Tea Pot and Set Review Guide
Glass, Silver, Porcelain or Clay?

How to buy a tea pot: Should you choose glass, silver, stainless steel, porcelain or a clay pot? Key design features to consider.



In terms of quality and flavor, there really is no comparison between loose leaves and tea bags.

However, brewing loose-leaf tea requires a little bit more equipment than brewing tea bags.

You need something to hold the tea leaves while they steep.

The most common way to make loose tea is to brew the leaves in a tea pot and then pour into a cup.

Like tea kettles (click to read further reviews), tea pots come in an astonishing variety of shapes and sizes.

Tea has become a major part of life for people throughout the world, and each culture has created its own types of tea ware.

How do you know what type of tea pot to buy? When selecting, there are four major factors to consider.

Materials

What is the pot made of?

There are many choices, ranging from delicate glass to sturdy cast-iron.

The material you choose has important impact on the taste of the tea.

It will also affect the appearance, the weight, the amount of maintenance required, and the ability of the vessel to hold heat.

Drinking tea is like playing a musical instrument. You tailor the instrument to the music.

Lightly oxidized tea is like light and flighty music - you play it using a violin, or even a viola.

Heavily oxidized tea is deep and heavy - you play it using a cello.

Glass pots are attractive and easy to clean. They do not change the flavor of tea nor absorb them. They are light and easy to pick up.

Glass pots are essential when you are serving up teas where visual appreciation is important - such as blossoming teas and herbal tisanes made of whole leaves and flowers.

I love to use them for brewing green and white teas as they allow me to admire their beautiful leaves.

The fact that glass disperses quickly actually lends itself to brewing these lightly oxidized teas.

They can be fragile, so you have to be very careful when cleaning and transporting them.

  • Silver

Silver pots have a lovely, elegant Victorian look.

The water quality is light and fresh.

It is an excellent fit for lightly oxidized teas such as white tea, green tea, the greener oolongs such as the Iron Goddess tea and the raw, young pu-erh tea.

However, they can be expensive and they can tarnish.

Want something to impress your guest? They come in a variety of styles and finishes, and they can be more attractive than you might think.

Stainless steel tea pots are durable and low-maintenance.

To me, they are a good all-rounder, and are especially suitable for brewing the darker oxidized tea such as the dark oolongs, darjeelings and pu-erhs.

Stainless steel doesn’t affect the taste of the tea and it doesn’t absorb flavors. It is are also good at retaining heat.

Porcelain pots are classic. They are like the viola, somewhere in between the violin and cello, and very versatile.

I use them to brew my white tea and green tea, as well as lightly oxidized oolongs such as the Iron Goddess tea (Tieguanyin).

Porcelain waare is also excellent for testing any tea. Unlike a clay pot, it doesn't absorp flavors and so is good for an quick and objective assessment of tea quality.

If you are new to drinking Chinese tea, I highly recommend that you get yourself a gaiwan, which is probably the simplest and most useful tea vessel ever invented.

This tea bowl has a lid. It serves to retain heat and as a strainer. You can drink directly out of the bowl, or pour it out into another cup (which I what I normally do).

The most symbolic of Chinese tea ware, clay pot is perhaps the final destination of any tea lover's journey. To me, it is an enigma and mystery wrapped into one.

In the oriental countries of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, a well-made clay pot is worth more than gold.

The cellos of tea brewing vessels, they are used mainly to brew more oxidized teas such as the darker oolongs, red tea, black tea and the old pu-erhs.

(Some of my customers have repoted good results using clay pot to brew green tea, so it is worth trying. The Japanese, for example, have a long history of using clay pot to brew green tea.)

The best clay pot comes from China Yixing town.

They are unglazed and porous: therefore they retain the flavors of the tea that is brewed in them.

Over time, your clay pot becomes more luster and tasty. But you need to use separate clay pot for each type of tea you brew.

A well-made clay pot will be sturdy and durable, if not indestructible.

Handle, Lid and Spout

Design is another important characteristic. Of course, the design should be attractive, but it should also be functional.

Is the tea pot easy to pick up and hold? Is it balanced, or does it seem top-heavy? Does the lid stay on by itself when you pour the finished tea out into your cup, or do you have to hold it on?

The handle, the opening at the top for the tea leaves and the water, and the spout should be lined up in a straight line to make it easy to pour.

Also, make sure the spout does not dribble. For the best pour, the spout should extend above the body of the pot. It should also be tapered so that the tip of the spout is narrower than the base.

Finally, look inside the spout-no matter what your vessel is made of, the inside of the spout should have a smooth surface to channel the tea into a smooth stream as you pour it.

Strainer Design

Another important aspect of design is the method used to strain out the tea leaves.

Many pots come with a separate basket-type strainer that holds the tea leaves while they brew. Other tea pots have a strainer in the spout.

Having the strainer built into the spout is convenient, but you have to pour the tea into cups as soon as it is ready. However, having the strainer in the spout does maximize the tea leaves’ contact area with the water, and gives them unrestricted freedom to unfurl and move around.

Having the strainer built into the spout is convenient, but you have to pour the tea into cups as soon as it’s ready. However, having the strainer in the spout does maximize the tea leaves’ contact area with the water, and gives them unrestricted freedom to unfurl and move around.

This is important for flavor, but as long as your infuser is adequately sized, you can still get great flavor from an infuser basket.

Size

How big is the pot? The right size depends on how you are planning to use it.

If it is just for you, go ahead and get a smaller pot. That way, you don’t waste tea, and can drink all of what you brew while it’s hot and fresh.

If it’s going to be used for tea parties or entertaining, however, you’ll want to get a bigger pot so that you can serve everyone without having to stop what you are doing and brew more tea.

Maintenance

The next concern is maintenance. All tea pots require at least a little bit of maintenance.

Do you want one that is dishwasher safe, or are you okay with hand washing? Is that adorable tea pot in the shape of a dragon going to be easy to clean?

Yixing clay pots are perhaps the easiest to care for - a good rinse in hot water is all they need, since you want the tea residue to coat the inside and season it.

Glass pots are dishwasher safe, as are stainless steel and some ceramics.

Silver is hand wash only, and it will need to periodically polished with silver polish as well, even if it is not being used.

Finally!

If you really get serious about tea, you’ll probably end up buying more than one tea pot.

Some people even make collecting tea vessels into a serious hobby! However much you decide to invest in tea ware, though, keep these principles in mind and make every purchase count!

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