Yixing

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nohwonder
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Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:00 pm

pantry wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:43 pm

I have this pot. I like it.
what type of tea do you use it for? It looks like it might be a nice shape/size for yancha.
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Youzi
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Location: Shaxi, Yunnan, China
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Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:03 pm

nohwonder wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 4:51 pm
Youzi wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:31 am
If you get an F1, make sure to get one from before 1980.

And on a side not F1s usually aren't considered antiques. Usually when people refer to antiques, they mean teapots made before the Factory Era, so ROC or earlier.
Oh ok, I didn't mean to imply that I wanted to get an ROC or Qing pot or anything, I just want a nice F1 as a sort of comparison since that seems to be basically the standard. What happened in 1980 that made the pots worse? Also curious what you all think of this pot: https://essenceoftea.com/collections/yi ... an-tea-pot.
Seems a bit overpriced for me unless it's fully handmade.

@pantry just saw, that you have it. Is it a full hand pot?
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pantry
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Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:25 pm

nohwonder wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:00 pm
pantry wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:43 pm

I have this pot. I like it.
what type of tea do you use it for? It looks like it might be a nice shape/size for yancha.
I’ve been using it for yancha, and occasionally Dan cong. The size, shape, and pouring speed work well for it. Craftsmanship is very good (half handmade). I don’t own any antiques to be able to compare the clay, but it does brew yancha well. Clay color warmed up quickly, with fast patina development, etc.
alejandro2high
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:24 pm

:mrgreen:
Balthazar wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:04 am
Bok
Youzi

Thanks, very interesting to see how people put different meaning into the same word.

I assumed a strictly utilitarian value where the "proof is in the pudding", the figurative pudding being the brew output. That's the quality element I'm most concerned with, but I can easily see that this is a very narrow view. Bok has a wider range of criteria (some of which I guess I too appreciate, although place less emphasis on, and probably have a less keen eye for evaluating), including how it brew's tea. Youzi considers the latter to not be connected to clay quality at all.

Eager to hear if alejandro2high has completely different criteria :)
Apologies for not responding earlier.

First and foremost, when I referred to Yann Studio as being a higher caliber, I only did this because they regularly sell and interact with pieces made by nationally ranked/recognized artists. Yann even has access to pots made by potters with research level certifications. I think that using things like certifications make it a little more valid to make a statement about the caliber of a studio. I do not, however, believe that Yann has better clay or teapots than Yinchen Studio.

On the other hand, I would say that my subjective definition of a good pot is a mix between what Youzi and Bok were saying. I would agree that the effect that a teapot has on a tea is important when grading a teapot. As Bok said, a teapots main job is to make tea. I think that the only way the effect a pot has on tea can be ignored is if you're looking at the teapot as merely a piece of pottery and not a tea making instrument.

It's really difficult for me to try and make a cohesive statement about what makes a teapot good, or better, because it seems that so much of that statement is personal preference. For example, there is a very strong belief amongst serious zisha collectors that antique pots are superior to modern pots, but there really isn't much to base this statement on. First, the build quality has improved immensely and any teapot from Yinchen or Yann is going to be built many times better than any antique or F1 pot. However, to this, antique lovers will say that the perfection of modern pots makes them lifeless and dull, but I have modern teapots with more attitude than some people I know. To say that a perfect fitting lid, or a perfectly balanced teapot, makes a pot lifeless and dull completely ignores the advancement of technology and skills that has made it possible for a well made modern pot to exist.

Lastly, I know of several antique pot collectors who have never even brewed tea in a high-quality modern pot, but they are quick to dismiss them as lesser to antiques or even vintage pots. I couldn't tell you how many times I've heard the statement that any factory pot is better than a modern one even if from the late 80s to 90s. It's only been untill recently with the prevalence of Yinchen studio and such that this sentiment has slowly started to change.
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TeaTotaling
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:29 pm

@alejandro2high Welcome back! You left us hanging on the edge of a cliff 🧗🏼‍♂️ Thanks for sharing.

I believe in your original post you referred to Chanting Pines as having clay of high caliber. I understand where you are coming from though.

