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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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

History of Black Tea: Where Did Black Tea Originate From?

November 6, 2018 No comments

In the early days of tea, tea production was as simple as simply picking and drying and/or roasting the leaves. But during the Ming Dynasty people noticed that tea leaves can actually be allowed to wither and oxidise. These allowed the leaves to develop more flavour and black tea was discovered.

An Yixing Teapot Per Tea? Or Per Type?

July 27, 2018 1 comment

Recently we got this interesting question: "Do you think that using a single Yixing teapot for both Dian Hong and Jin Jun Mei is acceptable or ought be avoided?" As you may expect there's no straight answer to this...

Yixing Teapot Artist: Wu Hong Cai

July 24, 2018 No comments

Wu Hong Cai, is a down to earth tea artist, who started his career during the 70s in a Yixing workshop.

Tea Etiquette: Is Slurping Tea Bad Manners?

July 17, 2018 7 comments

Slurping tea is very common in China, but it can be annoying sometimes in the West. Why should you slurp tea? Is it considered bad manners? And how can you still fully enjoy tea without slurping? Here's the trick.

Is Tea Halal? Is Caffeine Halal?

December 15, 2017 No comments

There are 1.6 billion muslims in the world and tea is the second most consumed beverage after water. Given just these two facts, and you can imagine that this is a frequently asked question: “Is tea halal?”

How To Store Pu Erh Tea Properly?

November 28, 2017 1 comment

How should you store pu erh tea? Aging your pu erh optimally while taking into account important pu erh tea storage factors such as humidity and temperature.

Osmanthus Rice Cake Recipe (Gui Hua Nian Gao)

November 23, 2017 No comments

A delicious rice cake with a sweet lingering aroma of osmanthus: it’s the taste of Southern China. Here's the perfect recipe for osmanthus rice cake (gui hua nian gao, 桂花年糕).

Pu Erh Tea Blend Versus Single Origin

November 21, 2017 No comments

When buying pu erh tea, some people care whether the tea is a blend of leaves or single origin tea. There's a lot of negative perception on the word 'blend' amongst tea lovers. The common belief is that low quality leaves are blended, while good tea is pure. However, blends aren't necessary bad. Big brands like Xiaguan and Dayi both offer pu erh that are mostly blended. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of pu erh blends versus pure pu erh.

Ashimei: The Female Tea Caravan Horse Rider

August 19, 2017 No comments

Along the ancient tea horse road, the story of Ashimei should be remembered.

Don't Drink Real Tea, Or You May Never Want Anything Else

July 19, 2017 No comments

So true!

Mei Zhan Oolong Tea Review: A Wuyi Rock Tea

June 19, 2017 No comments

Mei Zhan is a tea cultivar from Wuyishan that produces a bold and rich oolong tea. Recently we've received a request from a tea lover to source this tea for him. And as curious as we're we made sure to get some more to try it out ourselves.

A Tea Poem by Su Shi (Su Dongpo): Simmering Tea with Fresh River Water

June 11, 2017 2 comments

Su Shi (1037-1101), also know as Su Tungpo, was a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher and statesman of the Song. As a tea enthusiast, he showed his love for tea in many of his works. In this post, we introduce you one of his tea poems today. We hope you enjoy it!

Koi Carbs & Gold Fishes In Chinese Culture: 7 Ways Fishes Appear as a Lucky Symbol

May 23, 2017 2 comments

Among the Chinese charms, the koi fishes and gold fishes are among the most often used Chinese lucky symbols. Let’s take a look of 7 ways fishes appear in Chinese culture.

Buy Tea With Bitcoin!

May 7, 2017 No comments

Teasenz now accepts payment by Bitcoin, in addition to our existing PayPal and Credit Card payment options. If you’re new to Bitcoin, we’ve prepared some information about what Bitcoin is and how you can start purchasing our tea using Bitcoin. At last, in the last paragraph we explain our decision to accept Bitcoin.

