Thursday, August 04, 2005

So the thing about breaking in Yixing Zisha clay, is that it's not as bad as it sounds. There are numerous writeups, each a little different, about this online like:

http://necessitea10281.goeserv.com/seasoning%20your%20yixing%20teapot.htm

http://yixing-teapots.net/prepare.htm

http://yixingteapotsonline.com/using_your_teapot.html

http://www.culinaryteas.com/Seasoning-Yixing.html

The idea is that being unfinished clay, your new teapot has to cure to remove the clay taste and introduce the tea flavor to it. Pots really vary though, and while some leave that nasty film on the surface of the water while they're curing most just have a light clay flavor that goes away fairly quickly.

After seasoning about half a dozen pots now my technique is pretty basic... 2 hours in boiling water, then add a couple tbsp of cheap oolong and boil for 2 more hours. I use The Republic of Tea's Tikuanyin, at $35 a pound and tasting like St. Augustine clippings it's good for curing pots. That's pretty much all there is to it though. No seven days collecting bacteria, no ice-water baths. 2 hours with water, 2 hours with cheap tea. Obviously make sure it's an oolong, but otherwise it doesn't matter.

After that I follow the rest of the rules fairly strictly, I only use high grade tea of similar type, I never wash with soap, only cold and sometimes boiling water to clean it, and my pots have matured pretty well.