HEI: The Modernist’s Clay Teapot

Recently funded on both Kickstarter and IndieGogo (for $50,000) upstart design company Defront has designed and built a teapot for the 21st Century modernist, and they call it HEI.

Defront presents themselves as “a design brand established by designers, inventors, technologists, and social workers working across Eastern and Western culture.” Their HEI teapot is the distillation of this mantra. A sleek design houses a built-in thermometer/lid with a magnetically attached stainless steel micro-infuser that has notches designed to help you measure out different teas. Despite this modern touch, the teapot and cup are molded from Yixing clay (or zisha), the hyper traditional Chinese red-brown mineral-rich clay used to make teapots and other wares for almost a millennia.

Specs on Modernist Teapot
Hei means ‘black’ in Chinese, and Defront says this is to represent tranquility of mind. A team educated in the West but now based in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, Defront has built a teapot that they say is “a modern way to enjoy Asian tea ceremony.” Although this statement to represent a single product seems fraught with contradictions, it seems hard to deny that this teapot has a broad appeal. It’s compact size, at 150 ml (5 oz), is a convenient to way for the tea enthusiast to steep multiple infusions of their tea. The traditional clay will season with frequent use. And the thermometer and infuser, which has a drip catch on the rim so it doesn’t get messy, helps those of us who are very specific with our tea to relax. These features have contributed to the $50,000 they’ve raised, a whopping 313% of their initial asking cost.

Currently, it doesn’t look like they have a website for direct purchase, but it seems like you’re still able to purchase one through one of the funding packages on IndieGogo. Currently, you can purchase one for $63, which is a 25% discount, and it includes a small sample of tea and a travel bag. Over a year in the making, it looks like this little teapot might be a perennial fixture in many tea lover’s homes.

Watch their product introduction video:


About the Author:

Jordan has spent most of his life working in the food and beverage industry. His professional experience with tea started at American Tea Room in Los Angeles, where he worked for almost six years, becoming their Beverage Director and helping in a three-location expansion. Later, he moved to developing, training, and menu-building what would become Alfred Tea Room, which he's helped expand into Japan. He now serves as Food & Beverage Director for Alfred Inc. which includes Alfred Tea Room and multiple locations of Alfred Coffee in Los Angeles and Austin.

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