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Skittlefox said

"Ideally, you should have several pots..."

Hi Steepsterites!

According to Jane Pettigrew in The Tea Companion, “Ideally, you should have several pots, one for non-smoked black, one for smoked, one for flavoured, and one for green tea (pg. 68).”

Do you agree? Do you have several tea pots for specific teas, and if so, which ones? Do you think there is an ideal set of tea pots that fulfills your tea needs?

I am very curious, since I am relatively new to the tea world and am having trouble showing restraint at buying every cute teapot I see, especially the “specialized” ones!

43 Replies

From several teapots, one will soon enter a state of “however many teapots are not enough” :-p
Many people believe you should have at least one teapot for each type of oolong. I am holding myself hard from fulfilling that need. It will be a downhill road, and I’ve seen rooms buried in tea and teapots :D

Skittlefox said

Hehe that is exactly what I am afraid of! (and yet secretly wish shhh)

I know! It’s always hard to resist shopping and touching the fresh skin of a new teapot! :D

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Cofftea said

It all depends on what you drink and what the teapots are made out of. If you have yixing (clay) or unlined cast iron ware, each pot should only make one type of tea because the tea pot absorbs the flavor of the tea that you put in it- you’re even supposed to season your clayware to add to that flavor… I’m not sure if you do that w/ unlined cast iron or not. These materials for teaware are typically used for raw and cooked pu erh, green and dark oolongs, and pouchongs.

Skittlefox said

Ok, so it would just be the yixing pots that I have to be wary about flavour contamination for? Other materials like ceramic and glass I would not have to worry about using different teas for?

Are there other factors? I’m thinking of the Steepster tea pot + Four Seasons Select, where it was argued that oolong teas should have a small, glass pot in order to do quick reinfusions and to watch the leaves unfurl.

Shape and size also matter. The size of the small glass teapot is pretty good. All my individual-drinking vessels for oolong are about that size or smaller. And I use a few 5-6oz. pots for group drinking only. Among all, I think size matters the most, generally speaking.
I do sometimes use a same yixing for a few different teas, as long as I feel comfortable with it. But there are many factors determining what tea I feel comfortable brewing in a same teapot.
Above all, the physical attraction of teapots also matters. It’s like one pair of jeans are not enough, and one pair for each day of the week are not enough either. It’s hard to determine what is “needed” and what is “wanted”. :D

Skittlefox said

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at all that the answers are not straightforward, nothing about tea has turned out to be that way so far!!

Do you mind explaining why size matters most? I think I understand why small is best for oolongs, but for other teas does it matter too? Is it just about reinfusion?

Cofftea said

In my opinion, glass is a an absolute must for blooming teas and even pear teas. For some people, watching the tea steep isn’t important- but to me it’s a shame to hide that beauty. But no, glass and ceramic don’t hold the flavor. Plastic and stainless steal might though.

Skittlefox said

Hmm I’m interested in plastic and stainless steel holding flavour. I’m thinking about buying a travel mug for tea as well. It looks like glass or ceramic is the best bet.

Cofftea said

www.jadeteapot.com also has clay lined ones! Again, you can only use them for 1 type of tea.

I think size matters, because I believe a lot of oolong (probably most) products perform the best with short infusions (less than 30sec. or 45sec.). For a large pot, pouring water will take more than 20 sec., which will be extra steeping time. There are always ways to work out when larger vessel is used, and leaf amount and steeping time are adjust accordingly. But small vessel/short infusion is a no-brainer and doesn’t involve complicated consideration.

But currently I am also experimenting to compare outcome of gongfu style (small vessel/short infusion) and mug brewing. My gut feeling is some oolongs do well in mug too, and some will do ok. But I will let the experiment go and see :D

Another reason I don’t like having oolong in a big pot is, oolong is a strong tea genre. Traditionally when a pot was used, the tea was shared by a family or a group (however groups smaller than 4-5 people still mostly shared a 4oz. brewing). Today most people drink tea alone (sadly…) and then a big pot of tea will be a lot for just one drinker.

Skittlefox said

Thank you! That was very helpful.

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Besides, there is always this persisting “bad” influence from fellow tea drinkers! One can hardly stay sane among crazy people :-p
http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=12530

Cofftea said

Yeah… granted there are uses (and sometimes the need) for different tea pots based on what you drink and other personal choices, I can definitely see where it may be easy to become a teaware hoarder. I want many more than I will actually obtain.

Skittlefox said

Thanks for the link! Holy Cow! (“I have about 6 pots for Oolong. 9 for Puer, 5 for cliff teas, 3 for Dark Teas, 3 for Red Teas, and of course some treasured teapots which I only use for very special occasions. I also have a large number of teapots which I haven’t used yet.”)

