What makes a house a home? Besides a lovely tea cup, Char insisted a tea pot was always the finishing touch on any new residence. She often gifted one as a graduation gift, a wedding gift, or for a housewarming.
The thing about a tea pot, though, is there are so many possibilities! Is it just for decor? To entertain? To highlight a specific tea? Or something just as a treat for you?
As you consider the “why” of your tea pot, here are some things to consider for the “what:”
Porcelain Tea Pots
These are probably the most common and can often be the most affordable (though there are many spendy options as well!). The delicate, white china that we most often think of can come in so many different shapes, shades and sizes. No matter your personal style, I guarantee there’s a porcelain tea pot that will complement it beautifully! Practically speaking, porcelain is typically glazed on all sides and can therefore be used for a variety of teas without worrying that a strong flavor will be left behind in the pot itself. Heavier porcelain will keep the tea hot longer, though tea cozies can help any pot keep in the heat.
Glass Tea Pots
For those who like the clean aesthetic of clear glass or enjoy watching the steeping process, glass tea pots of various sizes are a good choice. Their handles, being of glass, conduct the heat of the water a little too well, so you may need a small pot holder to pour your tea. Cleanliness is critical in order to maintain the clarity of the glass, so know that this will probably be one of the more high maintenance options.
Ceramic Tea Pots
The predecessor to porcelain, clay and earthenware tea pots are most often chosen for their heat-retaining properties as much as their earthy look.Check to see if the interior is glazed as well as the exterior. If it is not, the tea pot will absorb the flavors of whatever is brewed in it, so you will want to stick to one type of tea for that particular pot. In the case of the Yixing pot, made from a clay in the Jiangsu province of China, this is desirable, as the pot itself adds to the complexity of the tea that is brewed. Serious tea drinkers will have a Yixing tea pot for each type of tea they drink.
Cast Iron Tea Pots
These tea pots are said to distribute the heat most evenly and hold the heat longer than other types of tea pots. While many lovely cast iron tea pots are both beautiful and functional, the most coveted of the cast iron tea pots are the Japanese tetsubin, which are hand-cast by master artists.
One baffling conundrum with any tea pot is why it may or may not drip. Believe it or not, there has been quite a lot of research to explore this household problem. Most recently, in 2009, a group of French scientists came up with a new set of theories regarding “wettability,” and without going into the realm of superhydrophobics, let me just say that one of the resulting recommendations was to use a tea pot whose spout has a smaller radius. “Smaller than what” is a question to which I have no definitive answer. However, if all else fails, you may use the wives’ tale of smearing a bit of butter on the underside of the spout.
Regardless of your choice a tea pots, here are a few universal truths:
– Do not place any tea pot directly on a stove top. These are tea pots, not tea kettles (even the cast iron ones!).
– Clean your tea pot after each use, but follow the care instructions for your type of tea pot. (Avoid soaps or detergents for cast iron or unglazed tea pots).
– Use it as often as possible! The enjoyment of tea is one of life’s small luxuries. Bringing out the tea pot for yourself or your guests elevates the moment. Make the most of that opportunity!
Which tea pot are you eyeing?