Cleaning and Seasoning your Yixing Teapoton Nov 12, 2016
By Eunice Pallot
Before you use your new Yixing Teapot you need to clean it then season by making a brew. You should use your Yixing for only one style of tea, for example black or lightly oxidised oolong, although some people have a Yixing for individual tea types, which seems like a fine excuse to extend your Yixing collection...
To prepare your Yixing teapot for use, you need to firstly clean it to remove sediment trapped in the unglazed clay. Immerse it in cold clean water and wipe gently inside and out with a new non-abrasive sponge or soft toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Please note, it is important not to use washing-up liquid or other cleaning solvent, either during seasoning or later, as they will be absorbed by the porous zisha clay and create a permanent flavour. For the same reason, it is also important to use new cleaning brushes/cloths and utensils.
Place the teapot and lid in a large pan and cover with clean filtered water. Bring the water slowly to a very gentle boil and leave for about 10 minutes to clean the pores, then remove the teapot, drain and allow to cool. This might seem rather brutal treatment of your new Yixing teapot, but as long as you don't boil too quickly, it will survive intact.
You then need to season your teapot by making a brew with the type of tea you plan to drink it with. So, having first let your teapot dry, prepare a strong brew (9g) in the teapot, drain after 10-20 seconds, then re-infuse for up to ten washes (using the same leaves). Empty the pot, rinse with clean water and leave to air dry before storing. Please note, a teapot stored wet with the lid on will mould, in which case you should re-seaon it.
Your first few cups will seem a little weak, as the porous unglazed clay greedily absorbs flavour. But, through use, the teapot interior will take on subtle flavours and aromas from multiple brews and produce better and stronger cups of tea. The exterior will also acquire a patina – the rich sheen of matured and seasoned zisha clay, enhancing the beauty of your very special Yixing teapot. Enjoy!