Regarding clay quality as it relates to the artist. I remember one of the veteran members conveying that higher quality clay is typically reserved for higher ranking artists. This makes good sense. As it relates to YZG, it seems She Rong Fei has clay connections in the Zisha world, that few (if any) Western facing studios would have access to.

While I can only formulate my opinion based on the teapots I have, I would certainly not dismiss high quality modern pots as being inferior to verified antique or vintage teapots. I own one pot from YZG, made by Shen Mei Hua, and it is outstanding on all accounts!!! It is in no way inferior to my old pots.

A serious tea drinker might be inclined to opt for an antique pot because clay processing methods of old could be superior to mass produced modern methods. Producing a pot with the capability to make a better cup of tea. Harmful additives would seem to be more common in modern pots, as well.

High quality antique pots have their special charm, and are a joy to use. High caliber modern pots are excellent as well. They both have their place in my lineup. They both make a fine cup of tea.

I still intend to dive deeper with a detailed comparison, as I stated a few months ago. I have found that a quick conclusion is not easy to draw. Learning the subtleties of one's yixing teapots takes time, patience, and lots of brewing.

Enjoy learning, enjoy the process, and have fun drinking tea. We are all in this together.
faj
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:31 pm

alejandro2high wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:24 pm
On the other hand, I would say that my subjective definition of a good pot is a mix between what Youzi and Bok were saying.
When I first read the comments you are referring to from @Bok and @Youzi, I thought about commenting but did not find a way to succinctly express my thoughts. After being reminded of this by your post, I think I have found a way to do it through an analogy.

Suppose you want to "rate" paintings.

Maybe you want to do it from a purely subjective point of view, basing your judgement on how the painting impacts the observer. Being entirely subjective, there is no absolute scale. Equally educated people may disagree, and uneducated people can pass judgement that are just as valid as scholars. The endeavor can devolve into a popularity contest (whether among a small circle of connoisseurs, or among the unwashed masses) which is highly political and path-dependent in nature.

Maybe you want to use a more "rigorous" approach, based on measurable (or at least observable) characteristics. Maybe this way you get some kind of "objective" evaluation. But given a painting is nothing but an object destined to be observed (if only by the person making the painting), any such rating is going to be pointless. And your evaluation is objective with respect to some set of criteria, but the choice of criteria has nothing objective about it. Instead of arguing about the intrinsic value of the painting, you argue about the value of the set of criteria. As they say, the good thing about standards is that there as so many to chose from.

I see teapots the same way. Whether you chose the perspective of a tea drinker or art lover, both methods of "rating" are dead ends. You have to live with the wave-like nature of teapots, the "Schrödinger's teapot" concept : you may define a probability distribution that any teapot will be considered "good" or "bad" by an observer, but the reality is that it exists as both good and bad at the same time, and any "rating" is an intellectual construct.
alejandro2high
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:54 pm

@TeaTotaling

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I would agree with everything you said. Even though I stand with what I said about antique pots, I still think that the draw to antique pots and porcelain is very real. I own several pieces of mid to late qing porcelain and one small cup that's late ming/early qing, and I hope to own an antique teapot one day; however, I can admit that this is purely because the pieces are antiques. I do believe that antique pots are in a whole other league than modern pots, but I don't think this is because of clay or build quality. As far as clay processing goes, there is nothing stopping studios from processing their clay using traditional methods. YZG recently put a video of them using a stone mill, and I know Yinchen has some aged HLS zhuni that's traditionally processed. The worry of additives can be solved by buying quality studio who makes their own clay.

@faj

I think that this is why it's important to differentiate between assessing pots as pieces of pottery or pieces of tea making hardware. I think that if you were to look at a pot as a tool to make tea they art analogy falls apart since paintings are, as you said, "nothing but an object destined to be observed." Although I do own some pots purely for aesthetics purposes, nose of my pots are definitely picked based on the tea I'll be using them with.
faj
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:17 pm

alejandro2high wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:54 pm
I think that if you were to look at a pot as a tool to make tea they art analogy falls apart since paintings are, as you said, "nothing but an object destined to be observed."
From a tea drinker's perspective, a teapot is "nothing but an object destined to be used for tea making", and to me the analogy holds in the sense that the impact of the teapot on the drinker (how subjectively good the tea is, how subjectively pleasant to use the teapot is) is subjective, like the impact of the painting on the observer is. Whether you look at the teapot as a tool or as a work of art, subjectivity is involved.

