Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Seasoning Your Yixing

My first yixing, dedicated to Dancong
There comes a time in every tea lover’s life when they are faced with a dilemma. How do you season an yixing teapot? There are several different ways to do it and it’s hard to know which one is right for you and your teaware. Good quality yixing teapots can be a very expensive investment and many people are afraid of damaging their beautiful new acquisition.

The first step is deciding which tea to dedicate your pot too. I believe that you don’t need to be super specific but you should stick to a particular family (i.e. green oolongs, cooked puerh). My own personal pots are dedicated to specific teas that I have a special affinity for: Dangcong Oolong, Tie Guan Yin Oolong, Dong Ding Oolong and Lapsang Souchong. Green and white teas are generally not something you should use in a yixing pot. The clay absorbs too much heat and will negatively affect the taste of your tea.

When I purchased my first yixing, many of the websites I found advised boiling it in a pot of  water with the chosen tea. This struck me as possibly dangerous for a delicate pot. Some versions recommended resting it on a slotted spoon but I still did not feel comfortable. While my pot wasn’t very expensive, I was fond of it and did not want to take any unnecessary risks. I finally found a method that works for me on the website for Seven Cups, a retailer based in Arizona.

Here are the steps as prescribed by them:


Steps to prepare your new Zisha Yixing Pot
There are two ways to prepare a zisha tea pot for use. One requires boiling the entire pot in water, but unless you are experienced with this process it is easy to damage the delicate structure of your pot. We recommend the method described below because it is both safe and effective.
  1. Pour room temperature water inside your tea pot and let sit for 4-5 hours.
  2. Pour the water out and add boiling water to the inside of your pot. Let the water soak until the water decreases to room temperature.
  3. Choose the type of tea that you would like to enjoy in your new pot. Place some tea leaves inside the pot and pour boiling water inside. Let the water cool to room temperature then pour out.
  4. Add water again to the same batch of leaves and let it cool for a second time, once cool discard both water and tea.
  5. Your pot is ready to be used.

I have used this method for all of my yixing teapots and have not experienced any problems. All of pots seasoned up fairly quickly and they still produce wonderful tasting tea. How do you season your yixing? I’d love to hear about any other methods you might use.