- by vinux
Purple clay teapot is a practical utensil used in people’s daily life to brew tea and drink tea, yet it is also a utilitarian work of art. Tea culture gives rise to the appreciation of purple clay teapots, which makes it a suitable choice for tea drinkers.
One, literati love purple clay teapots
With the prosperity of tea art, more and more people are spending their leisure time enjoying purple sand teapots. No matter how knowledgeable a tea connoisseur is in the way of tea, all these knowledge and understanding will lack support and credibility without an exquisite purple sand teapot paired with amazing tea leaves. This is how literati and gentlemen understand both tea culture and purple sand pot culture. Tea lovers and appreciators can indulge themselves in the subtle aroma of the tea while playing with the purple sand pot, experiencing peace and contentment.
Looking back in history, after the mid of Ming Dynasty, Chinese gradually started to brew tea with teapots. Yixing purple sand teapot quickly became a major tool for drinking tea due to its practical advantages of “neither taking away the aroma nor having the smell of long brewed tea”. Thus, the culture of purple sand teapot which integrates pottery art, poetry, painting and seal carving was created as a symbol of tea culture.
Two, Four Elements of Purple Sand Teapots
The four necessary elements for a purple sand teapot are pot shape, kiln temperature, raw material and craftsmanship. The shape of the pot should be simple and elegant; the ideal firing temperature is between 1250-1300℃; the raw material should be selected from top quality clay in order to ensure high hardness and permeability; the craftsmanship needs to take into account both aesthetic design and practical function. With these four elements combined, one can produce a purple sand teapot with perfect quality.
A perfect purple clay teapot should have four elements, form, spirit, temperament and posture. Form indicates the external contour of the work; spirit refers to its charm; temperament includes harmony and beauty of color and luster; posture means the height, fatness, rigidity or softness, round or square in shape. On the other hand, it should be practical like an appropriate capacity and weight proportion of the teapot body, smooth flow from spout mouth, comfortable teapot handle and even seams around lid.
Zisha teapots are different from ordinary ceramics in that they neither apply glaze inside or outside. They are made with local purple clay, red clay and segmented clay, kneaded and baked. Due to the high temperature when pottery is made, the teapots have tight joints and delicate texture; they don’t leak but contain some invisible pores, making them durable and able to absorb tea juice and store tea leaves. The teapots also transfer heat slowly so they won’t burn your hands; even if strong fluctuations of cold and hot water happen, they will not break. Moreover, Zisha teapots have simple but graceful shapes and primitive yet elegant colors; hence the saying “the best teapot in the world”. According to The Peach Blossom Inn Tune, “Yangxian (Yixing) teapots began to be popular in Ming Dynasty, being worth as much as gold”, which shows its value. It is not an exaggeration to say that Zisha teapots are “the best teapot in the world” for their excellent heat retaining capacity and permeability after burning.
Third, the advantages of purple sand pot
Purple sand pots have many advantages. First, they are made with a special kind of clay that is known for its heat retention and durability. This makes them perfect for making traditional Chinese tea like oolong, pu’erh or jasmine. Second, their shape is designed to maximize the flavor of the tea and to keep it at a consistent temperature over time. Third, they are aesthetically pleasing and often come decorated with intricate designs that make them more attractive than other types of teapots. Finally, they are easy to maintain and require minimal upkeep to keep them looking good.
Why is the purple sand pot so loved by tea lovers? This is mainly determined by its unique properties. The water absorption rate of the finished purple sand pot is less than 2%, and the porosity is about 5%, which is between ceramics and porcelain. It is this unique texture that makes the purple sand pot very suitable for brewing tea. The tea brewed in the purple sand pot has a full flavor, aroma and taste, combined with its exquisite artistic shape to achieve a perfect state of drinking tea. In detail, as a teapot, purple sand pot has the following advantages that other teapots do not have:
First of all, the teapot can be used for a long time, and the wall of the pot will accumulate “tea rust”. Boiling water poured into empty silver will also produce some tea fragrance and aroma, which is related to the porosity of the purple sand body material, which is a unique quality of the purple sand pot.
Secondly, it has good flavoring capabilities, so that tea does not lose its original flavor and does not have the smell of tea utensils itself. The fragrance is gentle and mellow, with excellent color, fragrance, and taste, and the aroma does not dissipate, giving true fragrance and taste of tea. The “Changwu Zhi” says: “It neither takes away the fragrance nor has a cooked soup.”
Thirdly, the Chen tea does not go sour and does not develop a slimy coat in hot summer, which is conducive to cleaning and keeping the teapot clean. This is because purple sand clay has double air pores and good breathability.
Fourth, the temperature change is good with hot and cold quickly. In the winter and late in December, when boiling water is poured into the pot, it will not burst due to sudden temperature changes. At the same time, the sand material has a slow heat conduction, so holding the pot won’t burn your hands.
Fourth, the practical methods of Zisha (Purple Clay) teaware
Although the aesthetic value of purple sand pot can not be ignored, its main value still lies in its “function” use. The function of purple sand pot is mainly reflected in four aspects: moderate capacity, proper height and width, tight lid and smooth water output. Generally speaking, fine workmanship can make the purple sand pot have better use function. However, some purple sand artists do not drink tea themselves, so they lack understanding of tea making with purple sand pot, and do not know the specific design and production requirements of different tea varieties for purple sand pot. Therefore, although the pot is made with good workmanship, it cannot well reflect the characteristics of different teas and make tasting tea become meaningless. Such a purple sand pot will have certain artistic appreciation value but its practical value will not be high.
Purple sand pot is an integral part of the whole tea culture, its pursuit of artistic conception should be the tea ceremony’s “plain and peaceful, transcendent and detached from worldly customs”. Cultivating virtue and self-cultivation as well as tasting tea and learning about the ancient tea culture is the most essential cultural pursuit.