Seasoning an Yixing Teapot
One of the first things that you will read about Yixing Teapots is that they “season” with use.
Seasoning refers to: 1) The development of a patina on the outside of a teapot, and 2) The teapot absorbing the aroma or flavour of the tea it has been used to brew. Both of these are seen as desirable features by many, although there are disagreements over how to season a pot, what desirable seasoning looks like, and what, if any, seasoning a teapot accomplishes.
Tea bath and shower
Some Yixing guides recommend forcing seasoning by soaking or boiling the teapot in a pot filled with water and tea leaves. The idea being that once a teapot has absorbed enough tea flavour/oil/etc. it will be ready to use. Other guides recommend speeding up the seasoning process by dumping tea over the outside of the teapot and leaving tea to oversteep to saturate the pot.
We do not recommend bathing or soaking a teapot in tea to first season it before use. A good Yixing Teapot will be ready to use as soon as it has been “opened” 开壶。 There is no need to “season” a teapot before using it. After some use, a pot can absorb some of the aroma of the tea. However, as long as it has been rinsed out after use, it will not transfer flavour from one tea session to the next. This is why we recommend trying an Yixing Teapot with many different kinds of tea and using it with whichever teas you find are a good match. There is no need to relegate a teapot to only one kind of tea in fear of cross-contamination.
An overly porous pot that dulls the flavour of most tea may benefit from the coating of tea oil/scum that builds up on the inside of the pot. If a seller is recommending a teapot be soaked in tea before it can be used, this may be a red flag that the clay is not very good or that it is overly porous.
Just use it.
A teapot will season, developing a nice patina, with use. There is no need to rush it. Some like to polish their teapots with a cotton cloth after use, giving them a very shiny appearance. In our opinion, the nicest patina is one that is not overstated, and that develops naturally with use.