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Why Use Teapots For Your Brew?

Why Use Teapots For Your Brew?

If you’ve visited a Holy Cow Tea tasting at a local artisan market or event, you’ll know that I use small, glass teapots to brew. To me, these add to the sensory experience. With glass teapots, you see the colour variations. This, combined with smelling the aromas and sampling the flavour, gives a fuller appreciation of the tea. So, should you use teapots for your brew at home?

Get a Fuller Infusion By Using a Teapot

The rising use of teabags has made teapots a redundant item of crockery. It’s unnecessary to make a pot of tea if you just want a quick cuppa. However, if you enjoy loose leaf tea, there are reasons to make a little more effort. Firstly, you get a fuller infusion by using a teapot.

Loose leaf tea leaves need time and space to unfurl and release their flavours. This process is restricted within the confines of a cup or mug. Yet, use a teapot and you benefit from a fuller infusion of the tea leaves.

Secondly, the process of pouring from a teapot is said to aerate the water. Many claim this further enhances the flavour. Others believe that teapot infusing and pouring delivers greater consistency and offers more control over the strength of flavour.

Thirdly, a pot makes it easier to top up the water for second infusions. For some teas, as many as five infusions can be enjoyed from the same scoop of leaves.

For these reasons, I believe we should rekindle the use of teapots. Yes, it takes a little longer, but a good brew is worth the effort. Make it an exercise in mindfulness and enjoy the process, as well as your cuppa!

The Tea Ceremony

Tea used to be a highly prized commodity which could only be enjoyed by the wealthiest in society. As such, the process of preparing and serving the tea was a ritual. The tea leaves were stored in locked caddies and used sparingly. Teapots and small cups allowed those present to experience a few sips of this exclusive beverage.

In Europe, serving tea was steeped in etiquette. Decorative and delicate tea sets were used by the lady of the house to entertain guests. This was an occasion to relish and a display of wealth and status. Sips of tea were akin to sips of fine wine.

The Gong Fu Cha Ritual

Gong Fu Cha is a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. For this, a traditional unglazed teapot is used. Typically, these teapots were hand thrown in the city of Yixing, which is regarded as China’s pottery capital.

To start the ritual, hot water is poured into the pot and over the top to warm it evenly. This is discarded before the teapot is placed on a tray and a teaspoon of loose leaf tea is added. Water of between 85-95°c is poured over the leaves and the lid is put on. Then more hot water is poured over the outside of the teapot.

The use of an unglazed teapot is important, as the natural minerals in the clay are said to absorb the character of the tea and add to the flavour. Continuous use of the same teapot will add to the complexity of flavours over time.

The first pouring into small cups is made after less than one minute of infusion for a light, subtle taste. Following this, several further pourings of infused tea are made, each a little stronger in flavour.

What are Teapots Made From?

Ceramic Teapots

In addition to Chinese earthenware made from purple clay, teapots are made from a variety of materials. Ceramics including porcelain and stoneware are widely used. Wedgwood introduced cream-coloured earthenware to the British market in the later 1700s, which was seen as more aesthetic than the natural tones. Then, in the 1800s, Bone China became the ceramic of choice.

Many ceramic teapots are adorned with paintings of scenery. These include the blue and white delftware of Holland and stylised oriental landscapes.

Metal Teapots

In Japan, there is a tradition of using weighty cast iron teapots. These heavy pourers are said to be better at retaining heat. Silver teapots were highly desired for many years, for Earl Grey in England or Mint tea in Morrocco. These were often embellished and etched to add grandeur. As metal is a great conductor of heat, wooden, leather-covered, ivory or bone handles protected the pourer from burns.

How about a jewel-encrusted 18-carat gold teapot? That’s the style of the most expensive teapot in the Guinness Book of Records. It was created by Italian, Fulvio Scavia.

Glass Teapots

When I have my glass teapots lined up on the stall, they get a lot of attention. They offer the best way to showcase the tea and are especially suited to floral tisanes and dragon flower balls, which unfurl into stunning flower displays. I use a tealight burner stand to retain the heat through tea tastings.

Glass is now widely favoured for tea making. As a non-porous material, it is said to preserve the purest flavour of the tea leaves.

Teapot Collections

Teapots have been made in all shapes and sizes. A visit to the V&A Museum in London offers a considerable collection of teapots through time. In addition, the Allen Gallery in Alton, Hampshire holds several hundred teapots.

You may even want to create your own collection. What is your favoured material? And, would you focus on the traditional or novelty teapots? Either way, there are certainly plenty to choose from!