Actual ZiSha landscape at YiXing, Ground Zero: the honest and struggling, the hyped up, the myths, the misinformation, the not-even-existent, the monies, the fakes, the non-credible.

  Artists, Craftsmen in YiXing, we in the know, we all know these facts.  We piece up in as brief as possible, but also comprehensively explain the TRUE landscape in the ZiSha world.  We had spent a few months writing all of these up, gathering, confirming, re-confirming, checking and re-checking, going to all the places in YiXing just to make sure of all the information, and present them here factually.

Today, together we will get to understand and learn of the actual, the full landscape of the ZiSha industry, explaining why 99.999% of people outside of China, who buy from any online portal/website/selling platforms, have NOT been acquiring the authentic Fully-Handmade ZiSha pots.  Well, EVEN 99.9% of local Chinese are NOT being hoaxed into buying fake "Fully-Handmade ZiSha" pots from even reputable retailers.

Facts, situations and reasons will all be intertwined, but will be from point to point.  There are 7 major points.


First, the most commonly asked question:
What is the cost of a Fully-Handmade ZiSha pot of good standard quality workmanship and Zi Ni material?

Yes, the costings first.

Friends, follow me closely take a pen and paper if you need to.  I will break them all down for you.

A Fully-Handmade (FHM) ZiSha pot takes 2-3 days for a craftsman to make. 

Four costs a Craftsman will incur right upfront:

1…..Cost of Clay 泥料成本 : the craftsman needs to buy clay from their YiXing ZiSha clay stockists:
2…..Cost of Firing the Pot 烧窑费, the craftsman needs to cough out money to pay the kiln operator to fire the pot.
3……Cost of Refining The Lid Interface 整口费: the craftsman have to pay for the onsite crafter to refine the edges of the lid so that the lid fits in to the pot opening and is smooth upon twirling and usage.
4…..Cost of packaging 包装盒子费用, the boxes to pack each pot in.

First, the clay material cost:
......One brick of GOOD STANDARD Zi Ni clay (一捆标准好泥料) of 15kg costs between 2500-3000rmb ($360-$400).  
There are cheaper inferior ZiSha clay mined outside of YiXing from other provinces and they cost only $30 per brick, these are used in half-handmade pots made to cost in factories, or mixed in with other cheap common ceramic materials to make Jigger-machined pots.

If you are a self-respecting Artisan who wants to make a GOOD standard pot which is to be respected, recognised and serve tea for Grand Masters who come by and chat with you, you utilise those at the $360-$420 range.  (Costs about 2500rmb~3000rmb).

One brick of clay of 15kg, can be made into 16 standard austere shape pots.  There will be the initial "wastage" as the Artisan will cut out some pieces for the first few circular test pieces to be fired at different temperatures.  Generally one can squeeze making 16 pots out of this one brick of clay.

Assuming that 12 out of these 16 pots make it out successfully from the kiln (we have seen whole batches coming out of the kiln deformed or cracked or with imperfections), each pot’s clay cost would be $380 ÷ 12 = $32.

Point two:
To book and park one pot at the kiln for firing, the Artisan needs to pay the kiln operator $5 per "parking space".  Each pot would need to be fired 3 times at least.  The kiln operator needs to be paid.  Depending on the types of clay, or the desired effect to be achieved, the Artisan may need command 4 times of firing.

Point Three:
There is an onsite specialised refining-crafter 整口老师 who would help you take out the pots after the first firing, and do 整口 "Zheng Kou": refining work of the lid interface versus the pot opening.  To engage his service, you would remunerate his work at $4 per pot.

Point Four:
Add another $3 for the costs for the sturdy boxes to house and pack the finished pots.

Yes, the cost per pot to each craftsman is already, $32 + $6 + $4 + $3
= $45.

Now, let us look at THE TIME FACTOR:

It takes a craftsman 3 days to make 1 FHMZS pot.
A craftsman takes ONE day to form up the body-base, the lid, the spout, the handle and join them up.  He SUBSEQUENTLY takes TWO days to do surface-refining work 明针 "Ming Zhen". Yes you've got it: he actually take more time to do the surface refining work, than to form up the pot.  "Ming Zhen" takes much more time.  So, 1 + 2 = total of 3 days to finish up a pot ready for firing.

