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How to Find an Authentic Yixing Teapot on the Internet

Posted by Jessica Jacobson on
How to Find an Authentic Yixing Teapot on the Internet

Most people know the differences between Authentic and fake Yixing teapot. But can you spot the differences between authentic and fake Yixing teapot via pictures? Do you know what to look for when buying online?

In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through what to look for when buying Yixing teapot online. 

For a native Chinese, this question is a no brainer: visit the village called Ding Shu, in the city of Yixing, walk around till you find the perfect teapot. 

But most of us don't have the luxury of buying a ticket to China and spend countless hours searching for a teapot. So if you are like me, live in the United States, how would you find the perfect Yixing teapot?

Tea might be popular, but Chinese teaware is still a niche as far as I can tell. There is not a single teapot shop within 50 miles of where I live.

Thanks to the internet, nowadays we can buy just about anything in our pajamas. It sounds like a fantastic deal at first, but if you type in "Yixing teapot" in your Google search bar, soon you will realize what a nightmare this can be. 

 

Sometimes you came upon deals like one: 

Wang Yinxian's teapot for $550 is a steal. But then if you look deeper, you find her REAL work worth $35k - $42k:

 

Granted, if the first item is listed as work inspired by Wang, it might still be worth $550 depending on its craftsmanship, but the description is rather vague. 

 

Or if you try Amazon, there are deals after deals, and some of those look enticing with a reasonable price tag and a decent amount of reviews.

Maybe I haven't uncovered the secrets of importing authentic Yixing teapot, and I fully wishing it's true. But realistically, I don't understand how a $35 teapot would cover the cost of everything: an average HANDMADE cost at least 600 yuan ( about $93), and we are not counting international shipping here. 

I would take a "wild "guess that many of those teapots under $50 are mass-produced. If you are lucky, they mix regular and Yixing clay. But if you are unlucky, they could combine them with dye to imitate the color of real Yixing clay, which is harmful to consume. 

I am not trying to scare you away from Yixing teapot. I am here to arm you with the necessary knowledge to find an authentic one. 

 

So when buying a Yixing teapot online, what should you look for then?

 

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing any of the companies; I am merely using pictures to show examples. It does not mean the teapots are good or bad.

 

#1 Pictures, pictures. 

They say pictures say a thousand words; this is particularly true with Yixing teapot. Here are what to look for in pictures: 

 

Pictures of inside 

Handmade Yixing teapots have scratch marks, as shown below.

Image source: https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/84606100

 

Or like this one: 

Image source: https://item.jd.com/10024742935112.html#none

 

But NOT like this: 

Image source: http://www.yirenchupin.com/14381.html

 

Pictures of the outside

You can see where the side of the body and the bottom connects, like this one: 

Image source: https://item.jd.com/71710981170.html#none

But an unauthentic Yixing teapot's bottom looks like this (this is an inside view of a teapot): 

Image source: http://www.yirenchupin.com/14381.html

 

Most authentic Yixing teapot surface is bumpy (of course, this is difficult to tell via pictures depends on image quality), like this: 

Image source: https://www.zhongguofeng.com/zishahu/8062.html

 

Whereas unauthentic ones are unusually smooth.

 

New Yixing teapot appears dull. If a new teapot appears unusually shining and smooth, it might not be good news, like this one: 

Image source: https://item.jd.com/65643867103.html

 

Authentic Yixing teapot shows clearly the connecting spot between handles, sprout, and body:

 

Image source: https://www.zhongguofeng.com/zishahu/8062.html

Whereas the unauthentic ones show no signs of a connection between body and sprout(and handle).

 

3. Questions to ask yourself when looking at images: 

  • Are the images original? A quick Google search will do the trick.
  • Are the images high quality? 
  • Does the image tell enough stories? 

 

#2 Descriptions

A good Yixing seller might be able to tell you more about the teapot than you need to know. Generally, I seek to learn as much background story as I can about the teapot.

Most artists make limited numbers of the same teapot. If it shows they have 999 more of the same teapot available, I'd be wary.

When reading the description, is the seller knowledgeable about Yixing teapot? If they know less than you do, it's not a good sign. Does the price seem unreasonable low? Unless there are visible defects listed in the description, I'd consider you very very lucky to find an authentic Yixing teapot below $50 in the States. 

 

#3 Read their blogs

You can learn a lot about a business by reading their blogs. Most Yixing teapot sellers are also collectors who enjoy playing with Yixing teapots. By reading blogs, you can learn a lot. 

Content marketing is not a great way for business to connect with their customers, it's also a great tool for customers to get to know the sellers.

 

#4 Customer service

Don't be shy to reach out with questions. If the seller is also an avid collector, he/she will be more than happy to discuss the Yixing teapot with you. 

Check their return policy. You don't know a Yixing teapot until you have held it in your hands. Don't be alarmed if it appears dull at first; it's supposed to look like this. After 20 days of daily use, the teapot should start to shine. After several years of everyday use, the teapot will become even more beautiful. A reputable seller will allow a sufficient amount of time to return the teapot, so you have plenty of time to test and enjoy.

 

#5 Gut feeling

I know, I know, you might ask: what do you mean by gut feeling? I think our gut feelings are underused, yet it's one of the most fantastic abilities humans have. I think it's always a risk to purchase online, and your gut feeling is a great tool when tapping the unknown water. Somehow we already know if something is legit; all we need to do is listening to our gut. 

 

To catch more great tips on Yixing teapot, subscribe to my newsletter here.

 

So what do you think about this article? Share your great tips below!

 

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