Tea Culture

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

History of Black Tea: Where Did Black Tea Originate From?

November 6, 2018 No comments

In the early days of tea, tea production was as simple as simply picking and drying and/or roasting the leaves. But during the Ming Dynasty people noticed that tea leaves can actually be allowed to wither and oxidise. These allowed the leaves to develop more flavour and black tea was discovered.

An Yixing Teapot Per Tea? Or Per Type?

July 27, 2018 1 comment

Recently we got this interesting question: "Do you think that using a single Yixing teapot for both Dian Hong and Jin Jun Mei is acceptable or ought be avoided?" As you may expect there's no straight answer to this...

Yixing Teapot Artist: Wu Hong Cai

July 24, 2018 No comments

Wu Hong Cai, is a down to earth tea artist, who started his career during the 70s in a Yixing workshop.

Tea Etiquette: Is Slurping Tea Bad Manners?

July 17, 2018 7 comments

Slurping tea is very common in China, but it can be annoying sometimes in the West. Why should you slurp tea? Is it considered bad manners? And how can you still fully enjoy tea without slurping? Here's the trick.

Is Tea Halal? Is Caffeine Halal?

December 15, 2017 No comments

There are 1.6 billion muslims in the world and tea is the second most consumed beverage after water. Given just these two facts, and you can imagine that this is a frequently asked question: “Is tea halal?”

How To Store Pu Erh Tea Properly?

November 28, 2017 1 comment

How should you store pu erh tea? Aging your pu erh optimally while taking into account important pu erh tea storage factors such as humidity and temperature.

Osmanthus Rice Cake Recipe (Gui Hua Nian Gao)

November 23, 2017 No comments

A delicious rice cake with a sweet lingering aroma of osmanthus: it’s the taste of Southern China. Here's the perfect recipe for osmanthus rice cake (gui hua nian gao, 桂花年糕).

Pu Erh Tea Blend Versus Single Origin

November 21, 2017 No comments

When buying pu erh tea, some people care whether the tea is a blend of leaves or single origin tea. There's a lot of negative perception on the word 'blend' amongst tea lovers. The common belief is that low quality leaves are blended, while good tea is pure. However, blends aren't necessary bad. Big brands like Xiaguan and Dayi both offer pu erh that are mostly blended. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of pu erh blends versus pure pu erh.

Ashimei: The Female Tea Caravan Horse Rider

August 19, 2017 No comments

Along the ancient tea horse road, the story of Ashimei should be remembered.

Don't Drink Real Tea, Or You May Never Want Anything Else

July 19, 2017 No comments

So true!

Mei Zhan Oolong Tea Review: A Wuyi Rock Tea

June 19, 2017 No comments

Mei Zhan is a tea cultivar from Wuyishan that produces a bold and rich oolong tea. Recently we've received a request from a tea lover to source this tea for him. And as curious as we're we made sure to get some more to try it out ourselves.

A Tea Poem by Su Shi (Su Dongpo): Simmering Tea with Fresh River Water

June 11, 2017 2 comments

Su Shi (1037-1101), also know as Su Tungpo, was a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher and statesman of the Song. As a tea enthusiast, he showed his love for tea in many of his works. In this post, we introduce you one of his tea poems today. We hope you enjoy it!

Koi Carbs & Gold Fishes In Chinese Culture: 7 Ways Fishes Appear as a Lucky Symbol

May 23, 2017 2 comments

Among the Chinese charms, the koi fishes and gold fishes are among the most often used Chinese lucky symbols. Let’s take a look of 7 ways fishes appear in Chinese culture.

Buy Tea With Bitcoin!

May 7, 2017 No comments

Teasenz now accepts payment by Bitcoin, in addition to our existing PayPal and Credit Card payment options. If you’re new to Bitcoin, we’ve prepared some information about what Bitcoin is and how you can start purchasing our tea using Bitcoin. At last, in the last paragraph we explain our decision to accept Bitcoin.