Updated: May 24
Any tea connoisseur will tell you that picking the best teapot can be challenging. It involves finding the right teapot with the best combination of size, pour, aesthetic and heat retention.
All these factors and many more affect the flavour and taste of your brew. One way to narrow down the search for the perfect teapot is by focusing on the material used to make them.
Once you have the material in mind, then your buying decision will boil down further and make it easier to choose. (pun intended!) Let's look at each material in turn to learn more about the impact it can have on your drink.
Cast Iron Teapot
Cast iron teapots are the most durable teapots on the market because of the cast iron material. Unlike other teapots such as porcelain and a glass teapot, cast iron teapot lasts for years. That's why they are pricier on the market. Cast iron teapots are famous in the western world because they are large and keep heat.
One advantage of brewing tea on cast iron is that material distributes heat evenly in the pot. What that means is, it extracts all the flavours from the tea.
The second thing is, it will keep the tea warm for almost an hour. That is what makes it perfect for big social gatherings or parties. Today's cast iron teapots are designed after the traditional Japanese tetsubin. Japanese tetsubins are unique cast iron teapots you can place on a stove to warm water.
Most tea drinkers in Asia still value the Japanese tetsubin, although they are challenging to use and maintain. When these Japanese teapots are continuously used, they develop rust. Also, changes in temperature stress fractures. Additional enamel on the interior of these pots protects them from rusting, but it makes them unsuitable for high temperatures.
That said, modern cast-iron pots are for brewing tea when the water has been heated in a different kettle. Most cast iron pot is designed with a wire mesh infuser. This design is common in traditional European black tea styles because it brews tea on a high heat and has small leave pieces that don't require lots of space to expand.
Ceramic teapots have been used in Asia and the Middle East in over 11,000 years ago. Clay and earthenware pots back then had a natural heat-retention property, low seepage, and brew leaves. The spout on the ceramic pot is usually narrow at the end for better pouring.
Ceramic teapots are endless. They come in different varieties and from various traditions such as Asia to Europe. The craftsmanship and firing techniques impact the heat retention and brewing performance of a ceramic pot.
Chinese tea drinkers use small pots so they have control over the temperature and taste of the tea. They also do multiple infusions. Most high-quality ceramic pots will have an in-built strainer and spout.
Ceramic pots are easier to maintain than a cast iron teapot. Most tea aficionados favor using ceramic teapots for precise pours and excellent balance.
The difference between cast iron and the ceramic teapot is about heat capacity. Cast iron
has a lower heat capacity. What that means is, it heats fast and releases heat quickly. That said, when you are infusing delicate tea leaves, the cast iron will absorb heat and release it
back into the tea causing a bitter taste or infusion.
In other words:
It will take a lot of learning and experience to preheat cast-iron pots and ensure the water maintains the right temperature so you have the desired infusion. If you will use tea leaves, you need ones that are sturdy and durable. And they should not be Japanese tea.
Ceramic teapots have a high heat capacity. They take time to warm the tea, but they keep the heat without releasing it back to the heat quickly. What that means is, you control the water temperature and control of your infusion results. What this tells you is, the ceramic teapot is unique for preparing delicate teas.
If you want to brew black tea, you better use ceramic teapot because of low heat transformations, and these teas are brewed at high temperatures. Ceramic tea will ensure no
temperature loss and will allow any liquid to keep warm for a long time.
Glass teapots are attractive and beautiful. They don't change their tea's flavour or absorb them. The glass teapot is excellent if you are serving them in a place where visual appreciation is vital-like blossoming tea and herbal tisanes.
Most glass teapots are used to brew green and white tea since they allow one to admire the gorgeous leaves. Since glass disperses fast, it means you can only brew lightly oxidized tea with them. Glass teapot is fragile, and you need to be careful when cleaning or transporting them. Glass teapot can stain but also can be cleaned easily with soaking with mild soap and sponge. When soap is used, you must rinse in warm water to remove soap residue.
Glass teapots are made using heat-resistant borosilicate glass, which has 5% of boric oxide. That makes the glass more robust and able to withstand extreme temperatures without cracking or shattering. The difference between glass teapot and ceramic is that they don't keep heat like ceramic pot or cast-iron pot. And they will need a bit more time when you want to brew black and herbal teas.
The fact that it has a robust heat-resistant borosilicate glass means you can use it to boil-water on a gas, electric or ceramic stovetop, and you can get it in a microwave. Since it is glass, you'll monitor the boiling water. The advantage of using a glass teapot is that you know the colour and texture of the leaves when the tea is ready.