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I currently have a borosilicate glass teapot. Glass seems to have the advantage that it will not absorb flavours and so can be used for all styles of tea.

What are some of the advantages of using a clay or ceramic teapot over glass? I am not interested in the differences in style or size, just the material used.

Edit: anyone with information on clay teapots, such as the Yixing, and its (dis)advantages?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It depends on personal tastes (both aesthetic and flavour). Ceramic pots certainly retain heat longer which suits black tea as a pot can be on the go for a while. Clay is for the connoisseur and should be kept for one specific tea. These ideally need to be used regularly so don't suit most households (including me).

I'd personally have:

  1. A western style ceramic pot (or two, one small, one large) for black teas like Kenyan, Ceylon or Assam based teas which I'd only rinse out (unless it got forgotten and grew mold! in which case it gets a good scrub)
  2. A glass pot for strongly flavoured teas or heavy tannin tea like Lapsang Souchong or chai (if i make it in a pot) which would be cleaned each time
  3. An eastern style ceramic pot for green tea as they generally keep the larger leaves back.

The biggest difference I've found is that warming the pot is more significant when using ceramic or clay over glass as the material absorbs more heat.

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What is an eastern style pot? Is this a cup-like device with a lid to strain out the leaves (sorry, don't know the name), or something else entirely? –  Ryan Anderson Oct 21 '10 at 13:15
    
I meant a glazed pot in the style of a traditional Chinese clay pot but lower maintenance. These normally have a non ceramic handle (wicker etc.) from the top and many have a strainer built into the spout to keep back the large leaves –  vwiggins Oct 21 '10 at 14:48
    
There are some good articles out there on tea pot choice vitaliteas.com/how-to-choose-a-teapot for instance. –  vwiggins Oct 21 '10 at 14:53

Clay is porous. The aromatic elements of a tea will stay inside the pores and come out for the next brewings. After a few brewings, the teapot will be "coated" and the aromatic peaks of the particular tea will be emphasized, giving it a more satisfying taste.

For this reason, clay teapots should be reserved for one family of tea only (e.g. flowery oolongs, pu-erh, wuxi rocks tea, high mountain taiwanese, etc.). It would make no sense to enhance the particular flavors specific to leaves from a category A in a brewing of tea of a category B with different aromas. Yes, that means that if you like different families, you must invest in one clay teapot for each. Glass, iron or ceramic teapots do not show this behavior and can be used with any category of tea during their life.

Also, clay teapots have been traditionnaly used only for oolong and pu-erh teas, and some Chinese black ones. It's quite unusual to brew green, white or Indian black teas in clay teapots. It may enhance those kinds of tea too, but you would have to make your tries by yourself to estimate that.

As a side note, since clay keeps flavors, never wash a clay teapot (or cup) with detergents ! Plain hot water will suffice.

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I find with glass teapots they get extremely hot, where a ceramic tea pot does not. In my experience the Tea also stays hotter in a ceramic teapot.

The ceramic teapots are harder to clean though, and you can't see the tea brewing as easy.

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I think that a lot of the difference is aesthetic.

Tea will eventually stain anything, including glass. If the stains are inside the creamic teapot, they won't bother anyone, and can quietly add a touch to the flavour. In a glass teapot, the stains are visible from outside, and might put some people off their tea. 

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Won't break if you drop it?

Other than that, you're bound to get a metallic taste out of any metal teapot (that isn't enameled, and most of them will be) that you use to make any tea with even a hint of acidity (most teas are somewhat acidic). The more reactive the metal (copper, silver, iron) the more taste. Of course, the tea cools off super fast in those as well, so it doesn't have much leach time.

I'd stick with glass for the best experience, though I've seen a number of restaurants use small stainless steel pots to good effect.

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Never even thought of using of using stainless, that can be saved for the food service industry. Any experience with clay or ceramic teapots? –  Ryan Anderson Oct 20 '10 at 20:48
    
@ryan anderson: Ceramic is very nice, and very classy. For clay, I have a honkin urn I use to make sun tea, and that's it. –  Satanicpuppy Oct 21 '10 at 0:02

Glass and ceramic teapot are pretty similar except that the glass teapot will get really hot, but you can see your mix of tea in it and it's easier to clean. Have a nice cup of tea Ryan!

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OK.. I guess there is no right or wrong answer for this question, so let me start this with a story.

"Many years ago, there was a poor guy in a remote Chinese Village and he owned a clay teapot and the teapot had been using for generations. One day a city man came to the village and saw the teapot and he was very impressed by the teapot, so he decided to buy the teapot and paid thousands for it. He told the village guy that he would pick it up next day. The village was so excited and he reckoned he needed to give the pot a big clean, so the buyer would be happy about it.

Next day, the city man came back and saw the teapot was very clean, it was so clean that there was not stain at all. The city man then was very disappointed and decided to drop the sale. The village man didn't know what went wrong and just found out that the teapot wasn't worth anything, but the tea stain that got built up by generations was worth the most."

This story tells us that Chinese have a long history of using clay pots and the clay pots themselves enhance the tea favour because the "stain" adds favour to tea. Also, temperature can be controled better with clay pot.

REMEMBER the mort IMPORTANT THING ABOUT TEA!!! You are not supposed to leave tea in the teapot for more than couple of mins as the acids from tea would come out if you leave the tea in pot for too long.

What I wanna say is advantage of using clay pot will enhance tea favour, but it's a very personal choice. Glass pot is fine and just don't leav tea in the pot for too long.

Also, avoid using metal pots as the chemical reactions between tea and metal don't go too well..

Cheers

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1  
Nice story, thanks for sharing. –  Ryan Anderson Oct 22 '10 at 15:14

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