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Seasoning Chinese Yixing Teapots


Richard Kilgore
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I have read and been told about several methods for seasoning a Chinese Yixing teapot. All assume you are going to use only one type of tea for the pot. One suggests boiling it in a pot with used tea leaves of the type you plan to use in the pot, then letting it soak for a few hours. Another suggests steeping new tea leaves in it for three hours. A third method, told to me by a Chinese aquaintance, who says it is used by tea professionals in China, is to steep new leaves in it and then leave it in a cool spot for three days.

I have tried a modification of these that worked okay, but not as well as I expect that the three day soak would producce. What method do you use? Any of these or something different?

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Having tsarted quite a collection of the little buggers I have tried variations of all three. I usually now boil the pot in water with NEW leaves of the variety to which the pot will be dedicated, and then let it sit overnight. No method yields instant results though, only time and use do.

Thats my 2 leaves worth,

Mike

I have read and been told about several methods for seasoning a Chinese Yixing teapot. All assume you are going to use only one type of tea for the pot. One suggests boiling it in a pot with used tea leaves of the type you plan to use in the pot, then letting it soak for a few hours. Another suggests steeping new tea leaves in it for three hours. A third method, told to me by a Chinese aquaintance, who says it is used by tea professionals in China, is to steep new leaves in it and then leave it in a cool spot for three days.

I have tried a modification of these that worked okay, but not as well as I expect that the three day soak would producce. What method do you use? Any of these or something different?

__________

Mike Petro

My hobby website:

Pu-erh, A Westerner's Quest

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Thanks, Mike. I have a growing number of them, too. Some I use only for a specific type of tea leaf, such as Oolong, and some few I have reserved for a specific leaf, such as Phoenix Mountain - Dan Cong Oolong or Great Red Robe Oolong. Not sure if being that specific will make a large difference, but it will be interesting to see what happens over the years. I think for now I am going to continue to do a short version seasoning for new ones and then in the Winter give all of them an additional three day treatment.

Anyone else have experience seasoning these clay pots?

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Greetings-This is a very interesting topic. I don't have an opinion yet.But my tea teacher was trained in China and I'll let you know what he says.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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Greetings-This is a very interesting topic. I don't have an opinion yet.But my tea teacher was trained in China and I'll let you know what he says.

Thanks, Naftal. I'll be interested to read what you find out.

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One Yixing pot I have been trying to season has a lingering clay-minerally odor that was not diminished much by 1) boiling it for an hour, followed by 2) a rinse and soak in warm water and air drying, followed by 3) an hour boil with tea leaves and then overnight with the heat turned off, followed by 4) a good rinse.

Has anyone had this experience? Anything else to do? Is it worth seasoning further or should I not waste the effort on this tea pot?

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One Yixing pot I have been trying to season has a lingering clay-minerally odor that was not diminished much by 1) boiling it for an hour, followed by 2) a rinse and soak in warm water and air drying, followed by 3) an hour boil with tea leaves and then overnight with the heat turned off, followed by 4) a good rinse.

Has anyone had this experience? Anything else to do? Is it worth seasoning further or should I not waste the effort on this tea pot?

Just an opinion- I have read that( due to the popularity of yixing) there are many pots labeled yixing that are not really yixing. And they exhibit the properties you describe. Obviously, one cannot be sure. This is just a thought...

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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One Yixing pot I have been trying to season has a lingering clay-minerally odor that was not diminished much by 1) boiling it for an hour, followed by 2) a rinse and soak in warm water and air drying, followed by 3) an hour boil with tea leaves and then overnight with the heat turned off, followed by 4) a good rinse.

Has anyone had this experience? Anything else to do? Is it worth seasoning further or should I not waste the effort on this tea pot?

Just an opinion- I have read that( due to the popularity of yixing) there are many pots labeled yixing that are not really yixing. And they exhibit the properties you describe. Obviously, one cannot be sure. This is just a thought...

Thanks, that's an important consideration, but I am pretty sure this is good quality Yixing clay. I have two of these - chipped the lid of one and liked the shape so well that I got another. The first one has no clay smell at all; the second one has it. Given the difference, my best guess is that the second one was fired at slightly too low a temp.

