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Tips for using Yixing Clay Teapots

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Yixing clay teapots have been used to brewing tea for centuries. They are not just a tool used to steep tea, but a work of art. A piece of history and Chinese tradition. But what makes them so special?

The most important quality that the Yixing Teapots possess is their superior brewing capabilities. Used in Chinese Gong Fu ceremonies, the pots have the ability to absorb the aroma and flavor of the tea. This is because of the clay used in the teapots. Zisha clay (or purple sand) is found exclusively in the Jiangsu province of China. This clay contains thousands of air holes or micro-air pores which self season the pot; allowing it to keep the flavor of the tea. The clay also works as an insulator, keeping your tea hot for a longer time.

Before a new teapot is used, it must first be treated. This is necessary to activate the aroma locking qualities of the purple sand.  The first step is to boil your teapot. Make sure your teapot is completely submerged and the boiling pot is extremely clean.

*Remember, never use cleaning products such as soaps or other detergents to clean your Yixing.*

We also recommend wrapping your Yixing in a clean cloth while boiling to protect it from damage during this process. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 mins. Then turn off the heat and allow the water to cool off gradually. This is important. If the pots cool off too quickly they could crack.

The treatment process can also be used to ‘reset’ the teapots if you wish to switch type of tea you are brewing.

For more information on cleaning or resetting the Yixing teapots visit Seasoning a New Yixing Teapot

For using the teapots, Tao suggest the traditional Gong Fu style. Place 5-7g of tea into the pot. Depending on the type of tea, steep at varying temperatures for anywhere between 20 seconds and one minute. The shorter steeping times allow for the tea to be steeped multiple times and retain its flavour. Tao recommends that after you pour your tea, you should remove the lid, allowing the heat to flow out of the pot. Otherwise the brew will become over steeped and too strong.

The Yixing’s remarkable ability for absorbing aromas and flavours means you must be careful while handling the pot. Every time the pot is handled, make sure your hands are clean, sent free and have no food residue. Once the purple sand has absorbed these aromas, they are extremely hard to get rid of. Because of this, each Yixing you own should only be used to brew one type of tea. Otherwise you will be tasting the ghost of previous teas!

A common mistake people make with their Yixing teapots is to make the pot shinny and darker by wiping it down with their hand. This is not a good idea! Any oils from your hands that the teapot absorbs will stay there. Though it may look well worn, it has not earned this look through proper use. Over time the Teapot will absorb oils from the tea, gradually turning the texture to a smooth shiny finish and the colour will become darker.

Overall the Yixing clay teapots are remarkable and make a wonderful addition to any tea enthusiast’s collection.

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