A small, well-made Yixing teapot is always a nice find. It tends to become a close personal tea companion and possession as its size is ideal for serving one person: the owner. Also, there is something to be said about using just enough tea leaves so as to not waste any. After all, "tea is like eating silver."
Pictured are two 1970’s Shui Ping Hu (水平壶 “Balanced Water Pot”) that I acquired recently from Jing Tea Shop (left) and Houde (right). Both pots were made by Yixing Factory #1 and they have 70ml capacity. The pot from Jing Tea Shop is a Nei Zi Wai Hong1 kind (literally translates as "inside-purple-outside-red"). This type of teapot is made from low(er) quality Zisha (purple clay) and then “painted” or "showered" evenly with Hong Ni clay on the outside to hide its low-grade Zisha look. Judging from the absence of any drib on the inside of the lid by the air hole, the specimen that I got is most likely the "painted" kind. The outside texture of the pot, however, is not as smooth as the other pot.
The pot from Houde (right) is made entirely of Hong Ni clay. This pot has developed a somewhat creamy and juicy feel from age and use. It has a very pleasant wrinkled smooth texture. The clay quality, balance, and its clinking sound are excellent.
Notice the slight shape and proportion differences between the two pots? The nei zi wai hong has a "Zhong Guo Yi Xing" seal, while the hong ni pot has a "Jing Shi Hwei Meng Chen Zhi" seal. After some practice, both pots brew and pour very well, with good lid-body fit. Click here to see better the inside-outside clay contrast.
These pots have become indispensable companions when I’m drinking tea solo. I use the pot from Jing Tea for high fire Tie Guan Yin oolong because it has a slightly bigger, rounder belly for allowing the leaves to unfurl better. The other pot from Houde, with its slightly wider opening, is for brewing high fire Wuyi Mtn. rock oolongs. So far, fortunately, I’ve had no problem fitting the long and wiry Wuyi leaves inside the pot. I suppose when I encounter a Wuyi with leaves that are too long to fit inside then I'd have to use a gaiwan.
1Thanks to Guang of Houde who recently discussed about the history, the making and the attributes of Nei Zi Wai Hong and Shan Tou pots on his blog.