Here at The Tea Centre we have a large selection of teapots and tea sets to choose from. Some people choose based on what they look like and others on their functionality. We're often asked what's the difference? So to help explain the differences between the various materials used here is a brief synopsis for you.
Cast Iron - This is a very durable teapot and is the best teapot for retaining heat. It therefore keeps your tea hotter for longer (and is even better if you fill with hot water first to pre-warm the teapot, empty and then brew your tea as per normal). All our cast iron teapots are glazed inside, which makes for easy cleaning, but unfortunately this also means they can't be used directly on the stove as the glazed interior may crack under the direct heat source.There are some basic care instructions we recommend you follow and if you do so the teapot will last you for many, many years, if not your lifetime.
Glass - Glass teapots are aesthetically pleasing as you can see the colour of your tea as it brews as well as being able to see exactly how much you have left - quite handy, especially if you're having to share. It's also immensely popular for flowering teas. Quality glass teapots also tend to pour very well, due to a finer surface area at the end of the spout. The downsides are that glass can break easily, so extra care is needed when washing up (be wary of kitchen taps especially) and glass teapots also cool rather quickly. It's always best to pre-warm your glass teapot by adding some warm/hot tap water to the teapot for a minute before pouring the water out and brewing your tea as per normal. Using a tea cosy can also help to keep your tea warmer for longer but can detract from the aesthetics.
Stainless Steel - This is a durable product that usually pours very well and retains the heat very well also - keeping your tea hotter for longer. The downside is that it can be hot to touch, so you need to be careful when using (be especially vigilant when children are around) and it can dent if dropped. A tea cosy can help with both of these issues.
Fine Bone China - Fine Bone China is often synonymous with quality and is also reknown for its high levels of whiteness and translucency but somewhat lesser known for its strength and chip resistance. As with glass we would recommend you fill your Fine Bone China teapot with warm tap water before filling with boiled water, as it can help keep your tea warmer for longer and sometimes a sudden temperature change can make an item crack or craze (more common in very cold environments). The downside of Fine Bone China that most people would be familiar with is that the tannin contained in tea can leave stains, but most don't know that this can often be avoided if you rinse your product shortly after each use. There are also many cleaning methods available online, or professional products you can purchase, but our only recommendation is that you don't use abrasive ingredients or sponges as they will scratch and eventually dull the china.
Since inception Fine Bone China was almost exclusively an English product, up until the later part of the twentieth century, but is now produced in many other countries around the world. Some may not be aware but the name Fine Bone China actually stems from the fact that a minimum of 30% of phosphate used to help produce Fine Bone China is derived from actual animal bone (usually cows or oxen). The higher the percentage of bone used, up to a maximum of about 45%, attributes to the higher translucency and also a much higher price. Sourcing the bone is now harder than ever, as the Chinese also use it in many cosmetic products, so demand is now pushing up prices and making Fine Bone China more expensive to produce and also to buy.
Bone China - Similar in appearance and strength to Fine Bone China, Bone China tends to have a slightly creamier white appearance. The colour is determined by the amount of animal bone used, which can vary between 5% - 30%. The lower the percentage the creamier the colour.
New Bone China - Unlike other Bone China's calcium oxide is used instead of the traditional bone ash. This means no animal product is used to help produce New Bone China and can therefore make it a preferred option when purchasing. Although it's not as white or translucent as Fine Bone China it's typically whiter, finer and more durable than ceramic teapots.
Ceramic - Typically ceramic teapots are strong and hard, however they can be brittle in nature, so care needs to be be taken when washing them up. Made of clay, earthen elements, powders and water, ceramic is a common material used in the production of teapots. These elements are readily available, making it cheaper to produce, and often colourful glazes are applied to make them both decorative as well as functional. As ceramic is generally not as fine as other materials it's important when choosing your teapot to take a close look at the spout. If it narrows slightly at the end this generally means it will pour better.
Porcelain - Porcelain is technically a specific type of Ceramic however a true porcelain includes the rare ingredient 'kaolin' which allows it to be fired at a very high temperature, resulting in it being stronger and more often than not a little translucent, unlike traditional ceramics. It's also usually thinner and quite delicate in appearance. China first mastered the process of making porcelain and many countries have tried to replicate it since and in the process discovered and created Fine Bone China and Ceramics. Due to the lack of the rare ingredient of 'kaolin' in true porcelain it has become quite common to see standard Ceramics labelled as Porcelain but there is a distinct difference and due to the rareity of the key ingredient it's now becoming increasingly rare to purchase.