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Darienne

How does one clean a teapot

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Every now and then when I go away from the house for a few weeks, I make sure the tea pot is empty. When I come home, all the crud inside has dried nicely and flakes off and can be rinsed out quite easily. I'm convinced that without that buildup the tea doesn't taste as good - it always takes a least a few brews in a new pot before the tea tastes right.

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Having spent 24 years in the pottery industry in the UK, I would say that most modern, commercially made European or American teapots can and should be washed in the dishwasher. Care needs to be taken with older pottery and also with anything made from softer, cheaper earthenware bodies which may not be fully vitreous.

Thanks, but how can I tell if an older teapot is "fully vitreous"?

There are a few issues here (to respond to a few posts without too much cutting and pasting).

As mentioned previously, vitreous ware refers to the body. One of the easiest tests, not totally conclusive, is to tap it. a dull thud is not vitreous, a solid klunk or ring is. However, sometimes the glaze can fool you. Another test - particularly good for pots with an unglazed foot is to fill it with water and set it on a paper towel for a few hours or a day. If the water weaps through, it isn't vitreous. If it doesn't weap through, either the body is vitreous or the glaze inside is good enough quality to keep the water in. This is a good idea to try if only so you don't leave a ring on that nice table.

An earthenware pot will be relatively easy to scratch (on that unobtrusive unglazed spot) while a nice vitreous body is generally pretty hard.

Aside from that, you can get to know the different types of pottery and glaze and thus usually tell by looking at it.

However, IMO, even if a pot is vitreous, I don't think it is always ok to put it in the dishwasher. Dishwasher soap is pretty alkaline and can attack some glazes. I won't get into balanced vs. unbalanced formulas and the ethics of selling pots as functional, but for some pots, if you must use detergent, I think hand washing is a better idea. I have some Ikea glasses that are permanently etched from the dishwasher.

I'll stick to rinse and go or at most scrubbing with hot water myself. There's nothing about a pot that will withstand the dishwasher that makes it *need* the dishwasher treatment.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I do not entirely disagree with what haresfur says above, but my experience of commercially made teapots from major manufacturers, even those made up to a century or more ago, is that they will not suffer from occasional use in the dishwasher. I have a modern bone china cup that I use at work for coffee. Over a period of weeks, despite the fact that I hand wash it with Dawn and a brush, it gets a build up of stain. It is the same with a teapot, possibly even more so because of the steeping time and the time beyond that that tea is in contact with the surface.

Despite what maggiethecat's North Of England grandmother might have said, it is unproven that a tea stained pot makes a better brew. It will certainly harbor bacteria, but the boiling water that she would have hit it with before adding the Tetley's Tea might have gotten rid of most. What she quoted is, in my humble English born view is, an old wive's tale. ;)

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I have a variation on this question: at work, I routinely brew up a quart thermos full of tea, and carry that with me for the afternoon, or through the evening. I then rinse it several times at the end of the day, and set it upside down on a mini-dish-drainer overnight to drain and dry.

Needless to say, it has built up a patina. Recently I brewed up a very nice silver needle tea that started out nice and delicately flavored, but as the afternoon wore on, it got a little 'earthy' tasting--a bit more like the pu-erhs and oolongs I more often drink.

So I wanted to get it sparkling clean.

I have two of these stanley stainless vacuum bottles, the narrow-necked 1 quart size, deeper than any of my bottle brushes, basically impossible to get anything in there you could manually scrub with.

I first tried a bit of dilute bleach--something between 1:5 and 1:10 bleach:hot water, soaked it for an hour, and rinsed well. I saw some gray/black color towards the bottom of the inside, decided this was not a good thing to have done, and resolved to try something else.

Reading elsewhere and talking in another online forum and much googling later, I tried a couple of efferdent tablets in warm water for the other thermos, which was also a bit brown inside. After an hour, I rinsed it, and found a much larger black discoloration inside, that looked like some coating was eaten away. It was fairly clean, however. But later some efferdent tablets did nothing for a small glass teapot (wasn't worried the tablets could *eat* that), and wasn't impressed by the performance--not as good as the dishwasher usually is. Baking soda in hot water overnight also did nothing--tried that before I ran errands and got the efferdent. I'm feeling a bit wary of the other things I've seen suggested--soaking with hand dishwashing liquid; just dumping in vinegar (might eat the steel if soaked in it); shaking it with salt and ice (scratchy, but effect?); or citrus oil (would take a lot of expensive oil to really do the inside of these things, and might eat the plastic fittings, plus flavor the tea for a while).

So....what do you all suggest for tea stains on 'stainless' [hah!] steel that you can't reach to scrub off or put in the dishwasher? I'm going to replace at least the 2nd Stanley thermos and want to keep that one in good shape.


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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I am not sure that the bleach is really a problem. Did you try pouring water into the thermos after the treatment and tasting it? Could be that a shorter bleaching may be all that is needed. (Also make sure the gray-black is not a shadow or interior reflection in the thermos.)

I use durgol express for stainless steel thermos (thermi?) and carafes, as well as glass; it's a fast decalcifier designed for coffee and espresso machines, but you could try any coffee machine cleaner.

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A coffee machine cleaner sounds like a good idea. I heard about a product called dip it, but really don't know where to go to find this kind of stuff--target doesn't carry it, nor do my local grocers (x3 so far) or the local hardware store (x2). May have to order it.

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Every now and then when I go away from the house for a few weeks, I make sure the tea pot is empty. When I come home, all the crud inside has dried nicely and flakes off and can be rinsed out quite easily. I'm convinced that without that buildup the tea doesn't taste as good - it always takes a least a few brews in a new pot before the tea tastes right.

I was recently told by someone that she got in big trouble at home for cleaning all the "brown stains" out of the teapot because her boyfriend insisted that is supposed to be left there for better tea, like seasoning a pan. I actually had never heard of anyone seasoning a tea pot before...is this normal?


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As I understand it, if you have an unglazed clay teapot, that will inevitably develop a patina because it can't be fully cleaned, you are supposed to reserve that for only one kind of tea--oolongs or pu-erhs but not both.

So if you use the teapot for one kind of tea, 'seasoning' may be ok, otherwise, not so much.

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I was recently told by someone that she got in big trouble at home for cleaning all the "brown stains" out of the teapot because her boyfriend insisted that is supposed to be left there for better tea, like seasoning a pan. I actually had never heard of anyone seasoning a tea pot before...is this normal?

Even with glazed teapots, people differ and have strong opinions about letting some tea build up in the interior of a pot, or not, as this discussion topic shows.

I brew several different black/red teas in my glazed Brown Betty, so I rinse it out thoroughly each time, but do not scrub or wipe the interior and it works well for me. It might work better if I used one pot only for, say, Darjeelings and let some buildup occur, but I don't know. Maybe someone else can speak to that.

It is important, however, to distinguish the appearance of tea stains from seasoning when it comes to pots such as Yixing clay pots from China or unglazed Kyusu from Japan. Unglazed clay seasons by absorbing tea oils, but in doing so they do not have to take on a ratty stained appearance, unless you want them to. Some people like them stained and some work to keep an even appearance inside and out.

With unglazed clay it is important to never use soap or detergent to clean them; just clear out the tea leaves and rinse out with hot water. In fact some people say not to bother trying to get all the tea leaves out. I once bought an older Yixing pot that had a few dry leaves of Oolong rolling around inside. For more on seasoning Yixing teapots in various ways before using for the first time, see the Yixing Teapot topic.

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