Teapots are available in materials ranging from nearly indestructible cast iron to delicate and fragile glass or porcelain—but simple ceramic pots are the most common for everyday use. They're typically inexpensive and relatively durable, and they retain heat well. Ceramic teapots are relatively simple to use, but you need to keep a few points in mind.
Black tea steeps best at a temperature near the boiling point, and a cold pot would quickly sap much of the heat from hot water. While the kettle is coming to a boil, swish the teapot thoroughly with hot water and then pour it out. Pre-warming the pot also limits the risk of it cracking from the boiling water.
Once the pot is warmed and empty, add loose tea at 1 teaspoon of leaves per cup of tea, plus 1 more teaspoon for the pot. Alternatively, use the equivalent quantity of standard 2-cup tea bags. Pour freshly boiled water over the leaves, and steep for 5 minutes or until the tea reaches your preferred strength.
Care and Cleaning
Ceramic pots are usually glazed on the inside as well as the outside, and they can be handwashed in soapy water. Rinse the pot thoroughly to remove any soap residue. If the pot is too small for your hand, you may need to use a brush to clean the inside. A narrow bottle brush can be handy for removing stuck leaves from the spout.
If the pot is unglazed on the inside, it's intended to absorb the flavors of tea. Never wash these pots with soap, as they will absorb soap flavor, too. Instead, just rinse them with hot water.
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.