Yixing teaware first appeared in the early Northern Song dynasty (960 to 1279 A.D.) in China and gained in popularity during the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.). They were made of the purple clay, zisha clay, that is said to only occur in the Yellow Dragon Cave of Dingshan town in Yixing, China. It is said in China that zisha clay is worth more than gold and teapots made of this clay are prized despite their high prices due to their advantages in brewing tea. Not only are they said to maintain the freshness of the tea for long periods of time, but they also bring out the flavor of the tea and retain the heat longer than teapots made of other materials. This makes Yixing pots especially useful in the preparation of gongfu cha (the Chinese Tea Ceremony) because it allows the tea master to ensure that the quality of the tea is the same for each participant. Zisha clay is very porous and because of this it is advisable to brew only one kind of tea in an Yixing teapot because it will absorb the tea into the clay itself. It is said that after many years of using an Yixing teapot all you have to do is add hot water to the pot in order to have a perfect cup of tea. A Chinese tea aficionado (particularly the old timers) use the Yixing teapot not only to brew their tea, but also to drink it straight from the spout.Yixing teapots are used primarily in brewing oolong and puerh teas. The pots tend to be small, single serving size pots because these teas can be brewed numerous times. No tea collection is complete without a good Yixing tea pot!
Throughout the ages they have been renowned for their unique artistry and practical usage by incorporating the concepts of aesthetic beauty and natural harmony. In the Song dynasty Yixing zisha (purple clay) teapots were very simple, not at all ornate. As the centuries progressed they became more and more elaborate, decorative and elegant. As a matter of fact, the Forbidden City did not accept the Zisha teapot into its collection until the early Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911 A.D.) By that time the Zisha teapot had been elevated to an artistic form, and potters and scholars worked together to make beautiful, ornate pot styles.