Don't Boil that Teapot!
(Originally published January 15, 2021)
Before first using a new Yixing Teapot, there are a few short steps that should be taken, and a few simple rules to follow to keep the pot in good condition for future tea sessions.
Opening the Teapot
Some online guides recommend boiling an Yixing Teapot in water or even tea before using it. We do not recommend doing this. Boiling a teapot is quite risky and could result in a chipped or cracked teapot from agitation during boiling. However, a teapot will need to be rinsed out with warm and hot water before being used.
Before its first tea session, a new Yixing Teapot will need to be “opened” 开壶。Rinsing the teapot, first with warm water, then with hot water, will help to wash out any dust from the kiln, leaving the pot clean and ready for tea. Fill the teapot with warm water and pour it out at least 4 times. The outside of the pot and lid should also be washed over the same number of times using warm water. Next, the teapot should be rinsed with very hot distilled or filtered water (near boiling) at least 4 times the same way. Using distilled or filtered water can reduce the chance of mineral buildup on the surface of the clay from the rinse.
An alternative method is to rinse the pot thoroughly 4 times with warm water before placing it in a large pot of distilled or filtered water that is slowly brought to near boiling temperature. Do not let the water begin to boil or you may damage your teapot. The teapot should then be left in the pot until the water cools to room temperature. We prefer to rinse with hot water rather than to soak it as it is less trouble and just as effective.
A wood fired dicaoqing teapot soaking in hot water. Don't boil your teapots!
Cleaning Between Sessions
The teapot will be ready for brewing tea as soon as it has been rinsed out as described above. After a tea session, the teapot should be rinsed out so that no tea is left in the pot.
Never use soap or other chemical cleaners on an Yixing Teapot or any porous clay teapot. The clay may absorb these chemicals, leaching them into the next tea you brew. Rinsing it out with water is sufficient.
After rinsing, the teapot should then be left with the lid removed to thoroughly dry out. Once dry, the lid can be placed back on top and the teapot can be placed in a dry area for storage.
Avoid leaving tea leaves in a teapot after use or placing the lid back on a wet teapot. Both can quickly result in mould colonizing the clay.
a zhuni teapot left to dry out with its lid removed.