What Is the Difference Between a Teapot and a Pitcher?

  • Last edited: October 5, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.

A teapot and a pitcher are both used during the Chinese Tea ceremony but they have a different purpose. There might be some confusion on which one to use first and what to do with it. This article gives a full explanation of the differences between a teapot and a pitcher.

The main difference between a teapot and a pitcher is their purpose in the Chinese Tea Ceremony. A teapot is used to infuse tea leaves while you use a pitcher to hold freshly made tea from the teapot to make sure everyone gets an equal cup of tea.

The use of a teapot

A teapot is the main brewing vessel in the Chinese Tea Ceremony (Gong Fu Cha) that is used to brew tea. It has a spout, handle and an opening on top to put tea and pour water into the teapot.

The leaves go into the teapot, infuse for a short while and you pour out the tea while leaving the tea leaves in the teapot. This is a basic description of how to use a teapot. If you’re getting into the Chinese Tea ceremony, you’ll discover that it’s a lot more complicated than this, though.

There are teapots of different materials and the most common ones are made from clay, glass, or porcelain. The price varies a lot mainly due to the material that is used and the artist who made the pot. Another factor that affects the price of a teapot is its age because older pots are rarer so they are more expensive.

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A porcelain teapot
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A clay teapot

What is a pitcher?

A pitcher is another tool that is frequently used in the Chinese Tea Ceremony. After infusing tea leaves in a teapot, you usually pour the tea into a pitcher before you pour it into smaller cups. Other commonly used names are fair cup, fairness cup, or gong dao bei.

The reason for this is that teacups in the Chinese Tea Ceremony are relatively small and if you pour straight from the teapot into smaller cups, you won’t have evenly brewed tea. The first cup you fill will be softer in flavors than the last one.

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Pouring tea from a pitcher into a cup
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Using a pitcher to fill a cup

This is why you want to use a pitcher. One of the other names for a pitcher is a fairness cup. Fairness cup beautifully illustrates why a pitcher is used; so everyone at the tea table gets a fair and equal share of tea.

Just like teapots, pitchers are made from different materials. The most common pitchers are glass, porcelain, and ceramic. There are also many options for shapes and sizes.

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Glass pitcher
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Ceramic pitcher
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Ceramic pitcher

Difference between a teapot and a pitcher

There are some clear differences between teapots and pitchers when brewing tea. They look different and are used for different purposes. A teapot is used to infuse tea leaves while a pitcher is used to make sure everyone gets an equal cup of tea.

Some vendors recommend using a clay teapot as a pitcher for a few weeks/months before actually using it to brew tea. Clay teapots absorb essential tea oils and affect subsequent brews because of this.

It takes a while for tea oils to accumulate in a teapot before it affects your brew. Using your teapot as a pitcher for the first few weeks speeds up this process and you can use teapots that are already seasoned to brew your tea.

If you’re using a seasoned teapot to brew tea and a new teapot as a pitcher, you still have the effect of the seasoned pot while initiating your new pot as well.

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