I love loose-leaf tea. I hate encountering tea leaves in my cup. And I particularly hate over-steeped, tannic tea. But I don’t always like to pour out the whole pot right away. What’s a girl to do?
Enter the Chatsford series of teapots.
The teapots are stoneware, with a very generously sized infuser basket. The comparatively large-diameter opening at the top allows for a much larger basket than the usual after-market infuser designed for ordinary teapots; 1/3 of the volume of the teapot is contained within the basket. This gives the tea quite enough room to fully bloom and unfold, a must with whole-leaf teas. And since all the tea is contained within the infuser basket, it’s trivial to pull it out when the optimal steeping time has elapsed, leaving you with a full pot of perfectly steeped, leafless tea. If multiple infusions are your bag (heh), you can simply replace the basket to re-steep. I’ve even done pseudo-gong-fu with the smallest teapot before I had a proper gaiwan, filling the basket 2/3 of the way and pouring it off for 6 people.
Since I’ve begun drinking loose-leaf tea, I’ve managed to acquire one of these teapots in every size they make; two-cup, four-cup, six-cup, and ten-cup. (I drink my tea in 12-ounce mugs rather than 6-ounce cups, so these serve one, two, three, and five people respectively.) They are remarkably sturdy; I’ve hauled these teapots all over the western United States as part of a road trip, including a terrifying bottoming-out of our car in Fresno that shattered a jar of pickles in the trunk but left the teapot unscathed. The only time I’ve had one break is when my peculiar cat tried to bring me the wool knitted tea cozy with the teapot still inside, dragging it off the table and onto the floor with a resounding crash.
In case it’s not clear already, I love these teapots. You can buy them from Upton Tea Imports, in a small variety of colors. I finally had to give up buying cute teapots in other styles, because I just don’t use them when I have these available. Highly recommended.