Fabulous 130ml fully handmade Zini (purple) Yixing clay pots made from over 30-year-old clay known as Old or Lao Zini.
The desirability of a clay pot is dependent on a few factors such as the method of making, firing and producer but top of the list is the quality of the clay. This pot is made from extremely high-grade Zisha Yixing clay which has been fermented for over 30 years in Yixing.
The original ores (Yuan Kuang) to make this clay are supposedly from Huang Long Mountain - one of the official mines and source of some of the most sought after clays in the tea community. It is important to note that it is impossible for us to verify this claim. Zisha clay, much like everything in tea, is shrouded in myth-making and misinformation and so it is important to be cautious about taking anything at face value. However, these teapots were sourced from a very respected master potter called Ying Chunfang in Yixing and the clay is undoubtedly of impeccable quality.
The clay has been kept for over 30 years. This 'fermentation' process increases the plasticity of the clay to make it easier to work and it is claimed that it increases the porosity of the clay and therefore its effectiveness at shaping the tea and developing seasoning and patina.
These pots are fully handmade by Ying Chunfang which means that they have been made without any moulds and are shaped entirely by hand which takes an immense amount of skill.
Yixing clay pots have an ability to soften tea, reduce astringency and smooth out any bitterness. This allows the brewer to steep strong and flavourful brews while attenuating the 'bite' of a tea. The compromise with Yixing is that it has a tendency to sand away some of the top, bright character of a tea. I have been amazed at the ability of this clay pot to produce potent brews and control the 'bite' while preserving the brightness of a tea. Whether this is due to the clay origin, fermentation of firing is up for debate but I have totally fallen for this pot especially for Sheng PuErh.
We recommend priming Yixing pots to remove any dust and 'open the pores' of the clay by first rinsing a few times with warm water and then filling with boiling water a few times. Alternatively, you can gently submerge the pot and lid into a pan of water with a towel at the bottom to protect the pot from breaking when moving. Bring the water to the boil and immediately turn down to simmer for 10-15 minutes. This method is more dangerous and we prefer to treat these precious handmade pots with a little more caution.
If you would like to kick-start the seasoning and patina process then you can submerge the pot in your strong, boiling hot tea of choice and leave overnight but we don't bother with this and allow the seasoning to happen naturally.