|A Yixing tea pot|
Yixing pottery comes in all styles and prices. You can pick up tea pots for 10-20 renminbi at Panjiayuan or Hongqiao in Beijing, but it's not recommended that you drink tea made in these pots because they may contain high lead content. These pots are mainly for decorative purposes.
When I worked at China Daily in the 1990s, one of my co-workers bought Yixing pottery and sold it whenever he returned to the United States. An expert on the subject, he recommended not drinking tea from anything that cost less than $30 a set.
We visited Yixing several years ago. Our Chinese friends planned an overnight stop in Wuxi, a place I'd visited on my first trip to China in 1984. After a boat ride on the city's very scenic lake, we headed to a tea mall. The array of pots and cups was astounding. Our friends wanted to buy a tea set as an investment, and ended up paying the equivalent of $1,100 for one, even having their picture taken with the artist. The tea shop wouldn't bargain on the set, but did throw in a high-quality expensive set which our friends gave to us. The tiny cups have a half-moon on the bottom that expands to a full moon when tea is added.
The next morning we took a bus to Yixing where we bought more tea things, including a lovely bamboo tray to hold our new tea seat.
We returned to Shanghai by bus, a trip that took about three hours.
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