Serendipitea And The Not So Common Clay

Unglazed clay teapot

This was one of my best charity shop finds, a classic example of how being in the right place at the right time can pay off.

It was a real bargain at 40 Swedish Crowns.

There are a few things that mark it out as an interesting pot. Firstly, it’s made of an unglazed clay.

This is good, because it allows the flavour of the teas steeped in the teapot to be absorbed by the clay. Over time, as well as absorbing new flavours, the pot will also give a little flavour back to each new infusion.

I’ve also read that the minerals in the clay of an unglazed pot will give added flavour to the tea. The clay may also help to offset any astringency in tea steeped in it.

It’s common to have an unglazed clay teapot for each type of tea one drinks – Oolongs, black/red tea, Pu-erh, etc. This is because the absorbed flavours of the previously steeped tea may clash with any other type of tea subsequently brewed in the pot after that – your Oolong may pick up unwanted flavours if steeped in the Pu-erh pot, for example.

This ability of unglazed clay to absorb flavours does mean, however, that you should never, repeat never, wash an unglazed clay teapot with anything other than warm water. The “taste” of detergents might very well permeate the clay, and be nigh on impossible to remove.

The pot has a Chinese maker’s stamp on the underside…

Chinese clay teapot makers stamp

It sports a short, straight, fairly narrow spout, with a flat end cut at 90° to the spout, something often seen on Chinese teapots. This gives the pot a smooth, measured flow, that is noticeably slower than most Western style pots, but one that you always feel that you are in total command of. When pouring, the tea never gushes out uncontrollably. It’s also virtually “drip-free”.

A nice, smooth pouring action

A nice, smooth pouring action

The lid is also interesting.

It sits flush on top of the mouth of the pot, not recessed into it. It also has a very tight, smooth fit with the mouth of the pot, as well as the air hole located in the lid button. Again, this is very characteristic of Chinese teapot lids. Having the air hole in this position means that you can quickly glide a finger over the air hole, stopping the flow of tea almost instantly.

The excellent fit of the lid means that the pot will not leak tea from around the lid area, even when the pot is pouring in a vertical position. This is important because ideally you want to totally drain the pot between infusions, otherwise the leaves would sit and stew in a little leftover tea water, and run the risk of becoming bitter.

The lid is tied to the body of the pot with red yarn, something I believe is a Taiwanese tradition. Not only does this look rather nice, it also prevents burns to the tip of your finger when pressing onto the lid to keep it in place during pouring.

The pot is very well balanced. Even when full of tea, it’s easy to pick it up, pour, and secure the lid with just one hand.

As far as the actual type of the clay goes, I’m quite sure that it’s not a genuine Yixing clay pot, more likely a terracotta one.

The pot’s construction is relatively thin-walled, which means that it won’t tend to conserve heat as well as a thicker walled pot. This in turn means that it will work slightly better with teas that utilize cooler water, such as greens and whites. I now use this pot exclusively for green tea.

I have absolutely no idea at all what the text on the sides of the pot says. I’m looking into getting a translation done, which hopefully will shed a little more light on the subject.

All in all a very nice pot with some good qualities, for a very modest price.

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4 Responses to Serendipitea And The Not So Common Clay

  1. pinkiebag says:

    What a delightful tea pot. It just proves its always looking in the charity shops, Chloe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. linnetmoss says:

    This is very beautiful! I love the text on the side–hope you manage to find a translator. I have a couple of very tiny unglazed pots which were sold to us as Yixing. They are of similar workmanship.

    Liked by 1 person

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