It is said that "The path to heaven passes through a teapot". But what if you don't have a teapot! We're here to help. Here are some general guidelines below.
If you always drink more than 1 cup of tea at a time, you need a teapot. The standard personal size teapot is a 2-cup teapot. You will often see this listed as a 24 or 27 oz. capacity. The next size is usually 4 cups, then 6. Very large ones do come in 8 and 10-cup sizes but are used infrequently. When I was growing up, we always made a large 6 - 10 cup teapot in the afternoon and everyone was poured at the same time. I'm one of those now that tends to drink 2 cups at a time so a tea mug with infuser never works for me. (I also like to drink tea from a china cup....) A teapot serves several functions:
- It keeps your tea hot
- It obviates the need to make multiple cups one after the other
- It allows you consistency in cup quality
- It affords convenience - you handle one teapot that holds the right quantity you need.
There are numerous styles of teapots and they vary in 2 main ways - whether or not they have an infuser and what they're made of. If you're buying a new china, earthenware or glass teapot, try to find one with an infuser basket. It simplifies the act of making tea. Yxing, clay teapots, gaiwans are exceptions and well-suited for those who are adept at making tea and know when the tea should be decanted or when water should be added.
At our tearoom, we used the English Chatsford teapot for service. Alas, these are hard to find now and no longer made by the original manufacturer. We used them for 10 years and they served us best. The size was right, the glaze was uniform, they were well made, they did not break or chip easily and they came in at least 3 sizes. When looking for a English-style teapot, look for these qualities:
- Uniformly glazed with no rough edges
- A smooth spout to facilitate drip-free pouring
- A well-fitting infuser basket, preferably with handles so that your fingers don't get burned while lifting it out
- A lid that is big enough and properly shaped that it can be grasped easily
- Sturdy material - China, porcelain, tempered glass, ceramic or earthenware.
There are, of course, functional and elegant Clay and Cast-iron teapots. The Yxing teapots are unique and come in numerous shapes, colors and sizes. Cast-iron teapots are favored by many. Gaiwans and gong-fu style teapots are commonly used all over China and eminently suited for Green and Oolong teas.
For a first-time teapot purchase, look for a size that fits your tea drinking the best and select the type that appeals to you. Your teapot can be as ubiquitous as the Brown Betty, as pretty as an English rose pattern or minimal in design. Select what fits you best.