Caring For Your Yixing Teapot
These tips on caring for your new Yixing (sometimes called Zisha) teapot will help you enjoy your tea and your pot to the fullest. There are many schools of thought in the tea world, but people who know and love these clay pots will agree that your pots should be properly initiated before preparing tea in them.
Traditionally Yixing pots are used to prepare oolong tea, but they can be used for any tea if you don't mind breaking tradition. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the pot should be used for just one kind of tea. If you use it for black tea, don't prepare white tea in it. You get the idea.
Yixing pots are so much fun because they take on the tea's flavor. After years of use your tea pot will add another dimension to your tea. It has been said it's like brewing tea in tea.
I have one pot for white tea and one for green tea.
Follow these simple guidelines.
1. Decide which tea your pot will be drinking for its life.
2. In a large pot boil water enough to more than cover your teapot (plus any cups or other Yixing teaware which may be part of your set).
Here's the way I do it.
I use a big stainless steel pot that I also use for steaming vegetables. I sit the teapot on the steamer basket so that it will not be sitting directly on the bottom of the pot. When the water starts to boil, I turn off the heat and lower the teapot (and whatever other clay teaware you are initiating) in and put the lid on, leaving it there overnight.
3. The next day I remove the tea pot and rinse it under the tap. I gently rub my fingers over the pot inside and out while rinsing. These clay pots can have some dusty residue. No need to dry the teapot for the next step.
4. Heat fresh water in the same pot with the steamer basket in it. Again I turn off the heat, lower the teapot into the hot water and this time I add the tea that I've decided my pot will be spend its life drinking. I estimate the amounts and add extra. The tea will steep and flavor the pot. HINT: If your teapot is drinking green or white tea, be sure not to boil the water. Green and white tea take water just before boiling.
5. Now, you can remove the teapot after a few minutes. Personally, I cover it and leave it overnight again because I want the pot to soak up the tea as much as possible. Some folks may disagree with this but it's what I do.
6. Rinse the teapot and let air dry.
IMPORTANT Don't ever put Yixing teaware in the dishwasher! Don't ever put soap in your Yixing teapot or teaware!
The main thing is to have fun! Don't worry about doing it perfectly or messing up your teapot's first feeding. As long as the pot is soaking in its favorite tea, it will be happy.
There is plenty of information on initiation methods for your Yixing teapots so that you can experiment. If you handle your pot with love and care and steep only one kind of tea in it, you are safe.