this green dragon teapot was made by an artist of the highest degree characterized by premium clay and exquisite finishing.

Original mail

First of all, thank you so much for your help, I greatly appreciate it. You bring up some very interesting points about what 'authentic' may mean in the context of yixing. There are three main things that matter to me in the context of my teapot purchase
  1. is this teapot actually made of yixing clay and did it come from the region? Are there yixing pots that bear this shape and style? My research doesn't indicate as such which is why I am concerned.
  2. will the pot absorb tea flavor over time and form the luster/patina - functioning as it is supposed to? If it is a mass-produced reproduction from another region might it contain dyes or impurities I need to worry about?
  3. is the price I paid ($90) reasonable for an anonymous possibly mass-produced or slip-casted piece provided it is made from the legitimate yixing clay.

I am somewhat bothered that my pot does not have the traditional yixing shapes and style - that is one of the main reasons I question its origins. There is also the price I paid which seems high for an anonymous piece - in comparison, on your site you have some pots that are $90 that have an artist certificate and are handmade. Your value pieces that I would assume are made from the zisha clay but are only semi-handmade and are $60 and under, which is great.

One more question - do the semi-handmade pieces function any less well than the fully handmade in terms of tea flavor absorption and the creation of the luster? It seems like at the high level the price is influenced by the piece becoming 'art' and not just merely serving as a tool - which don't get me wrong I am completely on board with.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter!

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Dan Cong Oolong Tea: Legend, History & Origin

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The Legend of Silver Needle Tea: The Origin of Bai Hao Yin Zhen

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Here's a story one of the white tea farmers in Fujian told us during our sourcing trip.

How To Season an Yixing Teapot: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide

September 24, 2019 No comments

Avoid missing any crucial steps when seasoning your Yixing teapot. Get it right the first time with this easy to follow, step by step guide.

8 Yixing Teapot Features You Should Know About

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The city of Yixing isn’t just the average industrial town in China. In fact, it’s known for its purple clay (‘zisha’) teapots, also known as Yixing teapots.

Best Time To Drink Black Tea

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What's the best time to drink black tea for health or for weight loss? And can one drink black tea when pregnant? Find your answers in this article.

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Learn about Chinese tea etiquette and why it's essential for business meetings.

When To Drink Green Tea? What's the Best Time?

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Should you drink green tea before or after meals? In the morning or during the evenings? And before or after exercise? Find it!

The Origin of Oolong Tea (or 'Wulong Tea')

August 4, 2019 No comments

Nobody knows for sure where oolong tea is originated from and where it was discovered. In this article, we’ll discuss the 3 competing theories: Anxi theory, Wuyi theory and Beiyuan tribute tea theory.

What is Cold Brew Tea & How To Make It Right Now

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What is cold brew tea exactly? And why would you cold brew versus hot brew? Let experienced tea sommeliers teach you how to cold brew your tea the correct way and get the best taste out of your tea bags or loose leaf tea.

7 Best Teas for Cold Brewing + Easy Recipes

July 29, 2019 2 comments

There's no such thing as the best tea for cold brewing. That doesn't mean that all teas are suitable. We've curated 7 teas that will guarantee an amazing result. In this article we'll discuss each of these teas and introduce you easy to make recipes with blending suggestions.

Da Hong Pao Tea Price Explained

July 23, 2019 No comments

Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) is a famous oolong tea from Wuyishan, China. What makes the tea so expensive, and are different grades? In this article, we'll discuss what factors determine the price of Da Hong Pao tea.

The Legend of Da Hong Pao Tea

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Chrysanthemum Tea During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

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Learn everything you need to know regarding drinking Chrysanthemum tea during pregnancy.

Wuyishan Tea Growing Region & 10 Ways It's Unique

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Wuyishan, also known as Wuyi Mountain, is a famous tea growing region in China. Learn what makes this region unique!

Black Tea vs Green Tea Difference: Taste, Caffeine, Weight Loss

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Black tea and green tea differ in many ways, including their taste, caffeine levels, origin, production methods, and health benefits. We’re going to discuss every aspect in detail!

12 Traditional Tea Pets & Their Meaning

June 20, 2019 No comments

Tea pets are ceramic figurines, mostly made of Yixing purple clay (Zisha). Chinese tea lovers believe that a fun and meaningful tea pet not only adds fun to the tea sessions, but also brings in luck and fortune.

Chinese Tea Guide

RSS Feed

Dragon Phoenix Yixing Teapot Review

November 12, 2019 No comments

Recently we received pictures from a visitor, who wanted our opinion on a very special teapot. Below in this post, you can see his full email.

