Zhou Xiaode
100% Handmade Yixing Pot

How to buy Yixing tea pot and what does 100% handmade means.

When buying Yixing tea pots, you need to consider the following four factors:

  • How it look and feel
  • Clay material
  • Craftmanship
  • Potter

Amongst the four, the first and fourth are most important. Let me explain.

The Aesthetic

yixingA handmade yixing is not just a brewing vessel. The intangible - how it looks and feels - is the most important determinant of its value to you.

It is analogous to buying a piece of painting. Ask yourself, what constitutes a painting? Doesn't it consist of just a canvas and some dried up paints?

What you are getting is how it makes you feel. What you are paying for is the years of training the artist undergoes honing his skills and the weeks spent crafting the art piece.

The same goes to an yixing. If you are reading this page seriously, you are probably looking for a handmade pot and not a mass produced item you buy and forget a year later.

Remember, every potter has a different style. Does he speaks to you in the language you can understand? Does the aesthetic of the pot convey a sense of serenity, positivity and beauty?

The Artist

Ultimately, the artist the key. The potter's reputation will automatically underpin the quality of the clay material and craftmanship. As I explained in the Zhu Xinnan article:

However, you need not be an insider to find a good tea pot. Once you understand how it works, the whole thing is quite transparent, especially if you are dealing with the top end of the market (which we do).

Why? While there are ten of thousands of potters in Yixing, only a few hundreds can be regarded as masters. These masters sit examinations regularly and are assessed by expert panel before they can be promoted to the next level.

The key is to understand who these potters are and the quality of their work. It is a small pond to fish.

Now let's move on to Mr Zhou Xiaode whose six different types of tea pots are on sale on this website.

Born in Yixing in 1973, Mr Zhou was promoted to be Assistant Craft Master (助理工艺美术师) in 2012 and Craft Master (国家级工艺美术师) in 2017. This is highly promising as it is the third most senior title in the Yixing world, two steps away from the highest title of which there are only a handful of holders.

He specialized in making 100% handmade tea pots.

Handmade

yixingA tea pot that is fully handmade is what it says on the tin. The entire process, from preparation of clay to the making of body, base, lid, sprout and handle are entirely done by hands.

The QQ video below showcases how Mr Zhou made a tea pot. It is 40-minute long with a 30-second advertisement at the beginning.

https://v.qq.com/x/page/d03722hxlsb.html

On the other hand, a 50% handmade tea pot can also be high quality. It follows the same procedure except for the body, which is made with the help of a mould. This is demonstrated in the youtube video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDlIXyTuOFM

In China, 100% handmade tea pots are highly sought after and easily sold for $400 to $500.

While I would regard a 100% handmade tea pot as a beautiful thing and believe every artist will actualise his best idea in this form, it is not something we are overly obsessed with.

After all, whether it is 100% handmade or moulded handmade, what mattes most is the quality of the end product and whether it speaks to you in the same way.

Zhou Xiaode versus Zhu Xinnan

yixingWe currently carry tea pots made by the two tea masters above. How do they compare?

We have been selling Mr Zhu Xinnan's tea pots for years, with many satisfactory customers, and still carry three of his designs: Xishi, Wendan and Yuanqiu. As you can see from the links, Mr Zhu's tea pots are exquisitely elegant.

While Mr Zhu Xinnan is the more talented and higher ranked of the two, his tea pots are handmade using moulds. They are more photogenic and do look better online.

In the real world, however, I think Zhou Xiaode's 100% handmade tea pots are higher quality. They have more physical presence, the clay is smoother, feel great to touch and glisten when I pour hot water over them. I love them so much that I even have one of them by my bedside.

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