If you’re getting an Yixing teapot and you want it to give you back the best flavor possible, you’re going to have to care for it properly. The means saving a little bit of each steeping to “feed” the pot (pour over the pot to help more tea get into the pores), the finer your pot, the more likely you are to use it, and the more likely you are to actually invest the time in caring for the pot properly.
Before using your prized Yixing teapot, checked how whether the air vent is clear of blockage. Test the flow of water and if it is not smooth, clear the holes inside the spout of any debris. Finally examined whether there are clay deposits within the teapot, which if present can be easily removed by scraping it with a wooden or bamboo piece.
Before using the teapot, determine which tea leaves you are going to brew in it. Do not brew different kind of tea leaves in the same teapot. Yixing clay is very porous that’s why it is such a good vessel for brewing tea as it’s able to retain the as well as trap tea particles in these pores. With frequent usage, more and more tea particles are trapped and every time you brew tea, fragrance is released which when mixed with the current brew makes the tea taste better than if it was brewed in a new teapot.
After you have determined the tea to use for this teapot, do not start using the teapot yet, but use it as a “Gong Dao” (justice) pot where tea is poured into it before being poured into tea cups.
Every time you brew tea, use the teapot as “Gong Dao” pot and always pour the first infusion (which we normally discard) over the exterior of the teapot. If possible, reserved the last infusion (which is already diluted) to rinse the exterior of the teapot. This enables the tea oil to stain the exterior of the teapot and helps patina to grow.
At the end of each session, letting the pot dry completely between uses (to avoid mold and to help the flavor “set” into the pot… if you use a wet post, then a lot of the flavor will just get washed away instead of building up nicely). Before the next session, repeat Step 3 again.
When you start brewing tea with this teapot, always rinsed the teapot (from cap down) with the first infusion. At the end of a session, use a tea cloth to wipe and polish the exterior surface of the teapot. Continue doing it for another 3 months and I guarantee that a rich patina will grow on the surface of the teapot.
Your teapot will start to look lovely and somehow you can swear that the clay seems very much different compared to when you first bought the teapot.
The above is what tea connoisseurs meant when they say “Yang Hu” or “cultivating a teapot”.
If your yixing teapot can in anyway contribute to this tasting, this ultimately aesthetic experience of the senses, it will in the end also make the tea taste better on a psychological level. Something coming out of a lovely vessel will make your more positively disposed towards the tea that’s coming out of it. This placebo effect should in turn help you taste more interesting things in the tea by helping to make you just a little more open minded and positive.