Assuming he works very fast, he may at best craft and finish 1 pot in 2.5 days.  And assuming he works every day, non-stop, he works fast and still being careful with mingzhen 明针 refining work, he would be able to come up with 30÷2.5= 12 standard classic austere pots per month.

Very optimistically and on average, out of these 12 pots he makes, 3 pots will fail, and 9 pots would come out of the kiln successfully without deformation nor cracks, nor any excessive Bao Zi 爆子 nor Tiao Sha 跳砂 nor Hua Ni 花泥 etc other imperfections.

However NOT ALL 9 pots will be successfully picked up and bought by the retailers who purvey and scrutinise their works.  Optimistically and on average, 7 out of these 9 pots made successfully, will be sold.

Assuming he wants to earn $130 per pot for his skill, time and labour, the selling price to the retailer would be $45+130=$175 per pot.

7 sold pots, multiplied by $130, is $910.
You have arrived at his income per month: $900 is the income of an honest, skilled, hardworking craftsman.


This price of $175 is NOT to the customers, it is to the retailers.

FYI the craftsmen do not, and they never sell direct to customers.  Even if you DO walk into a craftsman shop, he will sell you at 1200rmb with receipt.  (And yes, the best ones have already been chosen by their regular retailers.  You pick the leftovers.  As they always say: " Do not think that by going to YiXing, you would get to pick the best/authentic ones/at lower prices.  You don't. ")

Explaining ZiSha to customers, helping customers choose, giving customer service, are extremely time-consuming, and no craftsman sell direct to customers.  Craftsmen NEED to concentrate on making the pots.  The job of marketing and explaining to customers, are both the responsibilities and job, of the retailer.  It is a collaboration and a necessary eco-system.

To drive home the point, the craftsman cannot possibly spend 3 to 4 hours a day talking and explaining to prospects and customers, otherwise THEY CANNOT GET TO MAKING POTS!  Anyway, 3 to 4 hours is not enough to teach a customer, you need a series of dedicated ZiSha classes to fully educate a person about Fully-Handmade ZiSha pots.


Another Fact if you still do head down to YiXing:

ALMOST ALL, 9 out of 10 shops in YiXing are NOT selling FHM ZiSha pots.  9 out of 10 shops at YiXing are selling fakes, selling commercialised, production-line-made Jigger-Machined pots.  And Friends, these machined pots are in fact, made mostly OUTSIDE of YiXing where cheap ceramic materials and even cheaper labour are abundant.  They are not even in the JiangSu province.  These machined pots are made elsewhere, and THEN brought into YiXing to be sold.  Amazing? Sad, but TRUE.

Thereby the notion that: by going to YiXing one will get the best prices/authenticity, is not true.  The best ones have been RESERVED and picked by the regular retailers.  Going to YiXing does not mean you 1)get the authentic ones, 2)even if you pay top dollar, it does not mean you even get the best pots.  Traps abound.


So, the craftsmen do NOT do the marketing, they do not do the B-to-C sales.  They do not do the marketing, they do not sell direct to customers, and they can’t speak English too.


It is the retailers who would purview, scrutinise, choose and procure the pots from the craftsmen.  It is the job of the retailer to educate, share, explain, serve the customers.

The retailer would buy these pots from the craftsmen at 1200rmb ($175) each.  The craftsmen issue receipts of 1,200rmb per pot to the retailers.

And subsequently for the retailer: after bearing in mind stocking costs, inventory costs, overheads, marketing efforts and time, the retailer would need to sell a FHM ZiSha pot to a consumer at $230.  For a retailer to sell one authentic FHM ZiSha pot <$200 for a FHMAuthenticZSto a consumer, is close to impossible.  The cost to the retailer is already $175 for a basic Zi Ni FHM pot.

Friends, hence you see the reason:

If we spot any pots below $170 in the market, they cannot be FHM ZiSha pots.  These pots selling below $170, are half-handmade, slip-casted or machined pots.

A basic FHM ZiNi ZiSha pot (e.g. a FHM basic Fang Gu made of Zi Ni) would thus retail, AT THE VERY LEAST: US$215 (if the retailer only marks up by $40). (ZhuNi pots will be at least 30% more expensive because of the really high failure rates of ZhuNi pots out of the kiln). 

