Are you one of the people who dunk a tea bag in a mug of hot water then drink it? You will be surprised to realize how much flavor and sweetness you are missing out on. Japanese and Chinese tea makers follow a unique methodology of preparing tea, and besides the procedure, a lot of thoughts goes into choosing the right teapot for brewing different types of tea.
Japanese teapots come in different styles, varying capacities, and different materials to suit different requirements. The ultimate flavor and taste of your tea majorly depends on the method of preparation and the type of teapot used. While seasoned tea lovers have a whole set of factors to consider, there are a few common factors you should consider before purchasing a regular Japanese teapot.
Let's talk about these factors in greater depth.
Japanese teapots are of different kinds, and it can be easy to get confused as to which is the most suitable one for your needs. Certain types of teapots are more popular, but this doesn’t mean that you go with the masses- take your time to know which type suits your preference.
Here are the main types of Japanese teapots;
In Japanese, Kyusu is a traditional teapot majorly used to brew green tea. There is a misconception that a typical Kyusu features a side-handle, but the truth is that the word Kyusu merely means a teapot.
There are two categories of Kyusu;
these are teapots with handles on the sides of the pot. Thanks to their convenient design, you can easily pour out tea from this pot. This type of Kyusu is common in Japan, which explains why many people associate Kyusu teapot with handles.
These teapots have a handle at the back of the pot, just like most teapots you find in the market. The advantage of these is they are easy to use for both left and right-handed people. Western people seem to prefer this style of teapots. What differentiates them from western-style teapots is the pattern and design, with the Japanese teapots taking a more vintage style.
After Yokode Kyusu, these are the second most popular Japanese teapot. They have a handle, which may be made from rattan, plastic, or bamboo and is attached to the pot with hooks. This means that it remains cool despite the pot becoming hot, so it's safe to hold. These teapots are made of clay or porcelain and are used in the same way as regular teapots.
In Japan, Dobin refers to teapots made of heat-resistant materials used as kettles for boiling water and brewing medicinal herbs. The handle is removable and thus can be changed or replaced.
Also called Japanese cast iron teapot, Tetsubin teapots were used traditionally to boil water and brew herbal tea. These pots became popular in the mid-19th century, and they ceased becoming regular kitchen items and began to be seen as status symbols or as decorative items.
There are two regions best known to make and design Tetsubins; Iwate and Yamagata.
The size of Tetsubin varies a lot, and many come in unusual shapes. A small Tetsubin can have a capacity of 0.5 liters while large ones can hold up to 5 liters.
Prices of Tetsubin varies greatly based on shape, capacity, and quality of the teapot. The Japanese cast iron pots usually have a handle crossing over its top and a pouring spout. It is used for boiling water and making tea. There is the thought that water boiled using cast iron pot has more iron content that is released into the water from the iron material.
The historical origin of the Japanese cast iron teapot is not clear, although various records state that its design was inspired by a water kettle known as tedorigama. It was used during the era of Sen no Rikyu in Chanoyu- 1522-91.
Cast iron teapot was traditionally used to boil water over a charcoal fire. Modern designs come with relief schemes on their outer side for decoration. Some models are glazed with an enamel coating on the inside to enable them to brew different teas.
No particular material can be said to make the perfect teapot, and that’s why there are many options available when it comes to choosing the best teapot. Whether it is ceramic, stainless steel, glass, or fine porcelain, each material has its unique benefits. That’s why it could be confusing to make a choice.
Your choice of material should be dictated by how you are planning to use your teapot. For instance, stainless steel teapots are ideal for regular places, while porcelain teapots are seen as prestigious set-pieces for tea.
There are benefits and drawbacks to every teapot material, and thus you should take that into consideration before making a purchase decision. You need to balance the customer expectations of your business and your budget.
Here are the most famous Japanese teapot materials;
Why Choose These teapots
Porcelain teapots are seen as prestigious and luxurious with a delicate, refined appearance. They are most popular in high-end hotels and posh restaurants due to their elegant and translucent appearance.
They have a low-heat transference when means their handles do not overheat as it is the case with stainless steel teapots.
The material is relatively durable and robust. While it's not as durable as stainless steel, porcelain is stronger than ceramic teapots.
They have low heat retention rate because porcelain is a poor heat conductor. This makes tea to cool down quickly, especially for people who would like to enjoy their tea for longer. However, they give customers enough time to savor their drink.
These teapots suit people who are looking for luxurious tea set-pieces.
Why Choose These Teapots
Steel is known to be durable and stronger than other materials and thus will protect your business from the inconveniences of breakages and cost of replacement.
