Choosing a teapot can be overwhelming with the hundreds of different designs and options. Fortunately, the process can be simplified by zeroing in on a few important factors.
Here, we'll show you what design features to look for in a teapot and help you understand how your brewing style can benefit from different teapot options. We'll cover everything from stainless steel kettles and ceramic teapots to temperature-controlled settings and built-in infusers.
Teapots Vs. Tea Kettles
Many companies use the term teapot and tea kettle interchangeably. When it comes to purchasing a tea vessel for brewing, it's important to understand the distinction between the two. Teapots are usually tea vessels that can hold hot water for serving tea. They should not be used to heat water on the stove. That's because most teapots are made from materials — including ceramic, porcelain, and glass — that can't withstand high temperatures.
That doesn't mean you can't find a stovetop kettle made with these materials. Ceramic teapots that feature a stainless steel base may be used directly on the stove. That's why you often see a combination of materials in certain tea kettles.
Tea kettles are designed to heat water for brewing tea. There are electric tea kettles that heat water using either a battery or by plugging into an outlet. There are also stovetop tea kettles made from stainless steel and copper that can withstand high temperatures.
Finding the best teapot or tea kettle will depend on your specific needs. If you want a vessel that you can use to heat up water, opt for a stovetop or electric kettle. If you prefer a visual treat when serving tea, choose delicate porcelain, ceramic, or glass teapot. Keep in mind that many companies will use the terms tea kettle and teapot interchangeably. It's up to you to make sure a vessel can be heated on the stove if that's your desired use.
Different Types of Teapots
Stainless steel teapots and tea kettles are among the most durable and long-lasting options. They feature excellent heat retention and heat up quickly, making them a great choice for people who like multiple infusions or want to brew fast.
Stainless steel teapots are easy to clean and can be placed directly in the dishwasher. These teapots and kettles also withstand drops and falls so you can abuse them and still make great tasting tea for years. If choosing a metal teapot kettle, opt for one that is lead-free to prevent altering the flavor of teas and health side effects.
Glass tea kettles are a great choice for people who want to add a visual dimension to the art of tea making. The clear glass enables the drinker to view the leaves as they unfurl and infuse the hot water with flavor and color. Glass tea kettles — like the Hiware Good Glass teapot and the Hario Cha Cha Kyusu — are also an excellent choice for brewing flowering teas. The flower petals and tea leaves can gently unfold and put on a show of color.
If you choose a glass teapot, keep in mind that these vessels are more delicate than other options. Look for teapots made of borosilicate glass, which is designed to be stronger and withstand everyday clinks and bangs. Also, make sure to choose one with a stainless steel bottom if you want to use it on the stovetop. Glass teapots are dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
Cast Iron (Tetsubin)
Cast iron kettles are known as Japanese tetsubins. They feature a low profile with a wide brewing compartment. Some cast iron kettles feature an enamel coating that enables the pot to brew multiple types of tea. Other types are made solely of cast-iron and are best used for brewing one main type of tea.
High-quality cast iron tea kettles feature handles that are made of a different material — typically bamboo. The short spout makes pouring quick and easy and the cast iron offers excellent heat retention for multiple infusions. Many also feature a stainless steel infuser to make brewing loose leaf tea quick and easy. Check out the Primula cast iron teapot that is utilitarian and stunning.
Clay and Stoneware
Clay and stoneware teapots are an exquisite way to enjoy the art of tea making as interpreted for thousands of years. The earliest teapots were created using clay and stone from quarries throughout Asia. Today, you can brew your tea like ancestors before you with a stoneware or clay teapot.
The beauty of clay and stoneware is that it tells a story. The color of the clay indicates the region in which it was sourced. Certain types of clay are also essential to the traditional tea ceremony presentation. These types of teapot are great for traditional tea lovers that enjoy the story of tea.
Ceramic teapots have been prized in China and Europe for centuries. Ceramic teapots are a type of clay teapot that is fired in high heat. They typically feature a glazed coating that adds a touch of light to the table. The teapots originated in China more than 1,000 years ago and made their way into the hearts of the British and the French.
The highest quality ceramic teapots are still handmade by tea makers and artisans. The high-heat construction process makes the clay extremely dense, which allows these teapots to be heat-resistant and chip-resistant.
Some ceramic teapots like the ForLife Curve teapot — which can also be used with tea bags — feature a glazed interior that enables them to brew multiple types of tea. If you choose an unglazed ceramic teapot, make sure to stick to just one type of tea when brewing. The clay will absorb some of the color and flavor of the tea infusion. This makes each brew deeper and more nuanced but limits the use of the pot. Most ceramic teapots are not stovetop safe, but they are effective at keeping the tea warm for long periods of time.
Features to Look For
Electric tea kettles feature built-in temperature controls that take the guesswork out of brewing tea. These tea kettles enable you to set a pre-desired temperature so you never turn your green tea bitter again. Temperature controls typically range from 150 up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit so you can nail the right temperature every time.
Many teapots and kettles include a built-in tea infuser to make brewing loose tea a breeze. These infusers are most commonly made of metals such as stainless steel or copper. Some varieties will feature a bamboo or silicone infuser.
Look for a teapot that features a removable infuser for ease of use. It's much easier to add tea leaves to an infuser that you can take in and out that one that is fixed to the vessel. It's also easier to clean removable infusers.
It's important to pay attention to size when choosing a kettle. The perfect size will depend on how you like to brew tea. If you like to make multiple cups of tea at a time, it's a good idea to pick a large tea kettle — around 1.7 liters. Tea drinkers who like to make just one single cup of tea, opt for a smaller version such as a gaiwan or chawan.
Find the Perfect Teapot
There isn't one perfect teapot for everyone. The best teapot will depend on your visual preferences, durability needs, and how much tea you like to brew each time. Keep these tips in mind when choosing a teapot and you're sure to love the one you pick. Just add in some hot water and your favorite loose leaf tea and you'll be sipping your way to bliss with the perfect cup of tea in no time.