How to Choose a Teapot:
- Choose: Glass or Porcelain/ China
- Avoid: Metal
Both glass and porcelain are great for making any type of tea. They won’t affect the taste in the way that certain clays or metals can. They’ll both also help keep the temperature of the tea consistent, and so help the leaves give out their flavour evenly.
Both glass and porcelain heat up quickly and so don’t conduct much heat away from the water that’s added to make your tea. The tea leaves need high temperatures to release their flavour (you can read more about the importance of water temperature here). Metal is a very efficient heat conductor, and so when hot water is added to a metal pot the heat will be stored in the metal, not in the water. As the water cools quickly, there tends to be not enough heat left for the leaves to release their full flavours, and so often tea made in metal pots will taste weak or insipid.
Tea made in porcelain will cool even slower than when it’s in glass. This can work very well for darker oolongs and black teas like breakfast teas that have deeper, rich flavours and will benefit from having a higher temperature of water to bring out their flavours.
The bonus of glass is seeing the leaves as they infuse. Some tea lovers find that seeing the colours of the infusions as they develop or seeing the shapes of the leaves as they unfurl connects them to the plant or nature that their tea has come from. Seeing your tea means you’ll always know when it’s ready to pour too.
Did you know?
The Japanese Tetsubin – a kind of cast iron teapot which has gained popularity in the west in recent years – is a type of kettle rather than a teapot. Boiling water in cast iron impacts the mineral structures in the water, which can help bring out certain tastes and flavours in tea. In Japan, Tetsubin filled with fresh local water are heated over charcoal and the hot water used to prepare tea. They are often beautiful pieces, and it’s no surprise that they’ve become popular over here. It’s a shame that their original purpose hasn’t come over too – as tea made in cast iron will often be weak and insipid. The cast iron teapots we see here are now often coated on the inside with enamel to make them safe to use as teapots, however this means they can’t be used to safely boil water though, so check before you try and repurpose any you might have!
Shape: Is the pot spacious enough for your leaves?
Avoid: Small infuser baskets or ball infusers
The pot needs to have enough space for the water to circulate easily around the leaves as they’re unfurling. If they cannot circulate freely then the leaves will not release their distinctive, full flavours. Watch out for strainers inside teapots or ball-shaped strainers – they’re often too small to allow this.
Size: Match your teapot and your cups
The size or volume of your teapot needs to match the total volume of the cups. For example, if you’re making 250ml (a standard mug or cup) for two people, the teapot needs to be around 500ml – ideally with a tiny bit of extra space for the leaves to absorb some water and not leave you short in your cup!
Matching the volume means that the infusion will always be fully decanted, so it will be full and balanced. Otherwise, the first cup(s) will be weak and insipid, and any subsequent cups from the water closest to the leaves that have been stewing will be too strong to enjoy.
Pouring out the whole infusion from your teapot, including the very last drops, is also important as it means that none of your tea leaves will be left to stew and lose their flavour, so you can re-infuse them as they should have plenty of life to give.
Choose: Wide openings, short spouts
Avoid: Fiddly small spouts and too many parts.
Making loose leaf tea should be an effortless process, in fact there’s nothing worse than fighting to get the last few leaves out of a fiddly infuser or tiny spout when you’ve just enjoyed your tea. So, when choosing your teaware make sure you can get the leaves out easily and that it can be easily cleaned, either by hand or in the dishwasher.
Want to know more about how to make loose tea simply at home? Check out our short guide here.