In terms of heat retention, stainless steel teapots are the best and will keep your tea hot for longer than, say, porcelain or ceramic teapots. This means your customers can enjoy hot tea as they relax.
They are lightweight and thus ideal for scenarios where staffs have to serve many customers- they will not get tired of carrying heavy teapots.
When it comes to design and look, stainless steel teapots are bright, contemporary and understated, although not as classy as porcelain teapots.
Their handles can overheat since stainless steel is an excellent heat conductor. Of course, many modern teapots made of stainless steel overcome this problem by fitting handles that are non-heat conductors to limit the effect.
Because of retaining heat for longer, stainless steel over-steep tea in most cases. This is especially true for the instance of loose leaves. When loose teas over-steep, it loses its natural taste and becomes bitter as the tea continues to release tannins. However, they are ideal for bagged tea.
They are not seen as luxurious items. Although they are bright and modern, stainless steel teapots lack the traditional luxurious appeal of glass or porcelain teapots
When buying stainless steel teapots, go for those with mirror finish as they are brighter and more reflective than those with a brushed finish.
Why Choose These Teapots
Modern teapots made from cast iron come with an enamel coating, which prevents the absorption of flavors that may corrupt future tea flavors. The enamel coating also prevents it from rusting.
These teapots are durable and strong and can withstand very high heat levels. They also spread heat evenly, which means your tea achieves a smooth taste.
Cast iron teapots retain heat for longer, and thus you can serve tea without worrying that it will get cold after a few minutes.
Modern designs are stylish and creative, which means you will not shy away from bringing this piece of cookware out on your dining table during parties.
The lid, pot, and handle may get too hot to handle. Fortunately, modern designs are fitted with a handle that doesn't allow heat transfer, and thus pouring out tea will not be an issue.
Also, rust is another issue you can face when using cast iron teapots. This normally happens when you allow the teapot to sit in on water or with tea for too long. Thorough cleaning and drying is a must if you want these teapots to serve you for a long time. Don't let them sit overnight with water or tea and also don't scrub their interiors to avoid chipping out the enamel coating.
Why Choose These Teapots
These teapots offer medium heat retention and thus serve as an excellent compromise between porcelain teapots and stainless steel teapots. This means they will not over-steep your tea and will not be too hot to hold.
These teapots are available in a wide range of designs and sizes ranging. You can choose from contemporary designs to traditional designs, thanks to the versatility of this material.
Ceramic teapots with unglazed interiors can absorb and retain flavors over time, which means it may corrupt the taste of future brews. This is especially true if you use different kinds of tea. Therefore, if you intend to brew a variety of teas, choose those with glazed interiors.
Most of them are prone to chipping, compared to stainless or porcelain steel pots. The good news is that modern teapot manufacturers are reinforcing them to enhance their resistance to chipping. Besides, replacement lids are available in wide varieties.
Ceramic teapots are more prone to staining than porcelain pots and thus may require extra cleaning efforts frequently to remove tea marks on them.
Why Choose These Teapots
Glass teapots have a better viewing angle, and thus you can see how your tea is brewing and measure the infusion precisely. They are great for people who like tea cocktails.
On the downside, you have to clean them thoroughly every time as they showcase stains since they are transparent. Any small tea mark will be visible to your customers.
To summarize all this, we can say that teapots are available in different materials- from ceramic, porcelain, glass, cast iron, etc. and each material has its pros and cons.
The ceramic teapots are the most favored because of their ability to retain enough heat to keep tea hot. Modern ones come with glazed interiors, which prevent different flavors from getting absorbed into it. This makes them ideal for brewing different teas. However, because of the medium heat-retention capacity, they cannot brew black tea.
Porcelain teapots are luxurious and thus quite pricey. They are durable and have high-heat retention capacity and hence ideal for brewing black tea. They are not suitable for steeping loose leaves as they make them over-steep.
Many tea lovers prefer cast iron teapots because of their vintage look and elaborate design. They also retain heat better, and there is a belief that they add iron to your tea, thereby making them a healthier option.
Like any other kitchen cookware, the decision on the capacity of a teapot to buy should depend on the number of cups you intend to brew regularly. You can get teapots with capacities as small as 14-ounces and as large as 66-ounces.
Smaller teapots are generally ideal for preparing green teas as this is generally served to one or two people. Larger pots, on the other hand, are used to brew black teas as in most cases black tea is served in large quantities.
If you want to steep loose tea, you will need to purchase a larger pot since loose tea requires more space to steep, preferably rounder pots.
Here is a rough guide to help you estimate the size of a teapot that suits your needs.
A teapot with 6-8 ounces has a capacity of brewing 1 cup.
Those with 12 to 16-ounce capacity can brew two cups of tea.
