Zisha or Yixing Teapots

Zisha Teapot and Cups

Before I had gained any exposure to gongfu cha, I remember seeing the pretty little Chinese teapots and wondering about their function. I suspected that they were purely ornamental, as they seemed too small to be of use. Now that I have a great deal more understanding of the world of tea I can appreciate both the artistry involved in their design and production and their perfect suitability to the preparation of high quality teas.

There is a wealth of interesting information available about these special teapots. The terms “zisha” and “Yixing” are often used interchangeably to refer to them, although they have distinct meanings. “Zisha” is the name of the special clay that is found only in Yixing, and although the name means “purple sand” it is also found in green, yellow, red and blue. This very finely grained clay is perfectly suited to sculpting and fashioning teapots, as well as other items. “Yixing” (pronounced “ee-shing”) is the region of Jiangsu province in China where the clay comes from and within which most of the zisha teapots are manufactured.

Care of these highly prized teapots is another interesting area of inquiry. The theories and practices around seasoning new Yixing teapots often seem to vary nearly as widely as the styles and colors of teapots themselves. It is mostly indisputable that every new zisha teapot needs to be seasoned in some way, but the methods recommended range from simple rinsing, to scrubbing with toothpaste, to extensive brewings of the pot immersed in tea.

Detailed descriptions and photographs of the seasoning procedures that I use can be found on the “Seasoning a New Yixing Teapot” page of our site.

Seasoning a new Yixing teapot and cups

This article on the Tea Masters blog is quite useful in regards to the ideas around seasoning Yixing teapots.

For further reading, there is a good article on Yixing teapots on China Flair Tea and another good article on zisha clay on Yixing-Teapots.net.


  1. My email host died for me months ago so you’ll not be able to reach me there. Nonetheless what I have to say is true.

    I’m something of a tea affictianado in that I’ve purchased many different types and grades of teas from various locations over the face of the earth. I’ve mainly invested in puerh, oolong and Japanese green teas so have some familiarity with them. I’m sending this because I see where you’ve got “In Nature Oolong Tea” in your list of Retain Resources.

    I ordered one of their oolongs and one of their green teas a while back and got the teas weeks later. They were shipped in chezzy cardboard containers with no identification beyond “oolong” and “green tea”; they omitted to include the type of oolong or green tea. Not a big deal in itself.

    These two teas are the worst representatives of their types I’ve ever tried to drink. They were both so stale that they gave off almost no smell at all and brewed up into just barely drinkable for the oolong and unpalatable for the green.

    Just though you should know.

    Phone: 530 344 8302

  2. Thank you. Your experience with them is valuable. I may need to do a bit more research into their quality. We don’t want to promote any tea sellers that are not providing a good product.

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  4. Pingback: POT YIXING TEAPOT | Kitchen Appliances & Accessories