How to Clean a Cast Iron Teapot
There are many reasons why a cast iron teapot is one of the best vessels to make a heartwarming cup of tea. For one, the Japanese have been using them for centuries. And while the ancient Chinese prefer special clay pots for brewing their tea, the rest of the world seems to enjoy tea better when brewed from a cast iron teapot. This is because the western equivalent of the modern cast iron teapot fuses the Japanese ‘tetsubin’ and the Chinese ceramic. This vessel provides better tea heating and steeping processes. It is also very durable. However, this is contingent on the proper care and maintenance that you exercise on the teapot. Here is how you can perform a thorough cleaning of a cast iron teapot as an important step to its proper care.
Before you start cleaning a cast iron teapot, it is imperative that you allow it to cool down. This is to help minimize the effects of a thermal shock, which can weaken the structure of the metal and its enamel coating. It happens when you subject a substance to a drastic change in temperatures, like from extra hot to super cool.
Start warming a pot of water. It should not be boiling. There are some who propose using very hot water to help kill any germs that may be present on the inside surface of the teapot. As a matter of rule, however, it is best to stick with warm water.
Remove the Teapot Lid and Infuser
It would be impossible to clean the inside of the teapot without removing the lid and the infuser. This allows you to have full access to the teapot’s inside surface. It is a very crucial step that some folks always seem to forget.
- Pour and Swish Warm Water
Get your warm water and pour it in the teapot. Swirl the water around, making sure to coat every imaginable surface of the enamel layer. While the temperature of the water is not enough to kill certain bacteria or other microorganisms, it is warm enough to render them inactive. Plus, the swishing motion of the water should help dislodge them from their attachment.
If you miss this part, it is possible that only the section filled with water will get the warm water treatment. In other words, you will not be able to clean the pot in a more thorough manner.
Do not use any scrubbing pad or soap. Some people recommend using warm soapy water. However, there is a chance that the soap will leave an odor on the surface of the enamel. As such, it is best to stick with warm water.
- Wipe the Interior and Exterior Surface
Get a clean piece of cloth or towel. Pour or drain the warm water. Depending on the warmth of the inside surface, water will evaporate in an instant. To aid in the drying process, wipe it off with the clean cloth or towel. This is to make sure that there is no moisture that will remain on the enamel surface.
Using the same towel or cleaning cloth, wipe the exterior of the teapot. Make sure to dry every square inch of the pot. A single drop of water can cause rust to form.
- Air Dry Upside Down
Place the teapot on a dish rack upside down. This will help drain any water bead that may be left on the inside and outside surfaces of the teapot. Also, putting it in an elevated position can help dry it better.
- Clean Infuser
Modern tea infusers are easy to clean. You can wash them by hand or put them in the dishwasher for a more thorough cleaning and sanitation. What is critical to understand is that the infuser serves as the tea bag, holding the tea leaves. You can expect super-soft tea leaf debris to accumulate in between the gaps of the strainer. Cleaning it should be an important aspect of cleaning a cast iron teapot.
Other Helpful Tips for the Proper Care of a Cast Iron Teapot
- It is possible that rust will form in a cast iron teapot with enamel-glazed inside surface. While rare, it does occur. To remove the rust, stick with a soft brush and not an abrasive scrubbing pad. Rub the soft brush against the rusted area. Fill the teapot with hot water and put several pieces of used tea leaves. Close the lid and let the tea steep for 20 minutes. Drain the water and remove the tea leaves. Tea contains tannin which will react with the rust. This forms a seal on the rusted area and prevent it from recurring.
- Never put the cast iron teapot in the dishwasher. The only part of the teapot that you can place in the dishwasher is the infuser. As for the teapot itself, this requires a more personalized touch through hand washing.
- It is better to clean the cast iron teapot after every use. It is as simple as rinsing the insides with warm water and drying it as thoroughly as possible. Do not use boiling water in cleaning the pot as it can weaken its integrity over time.
- Always discard leftover tea or water. Leaving steeped tea leaves or water for too long can stain the inside of the teapot. While people will not see it, it may disgust you when you do. Moreover, the prolonged contact between the surface and water or steeped tea leaves can lead to dulling of the surface. It can also result in the breakdown of the enamel coating.
- Under no circumstances should you place a cast iron teapot over a gas stove or in a microwave oven. While these teapots are durable, they’re not designed for direct heat applications. As such, if you want to ensure the durability of your cast iron teapot, then it’s best to avoid placing it over direct heat.
Cleaning a cast iron teapot is as easy as rinsing it with warm water. Air drying it thoroughly completes the process.