It does seem as though tea drinking and OCD go together in some respects. I know I have some tendencies that way. And it makes my little OCD heart go pitter pat when I read tasting notes in which people talk about finishing up samples, etc. Lol.

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At home, I have two pots (soon to be three w the wee Samovar oolong pot coming!). I use my red one every day because it has an infuser basket thingum, and I will pull out my green one if we have company and people want two different kinds of tea or if there are many people and I need to make more than 4 cups (They both hold 4 cups).

At work I have a tea for one pot, and that is all I have room for with my kettle being on my desk as well. I barely have enough room as it is on my desk and don’t have storage space for several pots.

I love teapots and if I was left to my own devices I would probably own one for each kind of tea if I had the room. I’d also have perhaps 10 dogs and 10 cats!! And be a regular Imelda Marcos with shoes!! But, space constraints rule the day!

Skittlefox said

Ok, so number of servings looks like a factor too! I suppose it would be most economical to buy a big teapot and just use less water for fewer guests… but small teapots are just so cute!! Sigh.

Cofftea said

The size of the servings is important too. Why purchase an 8oz yixing if you only make 2oz at a time (like I do)?

Skittlefox said

good point!

Jacqueline, I’m probably going to be your neighbor when we’re older. The only things you left out of your list was handbags and needlework supplies! ;-P
We can be the crabby old ladies on the corners, except at Halloween when we give out great treats.

Ohhh Ducky if you only saw my yarn, fabric and needlework supply stash – it’s in my grandmother’s china cabinet in my studio completely full! :) I use tins and pretty boxes from my tea orders for the storage in the glass cabinet part. It’s really bad!!

The one thing that I didn’t catch is the handbag bug! I love them but thankfully I like to make my own out of all the above mentioned supplies (lol) so it doesn’t count as a separate obsession ( I think?)

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I think if you have ceramic/glass ware, it doesn’t really matter,
but if you’re using Yixing clay or Tetsubin (cast iron) pots, then it matters more.
The reason for yixing has already been described on this thread, and Tetsubins are somewhat the same. They do get “seasoned” in a sense, so I have two cast iron pots – one for greens and oolongs, and a teapress-styled one for blacks (and ocassionally herbals). Both hold 4 cups.
Honestly, though, I don’t use them much anymore… I much favor smaller teaware.

I’d say, as a new tea-drinker, keep the things you read in mind, but don’t follow them to the word. As you grow as an enthusiast, and so will your needs. You only NEED one teapot to start- over time, you’ll find use for others, as well as other types of teaware; gaiwans, chawans, tasting cups.
For instance, I have 5 teapots (not counting the 3 I don’t use because they’re impractical, and another 2 I gave to a friend), 2 glass gaiwans (one with thicker walls), 3 draining trays, 3 scoops, whoknowshowmany cups… But I collected this over a period of two and half years, spending a small fortune. Tea is also the only hobby or passion I have that actually costs money, so I indulge in it.
I started out a simple ceramic Beehouse teapot, and that’s all I needed for quite a while. It’s a good idea to just start small, and figure things out as you go along. Don’t think about having ten teapots until you know you need a second one. It all depends on how much you relate and get involved with your teas, ya know?

Skittlefox said

Thanks :D That’s really fabulous advice!!

Cofftea said

Is seasoning cast iron the same process as seasoning yixing?

No, I think it just develops a slight coating of tea over time on the enamel. No pores or anything.

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When I first started out with loose leave teas, I did quite a bit of research on teapots.
http://www.gailrhea.us/Tea/teapotproscons.html
I ended buying a 12 oz Chatsford tea pot. The removable infuser is a BIG + for me. The infuser keeps even the smallest leaves out of my cup. Recently, I purchased an 8 oz glass tea cup with infuser for my oolongs. Works out great, I can actually consume what I brew, which is more economical for me. The Chatsford teapot remains my favorite:) Tea is my one hobby that totally consumes me and my pocketbook…LOL

Skittlefox said

haha yeah I am starting to see how much my money just flies out of my pocket for it!
With other things (like shoes for example) I am able to restrain myself with the line “Do I really need it??” Thus limiting me to winter boots, rain boots, summer shoes etc. Purely functional, with aesthetics applied second. I think I’m looking for a similar kind of rule for teapots purely in order to keep me from spending a ridiculous amount of money lol

Thanks for the great link!

