"Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company."
― Zen Haiku
If you're among those who just dunk a tea bag in a cup of hot water and go on with the day, you'll be surprised to know how much effort actually goes into preparing authentic, flavorful tea. Chinese tea makers have a whole different methodology of tea making, and besides the effort invested in tea preparation, a lot of effort is also put into choosing the right kind of teapot for a particular type of tea.
Teapots have been designed in different styles with different materials, etc., to suit different requirements. The type of teapot you prepare your tea in plays an important role in its ultimate flavor and also makes an impact on the whole tea-drinking experience. While specialist teapots have a whole set of considerations to look into, let's take a look at the different factors that need to be taken into consideration before purchasing a regular teapot.
Tips for Buying a Good Teapot
Teapots are available in different materials, right from glass, ceramic, porcelain, clay, cast iron, and even silver or aluminum―with each material having its own pros and cons. The ceramic kind is the most favored type because of its high heat-retention capacity. They also come with glazed interiors, which prevent flavors of the tea from getting absorbed into it. Then again, the porcelain ones are also a good choice because they don't absorb flavors of the tea, making them ideal for brewing different kinds of teas; however, their poor heat-retention capacity makes them less favorable for brewing black teas. The clay ones are not recommended for brewing multiple teas because they absorb flavors, whereas the cast iron and glass ones are not easy to handle.
Choose a ceramic pot with a glazed interior―it retains heat, doesn't absorb flavors, and can be used to prepare different kinds of teas.
Like any other cookware, the decision about which size and capacity you should opt for entirely depends on the number of cups of tea you intend to prepare on a regular basis. Teapots with capacities as small as 14 ounces to as large as 66 ounces are available in the market today. A 30-ounce teapot brews tea that is enough for four people, so purchase accordingly. Smaller teapots are generally preferred for preparing green teas, whereas larger pots are used for brewing black tea because black tea is generally served in larger quantities as compared to their herbal counterparts. Moreover, loose black tea needs more space to steep completely, which is possible in rounder pots. If you purchase a larger pot and prepare little tea in it, the empty space will result in faster cooling down of the tea.
If you're into preparing a lot of green tea, purchase a small teapot, or else opt for the larger one.
There are some basic features of a teapot that play a crucial role in determining the choice of a good teapot. They are as follows:
Tea pots come with side, top, or back handles. Usually bigger teapots have side handles, while smaller ones come with overhead handles. If you try to study teapot handles in detail, you'll learn that there's a lot going on about the degree and angle at which it's positioned, the angle at which the tea is poured, etc., which can get too complicated for a regular teapot user. To simplify things at your end, just hold the teapot by its handle and if your knuckles are not touching the surface of the teapot, you've found the right one, because it will allow you to pour out your tea without scalding your fingers. Before purchasing a teapot, always hold the handle and check if it is comfortable to lift. Also, check if its sturdiness is proportional to the weight of the teapot.
Well, yes―the spout needs to be checked as well, because this feature is what determines a neat pour. The spout should be at a distance from the rim of the teapot, otherwise your hand is sure to get scalded by the steam escaping from the spout. Moreover, make sure the spout tip is at the same level as the rim of the pot.
A lid ought to do what a lid ought to do! The lid must fit properly on the rim so that it doesn't allow steam or the aromas and flavors of the tea to escape. A small hole is drilled into the lid, so as to allow air to enter into the pot as the tea is poured into the cups. This tiny hole controls the flow of tea leaving the pot, thus, preventing it from splattering all over the place when it's poured out. A good lid with a hole forms a seal for the teapot, not allowing steam to escape, and at the same time, allowing the piping hot tea to be poured out.
A teapot may have a non-removable or removable infuser; however, the removal option is better because it allows you to remove the steeped leaves by just lifting it out of the teapot. This infuser is necessary because it allows the tea leaves to come in contact with the hot water, without allowing them to disperse freely in the water. This makes separating easier and prevents excess steeping. The size of the infuser required will be dictated by the size of the pot and the amount of tea you wish to steep. Then again, if you wish to let your tea leaves move around in your pot to release maximum flavor, make sure you stick to a smaller pot so that you don't have leftovers that will result in over-steeped tea.
At every tea session, you're going to be looking at your teapot, so you want to buy something that pleases the eye, besides brewing the perfect tea. Glass teapots are amazing visually, especially if you brew blooming teas that unfold gloriously in the pot of hot water as they steep. Watching them spread their color and flavor into the water can be nothing less than a magical experience. Even if you purchase the ceramic, clay, or cast iron ones, there are various elegant and vibrant teapots available to suit your liking. The ceramic ones come in exceptionally good styles, designs, and colors.
If you wish to prepare a lot of green tea, flowering teas, etc., opt for the glass teapot. Your family and friends will enjoy watching the way the leaves work their way into the tea. Or else, just go for a pot that suits your style and preference.
Then again, the price is also another major constraint. You may like a teapot, but it may be way out of your budget, so choose a teapot that fits your budget. Keeping these pointers in mind, go ahead and purchase a teapot for yourself. Enjoy your tea!