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Use one teapot for one tea?

【Akira Hojo】

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HomeTea Column>Do we have to use one teapot for one tea?



Do we have to use one tea pot for one tea?


It often comes to the discussion whether or not we should use one teapot for one tea. I would like to share some facts based on my first hands experience.


1. Flavor of tea comes from organic substance. When we brew tea using a clay tea pot, its flavour may remain for short period of time. Once organic substance is oxidized, flavor will then disappear from the clay. In other words, organic substance present in tea is not our main concern.

2. Minerals contribute to after taste. Mineral is very stable. For example, the salt found in the rocky mountain remains unchanged and never deteriorated even if it is kept for thousands of year.

Therefore, we need to pay attention to minerals and not the flavour of tea. When we brew tea in a teapot, both tea and water also supply minerals. As such, I determine three sources of minerals as follow:-

A. Tea
B. Water
C. Clay

There are 3 different ways to experience more "after taste" than that of water by itself. 

a: B + A
b: B + C
c: B + A + C

The combination of clay + water gives stronger after taste than just water by itself. This is due to the interaction of minerals with water molecules. If a teapot is only used with water over and over again for many months, minerals from water will accumulate on the surface of clay and form a layer of "scale". Scale consists of not only calcium, but also various kinds of trace minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and etc. Each type of water used contributes to the mineral composition of the scale. In a long run, minerals accumulate on the surface of clay and form a solid layer. At this stage, if we taste the water from the clay tea pot, it is definitely different compare to the taste of water from a new tea pot of the same clay. The clay that has been treated with water for many months gives stronger after taste than new clay. This fact implies that it is very important to stick to the same type of water when brewing tea.

Parenthetically, the after taste of (b) must be stronger than B. If the combination between clay and water is not correct, the after taste on B is stronger than (b). This could be happened if the quality of clay is very poor or in other case the minerals in water is not suitable for that particular clay. Hence, before start brewing tea, please conduct the following experiment and make sure that the intensity of after taste is stronger than control.



The intensity of the after taste on (c) is supposed to be the strongest if the tea matches well with the clay and water. The difference of after taste between (b) and (c) is the equal to the addition of minerals from A, as shown in the following formula:-

(c) – (b) = A


Tea is the additional source of minerals besides water. If we keep brewing the same tea using the same water and clay, a complex of minerals will be formed on the surface of clay. The minerals come from both water and tea leaves. If teapot is used for only one type of tea, it will consistently build-up the complex of minerals. Later on the intensity of after taste on (b) becomes equal to (c). If you just run through water in your teapot, you will enjoy the same intensity of after taste as when tea is brewed because of teapot is coated with the solid layer of minerals supplied from both water and tea leaves.  At this point, if you brew tea using this tea pot, the intensity of after taste is supposed to be even stronger than (c).  This is the theory of how the performance of teapot is improved.
After all, it is very ideal to stick to one teapot for one type of tea. However, most importantly you must stick to the same type of water. I usually drink more than 100 types of tea in a month. Should I use more than 100 teapots? It seems not very practical for me.

As a conclusion, for each type of clay teapot, I will only use it for the type of tea which gives a stronger after taste when it is combined with the clay. If I keep changing the type of tea to brew in one teapot, the performance of clay may not be upgraded much, although the performance of clay can be improved thanks to the minerals from the water. If you wish to share the same teapot for a few different types of tea, please select based on the same origin and not the category of tea. Tea should be grouped based on its source, such as "Phoenix tea", "Wuyi tea", "Taiwan Oolong", "Sencha from yabukita", "Sencha from zairai", "Yunnan tea" and etc.