Lead Testing a Cheap Yixing Pot

by Tony Gebely 8

Zisha Clay and Lead

It is believed that some tea-ware coming from China may contain lead. Especially pots supposedly made of Zisha clay from Yixing, China. A few years back there was a thread in TeaChat about this, no one found any lead when using home test kits. I tried it with the cheapest “yixing” pot I could find (more about why this probably isn’t even a yixing pot in another post) online — $5.00. I smashed the pot with a hammer and then ground up the pieces until the pot was reduced to a pile of bits. I wanted to test the greatest surface area possible with the tests I purchased. The test I used was called “Household Lead Check” by a company called “Homax.” The back of the box warned me that “this test is not intended to replace an inspection by a licensed lead inspector or testing laboratory.”

Smashed Yixing Pot
Smashed Yixing Pot
Smashed Yixing Pot
Smashed Yixing Pot

I rubbed both test swabs on as many of the pieces as possible; testing the inside, outside, and the inner parts of the shards not exposed when being used for normal purposes. The results? No lead! The tests were supposed to turn pink and red if lead was present. Here are the test swabs post-test:

Test Results: No Lead
Test Results: No Lead

Obviously this isn’t conclusive, I’d have to buy many pots to test them from many different vendors. I just wanted to break stuff today.

Tony Gebely

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

Comments (8)

  1. Perhaps the lead testing kit they have used before was of low quality that is why they weren’t able to get accurate results. They better use higher quality ones next time.

  2. This is interesting. I’m glad people are starting to think more about contamination in products. Perhaps when people and businesses in China realize that the people buying their products care about these issues, they will start taking quality control more seriously.

  3. Lead is almost never present in the clay of a piece; lead risk is only in glaze, where oxides of lead are used to melt glaze. A more interesting and relevant use of your home lead test kits would be on Chinese import porcelain, new and antique.

  4. It has always been in the back of mind if my teapot and cups may have lead in them, lead which can leak into my tea.

    It seems that everything is made in China these days and with the lead-in-toys-scare, I often wonder where else lead may be hiding.

    Thanks for doing this at home experiment, it eases my mind some!


  5. thanks for this interesting post. where did you purchase the testing kit? can they be found online?

    1. I found mine at our local hardware store, though I’m sure they can be found online as well. Have a great weekend.

      1. you too. thanks tony!

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