Here's are two pictures:

The first impression is that it is a very unique teapot with dragon and phoenix carvings. These two creatures often appear together in Chinese art such as paintings and porcelain. Phoenixs and Dragons are creatures that hold each other in balance. A phoenix is feminine while a dragon is masculine, like yin and yang.

What's also unique about the teapot is that it's a double layer teapot, allowing openings on the outside layer. You don't see such teapots often, and it kind of reminds us of Lucky Spheres/Balls made from multiple layers of Jade. We're sure that the artist who made it, got his/her inspiration from those balls.

So while the teapot shape definitely is not a classic Yixing shape, such as Shi Piao or Jing Lan, it's definitely unique. There's absolutely nothing wrong with unique and modern shapes. Nowadays artists are experimenting with new shapes in hope they become classic in the future. The choice of classic versus more modern creative shapes is like having either a taste for classic versus modern abstract paintings.

The clay

Our impression of the clay is that it appears to be too smooth to be real Yixing clay. It lacks this stony structure and it doesn't appear to be very porous. So most likely it's generic clay. We therefore do not expect much result in flavor absorption by the clay.

Is it unsafe? Most likely not, these teapots are still fired at high temperature, so if there's any unhealthy substances or impurities, it's most likely fixed inside the teapot. It's, however, important to clean the teapot well, and remove the loose parts inside. It's highly recommend to also season the teapot for first time use. This will definitely remove any odors and all loose parts.

Craftsmanship

The outside of the teapot appears to be made using a mold to get the dragon and phoenix patterns. The holes are then cut afterwards by hand.

When looking at the inside of the teapot it appears to be handmade, but it's somewhat sloppy. We do not see any marks of tools that are generally used for handmade teapot to make the inside more smooth. This may be hard due to the unusual inside shape. The layers also appear to be very thick. Fine Yixing teapots usually are more elegant and thinner.

The filter surprisingly also appear to be handmade, but it's also a little sloppy. Normally this kind of filters are made using a mold (even for handmade teapots), which doesn't seem to be the case here.

Most likely, this teapot is made inside a larger workshop in which quantity and efficiency matters. To make this teapot perfectly would take many days (and would cost a lot), but we estimate that this teapot is handmade in less than an hour using a mold for the outside design.

Because we expect that many pieces will not appear successful after oven firing, it's not rational to use good clay. This would further support our view that the clay used is most likely not very high quality.

The bottom of the teapot has the stamp markings of the workshop. Most artists/workshops also stamp the inside of the teapot lid, which isn't the case for this teapot.


Is It Worth 90$?

This teapot was acquired for 90$. Is it worth it? That's a question that's hard to answer. Overal the clay appears to be generic, but the teapot is very unique and semi-handmade (though the finishing is somewhat sloppy and most likely a mold is used for the outside). So it can be worth 90$ to someone who simply loves the unique shape and design. The price seems also be reasonable given that it was acquired by a local store as the middle man and the artist also need to earn their fair margin. At last, there's also shipping costs involved.

If you compare it to our 90$ teapots, ours are fully handmade from original clay and more fine. However, the shape is classic and definitely not as exotic as this teapot.

Semi-handmade versus Handmade

Semi-handmade teapots in practice doesn't have to function less well compared to fully handmade pieces. In practice, however, we do see that handmade pieces are better tested, simply because so much more time has gone into it.

The same reasoning holds for the quality of the clay. In theory, you could use very high quality clay for a semi-handmade teapot. Yet, in practice it's more rational and logical for good clay to be used for finely made teapots that fetch higher prices on the market.

At last, for teapots that are very expensive, it's not just the use of clay that determines the prices, but also how well the craftsmanship is. Teapots made by artists with the highest level of certification also are generally more expensive. For example, this green dragon teapot was made by an artist of the highest degree characterized by premium clay and exquisite finishing.

Original mail

First of all, thank you so much for your help, I greatly appreciate it. You bring up some very interesting points about what 'authentic' may mean in the context of yixing. There are three main things that matter to me in the context of my teapot purchase
  1. is this teapot actually made of yixing clay and did it come from the region? Are there yixing pots that bear this shape and style? My research doesn't indicate as such which is why I am concerned.
  2. will the pot absorb tea flavor over time and form the luster/patina - functioning as it is supposed to? If it is a mass-produced reproduction from another region might it contain dyes or impurities I need to worry about?
  3. is the price I paid ($90) reasonable for an anonymous possibly mass-produced or slip-casted piece provided it is made from the legitimate yixing clay.

I am somewhat bothered that my pot does not have the traditional yixing shapes and style - that is one of the main reasons I question its origins. There is also the price I paid which seems high for an anonymous piece - in comparison, on your site you have some pots that are $90 that have an artist certificate and are handmade. Your value pieces that I would assume are made from the zisha clay but are only semi-handmade and are $60 and under, which is great.

