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Tell me the truth about tea pots

Since the early days of my tea-addicted youth, I have been told that of all the types of tea pots, there are really only two that matter: cast iron, and yixing.

How true is this? Everywhere I look, companies and independent tea merchants alike all claim this to be true, but I have a feeling it’s just a marketing strategy to get people to buy the more expensive cast iron and yixing tea pots. So I want to hear the opinions on this from my fellow steepsters!

I ask this because I do have a single yixing tea pot right now, and nothing else (I can only afford to keep myself on one tea right now anyway hehe). However, when I am able to, I am going to buy a non-yixing teapot to brew all of my other teas in, and I want to know if I really should just shoot straight up to a cast iron pot, or if things like ceramic or bone china are equal in quality to the cast iron tier of tea pots.

So tell me, is there really that big of a difference in quality between a bone china and cast iron tea pot, or a real good reason to choose one over the other? Thanks :D

15 Replies
Angrboda said

I prefer fine bone china myself because I think it’s much prettier and I like pretty things. I’ve had yixing in the past and I honestly can’t tell any kind of difference tastewise. A cast-iron will probably keep your tea warm for longer, but that’s only relevant if you make many cups at the time. I have small china pots that hold about one mugful so that’s as much as I make at a time. If I’m sharing something with Husband, I use a larger pot and make two mugfuls. I wouldn’t dream of buying a cast iron pot, because for me it would be a waste of money.

Pick a pot according to your taste. If you prefer glazed ceramic or china over yixing or cast iron, then stick with those. The only wrong teapot is the one you don’t like.

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Thanks for the insight Angrboda :D

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sansnipple said

Yeah, the difference is that a decent porcelain or stoneware tea pot or gaiwan is exponentially better than those overpriced cast iron things. Places like teavana just like hyping them because they have such a high profit margin, they’re actually cheaply made pieces of junk that all eventually will end up flaking enamel into your tea, plus are usually way too large and hard to clean. (REAL tetsubin btw are actually meant for boiling water in, not brewing tea, and aren’t enameled).

In my opinion, in addition to your one yixing, just get one neutral vessel, a decent inexpensive porcelain or ceramic pot (or gaiwan), to use for all other types of tea. (And you can always add another yixing later down the road if you feel like it.)

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I do enjoy my yixing teaware very much but I also love glass. I love being able to see the tea leaves brew. It’s all a matter of preference.

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Uniquity said

I have a thin porcelain gaiwan, a glass pot and a couple sturdy porcelain pots. They keep the tea warm just fine for me. I would like a yixing but it would be foolish as I am not the type to drink one tea regularily. I prefer to make enough tea for the number drinking and re-steep or start again each time rather than make a large quantity that sits around getting cooler and bitter.

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All I use are ceramic/porcelain teapots. And my ingenuitea, which I don’t think I could do without now. Lol. It’s so easy to make one cup of tea this way and I’d highly recommend giving one a try if you’re looking for an easy way to make one cup, or two if you use big mugs.
I don’t think I’ll ever own a cast iron pot unless someone gives one to me. I’ve read that sometimes they add a metallic-y taste to the tea that’s brewed in them, and that doesn’t sound plesant to me. I’d ony ever maybe want to heat water/keep hot water in them since I heard their heat retention is good, but that’s an awful lot to pay for a kettle. Lol.

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I own two cast iron pots (purchased cheaply at World Trade cost plus for $20 each). I only really bust them out when I have company and need to keep the tea hot. I do like their durability since I live in a household full of men that do nerf gun fights regularly.
However, that’s the only difference I noticed so far is the cast iron pot’s heat retention. If I’m out of trivets (as those cast iron pots are HOT) I just bust out a regular tea pot, like DavidsTea bubble tea pot. Glass pots are pretty, but not that durable and not so great heat retention. I only use them for photography.

My main teaware for tea for 1 is a gravity steeper, gaiwan and yixing pot.

If you love your yixing and gongfu style infusions, get a gaiwan or a gongfu tea pot for other teas that your yixing isn’t seasoned for. You can also get larger gaiwans meant for 2 servings and larger yixing pots.
For just your western style teapot, be sure to get one with a large infuser so the leaf has enough expansion room.

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Y’know, I’ve been into the whole tea thing for two years now, and I’ve never had a gaiwan or tried brewing tea in the gaiwan fashion. I’m starting to think that maybe I should get it :D

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ashmanra said

I hate to do this to you, but some older articles such as the one written by George Orwell, recommend pewter or sterling pots. Sterling “sweetens” water, I assume by the same mechanism of oligodynamics that cause it to self-disinfect, and both types of pot supposedly make better tea. I know that info didn’t save you any money, though! A well-plated pot might do the same if the lining is intact. :)

It’s actually funny that you say that because my Yixing pot has inlays around the exterior and interior of the pot made of sterling silver. Guess I’m getting the best of both worlds!

ashmanra said

Oh, I bet that is beautiful! Have you seen the Japanese pieces that are mended with gold resin? That is really pretty, too.

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Dag Wedin said

I´ve been trying out a lot of different clay teapots the last year.
Yixing is only a location famous for making clay teapots. Yixing pots is made from “Zisha”, a mix of red clay, purple clay and green clay. Each clay has a different mineral content that will flavour the water. Keep in mid that there is probably several times more yixing pots for sale then is actually produced…..

I have found that no matter yixing, tokoname or whatever source of clay/production area, production method and mineral composition is more important.

oxidation baked red clay (rich in iron) often pairs well with black tea.
Reduction baked red/purple clay pairs well with green/white tea.

But! it depends on your taste preferences. However if you brew side by side with a glas/china pot you will without a doubt notice a difference in flavour.
I guess ideally the mineral composition of the pot should be roughly the same as the mineral compostion from the tea it is used with.

As for cast iron pots any effect would be nullified sine they often are glazed or have a coating on the inside that effectively blocks the iron from flavouring the water.
Real cast iron KETTLES are used for heating water. In Japan known as Tetsubins.

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