Oolong brewed in another good Yixing pot and poured into the bad pot for holding aquires a strong clay flavor after a few minutes. I think this one is not going to work out.

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Greetings-This is a very interesting topic. I don't have an opinion yet.But my tea teacher was trained in China and I'll let you know what he says.

Thanks, Naftal. I'll be interested to read what you find out.

So this is what I was shown( it is a variation on the first method you mentioned):fill the empty teapot with cold water, put it in a pot filled with cold water, and bring it to a boil. Afterwards, fill the pot with leaves and boil it as before.

Also, you may know this, but (according to my sources) the reason one seasons a pot is to rid it of any sand or mud that may have gathered in the pot when it was made. This makes sense to me,clay being what is ...

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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One Yixing pot I have been trying to season has a lingering clay-minerally odor that was not diminished much by 1) boiling it for an hour, followed by 2) a rinse and soak in warm water and air drying, followed by 3) an hour boil with tea leaves and then overnight with the heat turned off, followed by 4) a good rinse.

Has anyone had this experience? Anything else to do? Is it worth seasoning further or should I not waste the effort on this tea pot?

Just an opinion- I have read that( due to the popularity of yixing) there are many pots labeled yixing that are not really yixing. And they exhibit the properties you describe. Obviously, one cannot be sure. This is just a thought...

Thanks, that's an important consideration, but I am pretty sure this is good quality Yixing clay. I have two of these - chipped the lid of one and liked the shape so well that I got another. The first one has no clay smell at all; the second one has it. Given the difference, my best guess is that the second one was fired at slightly too low a temp.

Oolong brewed in another good Yixing pot and poured into the bad pot for holding aquires a strong clay flavor after a few minutes. I think this one is not going to work out.

Update: After another 48 hours airing out this pot gave up the clay smell, and has maintained that for the several days since then. Another mystery...at least to me. I have never heard or read anything about a similar delayed effect for the initial seasoning.

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Greetings-This is a very interesting topic. I don't have an opinion yet.But my tea teacher was trained in China and I'll let you know what he says.

Thanks, Naftal. I'll be interested to read what you find out.

So this is what I was shown( it is a variation on the first method you mentioned):fill the empty teapot with cold water, put it in a pot filled with cold water, and bring it to a boil. Afterwards, fill the pot with leaves and boil it as before.

Also, you may know this, but (according to my sources) the reason one seasons a pot is to rid it of any sand or mud that may have gathered in the pot when it was made. This makes sense to me,clay being what is ...

Yes, my understanding has been that it is to clear any residual loose particles of clay. And also to open up the pores in the clay and begin laying down the fine tea particles that will build over the years of use and flavor the pot. This is only an initial seasoning regardless of the method used, and it takes long use to throroughly season a Yixing tea pot.

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  • 1 month later...

I have started doing a three day initial seasoning or re-seasoning with a couple of my Yixing tea pots and really like the result. Here's the procedure I use ---

1) wipe out any firing residue with a piece of cloth and rinse with hot water.

2) Boil in water for one hour in a pan or pot, with lid separate. Use a piece of cloth, small towel or whatever in the pan to protect the pot and lid from banging and chipping.

3) Remove pot and let cool to room temp. Fill with room temperature water and dump.

4) Place tea leaves of the type the pot will be dedicated to in the tea pot and place the pot and lid back in the pot of water. More tea leaves around the pot and lid. Boil for 30 minutes.

5) Let it steep overnight.

6) Next day strain tea leaves and discard. Pot and lid back in pot with tea water and boil for 10 minutes. Let steep overnight.

7) Repeat step 6.

8) End of third day, remove pot and lid, rinse with boiling water and let air dry.

9) Now the Yixing tea pot is ready to brew tea.

This is by no means the only way to season a pot; it may not be the best; and it's certainly not the easiest. But it's given me the best results so far.

I'll update if I come up with something I like better or decide this is not worth the extra effort.

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