How to Clean & Care For Antique Teaware

capacitea Admin

Posted on May 01 2023

yong zheng famille rose teapot

Chinese blue and white porcelain interior

Antique teapots with their rich historical background, are welcomed by world tea lovers and collectors. Chinese porcelain and purple clay tea wares are the most popular ones. It is important to use the right methods to maintain the proper condition of each treasured piece.

PORCELAIN-Handling Carefully

The best way to store old porcelain tea wares is to put them in specially made boxes with a sponge or foam mat inside. If it is for display purpose, then fix it on a flat base will probably be a good idea. Wood stand is a wise option to consider.
A FAMILLE ROSE PART TEA SET Yongzheng/QianlongA Famille Rose Part Tea Set/ Yongzheng/Qianlong 粉彩外销瓷 雍正/乾隆
A PAIR OF SMALL FAMILLE VERTE 'MONTH' CUPS/Daoguang six-character marks and of the periodA Pair of Small Famille Verte'Month'Cups/Daoguang six-character marks 清 五彩山石水仙花对杯「大清道光年製」篆書款
Try to ensure use clean and dry hands while appreciating old porcelain tea wares and take off accessories like rings, since they may scratch the glaze on the porcelain. Do not wear gloves while holding the porcelains because they can fall off easily from gloves.

Gently clean the dust with a wet rag, or use a soft brush to clean the seams on the wares. Do not clean unglazed potteries directly with water. Since ceramics absorb water and the surface of excavated potteries is very crisp, some engobe may have become powdered, so direct washing should be avoided.

Purple Clay – Daily Maintenance

AN YIXING STONEWARE 'HEART SUTRA' TEAPOT AND COVER Qing dynasty清 段泥般若波羅密多心經壺An Yixing Stoneware"Heart Sutra" Teapot / Qing dynasty  段泥般若波罗蜜多心经壶

It is crucial for your purple clay tea sets to receive daily maintenance.A finished purple clay pot is very fragile, and the spaces inside the clay become loose since the pot is fired. Thus, it may expand with heat and contract with cold. The maintenance of teapots can improve its structural features.
The traces of the age of those old pots are what make them attractive and outstanding. Especially those old pots with detailed paintings and calligraphy, they will have more stereoscopic patterns and beautiful feeling after long time maintenance.
Here are some core principles for keeping the precious purple clay pots from wear and tear and hold their beautiful look.

  • Use hot water to wash used purple clay pot before making tea. When using a new pot, clean both inside and outside with water. Put the pot into a clean cauldron and boil it with water.
Place loose teas after boiling and once the fire put off, keep the pot with the remained temperature for a while. Take the tea leaves out when the water is getting cooler and boil it again.
Repeat this process three to four times, the earthy smell of the pot should fade away and it can moisten the new pot with tea at the same time.
  • Greasy dirt is the killer to purple clay pots; please do not applying oil to make the pot looks shining. Greasy dirt should be cleaned soon as possible; otherwise, it will leave stains and affect its absorption of water. Use a fine cloth with soap to wipe it gently and lightly.
  • The more the pot is used, the more flavour of teas it will absorb. When the pot absorbs a certain amount of tea, the tea liquor will permeate to the surface and give it a jade-like brightness. When making tea, the surface temperature of the purple clay pot is very high. Wipe it with a wet cloth for many times until it cools down. Or pour the first round of tea in the cup and add boiling water to the pot. Then pour the water in the cup to the body of the pot.
  • Use a small soft brush or some clean cotton to wipe the pot when needed. Then wash it with boiling water and dry the pot with a clean tea towel.
  • It is a misconception that leaving tea residue or water in the pot is good for the pot. On the opposite, bacteria will grow inside the pot and generate odour and sour smell, which is harmful for both users and the pot. Do not leave water stain or residue behind. Also, leave the lid open a bit to help dry the pot and also prevent it from having the unpleasant smell.
  • Give your purple clay teapot a rest after using it for a period. Dry out the clean teapot in a ventilated place, sealed. Avoid dust or grease area.


A CHINESE EXPORT SILVER TEAPOT/Wang Hing stamped mark, late 19th/early 20th century
A CHINESE EXPORT SILVER TEAPOT/Wang Hing stamped mark, late 19th/early 20th century
Be aware that the temperature between the inside and outside of the metal pot is different. Warm the pot before brewing tea so that the pot will absorb heat evenly. Do not leave dreg inside to avoid corrosion. Try to use some soft dry cloth instead of chemical cleaners to clean metal tea wares because these chemical substances may react with the metal and produce harmful substances. Dry the tea wares before storage. Avoid storing them in humid places.

Lacquer Ware

A Rare Imperial Lacquered and Enamelled Yixing Stoneware Teapot/Qianlong seal mark and of the period
A Rare Imperial Lacquered and Enamelled Yixing Stoneware Teapot/Qianlong seal mark and of the period
To keep the splendour of lacquer tea wares, carefully maintenance work is crucial. Avoid to store them in places with changeable temperature or humidity. Keep lacquerwares away from the ground, or it may absorb moisture, depaint and mildew. At the same time, maintain the tea wares from blazing sunshine, or it can lead to a deformation or break on the surface. Clean the dusty surface with gauze or a soft brush. If there are stains, wipe it gently with gauze and cooking oil.

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