When we talk about teapots, these are not the first ones that come to mind. It is also true that they are not the pieces that you usually find in a shop when you go in to look at them. We are talking about clay teapots, which in some regions are almost iconic but in many countries go unnoticed.
Clay teapots are a peculiar utensil, and are possibly more usable by “advanced” users who prepare tea frequently, than by the more inexperienced. And we say this because clay teapots have very pronounced advantages and disadvantages that you should know well.
Something similar, by the way, to what happens with clay coffee makers, which we have already talked about on this website.
It can be said that clay teapots “catch” and are impregnated with the flavour of the tea that you prepare daily in them, and of course from the moment of the first brewing. And that makes them real treasures for tea lovers: an infusion prepared in a good clay teapot will not taste the same as if you make it in any other kind of container.
Characteristics of clay teapots
- The inside of the clay teapots should be made of untreated clay, just like what we see on the outside. They should never be glazed. This is because they should form a deposit – of a typical dark colour – and thus enhance the flavour of the infusions over time.
- They always have a lid, and often a handle made of rope, wicker or bamboo.
- It is advisable not to wash or dry them (by rubbing) on the inside. Simply rinse and let them air dry. The aim is precisely to respect the residue that forms.
- It is not a good idea to frequently mix very different infusions or very aromatic teas in the same clay teapot.
- They should not be placed directly on the fire, because the clay would be damaged and also because it does not transmit the heat well. For this purpose they have an infuser inside. Just pour hot water inside and let the leaves infuse.
- Colour: Mud segment
- Packaging: gift box
- We are a wholesaler for the European market. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, we will reply you within 24 hours.
Advantages of clay teapots
- If you make tea frequently, and especially if you always use the same type of tea, clay teapots will improve and enhance the flavour of your infusions.
- They retain the temperature better than other materials (it is well known that clay keeps the heat).
- They are usually handmade, so they have an added value.
Disadvantages of clay teapots
- Difficult to find in some countries, unless you buy your clay teapot on Amazon.
- They are fragile: beware of knocks and falls.
- In the long term they need specific maintenance if you want to keep them in perfect condition (at the end of this page you will find some advice in this regard).
- If you like to consume several types of tea or infusions at home, it would be best to use several different teapots.
Chinese clay teapots: Yixing teapots
Yixing teapots are famous all over the world, and although they are sometimes referred to generically as Chinese clay teapots, not all Chinese teapots are Yixing. It must also be said that industrial production is gradually taking over the market and the spirit of craftsmanship is being reduced to the local trade.
They are also known as Zisha teapots, and they all come from the Chinese region of Yixing, in the province of Jiangsu, where they are still handmade and exported all over the world. The ancient fame of these Chinese teapots is due to the quality of the clay used in their manufacture, which is extracted directly from the mountains of the region and left to age for several years before use.
Originally, Chinese Yixing teapots were made to brew black tea and oolong tea (brewed with very hot water, almost at boiling temperature). It is always recommended to let the water cool down a little if you are going to use your Yixing teapot to make other kinds of teas.
Characteristics of Yixing teapots
Chinese clay teapots, or Yixing teapots, have a number of very distinctive qualities of their own, almost as if they were considered a “denomination of origin”.
- They allow for a huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes: Yixing teapots do not have a single defined style.
- They are not smooth: you should feel the grainy texture of the clayey sand when you stroke it. If you see a very smooth clay teapot, it is probably not an original Yixing teapot.
- Their ornamentation is usually oriental calligraphy or floral motifs.
- They are harder and more resistant than Western teapots.
- They are not as porous as conventional clay teapots. This means that the impregnation of the tea aromas and the formation of the tea grounds will take place much more slowly, more slowly.
- They are handmade, and you can find the signature of the craftsman who made them on the base of the teapot or on the bottom of the lid.
Blue clay teapots
They may seem an oddity, but blue clay teapots are almost a subset of their own within the clay teapot industry. They belong to the section of Chinese Yixing teapots we have seen before, and logically during the process the bath is dyed blue before the piece is made and fired.
If you want to buy a blue clay teapot, Amazon is your only option. And of course you will have to stick to the Chinese aesthetics and ornamentation of these pieces:
Black clay teapots
Something similar happens with the black clay teapots, although in this case they are more discreet and less striking for the general public.
One of the advantages of black clay teapots is that the decorations are more eye-catching and a wider range of colours can be used on them (they stand out more than on raw clay).
These are some of the best black clay teapots that we have been able to find online, if you want to take a look:
The best clay teapot, any recommendations?
We have already seen on this page a number of teapots made of clay, the prestigious Chinese Yixing teapots, but are there really any better options than others? What is the best clay teapot on the market?
Well, as you may have noticed, there are a large number of teapots of similar sizes and characteristics, and it is not easy to distinguish one from the other. In many cases, the only thing that can serve as a yardstick is the quality of the clay, but you cannot always know this a priori before buying your clay teapot.
As a recommendation, we have chosen this clay teapot with a bamboo handle. We like the following:
- The bamboo handle gives it a rustic and original touch.
- With a capacity of 1 litre it has a standard size suitable for almost all situations.
- A stainless steel infuser is included (you don’t need to buy it separately).
- The price-performance ratio is very good.
- Classic clay teapot with bamboo handle and stainless steel filter
- Capacity: 1.0 L
- Dimensions: L 17.5 x W 15 cm; including lid 12.5 cm high
- Dishwasher and microwave safe (without filter and handle)
What to do before using an clay teapot for the first time
This process is called conditioning a clay teapot, and basically consists of getting it ready to be able to cook in it safely, eliminate aromas and flavours that it may have from the period of exposure, etc. Remember that clay is a porous material, and easily absorbs odours.
Therefore, it is not advisable to make tea in a clay teapot without first having conditioned it by following these steps:
Time needed: 10 minutes.
To condition a clay teapot we have calculated ten minutes, although in reality the process takes several days because it has to be left to stand.
1. Pour some tea or your favourite infusion
Make sure it is the same tea that you are going to use more often. In the meantime, you can boil some water in another pot.
2. Fill the kettle with boiling water
Or about to boil. It should be very hot, as when you are going to prepare an infusion to drink later.
3. Let the infusion steep for several days (water and tea together)
Obviously you are not going to drink the tea afterwards – it will be very bitter. The idea is that it will form a sediment and that this sediment will serve to improve the result of subsequent infusions.
4. Empty the kettle and rinse well
After several days, discard the contents of the infusion and rinse the inside of the teapot several times to remove any residue.
5. Dry completely
Finally, all that remains is to carefully dry the teapot before using it to prepare and consume our favourite infusions. Remember that this should be the only time you dry the inside of your clay teapot. From now on, every time you make a tea, just rinse it.