Without seasoning, the tea from this little beauty tasted like chalky sand in the mouth. Yugh.
I got it last year in the town of Yixing, China from Master Zhou, a master potter of yixing clay teapots for which the town is famous. Most yixing clay is a brown-purple colour but it was this little yellowy-ochre teapot that called to me from Master Zhou’s shelves.
Seasoning an unglazed* yixing clay teapot is not complicated but for some reason the thought of it was intimidating so only now, over a year later, have I gotten to it. There’s lots of how-to’s on the internet and if you triangulate the entries you get a good idea. I found Tao’s instructions and VerdantTea‘s very helpful.
Learn from my experience — do not use tap water, otherwise the tea made in it will taste like chlorine.
Using spring water (not tap), bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the water cool before removing the teapot.
Using the type of tea you intend using the teapot for, steep tea in the pot, pouring each 10-15 second steeping into a larger bowl until the bowl is full. Again, use spring water not tap water.
The teapot will absorb some of the tea’s flavour.
Remove when tea has cooled completely and let pot dry — remove lid so moisture is not trapped inside.
For my first attempt at seasoning I used tap water and the first pot of tea it was chokingly chlorinated! What a disappointment. At first I wondered if the water mixed with the clay during its making was chlorinated but quickly realised that being absorbent and spending 30+ minutes in hot chlorinated water it had, naturally, absorbed the chlorine from my tap water. Fortunately re-soaking the pot in hot oolong tea made with spring water seems to have erased that chlorine memory from my little guy.
I will be using this pot only for oolong teas and can look forward to it slowly absorbing more of the flavours and developing a smooth and shiny finish from the oils in the tea.
* If your pot is glazed, you do not need to season it.