Do You Really Need to Clean Tea Stains Out of Your Teapots?

A lot of fuss gets made about cleaning teapots and other teawares. But this thought has recently come to mind: do you really need to clean tea stains out of your teapots?

So often we go along being told that we need to do this or that or whatever, and we do it. Every now and then we need to stop and ask, “Really? Do we really need to do that?” Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes it is no, and still other times it is yes under this condition or that. When it comes to teapots, the answer is that last one. There are times when you want to clean your teapots, etc., thoroughly, and there are times when you don’t. Honest!

A steeper for every type of tea…and then some! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
A steeper for every type of tea…and then some! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

This thought first occurred to me when I acquired some Yixing teapots. They are not sealed and so absorb things they come in contact with, including strong odors, liquids, and cleansers.

Uh oh… cleansers…

In reality, experts advise that Yixing teapots are not cleaned with any type of cleanser. In fact, a quick rinse out is all that’s needed. Letting a bit of tea build up in the teapot actually enhances the taste of the tea. Just be sure that you use the same type of tea in that teapot. I have one set up for green teas, one for oolongs, and one for pu-erhs (the darker kind). You may want to go even further: one for Japanese green teas, one for Chinese green teas, one for white pu-erhs, one for black pu-erhs, and so on.

Then there is the Brown Betty which is said to be another type of teapot that should only be rinsed out, not washed. This allows the build up of tea residue inside the teapot, which some say makes subsequent steepings taste stronger and more flavorful. It is usually used to steep strong black teas, such as English Breakfast Blend No. 1 or Scottish Breakfast, and that is one of the reasons the teapot is always glazed in brown.

So much for those types of teapots, but what about others? There is porcelain, ceramic, earthenware, glass, silver, copper, and cast iron. There are teapots, gaiwans, kyusus, steeping cups, and more. My inclination is to rinse them between uses and give them a good scrubbing once a week or so. I also tend to reserve certain teawares for certain teas. Some are best for green teas. Others are best for black teas. Etcetera.

Bottom line here: the type of teapot, etc., you have will determine if those tea stains should stay or go.

See also:
Bevy of Teapots
Diving Into the World of Yixing Teapots — Part 1
Diving Into the World of Yixing Teapots — Part 2
Diving Into the World of Yixing Teapots — Part 3

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4 thoughts on “Do You Really Need to Clean Tea Stains Out of Your Teapots?

  1. Pingback: Celebrating a 2nd Year as Blog Editor | Tea Blog

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  3. I absolutely agree. If you only ever use them for tea, there’s no need to clean teapots with any kind of cleaning liquid at all. A clean sponge and water is enough to remove and unsightly stains. All the other equipment, such as cups, should be cleaned to perfection, though.

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