Nixing has a long history in China, however it has often been overlooked by the tea drinking community outside of the country. While much has been written online about Yixing Zisha and Chinese porcelain, very little has been said about this other ceramic art.
What is Nixing?
One of the four famous varieties of Chinese pottery (the other three varieties are: SiChuan RongChang clay; Yixing ZiSha Clay; and YunNan JianShui Clay). Nixing tea ware is produced in the town of Qinzhou, in Guangxi province China. Qinzhou ceramic artists have been producing Nixing ceramics, including storage vessels for food and tea, cook ware and tea ware, for centuries. The art form has an official history of 1300 years. Nixing tea ware had a major boom in popularity towards the end of the Qing Dynasty, during the Xianfeng period.
Nixing ceramics have a very special production process for the clay before it is wheeled by Nixing artists. Nixing clay is a mixture of clay from the East and West banks of the Qinjiang River in Qinzhou. The two clays are prepared differently and then mixed to create Nixing clay. Clay from the East bank of the river is stored wet in a sealed container before being mixed. Clay from the West bank of the river is left outside, exposed to the elements (under rain and sunshine) for 4 to 6 months. The exposed West bank clay becomes hard and weathered. The clay is then taken and crushed into powder and mixed with the wet East bank clay. The common ratio of mixture is 4 parts East-bank clay to 6 parts West-bank clay.
The clay is then shaped on a pottery wheel by hand. The artist may or may not add a carving to the outside of the piece. When the artist is finished shaping the piece it is fired at a high temperature of 1200 degrees Celsius.
The Nixing Difference
Nixing is known for six important defining features.
Nixing Clay is non toxic and non-reactive. It does not react when in contact with acids or bases. It is porous and can breathe. These characteristics made Nixing clay an ideal material for vessels used for food and drink. As such, Nixing is commonly used for storing food and tea, as well as for brewing and holding tea and coffee. It is most widely used for tea ware.
Often overlooked in the tea world, Nixing clay is a hidden gem. It has been spared the hype that has pushed the prices of other kinds of ceramics (like Yixing Zisha) very high and given rise to fakes in the market. Nixing offers beauty, good tea brewing, safety, all at a great value.
You can see our Nixing Teapot collection here: