Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 23, 2016

I bought Jim a new cup to take to work for his Luohanguo tea. This is a special type of earthenware known as Yixing pottery and is made from zisha 紫砂, literally “purple clay,“ found along the banks of Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province. It is named after Yixing, the city near where it has been mined since about the year 1000! The “clay” is actually made from a type of rock which is very high in mineral content. It is ground and mixed with water to form the purple clay. But…it isn’t always purple, it can be a range of colors from reddish purple, brown, buff yellow or green. Yixing pottery is especially popular for teapots. The teaware is not glazed, which results in it being very absorbent. Because of this, it is recommended that it only be used for one type of tea because it will absorb that flavor, and it should only be washed with water. Because of the high iron content, it also keeps the tea hot for longer than other types of teaware. The clay is rather rare and although this cup cost 130rmb/$20usd, and is advertised as “authentic,” it is most likely mixed with some other clay.