I was not contrasting "teapot as art" vs. "teapot as tool", but rather "teapot/clay quality as subjective rating of tea-making ability" vs. "teapot/clay quality as adherence to specific criteria". I realize using paintings as the analogy can obscure my intent.
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steanze
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:21 pm

If you want a pot without additives, I recommend to either have it tested with X-ray spectroscopy, or get something made before the 1980s. Even reputable studios use chemical additives...

@alejandro2high
"any teapot from Yinchen or Yann is going to be built many times better than any antique or F1 pot"

I respectfully disagree with this statement. I have not seen many pots on those sites that can match the elegance of the lines of a well made antique. Those pots might have better lid fit - any modern pot will - but that is a superficial aspect of craftsmanship. Things like lid fit are unimportant - a somewhat loose lid is not an issue, neither for functionality nor for aesthetics. Saying that a modern pot is better than an antique because the lid fit is better would be like saying that a digital photo I just took is much better than a Raphael because it is more realistic. That would be missing the point. I can appreciate the technology that makes the digital photo possible, but the Raphael, unlike my photo, is the product of a lifelong cultivation of an artist's aesthetic sensibility.

To clarify, I am not saying that antique pots are better because of those imperfections. I am saying that an antique with beautiful lines is better than a modern piece that is unimaginative and boring, even if the antique has a worse lid fit. Are all antiques better than all modern pots? No, there are good modern pots. But lid fit and such aspects are quite irrelevant: you can get a slip cast pot with perfect lid fit, maybe the lid fits even better than in a pot by contemporary high ranking Yixing craftsman. If we are talking about high-level pots, in my view the question that matter is - how does the pot reflect the artisan's lifelong search for beauty?

To provide a somewhat broader perspective on this discussion, Yinchen studio and Yann gallery have made modern pots easier to find, but their impact is mostly localized to the western market. Those modern Yixing pots have always been widely available in China and much of East Asia. The appreciation of antiques and the discussion over the merits of modern and antique teapots is going on in mainland China, in Taiwan, in Malaysia, in Singapore... the range of modern pots available in the west is more limited, but so is the range of antiques. Positions on these issues in the west seem to be so easily swayed by what is available on the market... first people were into the EoT pots with "aged zini clay", then some vendors started offering green label F1 pots and there was more talk about the superiority of old pots, now that with Yann and Yinchen there is more access to a broader range of modern pots there are more people arguing for modern pots. A serious evaluation of the relative merits of antiques and modern pots requires a familiarity with a broader range of antiques and modern pots than are available on the western market. Chen Mingyuan, Shao Xumao, Yang Pengnian, Shao Youlan, Wang Dongshi, Shao Jinan, Cheng Shouzhen, Fan Dasheng, Wang Yinchun... studying the works of these artists and many others is necessary to develop an informed opinion on this issue. Comparing the best modern pots currently available in the west to the best antiques currently available in the west is only informative about the state of the western market, but it does not afford broader conclusions about the historical trajectory of Yixing craftsmanship.
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Bok
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:36 pm

steanze wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:21 pm
I respectfully disagree with this statement. I have not seen many pots on those sites that can match the elegance of the lines of a well made antique. Those pots might have better lid fit - any modern pot will - but that is a superficial aspect of craftsmanship. Things like lid fit are unimportant - a somewhat loose lid is not an issue, neither for functionality nor for aesthetics. Saying that a modern pot is better than an antique because the lid fit is better would be like saying that a digital photo I just took is much better than a Raphael because it is more realistic. That would be missing the point. I can appreciate the technology that makes the digital photo possible, but the Raphael, unlike my photo, is the product of a lifelong cultivation of an artist's aesthetic sensibility.

To clarify, I am not saying that antique pots are better because of those imperfections. I am saying that an antique with beautiful lines is better than a modern piece that is unimaginative and boring, even if the antique has a worse lid fit. Are all antiques better than all modern pots? No, there are good modern pots. But lid fit and such aspects are quite irrelevant: you can get a slip cast pot with perfect lid fit, maybe the lid fits even better than in a pot by contemporary high ranking Yixing craftsman. If we are talking about high-level pots, in my view the question that matter is - how does the pot reflect the artisan's lifelong search for beauty?

