Zisha teapots require some basic preparation and attention to get the best from them.
When cared for, Zisha clay will give impressive brewing results and develop an alluring patina over time.
In this article we want to offer some tips to help you get the best from your Zisha teapot. This is by no means an expert's guide and you may come across others who recommend different seasoning methods to the ones suggested here, but we think this is a solid starting point.
New Zisha Teapot Preparation
When you first receive your Zisha teapot you will need to rinse it inside to remove any loose clay or salt/sand that may be remaining after the firing process. Sometimes you may also need to use your finger or a long brush to remove any clay that doesn't come away with simple rinsing.
Preparing a Zisha Teapot for Oolong, Black and Puerh Teas:
For oolong, black and Puerh teas, place some leaves of the tea you've chosen to use with your new Zisha teapot into a pan and add enough water to cover the pot. It is important to use a pan that has not previously been used to cook anything oily or strong flavoured. Ideally, you should remove the lid from the teapot and place both of them separately into the pan to ensure that leaves and water are able to get inside. Gently heat the water and tea leaves until just coming to the boil (do not boil vigorously). Simmer for 10 minutes. After this is done, wait for at least 4 hours (or overnight) then take out the teapot and use hot/boiling water to clean, then buff dry with a tea towel or other soft cloth. Your Zisha teapot is now ready to brew!
Note: you can use previously-brewed leaves to season your teapot, rather than wasting your new tea.
Preparing a Zisha Teapot for Green & Young White Teas:
To season a teapot for green tea and young white tea, we recommend you follow the above method but use plain boiling water instead of adding leaves to the pan. The reason for this is, boiling white and green tea causes the liquor to become bitter and it may also stain the pot.
Another method for seasoning your teapot before use is as follows: fill the new teapot with boiling water. Replace the lid and pour boiling water over the outside of the teapot too. Leave it to stand for 5 - 10 minutes. Repeat 2 to 3 times. Use spent leaves of your chosen tea type to brew an infusion in the teapot, then leave it to stand for 10 minutes. Decant the liquid and repeat. Pour the previously prepared tea liquor over the exterior of the tea pot. Rinse and you are ready.
How to care for your Zisha Teapot
After preparing your teapot before first use, ongoing care of it is also an important part of your investment. There are many ways to care for and maintain your Zisha clay teapot; methods differ depending on where you travel in China.
The simplest tip we can give you is to remove the wet tea leaves once you've finished brewing, rinse with boiling water and dry with a tea towel. Do not use any soaps or detergents.
If you live somewhere hot and/or humid, or you do not frequently use your tea pot, it is important to keep it dry. Failure to do this may make your teapot smell musty, and this unpleasant smell is not easy to remove.
Other general pointers for caring for your Yixing teapot are, ensure tea stains are removed as quickly as possible once you have finished brewing. This is easy to do with hot water and a tea towel. Pay close attention to places where the tea may sit, (on the rim and lid, on the neck of the spout and on the underside of the tea pot). This is especially important when preparing black and Puerh teas, or if your teapot is made from light-coloured clays such as Duan Ni white clay.
Regular rubbing with your cloth will bring forth the colour and lustre.