Understanding the Types and Shapes of Yixing Clay Teapot

Yixing teapots, made from Yixing clay, are renowned for their ability to enhance the flavor and aroma of tea. There are three main types of Yixing clay, each with its own unique features and characteristics. In this guide, we will explore each type and their recommended teas.

Yixing Teapot Different Shapes

Zi Ni – The Most Common Type of Yixing Clay

Zi Ni is the most commonly used type of Yixing clay and comes in colors ranging from purple to dark purple. It is divided into three categories: Zi Ni, Qingshui Ni, and Di Cao Qing.

Zi Ni

Zi Ni contains a high amount of iron components and has a dual porosity structure that allows for excellent air convection when brewing tea. It is recommended for fermented teas such as Ripe Pu-erh Tea, Black Tea, and Oolong Tea.

Qingshui Ni

Qingshui Ni has an elegant and mild color, making it perfect for creating a strong literati atmosphere. It is easy to control the temperature when brewing tea and will develop a mature color over time. It is recommended for Black Tea and Pu-erh Tea.

Di Cao Qing

Di Cao Qing is located at the bottom of the clay mine and is characterized by its pure and uniformity, fine and smooth, and brown color. It is commonly used by famous artists and has a green-yellow chunk of clay in the ore, which turns into yellowish or goldish-colored particles after firing. It is recommended for Black Tea, Pu-erh Tea, and Oolong Tea.

Hong Ni (Red Clay)

Hong Ni is very scarce as it is located at the bottom of a clay mine. It can have various shades of red and purple after firing, depending on the level of iron it contains. It is divided into two categories: Da Hong Ni and Zhu Ni.

Da Hong Ni

Da Hong Ni is high in iron components and has good air permeability, making it best for brewing high aroma teas. The teapots made from this type of clay appear in shades of red with slight yellowish, red with slight purple, or yellow with slight red, depending on the firing temperature. It is recommended for Oolong Tea and Pu-erh Tea.

Zhu Ni

Zhu Ni is also high in iron components, but it is fragile and difficult to work with. The teapot made from this type of clay is usually small in capacity and has a glossy and silky texture. The glossiness comes from the original texture of the ore itself and requires patience and craftsmanship to achieve. It is recommended for Oolong Tea and Pu-erh Tea.

Lv Ni

Lv Ni is tender and located at the top of the mine. It tolerates lower firing temperatures and is more scarce than Zi Ni. It is divided into two categories: Duan Ni and Ben Shan Lv Ni.

Duan Ni

Duan Ni is also called Lao Tuanni and is commonly seen in Huanglong Shan, Yixing, Jiangsu Province. It has a loosen and double air hole structure that leads to smooth cross-ventilation, making it a great choice for best teas. It is thin and light, making it suitable for Green Tea, White Tea, Yellow Tea, and Green Oolong Tea and Raw Pu-erh Tea.

Ben Shan Lv Ni

Ben Shan Lv Ni is light green in color and contains much quartz, causing it to absorb much moisture and shrink significantly while firing. It is usually used to make small teapots, while larger ones are hard to come by due to the difficulty of working with the clay.

Recommendations: Ben Shan Lv Ni is ideal for brewing Green Tea, White Tea, and Yellow Tea. It is also suitable for brewing Green Oolong Tea and Raw Puerh Tea, but not recommended for Black Tea and Ripe Puerh Tea.

Understanding the different types of Yixing clay can help you choose the right teapot for your favorite type of tea, and enhance your tea-drinking experience.

Hand Made Yixing Teapot

Other Types of Yixing Clay for Teapot Making

While the most commonly known type of Yixing clay is Zi Sha, there are several other types of clay available as well.

Jiang Po Ni

Jiang Po Ni is a type of Yixing clay that was discovered accidentally in the early 90s while workers were digging the slope between Huanglong Mountain and Qinglong Mountain. This clay has a light brown color and turns red with yellow after firing. It has an obvious granular sensation and a surface that becomes “oil and wax” after seasoning, making it a good variety of Zisha clay. Due to its limited stock, Jiang Po Ni is a rare find.

Teapots made from Jiang Po Ni are usually recommended for brewing oolong tea and Puerh tea due to the clay’s characteristics. Some popular Jiang Po Ni teapot designs include Jinglan Teapot, Ru Yi Yixing Zisha Teapot, and Landscape Engrave Jing Lan Yixing Teapot.

Qing Hui Ni

Qing Hui Ni is another type of Yixing clay that is made by Chen Fu processing from the Duan Ni mine. This clay turns into a grey-white or steel-gray color and is covered with many particles, hence its nickname “sharkskin.” Qing Hui Ni was a popular clay in late Ming and early Qing dynasties, but its limited stock makes it rare in recent years.

Teapots made from Qing Hui Ni have good air permeability and a simple and sedate feeling. This type of clay is typically recommended for brewing oolong tea and Puerh tea.

Why Yixing Teapot so Expensive

Choosing the Right Shape of Yixing Teapot for Your Tea

Yixing Teapots are well known for their ability to enhance the flavor and aroma of tea. However, it’s not just the type of clay that matters, but also the shape of the teapot. When selecting a Yixing Teapot, it’s important to consider the shape and size to ensure that it complements the tea you will be brewing.

Round Shape – Perfect for Oolong and Fermented Teas

The round shape is the most common and versatile shape for Yixing Teapots. It’s simple and unpretentious, yet offers some unique features. High body and small mouth round teapots are suitable for fermented teas, as they allow for a more concentrated and bold flavor. Meanwhile, short body and big mouth round teapots are ideal for unfermented teas like green, white, and yellow teas, which have a refreshing and delicate taste. The round shape enhances the sweetness and mellowness of the tea.

Flat Shape – Ideal for Highly Oxidized Strip Black Teas

The flat shape offers a sense of stability, making it the best choice for highly oxidized strip black teas that are heated at very high temperatures. The tea leaves stay stable in the teapot and confidently release their aroma and mellow taste. When pouring water, the narrow space inside the teapot provides some buffer, allowing the tea to be easily infiltrated and gently release its essence.

Square Shape – Precise and Dignified

The square shape requires mastery of the Yixing teapot craft. Only the most skilled craftsmen dare to create this precise, proportionate flow of design. The angle inside the square teapot keeps the tea from rolling, making it ideal for ripe Pu-erh tea, which has an aged flavor that is fully revealed in the square teapot. However, the square shape is not suitable for Oolong tea, as the fragrance may be stuffy. Nonetheless, there are many shapes of square teapots, such as rectangular, hexagon, and octahedron, which focus on the artistic aesthetic of “round implicated with square.”

Seasoning Your Yixing Teapot

Before you enjoy brewing your favorite tea in your new Yixing Teapot, it is necessary to season your teapot with the type of tea you will be brewing. The seasoning process allows the clay to absorb the flavor and aroma of the tea, making your tea taste even better. Check out the following video to learn how to season your Yixing Teapot properly.

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