To provide a somewhat broader perspective on this discussion, Yinchen studio and Yann gallery have made modern pots easier to find, but their impact is mostly localized to the western market. Those modern Yixing pots have always been widely available in China and much of East Asia. The appreciation of antiques and the discussion over the merits of modern and antique teapots is going on in mainland China, in Taiwan, in Malaysia, in Singapore... the range of modern pots available in the west is more limited, but so is the range of antiques. Positions on these issues in the west seem to be so easily swayed by what is available on the market... first people were into the EoT pots with "aged zini clay", then some vendors started offering green label F1 pots and there was more talk about the superiority of old pots, now that with Yann and Yinchen there is more access to a broader range of modern pots there are more people arguing for modern pots. A serious evaluation of the relative merits of antiques and modern pots requires a familiarity with a broader range of antiques and modern pots than are available on the western market. Chen Mingyuan, Shao Xumao, Yang Pengnian, Shao Youlan, Wang Dongshi, Shao Jinan, Cheng Shouzhen, Fan Dasheng, Wang Yinchun... studying the works of these artists and many others is necessary to develop an informed opinion on this issue. Comparing the best modern pots currently available in the west to the best antiques currently available in the west is only informative about the state of the western market, but it does not afford broader conclusions about the historical trajectory of Yixing craftsmanship.
+1
Thanks to @steanze, as always putting complicated matters in a concise and understandable form.
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Balthazar
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:29 am

Yes, lots of interesting contributions.

I'd just like to point out that the conversation was initially about the meaning of "quality clay" and not "quality teapots" (which I think we can all agree is a different and broader discussion, e.g. the clash between artistic and utilitarian preferences).

And the clay aspect is perhaps where the advantage of antiques and early factory pots is most clear.
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Bok
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:53 am

alejandro2high wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:54 pm
As far as clay processing goes, there is nothing stopping studios from processing their clay using traditional methods.
Money.

Traditional methods are more labour and time intensive, more costs that the end-consumer might care little about and is not willing to pay for. Easy to forget that the Western Yixing market is but a little tiny niche of the overall market, so for the studios probably easy to ignore, especially as this is the market which is the least willing to pay top money for teaware.
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TeaTotaling
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:21 am

Balthazar wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:29 am
Yes, lots of interesting contributions.

I'd just like to point out that the conversation was initially about the meaning of "quality clay" and not "quality teapots" (which I think we can all agree is a different and broader discussion, e.g. the clash between artistic and utilitarian preferences).

And the clay aspect is perhaps where the advantage of antiques and early factory pots is most clear.
Thanks @Balthazar for pointing back to the initial debate. It certainly is a much broader discussion. One that is not simply settled. Everyone has unique sensory perceptions and preferences.

Personally, my top priority is brewing the best cup of tea possible. Clay quality matters more to me than artistic value. I can say with the lineup I have, my old pots outperform my modern pots, as it relates to a better cup of tea. The only exceptions are the Diamond Grade clay from CP, and the aged DCQ used by Shen Mei Hua. I would still give the edge to my old pots if I was forced to choose.

While I cannot account for every variable from clay source to finished teapot, I tend to notice a more muted cup of tea when I brew in $middle-of-the-road$, modern Yixing. My old pots produce a tastier, more aromatic cup.

I came on the scene unbiased as it related to antique vs. modern. I was searching for a clay teapot to enhance my cup of tea, without taking anything away. If I was to purchase another teapot for clay purposes, I would probably choose a good quality antique.
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TeaTotaling
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:26 am

Bok wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:53 am
alejandro2high wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:54 pm
As far as clay processing goes, there is nothing stopping studios from processing their clay using traditional methods.
Money.

Traditional methods are more labour and time intensive, more costs that the end-consumer might care little about and is not willing to pay for. Easy to forget that the Western Yixing market is but a little tiny niche of the overall market, so for the studios probably easy to ignore, especially as this is the market which is the least willing to pay top money for teaware.
A crucial point. Not to be overlooked, but many times is.
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Youzi
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Thu Aug 27, 2020 11:57 am

@TeaTotaling
What antique pots do you have?
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