The Perfect Teapot – Part I

Traditional teapot, cups, and tray.

Teapot and Cups at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland Oregon – Photo © Dominion Tea 2015

Much like tea, there are many different tea pots on the market. So determining which one to use can be overwhelming. So to help you find the perfect teapot, we outline items that should be considered when making your purchase.

Here are the five things you should consider in purchasing the perfect teapot for you:

  1. What type of tea do you wish to serve in the teapot.
  2. Your willingness to clean your new teapot by hand.
  3. How many servings you are hoping to have from a pot of tea.
  4. How the teapot reflects your view of tea.
  5. Your budget. (Yes, a teapot can be a budget buster.)

These considerations require more knowledge about the history of the tea and subsequently make for a rather long blog, so I am going to be breaking this up into two blogs and initially focus on matching your teapot to your tea and what it means for your future hand washing duties.

Matching Tea to The Perfect Teapot

Knowing what kind of tea you wish to drink from your teapot is the most important consideration. Yes, that implies that you may need more than one teapot if you are to drink your tea correctly. I don’t see a problem with that, especially once you learn the history of some of these teapots. They too have stories that rival those of the tea steeped inside. Below is a quick chart showing the traditional tea that goes with the teapot. This is not to say you cannot brew some other tea in the pot, just be aware that some of the features of the pot may not work well with other teas.


Teapot Type Historical Tea Care Needed

Ceramic Teapot, unglazed – Yixing (also known as I-Hsing) All types of tea, but only one teapot per type since the flavor of the tea is absorbed by the clay Leaves should be removed from the pot when done and the pot left out to dry. No soap should be used as it will be absorbed by the teapot and your next cup may have bubbles!

Ceramic Teapot, glazed – Kyusu Gykoro and Sencha More modern ones can go through the dishwasher on the top shelf. Older ones require hand washing as the glaze may be damaged.

Cast Iron Teapot – Tetsubin Sencha Like other cast iron cookware, the dishwasher is not allowed and soap will ruin it. Rinse lightly with water and towel dry.

Sterling Silver Teapot All types, joints in the pot will stain over time. Sterling silver is never put in the dishwasher, but it does require polishing. Dry the inside completely after rinsing with water to prevent permanent staining.

Porcelain Teapot, glazed All types, the glaze allows for using of different types of teas with the same pot. However, black teas will most certainly stain the interior of the pot over time and heavily flavored teas may leave residual oils and flavors behind. Some of these may be dishwasher safe, some not. It depends on the age and the thickness of the porcelain. Soap is easily usable on more modern teapots but may damage the glaze on older.

Glass Teapot Flowering and balled teas. The glass allows the drinker to enjoy the unraveling of the leaves, and for the flowering teas the final work of art of the tied tea leaves. Watch the spouts on these, as they are wider so smaller leaf teas will pour right out of the pot. Most glass teapots can be cleaned on the top shelf of the dishwasher (Experience suggests don’t put the top in the dishwasher, they are too fragile.)



Short, Red, Cast Iron Teapot

Japanese Tetsubin – Photo by Flickr user Irene2005 – CC BY-2.0

The materials used in the creation of the teapot will affect the final taste of the tea. In the case of the metal and un-glazed ceramic, the effect is most pronounced. The Tetsubin, cast iron teapot, was supposedly created in response to Japanese tea drinkers not liking the flavor of the water coming from the traditional Japanese copper pots that were also used for boiling water for cooking. In the end there is really no right or wrong material for the perfect teapot, just one of personal preference.

In our next part, we will discuss size, budgets and how the shape and color of a teapot should influence your purchase. On to The Perfect Teapot – Part II

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