The consumption of ZiSha teapots from China’s own local customers, is enough to wipe off all the FHMZS pots on the shelves every day.  There is therefore absolutely NO NEED for them to sell to overseas customers.  Demand for FHMZS pots in China far, far, outstrips supply (because it is so lucrative, many businessmen jump into the bandwagon, and are so doing now as we speak, to make Jigger-machined pots masquerading as FHMZS pots.

For these China retailers, there is no need for the retailers to sell authentic FHMZS pots overseas.

It is also, a million times easier (1)language wise, and 2)distance wise, to teach, and educate their own locals about FHMZSpots and the virtues of supporting the FHM Art Form.  It is tedious to attend to and to educate the prospects and customers outside of China about the authentic FHMZS pots.  Save the trouble, sell the machined fakes: overseas customers can't tell (well even local Chinese can't tell authentic from fakes.


The tea culture is not widely established in overseas countries, ZiSha Art appreciation is likewise not at a mature stage at all.  And because of this, consumers are not generally not in-tune with/not prepared/not used to, paying $230 and upwards for a teapot.  The local Chinese are totally different, they are absolutely in tune with the pricing of FHMAuthZS pots (adding to the fact now is that local Chinese are ver affluent).  Paying $230 for a Fully-Handmade Basic ZiNi + Austere + 200ml shape ZiSha pot to them is beyond acceptable and common, "$230 for this Fully-Handmade ZiSha pot? Well, of course!"  It is a case of ELEMENTARY MR WATSON, to them. 

Thus, if one is amongst the craftsman~retailer FHMZS network in China, it makes business sense, to just simply concentrate on selling your FHMZS teapots to your local Chinese tea lovers.  Anyway, demand outstrips supply, and there are NOT ENOUGH Fully-Handmade ZiSha teapots being made.  ONE, you earn more per transaction (local Chinese easily pay more),  TWO, transactions go easy, fast and convenient.  Monetary-wise, you easily make much more selling so fast and easily to the local Chinese, than try marketing overseas when you will be easily beaten by countless other retailers of machined pots.


It is so easy to cheat and hoax an overseas customer. Thousands of retailers on various sites, platforms know that, overseas customers, having not handled an authentic FHMZS pot, will NOT, and will NEVER know, how an authentic FHMZS pot looks like and feels like, inside-out.  They thus continue to, unabashedly, unashamedly and confidently sell machined pots made of non-Zisha ceramic material, to overseas customers.  Overseas customers, are just there, for the taking.  These unscrupulous retailers find many ways to hoax.

The situation is often like this overseas:
Even if a group of "ZiSha teapot" collectors gather up now, gather their teapots and admire their “ZiSha” teapots together, well, sadly, all of these pots are actually not ZiSha teapots at all.  These overseas customers continue their conversations and discussions, exchanging wrong information amongst themselves, because, their pots are wrong in the first place. 

It is thus very sad, for this Zen-like tea culture, to involve the huge thriving industry of hoaxes. 99.999% of all "ZiSha teapots" sold, are not ZiSha teapots.  We have seen countless REPUTABLE tea shops, retailers, selling hoaxes.  It is scary, rampant, and ubiquitous.

Educating customers on how to recognise FHMZS pots, the identifiers, explaining all the insights of the industry, entail and require many classes and hours, and such classes need to have on hand many many examples of pots real and fakes, to successfully enlighten newcomers, to enable them to identify the real ones from the fake ones.


We all heard this before: of Half-Handmade pots being touted by sellers as "Fully-Handmade" pots.  This commercial practice has been blatant and common for many years...until recently:

The current and latest situation, ever since a few years ago, is that Jigger-machined pots now rule the roost, and they are rampantly and ubiquitously sold on online channels as so-called “Fully-Handmade ZiSha" pots.

The machining technology and "workmanship", had “advanced” so much since 2010 that, now, machined pots look so close to HHM ones, creating a very awkward situation for the HHM workshops now.  Such HHM workshops pretty much have been squeezed out of the landscape, and if you go to YiXing now:

You will find it tough to find any workshops making HHM pots anymore.

A factory can churn out hundreds of Jigger-machined pots a day, compared to 3 HHM pots per worker per day.  And, it is not that expensive to start a Jigger-machining “ZiSha” teapot factory.  $40,000 will do start you up.  Many, many, many businessmen are rushing to make fake ZiSha teapots nowadays.  There is too much money to be made.

