5 Reasons Not to Overfill Your Teapot

There’s always an exception. Go ahead, overfill that little Yixing teapot!
There’s always an exception. Go ahead, overfill that little Yixing teapot!

You have a 2-cupper, 4-cupper, or even a 6-cupper teapot. You know from past experience that these teapots hold a bit more than that. (At some point, we all tend to steep a bit extra, trying to get a little more out of those pricey tea leaves.) But is overfilling your teapot a wise thing to do? I can give you five reasons why it is not.

First, a note to you folks who steep in a mug using a teabag: take a walk on the wild side and steep some loose leaf tea in a teapot!

Now for the list:

1 That “bloated teapot” feeling. Take pity on your teapot — it needs a bit of air inside. Just as when you overindulge in food or drink or both and you get that bloated, uncomfortable feeling, your overfilled teapot doesn’t have the air inside it needs for proper steeping. And the poor thing can’t even burp!

2 Can’t “handle” the extra water weight. Some of the more delicate teawares out there may not be able to take even that extra half-to-full cup of extra water. Believe it or not, water is heavy. One gallon weighs 8.35 lbs (3.78541178 kg). You could find the handle snapping off when you lift the teapot, or you will need to lift using both hands (one holding the handle and the other under the teapot).

3 “Skimpy” tea flavor. Okay, so you heated some extra water — maybe even a full cup extra — it can be tricky to gauge the amount of water you’re putting in that tea kettle. You can choose to leave the extra water in the kettle, pour it in a cup and drink it, pour it down the drain (or on your potted plants), or add it to the teapot. If you add it to the teapot but don’t add extra tea leaves, you’re not going to get a full-flavored steep. It’s akin to skimping on the tea leaves.

4 Pouring gets tricky. A really full teapot has tea up the spout. That means you have to be extra, extra, super duper careful when pouring out that first cuppa or two. Now, I know we’re all adults here and we don’t cry over spilt tea, but why waste such a tasty beverage? Plus, you have the cleanup to deal with. Bummer!

5 Tea cozy becomes a “tea wick.” A little water could end up seeping out the lid, depending on the design of your teapot (that is, if the spout tip is higher than the top of the teapot). In that case, if you overfill your teapot, some water could leak out around the lid edges and your tea cozy (of course you use one!) will wick up the liquid and could end up getting pretty soaked. If you’re using one of those coverall style cozies, the tea in the spout could not only be an issue when pouring, but get wicked up by that cozy.

Lest you think, after reading this, that teapot steeping is too tricky to attempt, let me assure you that I use a teapot, have done all of the above, and still prefer that method for steeping my Assams, breakfast blends, and other teas (including some Darjeeling teas) that are good by the potful. With as much as hubby and I consume daily, we would otherwise be kept constantly steeping and therefore have little time for those other activities of admittedly lesser importance but that are nevertheless necessary, like sleeping, eating, and earning a paycheck.

A solution to those addicted to really full teapots: the really large teapot (takes two hands to lift it and pour). And, of course, none of this applies to those cute little Yixing teapots — they just beg to be overfilled!

Cobalt Porcelain Large Teapot 75oz
Cobalt Porcelain Large Teapot 75oz

See also:
Tea Kettle Philosophy — “Oops” Happens
Skimping on the Tea Leaves

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2 thoughts on “5 Reasons Not to Overfill Your Teapot

  1. I have found that many of the better black teas can go a second round, using 1/2 the water and another minute or 2 of steep time, which takes care of the cost issue for me. Of course, many can’t, but it is worth experimenting. If the second brew doesn’t taste good, water your plants!

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Hi, Marlena, not sure if you meant the comment to be on this article or Bill Lengeman’s “Salvaging So-So Tea.” Either way, I agree but recently switched to a different method to get more from my black teas. Will detail in a future article.

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