Friday, January 23, 2015

Pair of Xiao Xiao Xi Shis

I've been searching high and low for a reasonable yixing to brew Su's teas.  Yixing teapot buying always fills me with a sense of dread. First I know with 100% certainty that I'll chip the spout or finial given time.  Second I fear I'll end up with something wonky, dribbly, or fake with my inability to spend more than two figures on a teapot.
To ease my shopping pain and fear or chipping, Su recommended a set of ten mini Xi Shis in a rainbow of yixing clays from a Malaysian shop that were beyond adorable.  If I smash a few, I'd be sad but  I'll have backups to last me at least a decade.  If my husband had gotten me something like this, I would be the happiest tea wife in the realm.

Out of all the classic forms, I am a huge fan of Xi Shis even before I knew it was fashioned after a famous beauty(Xi Shi)'s breast. No historical record exists of whether or not the teapot was modeled after her right breast or left breast but the bodacious Xi Shi probably was a creature of extreme symmetry. And most likely the potter did not have such privileged access anyway and had to just imagine it all.

Most of us started life happily suckling mother's milk and so it's natural such a shape should subconsciously evoke fond feelings.  I love natural shapes without hard edges so even without a boob and nipple motif, I would have chosen Xi Shis anyway.  The more I stared at Su's recommendation, I had a fuzzy sense of familiarity.  And in a most bizarre twist of coincidence, I actually had two of those very pots hiding in my tea closet- a dead match in size, silhouette, color, and potter's mark.

Long long ago I bought these mini Xi Shi teapots on my honeymoon in Korea.  They were about 5000W or ~$4 each. I remember being super excited because I'm always on the lookout for small token gifts for friends while traveling. I dragged my husband to pretty much every ceramics shop in Insadong trying to buy more of these but the two happened to be the only two in the entire area. (I was warmed by the thought at least I knew a good thing when I saw one and I don't have to regret that I didn't buy more.)  I thought back then they were not teapots but ink droppers for use in brush calligraphy because they dispense so little water.  

I brought them out last week late at night and was giddy to discover they are surprisingly workable little pots.  You can not imagine how ecstatic I was that I almost woke up my soundly snoring husband.  The little guys are a bit fiddly in the way that most little pots tend to be if they have one unfiltered hole that can get easily clogged and let too much tea crumbs out. But if you are used to them like I am, they are alright.   So thanks to Su, I have rediscovered two yixing teapots in my closet.  I'm so glad I mistakenly thought they were decorative all these years because otherwise they would have been chipped and useless by now.

I've been cheerfully brewing with these teensy 45ml pots and I almost want to buy up the other eight colors- just to reunite the family so to speak.  They cost ten times as much now so I might save my money for an adult sized pot.  Su tells me 120ml is a good size to bring out the true flavor of puerh so my search still continues.  Also Su wisely advises me to brew the same tea in the same consistent way to gauge aging- same teapot, same water, same tea to water ratio.  I'll need multiples of the same teapot to carry me through a few decades once I find one I like.  The search continues...

1 comment:

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