CHINA TRIP 2017
Michelle has travelled to China for a two week trip to source tea and teaware. The aim of this and every tea journey we take is to forge new partnerships and cement old ones. Her trip will take her to many different areas, where we hope to source new teas and revisit farms we already buy from. The following series of blogs will document her trip.
DAY 1 - SHANGHAI AND YIXING
After arriving in Shanghai we took a car across to Yixing, the capital of pottery and more specifically Dingshan town where the streets are lined with individual pottery shops selling thousands of Yixing teapots. Yixing teapots are made using a very special unglazed clay material called 'Zisha clay' - this clay has many special characteristics which makes it one of the best materials in the world from which to make a teapot.
When the clay is properly refined it produces a type of pottery that is highly absorbent. There is a legend that once you have used a Yixing teapot many times you can reach a point where adding boiling water alone you can make tea because the pot holds enough of the tea flavour.
Across the town we saw artisans and craftspeople working in their shops - often multigenerational - the shelves held an array of colours - Yixing clay occurs naturally in four characteristic colours - most common is purple but there is also light buff, cinnamon and green. Other colours are created by mixing the clay.
Today we travelled to see the clay mines, a pot producing factory and examined teapot making in greater detail with individual makers. Every moment was truly fascinating. We filmed a great deal of the process of making these beautiful pieces of teaware. Below is just a section of this intricate process. After forming the walls of the teapot a piece must be fitted that will eventually be cut back out to form the lid. The precision and patience required is extraordinary.