Before beginning the discussion of this topic, Taiwan Sourcing Team would love to ask a question first - "What's the purpose of using an Yi Xing Clay Teapot?"
Our first response is the obvious one, to make tea of course! But we can also make tea in a mug, a bowl, a pitcher made by Georg Jensen, or even a simple porcelain gaiwan. With all these options, what makes Yi Xing clay teapots so special and why are we so fascinated with them?
Frankly speaking, we found this article pretty hard to compose due to the vast information on the internet. Most of the article discuss things such as porosity and so on, but very rarely any article attempts to express the true concept of Yi Xing teapot's role in the hand of a character, or even more, showing the raw material behind all this secret. So in this series, we would like to invite everyone - whether you consider yourself a passionate Yi Xing clay lover, or just a curious admirer of Yi Xing tradition - to explore on a different level. We hope this article will provide a unique perspective that will enrich your knowledge and understanding of the Yi Xing pot.
So let's head back to the question we asked at the beginning - "What's the purpose, or to be more specific, what role does Yi Xing teapot play in the process of tea drinking?"
To answer this question more specifically, we would like our readers to imagine themselves as an audiophile who loves classical music from piano sonata to symphony - imagine music that conveys layer and depth which could be savored on a quiet night. The music is akin to the teas you and I are drinking, music is experienced through our ears, and tea by our palate. As an audiophile you must have some of the best equipment at hand - source, amplifier, and speaker. Our tea plays as the role of source here - it is already processed but not fully released. To increase its signal, we use our "amplifier," which is our teapot in this case to increase the audibility. The "tea signal" coming out from the teapot will be the increased and being perfected tuned if the right teapot is applied.
The tea cups we use to drink our tea are much like the speakers. They "play" tea just like a pair of speakers play music. Different types of tea will act differently in the tea cup you use, which many people would not notice since they probably use the same cup most of the time and rarely do a side-by-side comparison drinking the same tea in different cups. But this "speaker" effect of tea cups has been widely acknowledged among tea enthusiasts for centuries! Try using a tall skinny cup and a wide shallow tea cup to drink the same tea and I think you'll notice a difference.
In conclusion, teapots play the role of "amplifier", because with a teapot we are able to "amplify and tune" our tea to the best condition we want. Just like an amplifier can process and manipulate the source material and elevate it to a higher (more appreciable) level, a teapot according to it's shape, ore type, firing temperature, pour rate and many other factors will act in a similar way.
A teapot is the fine tuner for teas we drink. So to get the best result, we should pick the most appropriate equipment for the task.
(Picture below is a Zhao Zhung Zhu Ni Standard Teapot)