Yixing Teapots: A serious teapot for serious tea drinkers
Yixing clay teapots - also called Purple Sand - are made from Yixing clay, which can be found in the town of Yixing in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, the world's only source for the unique clay.
These miraculous little teapots contain thousands of multitasking air holes (a characteristic unique to the purple sand) that brew the tea better by keeping the water hotter longer.
According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. the pots are intentionally left unglazed so that they absorb the flavor of the tea being brewed - you may want to use one Yixing teapot for each type of tea to avoid “cross-brewing.”
Once you’ve decided to go Yixing, be sure to follow these steps before brewing your first pot of tea.
Step 1: Season your new Yixing teapot
1. Scrub the inside of the teapot with a non-abrasive cloth or sponge. Rinse then fill the teapot with water and let it sit overnight.
Place the teapot in a large pot with the lid off, making sure the teapot is covered entirely with water. Place some tea leaves (preferably the type of tea that you plan on brewing in your pot) in the water and bring the water to a slow boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the teapot for 30 minutes.
2. Let your teapot cool down in the pot and let it sit overnight in the water.
3. The next day take it out and rub off any purple sand residue inside the pot. Rinse well with water only, place the teapot back into the pot and bring it to a slow boil for about an hour. Let it sit overnight.
4. Final step: take your teapot out and rinse it well with hot water. While this may seem like a lengthy (and time-consuming) process, it’s necessary to help open up the air holes in your teapot so they can work their magic.
Step 2: Using your pot for the first time
These directions come courtesy yixing.com, a site that specializes in the sale of Yixing teapots.
1. Pre-heat your Yixing teapot by filling it with hot water and then draining it.
2. Place one teaspoon of loose tea into the preheated Yixing teapot.
3. Fill with hot water and wait for at least one minute.
4. Enjoy your tea either by pouring it into a cup or by drinking directly from the Yixing teapot, which is the traditional way of using it.
Step 3: Cleaning your teapot
According to yixing.com, cleaning your pot is a far simpler task than seasoning it. To clean your teapot, simply empty the leaves and rinse the teapot with hot water. The natural properties of the Yixing teapot will absorb the flavor of your tea, so washing it with soap will counteract the flavor-retaining properties that make Yixing teapots so unique and appealing. Never wash your Yixing teapots with any detergents or cleaning agents – save those for your laundry and countertops.
P.S. If tea stains build up on your teapot, don’t fret – collectors of these pots are always on the lookout for stains as they indicate rarity and age – the more tea stains, the more the teapot is worth.
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