One more question - do the semi-handmade pieces function any less well than the fully handmade in terms of tea flavor absorption and the creation of the luster? It seems like at the high level the price is influenced by the piece becoming 'art' and not just merely serving as a tool - which don't get me wrong I am completely on board with.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter!

How to Make your own Chrysanthemum and Goji Berry Tea Blend?

October 15, 2019 2 comments

Easy and fast step by step instructions to make your own herbal tea blend at home that's great for eye health.

Chrysanthemum Pu Erh Tea Recipe & Benefits

October 1, 2019 No comments

Discover China's most popular pu erh Chrysanthemum tea blend.

Dan Cong Oolong Tea: Legend, History & Origin

September 29, 2019 7 comments

Read about how Dan Cong tea was the elixir of the last emperor of the Song dynasty Zhao Bing and the rise of this oolong tea during the Qing dynasty lead by emperor Jia Qing.

The Legend of Silver Needle Tea: The Origin of Bai Hao Yin Zhen

September 28, 2019 2 comments

Here's a story one of the white tea farmers in Fujian told us during our sourcing trip.

How To Season an Yixing Teapot: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide

September 24, 2019 No comments

Avoid missing any crucial steps when seasoning your Yixing teapot. Get it right the first time with this easy to follow, step by step guide.

8 Yixing Teapot Features You Should Know About

September 23, 2019 No comments
The city of Yixing isn’t just the average industrial town in China. In fact, it’s known for its purple clay (‘zisha’) teapots, also known as Yixing teapots.

Best Time To Drink Black Tea

September 17, 2019 4 comments

What's the best time to drink black tea for health or for weight loss? And can one drink black tea when pregnant? Find your answers in this article.

Tea Rituals & Customs: The Forgotten Part of Chinese Business Etiquette

September 17, 2019 9 comments

Learn about Chinese tea etiquette and why it's essential for business meetings.

When To Drink Green Tea? What's the Best Time?

September 16, 2019 No comments

Should you drink green tea before or after meals? In the morning or during the evenings? And before or after exercise? Find it!

The Origin of Oolong Tea (or 'Wulong Tea')

August 4, 2019 No comments

Nobody knows for sure where oolong tea is originated from and where it was discovered. In this article, we’ll discuss the 3 competing theories: Anxi theory, Wuyi theory and Beiyuan tribute tea theory.

What is Cold Brew Tea & How To Make It Right Now

July 29, 2019 No comments

What is cold brew tea exactly? And why would you cold brew versus hot brew? Let experienced tea sommeliers teach you how to cold brew your tea the correct way and get the best taste out of your tea bags or loose leaf tea.

7 Best Teas for Cold Brewing + Easy Recipes

July 29, 2019 2 comments

There's no such thing as the best tea for cold brewing. That doesn't mean that all teas are suitable. We've curated 7 teas that will guarantee an amazing result. In this article we'll discuss each of these teas and introduce you easy to make recipes with blending suggestions.

Da Hong Pao Tea Price Explained

July 23, 2019 No comments

Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) is a famous oolong tea from Wuyishan, China. What makes the tea so expensive, and are different grades? In this article, we'll discuss what factors determine the price of Da Hong Pao tea.

The Legend of Da Hong Pao Tea

July 13, 2019 4 comments

The story of one of China's most famous oolong tea: Da Hong Pao.

How To Steep Blooming Tea & Enjoy It To The Fullest

July 10, 2019 6 comments

Blooming teas hand-knitted tea balls that unfurl like a beautiful flower when they're steeped. In this article we'll discuss the tea tools you need, and what brewing parameters to use!

Chrysanthemum Tea During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

July 8, 2019 6 comments

Learn everything you need to know regarding drinking Chrysanthemum tea during pregnancy.

Wuyishan Tea Growing Region & 10 Ways It's Unique

July 7, 2019 No comments

Wuyishan, also known as Wuyi Mountain, is a famous tea growing region in China. Learn what makes this region unique!

Black Tea vs Green Tea Difference: Taste, Caffeine, Weight Loss

July 1, 2019 No comments

Black tea and green tea differ in many ways, including their taste, caffeine levels, origin, production methods, and health benefits. We’re going to discuss every aspect in detail!

12 Traditional Tea Pets & Their Meaning

June 20, 2019 No comments

Tea pets are ceramic figurines, mostly made of Yixing purple clay (Zisha). Chinese tea lovers believe that a fun and meaningful tea pet not only adds fun to the tea sessions, but also brings in luck and fortune.