Tea is easily the most consumed beverage in the entire world. People from all over the globe have enjoyed tea for thousands of years, and rightfully so. Tea is versatile, comes in countless styles and flavors, and can even posses numerous health benefits, depending on the type.
Enjoying tea at home is a simple process that billions of people do every day. This is most commonly done by heating up water and either pouring hot water over tea bags, or steeping loose leaf tea within the teapot itself. Within a matter of minutes, the tea is ready to be consumed.
One of the most important aspects of the brewing process is the actual teapot. Teapots can be made from numerous materials, and feature different designs, yet all serve the same purpose, which is to, well, brew the tea. Simple, right?
However, not all teapots are created equal. Each type possesses its own unique set of benefits, appealing to different people in different ways by either design or function -- maybe even a combination of both.
Pot vs. Kettle
Before going any further, it's important to properly differentiate tea kettles from teapots, as some tend to confuse the two.
Tea kettles are the items used to actually heat the water needed to brew the tea. Most teapots are not designed to withstand the high heat required to heat the water inside, so a kettle is used instead. When the water is fully heated to the desired temperature, the water is poured from the kettle to the teapot, where the leaves are waiting to be brewed inside.
Teapots are where the actual brewing takes place. Tea pots can have infusers built into the pot, while other require an infuser to be purchased and used separately.
Some teapots such as copper and electric models can possess the capability to both heat the water and brew the tea -- It just depends on each specific product.
Now that we've settled that subjects, let's examine the two main brewing methods.
Tea Brewing Methods
Determining your brewing method plays a crucial role in deciding what kind of teapot to use.
Most people are familiar with tea bags, which is a popular brewing style in the Western part of the world. Tea bags generally contain very small tea leaves, and are designed to be placed whole into hot water to steep. After the desired time is reached, the entire bag is removed, and you are left with the resulting brewed tea.
Tea bag brewing became popular in the early 20th century as a way to brew tea without any other special equipment. The ability to simply place a bag in water and then remove became very appealing to those who wanted a more convenient way to brew tea at home or on the go.
Tea bags are indeed convenient, but also suffer from quality issues, as the tea leaves are restricted in their expansion during brewing due to being inside a pouch. Still, countless people each day rely on this method, much to the chagrin of experienced tea enthusiasts.
Since the tea is brewed within the pitcher or cup itself, only a basic teapot is required. You can either place the bag in your cup and pour the hot water over it, or place the bags inside the teapot to brew larger batches.
Loose leaf tea is the more traditional and effective method for brewing tea that has been used for centuries. With this brewing method, whole tea leaves are steeped in the hot water, which takes place either inside the teapot itself, or inside the cup.
Loose leaf tea brewing often involves placing the desired amount of tea leaves within an infuser, or into a special compartment within the teapot that is designed to hold the leaves underwater without letting any sediment or leaves escape into the water. As the tea steeps, the leaves expand, and the flavor of the tea leaf infuses into the water.
This brewing method requires a teapot that has an infuser compartment inside, or a teapot that can accommodate an external infuser that is placed into the pot during brewing. Many infusers resemble a sort of mesh cage that keeps the tea leaves inside while brewing, and are attached to metal chains that allow you to easily remove them from the pot after use.
Loose leaf tea is the preferred method for tea enthusiasts, and is the most effective in providing the fullest amount of flavor.
Choosing a Teapot
There are a few things you should take into consideration before deciding on the type of teapot you'd like to purchase. Deciding on these characteristics beforehand will ensure an easier shopping experience.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of them all. Do you want a teapot that can provide tea formultiple household members and guests, or do you simply need one that brews enough for just yourself?
Teapots with largecapacities tend to be more expensive, but provide an easier way to make more at once. If you will be brewing for yourself and guests frequently, investing in two different sizes is a great option.
As stated earlier, not every teapot can be heated. Some pots can serve as both a kettle and pot, while others are designed to simply hold the hot water and brew the tea. Determining the way you prefer to brew beforehand will steer you in the right direction.
Some teapots come with an infuser, while others require that you provide your own. Infusers vary in their size, and some loose leaf teas work better than others depending on which type you are using.
You may even prefer simply letting the tea leaves float about in the pot while brewing before pouring your water through a strainer and into your cup. Some people actually prefer a little sediment in their tea, as can be the case with green teas.
Teapots have a history of being designed to be just as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. Over time, preferences and styles have changed to accommodate a variety of looks for teapots. Some pots have a more traditional look, while others have a modern flair.
