Every day more and more people are discovering the pleasures to be found in the world of teas. There are so many different types and so many enticing aromas, flavours and benefits to explore. Do you need a different pot for each exciting variety? What are the pros and cons of the many different types of teapots on the market today?
In this article, we will explore these questions and discuss the pros and cons of the five main types of teapots:
- Tempered glass
- Cast iron
- Fired clay
Read on to learn more.
1. Glass teapots are versatile and stylish
A teapot made of tempered glass is a good choice when you are just starting out. A high quality glass pot is safe to use, and it provides a neutral vessel for preparing teas of all kinds.
Slick, hard tempered glass can be cleaned thoroughly between uses and will not leach or retain flavours from one pot of tea to the next. This type of pot also provides delightful visual benefits as you can watch the tea leaves unfurl and witness the steeping process. Of course, you can also brew bag tea in this (or any) teapot.
Note that although a glass tea pot can be used successfully for all types of tea, it is best suited for blossoming flower teas and other types of tea that do not require lengthy steeping. The reason for this is that glass pots do not retain heat as well as some other materials.
If you want to use your glass teapot to brew black or herbal teas (which require longer steeping) be sure to use a tea cozy or warmer to keep the pot warm while your tea brews. A nice felted tea cozy can keep your glass pot warm for as long as thirty minutes.
2. Ceramic tea pots can be very artistic and attractive
Like glass, high quality ceramic teapot materials provide a neutral brewing vessel. This makes them suitable for brewing all types of tea, and they are especially well suited to brewing very delicate teas (e.g. white or green tea). The glazed coating of the interior of the pot makes thorough cleanup easy so you do not have to worry about flavours transferring from one type of tea to another.
One big advantage of using a ceramic teapot is that it retains heat much longer than glass or porcelain. Just be careful to purchase a well-made, high quality ceramic teapot that is labeled as being suitable for food preparation. Pots that are meant only for decorative purposes may leach dangerous substances into your tea.
3. Enameled cast iron is a sturdy, durable choice
Because of the enameled coating, it is possible to use a cast iron pot to successfully brew any type of tea without worries about flavour transfer; however, it is really not the best choice for delicate teas (e.g. Pu-er or Oolong) which require brief brewing times. The reason for this is that cast iron is a champ when it comes to heat retention.
A good enameled cast iron tea pot can stay hot for at least an hour, so it is the perfect choice for brewing herbal teas and robust black teas. Just be sure to use an infuser rather than letting your tea leaves float loose. This will give you complete control over brewing time. It will also make it easier to clean the enamel interior of your teapot because the leaves will not have a chance to stain the enameled surface.
A cast iron tea pot is a rugged choice and handling it requires a bit of strength. Before you invest in a cast iron teapot, “test drive” one to be certain you are able to comfortably lift it and pour with it. Washing can be a challenge, too. You don’t want to drop it in your kitchen sink (or on your foot)!
4. A traditional clay teapot is charming and friendly
Also known as the Yixing teapot or the memory teapot, this traditional Chinese brewing vessel is the perfect choice for brewing Pu-er or Oolong teas. The bare, fired clay from which this type of pot is made absorbs the tannins in the tea and helps bring out the true flavour of the tea you brew.
This is why it is important to use the Yixing teapot as a dedicated pot. Brew only one type of tea in it to avoid imparting a muddled taste to your brew. With time, your teapot will become like an old friend as it remembers the flavour of the tea you brew and makes it better and better every teatime.
Be careful never to allow white or green teas to be brewed in your clay teapot as the pot will ruin the flavour of these teas, and they will ruin the “memory” of your pot.
5. Porcelain teapots add a touch of class to teatime
Porcelain is a neutral material which does not impart any flavour to tea, so it can be used to brew any type of tea successfully. Just remember that it doesn’t hold heat for very long, so you’ll need to use a tea cozy or tea warmer if you choose to brew herbal or black teas.
A pretty porcelain teapot makes an excellent choice for brewing delicate teas such as white or green tea. The short brewing time is perfect, and you won’t have to cover up your lovely teapot!
Things to remember when shopping for a teapot
Quality is of the utmost importance when teapot shopping. Remember that when you handle your teapot, it will be full of very hot liquid, so you do not want to purchase a pot that may break, crack, spring a leak or otherwise endanger you. Look for good workmanship such as:
- The top of the handle, the rim of the teapot and the tip of the pouring spout should be at precisely the same level for ease of pouring.
- The handle and the spout should be exactly opposite one another for accuracy of pouring.
- The pot should be clearly labeled as being safe for food preparation purposes.
- The finish should be smooth and unmarred.
If you purchase a cheap teapot, you are asking for trouble. Inexpensive clay teapots may look nice, but they’ll fall apart quickly. Cheap enameled or glass pots may leach lead, aluminum, cadmium or chemicals into your tea. Poorly made enameled cast iron may develop small cracks in the enamel coating causing your tea to taste like iron.
Always purchase your teapots (and any other cookware) from a reputable manufacturer offering a guarantee on materials and workmanship. This will ensure that your teapot was made in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations.
Think of your teapot purchase as an investment, and be very careful of bargain buys. A good teapot should last a very long time and may hold a place of honor in your display case or on your shelf.
Taking care of your teapot
No matter what type of teapot you purchase, be sure to keep it clean. Soon after teatime, wash your teapot with a soft cloth or sponge, dish soap and warm water. If it becomes stained, use baking soda as a soft scrub.
A well-cared-for teapot can last a lifetime, but if yours does become cracked, chipped or damaged, discontinue use and replace it. If you are particularly fond of it, you can always give it a new life as an object of art, a key receptacle, a coin bank or a flower vase!