Topic: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

Guess this could also go under cha dao.

One of my pots has been picking up a nice shine, but it's also picking up a slightly textured or uneven patina. I think it may be due to using a tea towel to even out the tea oil... I know the towel should be wet, but should it be really wet, or just slightly damp? Sometimes when it's too wet, it seems like I might be wiping off things I want to leave on the pot, and / or creating this uneven texture.

I've been thinking of switching to using a brush, which I think might work better. Does anyone know if the brushes used for teapots always have to have animal hair bristles? I'd prefer to find one with synthetic bristles if it will work as well. And any suggestions for sources for a very plain, not tacky one? Most of the ones that vendors sell seem to be really cheap and / or tacky looking. I want something very plain. Would just a plain calligraphy brush work (and is that what was traditionally used)? I do live near a store that sells Chinese calligraphy supplies, and have thought about getting a brush there.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

I also have uneven patinas on my teapot, but I like it that way - it's like a badge that the teapot has age and experience.  I don't think that wiping off any kind of oil on the outside of the pot will affect the porosity, clay or any other benefical brewing characteristic of the pot.  If you are able to make it to Vancouver BC sometime next year, do visit my friend Daniel Luie at Arts de Chine.  He is a teapot buff and knows far more about it than any other English-speaking tea lover I've met.  He doesn't do any thorough cleansing of the pot's exterior that I know of, so I don't know of any brushes to use, but I do know that he advocates using a toothbrush to clean the interior when priming the pot for use.

My dad has been doing chinese calligraphy for decades and his brush of choice is a hybrid hair brush that many artists prefer, called "jian mao."  This is usually a combo of hair from several different animals, to give the brush head different characteristics for strength, flexibility and ink retention.  Unlike most synthetic products, animal hairs have natural oils that change the flow of ink on paper - or so I've been taught.  For a pot, though, synthetic brushes should work fine.  I have actually used a sonicare toothbrush with an old head to clean my pots and it does an excellent job.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

Yeah - the pot is more to distribute the tea across the pot when brewing (when both the pot and tea are hot). You still get a somewhat uneven patina, but using the brush or a cloth does help avoid major dead spots / hot spots on the bottom of the pot, around the edge of the lid, inside engraved surfaces, or under the lid. For sure, you don't need to do this if you're taking a total 'wabi sabi' approach.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

RTea wrote:

I don't think that wiping off any kind of oil on the outside of the pot will affect the porosity, clay or any other benefical brewing characteristic of the pot.  If you are able to make it to Vancouver BC sometime next year, do visit my friend Daniel Luie at Arts de Chine.  He is a teapot buff and knows far more about it than any other English-speaking tea lover I've met.  He doesn't do any thorough cleansing of the pot's exterior that I know of, so I don't know of any brushes to use, but I do know that he advocates using a toothbrush to clean the interior when priming the pot for use.

I think cleansing pot or not has to do with personal/regional preference. For example, I know that Taiwanese Yang Hu 養壺 trend is coating lots of tea oil with a brush. But from many yixing books out there don't suggest leaving tea leaves or oils in and out of pot, rather it could leave a blot that doesn't fade out 'specially on lighter clays. Leaving tea leaves might cause 壺里茶山 Hu Li Cha Shan - inside pot mountain of tea, that is tea stain not tea juice absorbed to the surface that as well might cause foul odor when brewing or to extreme, a mold in summer..

一杯一杯復一杯

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

Hmm.. so maybe if you scrape the bubbles off the top and onto the outside of the teapot, and then use a brush to spread it out? I would hazard to guess that if you at least spread it out over a slightly larger area (as opposed to "painting" the whole pot with it) that it would look a little more even than just letting it sit where it falls.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

I know relatively little about teapots, but I'm interested in how improving the brewing characteristics of a pot with good clay may help me to brew better tea.  From experience, do any of you think that any kinds of brush/oil/tea treatments to the exterior of the pot have helped to improve your tea experience?  I can see how there would be an aesthetic difference, but I'm wondering if there are other benefits too.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about adding oil, just about distributing the oils that naturally come out of the brewed tea. You can see this especially strongly if you brew Chaozhou gong fu style with a ton of leaf, and even some crushed leaf... the tea oils will be very thick and shiny on the pot, and if you don't even them out, you'll see shiny streaks on the pot, or around the button.

So I just use a wet or damp cloth to even things out... I think the best is to leave things as they are during the session and use the cloth / brush at the end, so that the stains have time to build up, but because I'm fidgety, I have to admit to sometimes polishing a little during my tea brewing as well. I have heard it's not a good idea to polish too much, and polishing with a dry cloth might not be good either.

See also the comments (including some questions from yours truly) on Tim's web log:
http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 … xings.html

esp. the comment from Tim:

Over polishing is a no no to me, collectors call it "Monk Head Glow" which is a more artificial shine then a glow representing jade -"Treasure Glow".

I don't do anything to the inside of the pot; rinse once or twice with hot or boiling water, let it dry for a while upside-down, and then dry rightside-up with the lid off for 2-3 days.
I also don't do any special pre-seasoning... just some hot / cold water through the pot, gently scrub off any obvious stuff inside that shouldn't be there, and make tea in the pot. If it's a used pot and I don't like how it's seasoned, I might boil it for a little.

Personally, I don't think polishing or not will affect the brewing characteristics of the pot. However, if you actually polished the pot with oil or wax, I imagine that could potentially affect the famous "double porosity" of Yixing clay, and might also repel water.... this would probably not be a good idea. I guess if you had too much of a buildup of tea oils, it could have the same effects, but you don't really ever hear people talking about that, so I don't know. Personally, I don't believe in using anything other than tea and water on the pot.

There is talk, of course, that with seasoning, the inside of the pot will take on characteristics of a particular tea. But this could take a very long time, and I don't know if it'll ever get to the point where you can brew tea in the pot without using any tea leaves at all, like in the old legend.

I do have some pots that are of an especially porous clay, and I can sometimes smell the last tea I brewed in them for several days, or even longer.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

btw, I got a calligraphy brush today, and I think it's a little too heavy / stiff to work well. It was pretty fluffy and not pointy when I bought it, but once wet, the hair all came together (as I imagine you'd want it for calligraphy), and it didn't seem to distribute the tea well at all. I rinsed the brush, and I don't think it was oily, but it also seemed to almost cause the pot to reject the tea liquid.

Re: teapot polishing (brushes / cloth)

one guy told me that every now and then he just rubs his pot with the natural occuring oils of his hands and forehead against the sides of the pot.  just telling you what he told me.  i just want to leave the pot alone and just use it for brewing in fear of something happening to the pot e.g. : dropping it!