Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two Types of Chinese Teapot

The Chinese have been enjoying tea for 5000 years. Tea was accidentally discovered by a Chinese emperor when some tea leaves fell into his glass of boiling water. Chinese culture has since been influenced greatly by tea. Tea is a popular drink, which had been served on special occasions. To cite a few examples, younger generations serve older people tea to show respect. In offices, tea is served by the employees of lower rank to higher ranking officials. According to tradition, a newly married couple must serve tea to their parents.

Since the Chinese set so much in store by tea, Chinese teapot is also a big part of their tea culture. Chinese teapot is said to be the first teapots used in civilization. The varieties of teapots as seen today all over the world are all derived from the Chinese teapot which was first made by the Ming dynasty.

Genuine Chinese teapot is handcrafted by experts and is famed for being durable and exquisite. These teapots are usually made from glazed earthenware. They are free from lead and other toxic elements. The natural sediment that lies at the bottom of the teapot adds to the flavor of tea. It is, however, important to remember that these teapots should not be washed with soap or dishwashing liquid. They must only be rinsed with warm water and put to dry.

Chinese teapots are of two types

Yixing: Pronounces as E-Shing, these teapots come from the city of Yixing known for its purple colored clay. Such clay does not break easily, has a beautiful colour, is good at retaining heat and is porous. When tea is brewed in clay that is porous, it absorbs its flavour. Unlike regular teapots that lose their shine with time, the Yixing teapots get better with age. Yixing teapots are also collected for decorative purposes. Though these teapots are mainly used to make oolong and black tea, they can also be used for green tea.

Gaiwan: Gaiwan literally means "covered bowl". Gaiwan teapots consist of three parts: bowl, lid and saucer. They come without handles. The lid acts as a strainer. One can directly from the bowl or pour the tea into another cup. Gaiwan teapots are made from porcelain, glass or clay. Some are even made from jade. The inside of a Gawain teapot is always glazed unlike an Yixing teapot. Check for a tightly fitting lid and a wide brim when buying a Gawain teapot.

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