Teapot: A Vessel of Taste and Health
The tradition of drinking tea has come a very long way. Initially made in large cauldrons and unaesthetic tea kettles, tea brewing and tea serving appliances have been refined over the centuries and today, people use porcelain teapots, glass teapots, or as in Morocco for mint tea, stainless steel teapots to make their tea. But what exactly is a teapot?
WHAT IS A TEAPOT AND HOW TO USE IT?
Simply put, a teapot is a utensil used to steep tea and then serve it in teacups. After you put the leaves in the pot, you add boiling water (or just warm water depending on the type of the tea) and leave it to infuse and steep over time. When it’s ready, you pour the infusion, which is now the drink tea, into teacups.
A regular teapot has a lid that you open to add the tea and water, a handle to protect your hands from the heated vessel, and a spout through which the infused tea pours. Initially, teapots, especially the ones in China where tea originated and used as medicine rather than a casual drink thanks to its many health benefits, were quite small as they were intended to be used for a single drink only.
However, as tea drinking has spread to the other parts of the world where tea has become a staple drink, teapots today are bigger and made of several different materials including ceramic, glass, stainless steel, tin, cast iron, and copper with different colors, ornaments and inlaid motifs to choose from. There are even electric teapots that are also used to just boil water.
Another addition to modern teapots is a removable infuser, generally made of stainless steel, inside the pot to allow better brewing of loose tea and easier cleaning. The removable infuser also works like a strainer, which keeps the loose tea leaves from getting into your teacup.
Teapots are made of many different materials, and sometimes their material dictates the type of tea that you should use. And different cultures have different teapots made of mostly locally available materials.
Japanese teapot Kyushu, which simply means teapot in Japanese, is made of ceramic, not porcelain. Another teapot that the Japanese use is tetsubin, a teapot made of cast iron with a crossing-over handle.
Turkish teapots, generally a two-part set, to make that famous Turkish tea used to be made of aluminum in the past, but today Turks enjoy brewing tea in stainless steel teapots with infusers.
The samovar used in the Middle East is generally made of copper or tin while the Russian samovars are made of ceramic whose other parts such as faucets might be made of different materials like metal.
An indispensable part of the English tea ritual is Brown Betty, which is made of red clay and glazed with manganese. You also might have seen cube teapots, which is an anomaly in the world of teapots, but this teapot is designed to be used on ships because they would not roll over and fall like the round, conventional teapots.
How to choose the best teapot
There are so many teapot options out there to choose from but before deciding on the best teapot, you need to know one or two things about the different kind of materials and their impact on your tea aroma, ease of use, cleanability, and of course cost.
The best part of glass teapots is that you can see the loosening and furling tea leaves and watch the water infuse. This way, you can observe whether the brewing is complete or not. However, though some glasses are thicker, glass is a thin material, and this means a quicker heat loss. If you like to have more than just one cup of tea over a long time, then glass teapots are not your thing. Also, be careful with handling a glass teapot as the heat of the water is carried over to the handle.
Metal teapots like the ones used in Turkey and several Middle Eastern countries can heat very easily and quickly, which brings about the danger of burning your hands if not handled carefully. You can use metal teapots to make any variety of tea but know that it is metal and it oxidize over time.
Cast iron teapots look very traditional and beautiful, that is sure. They are very durable, and they retain heat extremely well. But what you should know is that these teapots, modeled after the Japanese tetsubin, were put over charcoal stoves to heat water, not to pour boiled water into them. The biggest disadvantage of cast iron teapots is that they are very heavy and very difficult to care for. And it can rust.
Ceramic teapots generally have thick walls, which means they can retain heat for a longer time. A ceramic teapot is very sturdy, but it is also heavy. Their spouts are generally quite thick, which makes it rather difficult to pour the tea into small teacups. Ceramic teapots make good vessels to make black tea.
Porcelain might be the perfect material for the perfect tea. Porcelain, too, is a kind of, or more technically, a subset of ceramic. The main difference between the two is that porcelain is fired at a higher temperature (ceramic is fired at very low temperatures) and the outcome is an extremely dense and hard material that is less absorbent.
On top of that, porcelain is a lot lighter and more delicate than ceramic, which makes it a better option for larger tea parties. Its walls are thinner than of ceramic but since the heat transference is low, the temperature of the tea remains high for longer.
SAKI LARGE PORCELAIN TEAPOT WITH INFUSER
With only 48-ounce weight and large enough to cater tea to 6 persons, Saki Porcelain Teapot is perfect for family time or large groups for teatime, rooibos, oolong, loose-leaf, l-theanine bags, earl grey, jasmine, and chai. Its extra-fine stainless-steel strainer leaves no leaves or small particles floating in your cup. Thanks to its infuser and strainer, it always brews only perfect drinks for Russian, Turkish, Chinese, Persian tea lovers! Saki Porcelain teapot with removable strainer is completely dishwasher safe, lead-free, and made of non-toxic ceramic porcelain.
SAKI Porcelain Teapot
Durable and not the easiest to chip – the SAKI porcelain teapot has low porosity and striking glassy qualities.