When you first dive into the world of Yixing (“Ee-sheeng” or “Yee-sheeng”) teapots, you need to be sure to get the real deal and a good deal (see Part 1). That accomplished, you are then faced with the scary question: “Now what?”
To that end, I spent several days after our three teapots arrived on researching how to prep them properly for use and then how to use them.
Prepare for First Use — There is a ton of info online about how to prepare your Yixing teapot for its first use of steeping tea. Some involve several days of your time, but hubby and I found the one below to be sufficient.
A simple preparation process:
- Rinse the teapot and lid in cold water. DO NOT USE SOAP.
- Put the teapot and the lid in the bottom of a pan large enough so that the teapot and its lid aren’t touching each other.
- Cover both the teapot and the lid completely with cold water.
- Bring the water slowly to a boil. (Quick temperature changes could crack the teapot.)
- Reduce heat to medium-low.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes to remove any wax and to sterilize the teapot.
- Carefully remove the teapot and lid from the water.
- Let them cool completely and air dry. Caution: do not put the lid on the teapot until both are completely dry to assure that mold does not start to grow inside them.
Assign a Tea to Your Teapot — Yixing teapots are not glazed, so they are not sealed and therefore tend to absorb flavors and odors around them into the clay pores (microscopic spaces between the clay molecules). They especially absorb the flavor and odor of the tea steeped in them. For this reason, you should ideally use your teapot for only one general type of tea (and also keep your teapot away from anything with a strong scent such as scented candles or a package of cinnamon flavored tea).
The teas I designated to each teapot:
- Green teas for “Simplicity”
- Oolong teas for “Cicada”
- Pu-erh teas for “Dragon”
Steep a Seasoning Potful — The all-important first potful will affix that type of tea to that teapot. This tea is not to be drunk. It is to season the teapot, so steep it up extra strong.
Here is one recipe:
- Place 4 teaspoons of loose tea leaves in the teapot.
- Fill the teapot with boiling water. Caution: The tea leaves will float to the top, so be careful as you pour.]
- Put the lid on the teapot. (Be sure there are no leaves around the rim so that the lid will sit properly and seamlessly on the teapot.)
- Steep the tea until it and the teapot are cool (be patient — I had to let my teapots sit overnight to cool thoroughly).
- Empty the teapot, discarding the tea liquid and leaves.
- Rinse out the teapot with water.
- Repeat steps 1 through 6.
- Allow the teapot and lid to completely air dry before putting the lid back on the teapot (a good practice every time you use your Yixing teapot).
Once this is done, you are ready to steep that first drinkable potful, as you will see in Part 3.
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