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Choosing a Teapot

Choosing a Teapot

One of the questions we're often asked is how to choose the correct teapot. There are a wide array of types of teapots as well as different styles and designs. How can you choose one you'll be happy with for years to come?

Cherry Natura Cast Iron Teapot

Buying the right size of teapot

My recommendation is to start with size (although you could start with material as well). Generally there are smaller teapots (for one or two cups) verses larger teapots that can make substantially more cups of tea. The question is: how will you use your teapot? If you plan on steeping a cup for yourself each morning, I would recommend a teapot that is 14 ounces or smaller. These are easy to use and make one to two cups, which helps conserve tea leaves. There are a few reasons that you might want a larger teapot (over 20 ounces):

  • If you plan on serving tea to company, it makes sense to have a larger pot that can handle a crowd. A 30 oz teapot for example, can make numerous small cups of tea to serve a small group of tea drinkers.
  • If you want to drink tea all day long and don't want to resteep. Some people prefer making a pot of tea in the morning and using a teapot warmer to keep it warm for hours as they drink down the tea. One negative is that you aren't getting the most from your tea leaves by resteeping them.
  • If you drink large cups of tea. Are you the type that drinks tea 20 ounces at a time? If so, consider buying a larger pot that will fill up your favorite teacup at least once. Most teacups are around 8 - 12 ounces, but some can be much larger. So make sure your teapot will make enough tea to prevent you from making a second pot before your first cup is full!
  • If you want a decoration, more than a teapot. The only other reason you should consider a larger teapot is if you are planning to simply use it as decor in your home; oftentimes a larger pot makes more of a statement. The nice thing about Teavana teapots is they are all functional, so you can make great tea with even a decorative teapot.

Outside of this, I would recommend looking at a 20 ounce teapot or smaller. I think in most situations, a 20 oz teapot will handle a guest or two and yet work very well for your morning pot of tea. Once you have the size down, you can decide on the type of teapot you prefer.

Choosing the right Type of Teapot

The other important decision to start with is choosing the correct type of teapot for your needs. There are specialized pots or general pots that will do it all. Here are the main types of teapot:

Green Sun Cast Iron TeapotCast Iron Teapots. We recommend these since they make the best pot of tea and will keep it warm for longer than most teapots. Cast iron does an excellent job of distributing the heat evenly throughout the teapot, so it extracts the most flavor and nutrients from the tea leaves. And cast iron pots look beautiful as you serve tea or as they sit on your counter. However, the best cast iron pots are handmade in Japan, which makes them more expensive than most other options.

Lizard Yixing TeapotYixing Teapots. These are truly specialized. Yixing pots are made from a clay in the Jiangsu province of China that absorbs the flavors of your favorite tea. Because of this, they should only be used on one type of tea. Often people purchase a Yixing pot to make a favorite tea on a regular basis, not necessarily for serving tea (although if you always serve the same tea this can work). So Yixing teapots are typically smaller (8 - 12 ounces), but we have a few larger teapots. Over time, Yixing pots will enhance the flavors of your tea, making an even better cup.

Sur La Mer Glass TeapotGlass Teapots. These teapots continue to gain in popularity. Glass teapots allow you to see the tea as it steeps; some tea leaves unfurl or pop and some artisan teas even bloom. It makes for a unique experience in enjoying tea. However, glass teapots won't hold heat as well, so a teapot warmer is recommended. And they are obviously more fragile than a cast iron or even Yixing teapot would be. If you enjoy artisan (or "blooming") teas in particular, a glass teapot is a necessity in your collection.

Red Passion Ceramic TeapotCeramic Teapots. Ceramic allows for more color and detail than some of the other options, so ceramic teapots are exceptionally pretty. Because of this, they can easily go from decoration to functional teapot. They are also priced more affordably, so they provide a great way to start making or serving tea. There is also a very wide variety of ceramic teapots to choose from - one is certain to catch your attention.

One other note on choosing a type of teapot. A functional teapot will be able to steep tea easily and clean up nicely afterward. I recommend trying to choose a teapot that has a removable infuser, so that you can remove the leaves once the tea is steeped. Otherwise you'll need to add some type of strainer so that you can remove the tea leaves. Typically non-functional teapots will not include a removable metal strainer, which makes them hard to clean and hard to use (you have to remove the leaves or the tea from the pot once the steeping is done).

Once you've chosen the size and type of teapot you want, you're more than halfway done. Just the detail of selecting the exact pot is left.

Selecting the right Style of Teapot

The last piece of the puzzle is choosing a teapot that reflects your tastes and personality. I recommend you start by thinking about what the teapot should say about you. In particular, cast iron and Yixing pots often feature symbolic designs that put the owner's personality on exhibit (see the list of teapot symbolic meanings here). Does this represent a new, fresh start? Or should the teapot represent friendship or marriage?

Once you have a symbol in mind, you can choose color based on your personal tastes or the color of your home. Often color is the least important aspect of choosing a teapot (although it seems key when you start!) and most colors will work once the other details have been selected. Some pots, such as glass teapots, don't necessarily have color, but may allow you to choose between a traditional teapot style or a more modern teapot design. Either way, you can feel confident choosing your favorite once you've nailed down the appropriate size and type of teapot for you.

Don't forget a Tea Kettle

Chantal Tea KettleIt is important to note that you do not heat water in a teapot. A teapot is only used for steeping the tea; it will ruin your teapot if you put it directly on the stove. So choose a tea kettle that will hold at least as many ounces as your teapot. You can heat the water to the appropriate temperature in your tea kettle, then pour the hot water into your teapot to steep.

Finishing with Teapot Accessories

We recommend adding a few accessories at the same time you purchase your teapot. For example, you should go ahead and get tea cups to complete your tea set. The number of cups depends on the teapot size you choose and how many guests you could serve at once. Also consider adding a trivet for your teapot, a teapot warmer, coasters, and/or serving tray.

Comments (5)

Comments (5) -

SeaSpirit249
11/28/2012 10:29:00 PM

I have a cast iron tea pot, and won't brew my teas in anything else. They just seem to have more character than some of the other ones, and the taste of the tea itself really comes out more with these pots.

Tony Bittick
12/30/2012 7:08:58 PM

Love the article and really appreciate the info. What I haven't been able to find any information on, is an affordable way to control or measure the temperature of the hot water, as I see different teas have different temps. I have a couple of nice hot water kettles in the $70 range that don't have thermometers. I also have an Elite Keurig which gives some temp control, but doesn't heat to 212 degrees.

Ideas or resources?

Amariah
3/17/2013 10:16:42 PM

I love my zojirushi hot water heater. It takes the guess work out of making tea. Plus it keeps the water hot for several hours. Though they came out with a breville water boiler that's cheaper. I've never used it. Though with my zojirushi I don't have to heat up my cast iron pot. I just put the water in and then put my tea in. Then I put my pot on the warmer. I have a 21 ounce pot. My mom uses it for her morning oatmeal. It's more than what you put for a price range but for me it was one of those things that once I bought it I use it all the time.

Dave
1/30/2013 12:10:09 PM

I have 3 interesting teapots now for years and cannot figure out what style they are. 2 of them are the type you turn the top part upside down and it pours the tea in the bottom carafe...the other is a top load sit and brew style with wood trim...

Raul
6/5/2013 6:25:27 AM

I would like to thank you for the energy you've put in writing this site. I am looking to see otherblog post from you in the future. plz also excuse my bad english as its not my first language.