The 18-24-ounce teapot can brew 3 cups
24-32 ounce teapot can brew 4 cups of tea.
With this in mind, you have a rough idea of the size of the teapot that best suits your needs.
So, you have identified the type, material, and size of the teapot you want. Now we can talk about the style of the teapot that suits your needs. The shape of a teapot is dependent on its material. For instance, many porcelain teapots come in vintage styles.
Although there are reasons behind different shapes of teapots, choosing a teapot design often comes down to personal preferences and also what is right for your business.
Not every design suits you, but there is ta one for everyone.
Here are popular classic designs- have a look at them and consider which style suits you or your customers;
These teapots have a low, broad body and an elevated handle. They feature a dimpled design, mesh strainer, and broad opening.
The hobnail teapots, which borrows their design from Japanese Tetsubin kettles, are designed to brew small quantities of teas such as Oolong tea.
They suit businesses especially those that serve herbal blends such as Asian teas (Chun Mee, Oolong tea, etc.)
These teapots have a taller and slender design that resembles a coffee pot. In fact, they can double as both teapots and coffee pots.
Upright teapots suit businesses that want to economize as they can be used to brew either coffee or tea.
As the name suggests, these teapots have a rounded body and a narrow base to keep your heat hot for longer- their shape minimizes heat transfer.
They keep your tea hot for longer and create a traditional appeal. These teapots are ideal for businesses that want a stylish design, which is still vintage.
They have small spouts and handles to save on space to storage maximize capacity. As a result, they are suited for businesses with limited space. Small teapots often come with contemporary designs, which suits high-end restaurants.
Also called traditional teapots, these teapots have a broad belly area and scrolled handle as well as a domed lid. Their elegant design makes them ideal for a place that needs formality and traditional settings.
They suit businesses that value sophistication. They are also ideal for people who prefer premium table settings.
These are the most popular styles/shapes of Japanese teapots. Of course, there are many other unique designs you will find in the market. It is up to you to choose the shape and style that suits your needs.
Several crucial features of a teapot should influence your choice. Here are features that make a good teapot;
Teapots feature side, back, or top handles. In most cases, bigger teapots feature side handles while smaller ones come with fitted overhead handles. If you dig deep at the reason teapot handles are placed in a certain angle, you will notice that there is a lot of details that go into the way a handle is positioned and the angle at which tea is poured.
To be precise, the best teapot is the one with a hand that doesn't allow your knuckles to touch the surface of the teapot. This is because it will enable you to pour out tea without burning your knuckles.
Therefore, before purchasing a teapot, check if the handle is comfortable to hold and if it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the teapot.
A good teapot should have a lid that fits perfectly on the rim to keep the steam, flavors, and aromas of the tea from escaping. Also, it should have a small hole to ensure air enter the pot as tea comes out of the spout. This way, tea will come out steadily without splattering all over. The tiny hole on the lid controls the flow of tea coming out the sprout.
A good lid should have a hole that forms a seal so as not to allow steam to escape and at the same time, allow air to enter when the tea is being poured out. Again, a lot of details goes into designing the lid.
A teapot may come with a removable or non-removable infuser. However, one with a removable option is better as it allows one to remove steeped tea leaves easily by lifting the infuser out of the teapot.
An infuser is vital as it allows tea leaves to steep in hot water without dispersing freely on water, which makes separating work easier. The size of an infuser is dictated by the capacity of the teapot and the amount of tea you want to steep.
You need to check the spout because it determines if the pour will be neat and steady. A good teapot should have a spout placed at a distance from the rim of the pot to prevent steam from burning your hand. Also, ensure that the tip of the spout at level with the rim of the teapot.
When it comes to brewing tea, finding the right tea leaves and best culinary for brewing is very important. As a tea lover, you are likely to desire to use tea set-pieces that go with the traditional way of brewing tea. This will not only ensure you are making tea the right way, but will also provide the opportunity to get the traditional flavor that has been associated with tea for centuries.
The secret to having a delicious, perfectly brewed cup of tea doesn't only lie in knowing the right method of brewing tea but also having the right equipment. After going through this guide, I'm sure you have gained the proper knowledge to get the best teapot for your tea brewing purposes.
Get yourself a few teapots to improve your tea brewing and drinking experience. As the saying goes, "old is gold", and with an old Japanese teapot, you will never get your tea brewing wrong.
Every tea accessory used during Cha no Yu- a Japanese tea ceremony is crafted using an ancient method. Raku is a classic method that was often used to make "Chawan”- the bowl used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
Raku Chawan or Raku tea bowls are recently gaining a lot of global attention, which is why it is important that you learn a thing or two about these tea bowls. After reading this guide, you will truly appreciate Raku ware.