If you are wanting a more modern look, stick with stainless steel and glass models. Tea drinkers wanting a more traditional and classic look should look at copper, ceramic, and cast iron teapots.
Types of Teapots
So which teapot is best? The truth is, every teapot possessesunique characteristics and advantages over other types. Below you will find information on several different types, and who they are good for.
Ceramic teapots have been used by tea drinkers for over 11,00 years, and for good reason. These teapots almost always feature a traditional design, and provide a simple elegance that is appealing to a broad range of tea enthusiasts.
Some ceramic teapots feature more intricate and ornate designs, and usually include a matching set of cups.
Ceramic teapots are specifically designed to offer a high amount of heat retention, which makes them ideal for black tea brewing. Although these teapots keep tea hot longer, they are able to be easily handled without risk of burning yourself, and usually feature a handle that is cool to the touch.
These teapots are often muted in color, and are versatile enough to blend in with many décor styles and preferences. Their light weight makes them easy to use for most as well.
Ceramic teapots also clean very easily, which is most often done by merely rinsing them out after each use.
Ceramic teapots are constructed from porous material. If the pot isn't glazed, it will have the tendency to trap in flavors of whichever tea is brewed inside. Ceramic material is also highly breakable, so the pot can chip or shatter rather easily.
Ceramic teapots are traditional and charming, and can be either highly decorative or simple. If you constantly enjoy just one type of tea, a ceramic teapot is perfect for you. If you plan on using different teas, you should look elsewhere.
Stainless Steel Teapot
Stainless Steel teapots are relatively new to the scene, but have already had quite an impact. The sleek look of stainless steel and the wide variety of designs makes them a favorite among tea drinkers who are looking for a teapot with more of a modern flair that is also highly functional and has improved features.
The aesthetic appeal of stainless steel teapots is one of the biggest reasons they are so popular. Their advantages extend far beyond looks, however.
Stainless steel is highly durable, and very resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel also provides excellent heat retention and conduction, which generally makes them conducive to both heating on the stove and holding the tea after it's been brewed.
Certain stainless steel teapots are even constructed with vacuum technology, which allows them keep the tea hot for an extended period of time that other teapots can't come close to matching.
Stainless steel doesn't appeal to everyone, especially those in search of a more traditional style to the teapot. It's also worth mentioning that while stainless steel is more resistant to rust than other metals, it can still occur if left unchecked. Stainless steel teapots can also be very hot on the outside as well.
If you are looking to combine durability with heat retention and a modern look, go for a stainless steel teapot. These pots are also suitable for use with multiple tea flavors, as the flavors can easily be rinsed away after use, and will not remain embedded in the pot. Leaving your stainless steel teapot out in the kitchen will most likely enhance the decor as well.
Glass teapots are a popular choice for brewing loose leaf teas, and many come with built-in infusers in the center, which can sometimes act similar to a French coffee press.
These teapots are made from borosilicate glass, which is known for it's clarity and heat resistance. In fact, not only is borosilicate glass used in high quality lenses, it's actually used to coat insulation panels on space shuttles.
Glass teapots offer an advantage that no other teapot can, which is the obvious distinction of being see-through. This allows for an appetizing experience during the brewing process, and makes for an excellent visual that provides a clean and clear appearance for both yourself and guests.
The act of visually observing the tea leaves uncurl and steep makes for a relaxing experience, while also generating excitement for the brewing to be complete. Observing the brewing through glass also helps one to decide on the desired strength of the tea.
Glass teapots are generally strong enough to heat the water with as well, as the borosilicate composite is well-suited for high temperatures. The glass material is smooth and non-porous, which allows the pot to easily be used for multiple tea types without fear of retaining flavors.
These teapots also offer the ability to blend into any type of décor. The transparency of the glass makes for a versatile pot that can be used in most any setting.
Glass teapots are a favorite among tea enthusiasts for both their appearance and effectiveness of brewing.
The glass that the pot is made of doesn't offer the heat retention ability of a teapot made from other materials such as ceramic and stainless steel. Glass pots are also more prone to break on impact as well.
Glass tea pots offer a simple and sheek look for diffusing tea. The teapot's material makes them easy to blend in for most table settings, and offers fast heating during brewing. If you want a modern look combined with maximum functionality, a glass teapot is your best bet.
Cast Iron Teapots
Cast Iron teapots first made their appearance in Japan many years ago, and remain a popular and viable choice today for tea brewing. These teapots often have an elaborate and intricate appearance making them both functional and decorative, and also make for a great collector's item.
