If you drink Chinese tea – primarily oolongs or puerhs – and have avoided the temptation to acquire a Yixing teapot, I applaud you. They surely are a slippery slope, with as much misinformation out there as accurate information, and telling the difference can be difficult. But for those of us who have acquired one or more Yixing teapots, I hope to clarify why a certain “firm” rule is actually rather lax, and how you can break it with great results.
The “firm” rule I am referring to is this – you must use the pot for only one type of tea. Not only is this rule rather vague – dependent as it is on how you define “type” – it is also very general. Is type “oolong,” “roasted oolong,” a specific varietal, or a specific varietal from a specific vendor? Most seem to agree that it is advisable to stick to a specific sub-type of tea, such as a roasted oolong or an oolong processed in the wuyi style.
But this rule is easily broken, and in my experience, breaking it can sometimes produce great results. I acquired a pot that actually behaved rather poorly for wuyi yancha, which is what I wished to use it for, though it improved over time. I was about to give up, when I discovered it worked rather well for green tie guan yin (TGY). I actually brewed up many cups of green TGY in the pot, and was ready to dedicate the pot to that particular tea, but on a whim I used it for some wuyi. It was fantastic – none of the off flavors it had before were present – they were all gone. It was as if the pot just needed some additional seasoning before it could properly showcase the taste of the tea.
The fact is that this new pot now works so well with wuyi oolongs that I am looking for a new tea for my old yancha pot. And rinsing it only with boiling water a few times, it seems to have made the transition to aged puerh quite nicely.
To sum up the point of my post, while it makes sense – due to the porous nature of Yixing clay – to stick to a certain “type” of tea, it really is all up in the air. As long as you treat it wisely, you should really have no problem using a Yixing teapot for just about any tea you wish.