Keeping the peace among the teapots in my bevy can be a bit tricky. One teapot tends to get a bit envious when another teapot gets to steep a particularly special tea. They also can develop a competitive instinct, challenging each other to steep offs.
It’s my fault, probably. I tend to favor some teapots over others for steeping certain teas. My Blue Betty, for example, is the teapot of choice to steep my heartier black teas — Scottish Breakfast, English Breakfast No. 1, CTC Assam, and so on. A little 2-cupper teapot is just right for some Snow Dragon, Gen Mai Cha, or a nice oolong.
The steep off challenge this time around was between my “bruiser” teapot “Bruno” from Louisville Stoneware and the much smaller but much feistier Little Yellow Teapot. It’s all in good fun, since they are best buddies, but it’s still all about the tea, and the steeping is serious business.
On with the steep off:
The tea: Mim Estate Darjeeling (2nd flush Darjeeling)
The selection of tea was pretty important here. We wanted something that could be steeped in large amounts and be as tasty as when steeped in smaller amounts. This is essential when comparing a 2-cup teapot with a 6-cup teapot. Some teas seem to steep differently when done in different quantities.
The process: This was a broken leaf tea, that is, one where the tea leaves were not whole but that also had not been ground to fannings or dust. Also, being a 2nd flush Darjeeling, this tea had a strong Muscatel aroma that we wanted to be sure would come through in the final tea liquid. So, a cooler water temperature was used — 190°F. We also stuck with a 3-minute steeping time.
The proper amount of dry tea went into each pot (about one teaspoon of tea leaves for each 8 ounces of water), the water was added to each pot, and the timer was set. Time for hubby and I to do our little tea steeping jig — just a little bit of fun to pass the time. Step to the left, step to the right, left, right, left, left — oww!! Ok, enough jigging here.
The results: Here’s where the difference in size mattered, but not in the way I thought it would. I expected the larger teapot that was also thicker and held the heat in longer to therefore steep the tea up stronger than the smaller teapot; this was not so. The larger teapot (“Bruno”) steeped the tea up lighter so that the full Muscatel character did not develop. The smaller teapot steeped the tea up stronger and yet not overdone, with the tangy Muscatel character coming through loud and clear.
I think I have to declare Little Yellow Teapot the winner here. Sometimes smaller is more powerful!
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