This is a long overdue blog which was supposed to be written and published last December upon my return from Shanghai as promised to my friend, James Wong. However, it is better late than never. The idea of this blog came after James bought his very first Yixing purple clay teapot. To my bewilderment (and actually horror), he spent couple of days to go through the steps that is a must before one can start using the pot.
I told James that I will only spend the maximum time of 30 min to get a pot ready which I think is more the sufficient. Nevertheless, throughout my years of collecting purple clay teapots, I do hear different views with regards to the procedure to get a pot ready. Some opines certain steps must be done over and over again for days before a pot can be used and to ensure that the pot shines or for the smell of raw clay to go off. The process of shining up your purple clay teapot takes time and a whole different method should be applied.
Some people do ask, can this so call “开壶仪式” be skipped and the pot be used by just rinsing it with water. Well, the answer is no. I’ve experimented with this for many times and all I found was either my tea stale or my tea have a strange clay smell, or sometimes, the taste of wax. For the benefit of new collectors and for James, hereby is the pictorial guide on the steps that one must follow before a new purple clay teapot can be used.
Rinse the pot with water to clear out the tiny fragments of purple clay or dirt.
Prepare a clean cooking wok or pot for water boiling, and don’t forget to put some tea leaves along. Why tea leaves is needed? Can it be done without the leave? Will a better quality tea leave produce better result? No, any type of tea is acceptable, expensive or cheap tea does not make a difference and the main purpose of this is for the tea to absorb any unpleasant smell of clay away.
Put the pot(s) in while the water is still at low temperature and let it boil. Make sure that the water level remains the same throughout by adding in more water as it evaporates.
After about 20 minutes, use a chopstick or anything that is comfortable to pick the pot and its cover out.
Rinse the teapots again with water till nothing, especially tea leaves, remains in it and the tea stains are off from the surface of the pot. With this done, your pot is ready for its first brew of tea!