THE MAJORITY of pots in the market now, are thus Jigger-machined pots, utilising non-ZiSha ceramics.  Half-Handmade and Slip-Casted pots have lost their position, and given way to Jigger-machining.  It makes no business sense to make Half-Handmade and Slip-Casted pots for they are too slow and too inefficient.  People go Jigger-machining.

Machined pots either utilise fully other common pasty ceramic cheap clay, or they mix in a small amount of non-YiXing poor quality ZiSha to control cost and yet bear some semblance to 100% ZS pots.

Whatever clay mixes used as above, the resultant fired pots all lack the double-sized pores inherent in 100% ZiSha pots, and thus defeat the purpose of buying a ZiSha pot for steeping tea.

100% authentic ZiSha clay, cannot be:
- machined nor,
- slipcasted nor,
- wheel thrown.
ZiSha clay can only be slab-built.
ZiSha clay possesses its inimitable, exquisite double-sized pores nature.



If nobody cares about this industry, more and more people stop recognising Fully-Handmade authentic ZiSha works.  The temptation for businessmen is to make a lot of money due to the extremely low cost of JMpots and the ease of cheating customers, so much so that the true Fully-Handmaking ZiSha Art Form is at risk of vanishing.

There is too much money to be made making Jigger-machined pots and selling as "FHM pots": cost per JMpot is between $20-$40, selling price is $100 to $400.  Too lucrative.  And huge loads of people are buying them.  This vicious cycle perpetuates and the sale of machined pots involving factory owners, retailers, online portals run unabated and are getting bigger and bigger.  Very lucrative and very popular.

By the way, NOBODY sells Jigger-machined pots as Jigger-Machined Pots:
ALL Jigger-Machined Pots are sold as "Fully-Handmade ZiSha Pots".

The cost of a painstakingly made authentic, Fully-Handmade ZiSha pot to a retailer is $175 as explained above, and if you just sell at $230, you stand the risk of being disregarded by the browsing customers who are looking below the $150 zone for a "Fully-Handmade ZiSha" pot.  You thus need to be very strong and extremely patient and committed to the cause of supporting FHMZS art, to stay alive and even to exist, to continue your service and business.

Why take the trouble to sell authentic FHMZS pots?  Even if the customers we keep wanting to recognise a AZSFHM pot, keep knocking your head against the wall, and they may not want to buy in? And even if they do buy in, your profits go far, far lower than your other retailers and factory owners who sell machined fake ones.  That is why we must start recognising the real FHMZS, don’t get cheated.



~ "When everybody is buying the fake products, nobody knows how the real thing looks like anymore."

With not enough pots for the overseas market, machined pots flood the market totally, and for export as well.  Everybody get used to machined pots, retailers know they can flip them 4-6 times to the browsing public at $80-$150 prices, and such non-ZiSha pots will hence continue to dominate and “demand” such prices.

This vicious cycle perpetuates and the sale of Jigger-machined pots involving factory owners, retailers and online portals run unabated.  They continue and are getting bigger and bigger nowadays, and they are rampant.



We consumers, not just need to take up the mantle to support Fully-Handmaking Authentic ZiSha Craftsladies and Craftsmen: for we are the guardians of this industry and art.

If not, the young craftsmen and artists will cease to be supported, they look for other occupations, and they might as well work to get more money helping out in Jigger-machining factories and "studios".  Many would-be young ZiSha artists will be forced move on to other trades and occupations: teaching, banking, engineers.

It is a chain reaction.

We have the MISSION to support true ZiSha Art.

We will march on with strength and resilience.

It will take a lot of effort over a prolonged period of time.

We hope all of us will win.

We declare the launch of the to you, to avail authentic Fully-Handmade ZiSha Art to you.  We will not sit down and watch this industry go from bad to worse.

We commit to changing this industry, righting this industry, to be of service to all of you.

It is also for you real tea-drinking friends all over the world, to complete the whole tea experience, with a FHMRZS pot in its rightful place, on your tea table, just like the ancient poets poor and rich, engage in.

We believe with persistence, like a steady, firm stream, we all will win.

Let us believe.