Teaware 101: Yixing Teapot, Perfect for Pu’er and Oolong
There is a huge variety of teaware available, and at Arogya we get many questions about which kind of teapot is best. Glass, cast-iron, unglazed clay, or porcelain? The truth is, it depends on which kind of tea you prefer to drink. There are certain teapots that work well with all teas, while other teapots truly enhance specific kinds of tea. One of my favorite teapots, the unglazed yixing teapot, is amazing for pu’er and oolong teas. It’s also the original teapot! In this, and the next couple blog posts, we will explore the different styles of teapots, which teas, and tea drinkers they work best for, and little history behind the development of the teapot, starting with the classic yixing teapot.
It’s hard to imagine tea, without the teapot. While today it is an ordinary, yet indispensable household item, it’s interesting to note that tea was enjoyed for centuries in China before the teapot was even invented. Prior to the teapot, tea was sometimes boiled in a cauldron-like pot, often with herbs or spices, or, boiling water was poured over tea leaves directly into a ceramic drinking bowl.
It’s unclear exactly when the first teapots were created (sometime between the Sung Dynasty 960-1279, and the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644). However, scholars agree that the first teapots were made of unglazed clay, a style known as yixing teapots. These dark ceramic teapots, which are still commonly used today, were designed for personal use, and thus the teapots were on the small side, holding enough water for one to two cups. This allows the tea drinker to have more precise control over the taste and brewing of the leaves, so the complex aromas and layers can be enjoyed. When these little teapots were first developed, tea drinkers drank directly from the spout!
Yixing teapots are best used when dedicated to one particular kind of tea. This is because the porous material of the teapot absorbs the flavor of the tea over time, actually enhancing the taste of your brew. Yixing teapots are especially ideal for oolong and pu’er teas, my favorites being Da Hong Pao oolong, or a dark Liji pu’er. After hundreds of brews of your favorite tea, your little clay teapot will deliver a truly special infusion. For many, a well seasoned yixing pot is a prized personal item, because only time, and countless cups of tea, can bring that extra depth and enjoyment to your favorite tea.
Already a dedicated pu’er or oolong drinker? Bring the experience of your favorite tea to the next level with a dedicated yixing teapot!
In our next blog posts, we will take a look at three other varieties of teapots: cast-iron, porcelain, and glass. In the mean time, stay warm! And drink good tea!
By Chloe Bolton