There are plenty of tea drinkers who swear by cast iron teapots, and it's easy to understand why.
Cast iron teapots offer fully even heating during the brewing process, which fosters a greater flavor in the tea itself. The teapot's makeup also provides a high amount of insulation and heat retention, which can keep your tea hot for up to an hour. These pots are perfect for brewing darker teas, due to the high heat amount provided.
Like ceramic teapots, cast iron teapots offer a sense of tradition when used, and it's easy to picture people hundreds of years ago using the same pot. Cast iron teapots resist trapping in flavors from other teas as well.
Cast iron teapots are extremely durable, and nearly impossible to break. In fact, many families in Japan are known to hand down these teapots through generations as a family heirloom.
Most cast iron teapots are not able to be heated on a stove, and are used for brewing only. They also tend to be on the heavy side, which may not be suitable for some users.
These teapots are also not suitable for every type of tea, as the high heat amount can be too much for lighter and more delicate tea blends. Once the teapot gets heated up from the water inside, it can be hard to actually control the temperature. Cast iron teapots are often the most expensive as well.
Cast Iron teapots provide a great sense of tradition while simultaneously ensuring optimal heat evenness and fast brewing. If you are wanting a more decorative choice that is still perfect for darker tea blends, a cast iron teapot may be just right for you. They are also great gifts for long time tea enthusiasts.
Copper teapots date back centuries, and are among the most intricate and decorative teapots available. These teapots combine vintage appeal with a high level of heating quality, and can be counted on to add a touch of elegance to your tea setting.
Copper teapots are available in a wide range of styles, and are usually suitable for using on a stove, making them a top choice for efficient and convenient brewing.
Copper is one of the best metals to use for heating, and offers optimal conduction ability. This allows for you to heat the water insideat a rapid pace, while also retaining the heat afterwards.
Copper also resists staining and effectively prevents buildup of any mold that could grow in your teapot. A simple rinse after each use is often enough to clean the pot, and shining the outside is a simple process as well. Copper teapots also resist trapping in flavors from different teas.simple rinse after each use is often enough to clean the pot, and shining the outside is a simple process as well. Copper teapots also resist trapping in flavors from different teas.
These teapots offer a high-end appearance that you can't come close to replicating with other teapots constructed from different materials, and are elegant enough to be used as a decoration when not in use. They are also suitable for special occasions.
Copper teapots can be very expensive, and are sometimes difficult to match with other décor. Some tea drinkers might be turned off from the appearance of copper teapots as well, as they are not usually good for a casual or modern appearance.
If you are into a more vintage and traditional look, but also want high performance and durability, copper teapots are a great option. Similar to cast iron teapots, copper versions make for great collectors items and gifts as well.
Electric Tea Pots
Electric teapots offer numerous features and advantages that make them ideal for precision brewing without the need for heating the water on a stove or fire. They can come in a variety of shapes and materials, and range in their price and features.
These teapots allow for convenience and ease of use, and are suitable for all types of teas. Electric tea pots were once frowned upon by tea enthusiasts, but are now frequently used due to their enhanced abilities in regards to temperature control.
Electric teapots offer a level of convenience not found with conventional teapots. Many brands of electric teapots allow the user to set the water to a specific temperature before brewing, which can help to draw out the full flavors with the correct water temperature.
These teapots require no external heat, and usually operate off of a standard plug-in, although there are some cordless models available. This makes them more energy efficient as well.
Electric teapots can also be programmed to turn on at certain times, and feature automatic shut offs. Many models utilize vacuum technology within the pot which keeps the tea hot for hours on end.
Electric teapots aren't for everyone. Many tea enthusiasts view electric pots as a sort of betrayal to the brewing process, as they break from traditionalmethods too much. These teapots can also climb very high in price, especially with added features.
More moving parts means there's more to go wrong as well. Cast iron and copper teapots can last for centuries, but an electric teapot can cease working after just a few years of heavy use.
If you don't mind breaking from tradition, electric teapots can provide you with a level of temperature control and convenience not found in other teapots – if you are willing to pay that is.
These teapots are perfect for those who want to take the guesswork out of obtaining correct water temperatures, and also for those who don’t want to have to monitor their brewing so closely, level of temperature control and convenience not found in other teapots – if you are willing to pay that is.
These teapots are perfect for those who want to take the guesswork out of obtaining correct water temperatures, and also for those who don’t want to have to monitor their brewing so closely.