While enjoying your favorite cup of tea, the teaware you use is just as important as the tea leaves you choose. I’m not talking about your “morning eye opener, I gotta wake up before I get to work” cup of tea, although there are plenty of fantastic travel mugs available for that, I’m talking about the “sitting on the back deck at the end of a hard day relaxing” cup of tea.
Teaware refers to the various tools and equipment used in the brewing and consumption of tea. Along with the obvious teapots and tea cups, teaware also includes tea strainers, tea trays, kettles, tea warmers, tea tins, tea trivets, travel mugs and other tea accessories and tools.
There is a varied range of material used to produce tea pots and tea cups, from cast iron made in Japan to porcelain and clay made in China, along with glass and glazed stoneware among others. The most highly regarded are the Yixing clay teapots produced in eastern China.
An important factor to consider when selecting teaware should be the particular thermal qualities of the material. It is recommended that each type of tea should be brewed at a specific temperature to taste its best. This will be affected by the ware’s level of heat conductivity.
Teas that are either lightly fermented or unfermented are better brewed in lower water temperatures. Glass and porcelain are both good choices for these applications because of their high heat conductivity.
However, heavily fired and fully fermented teas like Pu-erh should be brewed in higher water temperatures. Yixing stoneware and porous teapots with low heat conductivity are great ideas of these types of tea.
Whatever material your teaware is made of, taking proper care of it will ensure its longevity and enjoyment for years to come. Each type of material has its own care requirements. However, as a general rule of thumb, teaware should never be scrubbed with abrasive pads or washed with harsh detergents or soaps. Microwaves and dishwashers are also major no no’s.
Wine connoisseurs understand that the shape, and the material of your glass influence how you taste a beverage. This is also very true with tea. However, unlike with wine, teaware comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Whereas most wine is consumed from glass, tea can be consumed from a variety of different materials.
The shape of your cup influences how you will enjoy the tea, because it controls the way you smell the tea while you are drinking it. The Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago states that “90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell”.
Similar to wine glasses, the size of the rim your cup has, the angle at which it opens from its base, whether it is flared outward or inward, all affect how you taste the tea. Here are some of the ways that cup shape influences the taste of your tea.
If you are drinking out of a tall and narrow teacup, as in the case of a whisky tasting glass, the smell will be funneled in a very concentrated channel straight into your nose. This is why aroma cups are tall and narrow, and not flared.
A wider rimmed cup, something which opens up from the base and ends with the top being wider than the bottom. This allows the hot air, containing the aroma to diffuse quickly into the air.
One of the reasons glass is used to drink tea is that it is usually perfectly smooth, the tea has nothing hinder its movement. This means that the flavors and aroma remain fairly condensed.
Glass is also a neutral material, so it won’t add any of its own flavor to the drink. Have you ever noticed when you drink something in a plastic container it will taste different than the same drink in a glass? This is because the plastic leaves its own taste behind in the drink, usually a synthetic taste.
Ceramic is the most basic material for a teacup. Since the ceramic is glazed, it is usually free of imperfections. These imperfections mean that, when they are present, the tea will bump up against them and gives the drinker a more flavorful and aromatic experience.
Clay is very porous, with tiny imperfections in the surface. As with ceramic, just on a larger scale, the imperfections allow the flavor and aroma to be much more pronounced. Rather than offering the drinker a subtle experience it is much more robust.
Although none of the imperfections in a teacup, made of any material, are easily visible, the difference can be very noticeable in the taste. When you brew the same type of tea, at the same temperature and under all of the same conditions, you will notice a difference in the flavor and aroma based on the teacup you are drinking out of.
You will find that a clay teacup gives you a much fuller, more robust flavor and aroma then you will receive from one that is made from glass or ceramic. This is why choosing your teaware is just as important as choosing the tea you put into it.
At ESP Emporium, we believe that there is a big difference between brewing a cup of tea and brewing a relaxing cup of serenity.
Whether it's your “morning eye-opener” cup of tea or the “after a hard day, let the stress drain from my body and soul” cup of tea, We have exactly the right blend for you.
Our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.