Friday, September 13, 2019

Shop Local for Yixing

Although most cities in the West don’t have a Chinese tea scene, there are a few places that are worth checking out to find some hidden gems locally.  This is great advice no matter what city you live in.  In fact, the more obscure Chinese tea culture is in your city, the more likely that there are treasures in clear view, that others are completely oblivious to.

In the past, I have found a pretty good haul of semi aged puerh, aged oolong, and even antique tea simply by asking around at the older Traditional Chinese Herbal markets and shops in town.  The older the establishment, the more likely they might have some old forgotten tea kicking around somewhere covered in dust.

Every once and a while I search for used clothing or décor or art for my house on these local online garage sales, Facebook sale pages, or local online classifieds.  Actually, more often than not, it is my wife doing this.  Either way I sometimes manage to put the search words “Teapot” or “Tea” in the search field and usually not much interesting pops up.   Last month, the search result showed something that looked like an authentic quality Yixing teapot.

Turns out it was!  I paid $5.00 for this beautiful unused Shui Piao style yixing.  I know enough about yixing teapots to know the thick walled clay is of excellent quality, it is handmade, and its style looks like something from the 1990s or early 2000s, that’s my guess.  To validate my guesstimate, the other Japanese items for sale from this vendor are from this time period.  I also suspect that it was first exported to Japan than gifted by a Japanese National- that is all the info I could get on this teapot from the seller.  I could guess that a pot like this would go for at least $200.00!  In many ways, this pot embodies much of the same aesthetic that my beloved (but cracked lid) Zen koan yixing teapot does.

Like the Zen koan Yixing, this pot is quite large and heavy and thick walled.  The other was 250ML pot and this one is even bigger at 300ML.  Also the style is much the same with an etching of auspicious bamboo on one side of the pot and the other side with calligraphy.  Is it a beast though- heavy, holds heat much better than any pot I've had and a very quick pour. 

This shui piao yixing calligraphy has such a beautiful meaning.  A meaning that I try to embrace with each and every pot of tea I make.  So it is fitting…

As far as I can translate such things, the calligraphy speaks of the preciousness of time and being in the moment and not taking the time we have for granted.  It speaks of the analogy of the gardener and short lived peony bloom.  I am unsure where the origin of the calligraphy comes from or whether it is a common phrase or certain philosophical school of thought…. I still have some homework to do… hahaha

Anyways, I strongly encourage you to do such searches in your local area.  Do let me know if you find some winners!  People like Marshal’N of a Tea Addict’s Journal didn’t buy his large yixing collection from teapot vendors, I’m sure.  He basically found things, in the same way I found this shui piao, for dirt cheap.  Its just that there is a lot more of this stuff to find in Hongkong 10 years ago … and this is the same way you will find one too, where ever you live…



Curigane said...

I am informed by my other half that the calligraphy is really good. I am no expert in teapots but that's definitely a good sign. :)

Matt said...


I agree the calligraphy is really stunning. Not only the arrangement on the teapot, which is beautifully proportioned, but the meaning is deep.

Thank the wife for the good sign!

Hope you guys also never take your time together for granted... hahaha