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I only started brewing my tea in a pot (as opposed to a mug, with teaballs or other infusers), since someone gave me a pot for Christmas. So my answer? You don’t need a pot at all, though I can see the value in having them now, particularly different sizes: smaller ones let you brew less at a time, which is good for teas with multiple infusions, and a small quantity of water will keep its temperature better in a small pot than a large one; larger pots let you make larger quantities at a time, which is good for guests, or filling a thermos for the day. Also, brewing in a pot as opposed to a tea ball or infuser basket does let the leaves expand more.

From my own experience, and what everyone else is saying, you don’t need to worry about making different types of tea in the same vessel unless that vessel is porous enough to absorb flavors (i.e. yixing, other unglazed clay, maybe plastic but that just makes me want to avoid plastic sorry ingenuiTEA, you were my first love…)

I’d suggest learning what types of tea you like first, then maybe buy special pots for your favorites.

Cofftea said

Some people have had problems w/ plastic, but I haven’t. Maybe I’m lucky?

I wouldn’t say I’ve had problems, and I’ve brewed a lot of tea in that ingenuiTEA. I didn’t like cleaning it though (I found it hard to get the mesh screen really clean), and it definitely picked up color, if not noticeable flavors, over time. It’s more that I try not to heat plastic that will be touching my food. I’m reading up on the particular type it’s made from (HDPE) right now :)

Cofftea said

Oh yes, the color. Cleaning isn’t a problem for me either. What gets me is the strainer floating up at VERY inconvenient times… like when I’m trying to use it! grrr…

Skittlefox said

I am actually going exactly that route (types of tea —> what pots) and doing what Lauren describes down below: getting a yixing for puerh and for oolong respectively. Everything else gets brewed in my Teamaster for now, and drunk out of a lovely double-walled glass cup. If I do find a nice glass or ceramic tea set, I’ll think about it, but I’m with you on not technically needing one!

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To cause even more space and seasoning demands on all of you, I found The Jade Teapot (https://www.jadeteapot.com) has yixing travel mugs!
http://tinyurl.com/yz86gz8

~lauren. said

Funny you should mention those clay mugs – I ordered (several days ago) http://www.amazon.com/Cherry-Blossom-Chinese-Yixing-ounces/dp/B0026S34ES/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1268966261&sr=8-1
and http://www.amazon.com/Glazed-Bamboo-Chinese-Yixing-ounces/dp/B002757WNE/ref=pd_bxgy_k_img_b
from amazon – one mug devoted to oolong and one devoted to puerh. I haven’t received it yet but I hope they ‘age’ with use!
P.S. sorry, I don’t know how to shorten hyperlinks, the above seem extra long, I know.
P.P.S. Does this work? http://tinyurl.com/ygo76sp and http://tinyurl.com/yfgdevh

I can help with that! Use http://tinyurl.com/create.php
You copy in the URL you want to shorten, click the button, e voila’, a tiny URL shows up. This is one of my favorite sites.
(And no, I don’t speak French, only psuedo-French.) ;-)

~lauren. said

Thanks, JustDuckyInNE – I saw your tinyurl in the above post and tried it myself! Worked!!! I am learning something new everyday on Steepster – and now, it’s not only about teas, it’s about all these other things as well!

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I was looking around this afternoon and stumbled across Red Blossom Tea Merchants (http://redblossomtea.com). They have some very nice Yixing teapots that are rated by Master, Artisan, and Apprentice levels of skill. They look lovely; I’ll have to see about saving for one of the Artisans.

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We’ve got a wide range of yixing and other teapots as well, if you’re looking! http://www.cloudwalkerteas.com/category/8390096

I also agree with what has been said here about picking an yixing or tetsubin and sticking with a variety of tea for that particular pot: it’s very important. Over time the pot will actually enhance the flavour of the tea. I’ve started to go almost exclusively Yixing because of this fact. I find that greens, whites, fresh oolongs tend to taste just a little bit flat (when compared to an yixing brew) if I pour them through glass or ceramic gaiwan. That said, the ceramic and glass are far more versatile since you can technically pour any tea through them. But if you’re doing pu erh, definitely Yixing is the way to go.

Cofftea said

I’m coveting the bottom pouring yixing!

@Cofftea: The bottom pouring teapot is not actually yixing. Sorry… It’s made in Taiwan by a Taiwanese artisan; the only guy who does them as far as I know…

Cofftea said

I think the color just threw me off and I didn’t read closer. A bottom pouring yixing would be SWEET!

Agreed. But this one is pretty cool. It’s amazing that the guy managed to do it at all since it requires a perfect clay seal around the lid and mouth of the pot and also around the base of the pot where it sits in the stand to prevent it from leaking all over the place. It’s definitely fun to use!

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