We’ve all been there. The lovely and perfect pot that we knew could break but also thought would never ever because we are so careful. Until one day, a slip of the hand, a mere second’s distraction, and that pot meets its maker. Yes, we’ve all been there and recognise what it takes to come out of the Broken Teapot condition with minimal scarring and trauma.


Step 1: Denial

The sound of shattering porcelain rings out like an uncanny bell. For three whole seconds you stare in disbelief at the shards on the floor. It is impossible to reconcile that noise with the fact you have just dropped your favourite teapot.

Step 2: Anger

Swear at self for being clumsy. Swear at teapot manufacturer for the broken, unusable state of your favourite teapot. Swear at teapot for making floor unsafe to walk on due to sharp bits everywhere.

Step 3: Bargaining

Maybe you can glue it back together?

Step 4: Depression

You’ll never find a teapot like it ever again.

Step 5: Acceptance

You resolve to buy a new teapot. This is a decision fraught with many considerations. Will you try to buy a replacement for the irreplaceable one now broken? (Spoiler alert: yes.) Or will that rare heirloom your great-grandmother passed down to you rest in pieces in a box on the mantelpiece like an urn inscribed with the vow that you’ll never drink tea again without it? (Spoiler alert: no.)

Step 6: Size it up

Decide on the capacity of the teapot. Are you looking for a teapot you can use at tea parties with several friends, or something for yourself when you’re tucking into a good book? Of course, that’s the same size for some people.

Step 7: Make material matter

The material the teapot is made of will make a difference to heat retention and also the taste of the tea.

Of course it’s good practice to warm the teapot before preparing tea, whatever substance it’s made of. Unless you have a warmer, like a USB heat pad, a tealight candle stand or a brazier-style setup or even a USB brazier (this doesn’t exist but maybe it should), it’s best to do this by putting a little hot water in the teapot and swilling it around before pouring it out and brewing the tea. George Orwell objects and says it’s best to warm the teapot by “placing it on the hob” but he didn’t know about convenience back in those days.

Here’s a rundown of common teapot materials, their strengths and weaknesses. Please note the attributes refer to the best teapots of the kind.


  • Strengths: Neutral effect on taste; you can make eyes at your tea while it’s brewing; loses heat quickly, which is good for green tea.
  • Weaknesses: Loses heat quickly, which is bad for tepid-tea-haters, thoroughly breakable.


  • Strengths: Neutral effect on taste; comes in a variety of aesthetically pleasing designs; has the most chance to impress mother-in-law.
  • Weaknesses: Loses heat quickly, which is bad for tepid-tea-haters, thoroughly breakable.


  • Strengths: Neutral effect on taste; comes in a variety of aesthetically pleasing designs; heat loss not as rapid as glass or porcelain making it a good all-rounder.
  • Weaknesses: Breakable; maybe all-rounder means mediocre?

Clay (especially yixing)

  • Strengths: Absorbs flavour, making it ideal for oolong, black tea and pu’er; many of them are cute and valuable.
  • Weaknesses: Absorbs flavour, making it a bad choice for delicate teas; breakable; stupidly expensive.

Stainless steel

  • Strengths: Unbreakable; cheap.
  • Weaknesses: Unusable; impresses tea with a metallic taste; I’ve never met a stainless steel teapot I’ve liked.

Cast iron

  • Strengths: Unbreakable; once heated properly will retain warmth for a long time; makes a great weapon if an enemy attacks you while you’re having tea or you can just, you know, make tea not war.  
  • Weaknesses: Takes a while to heat properly; does not play well with delicate teas; don’t drop it on your toes.


Step 8: Follow the form

The form of a teapot consists of its pouring ability, in particular the position of the handle and how comfortable it is to hold and the performance of the spout—and I don’t mean an interpretive dance version of ‘I’m a Little Teapot’.

A note here: there are a great many pretty and/or novelty teapots out there but the truth is a lot of them don’t pour very well, and if there’s one thing that’s no laughing matter it’s wasting tea. Try before you buy if you can, even if it means making a cuppa to bribe the sales staff.

Also consider how you’ll brew the tea. Do you want an infuser with that? Some teapots come with an infuser as part of the design, others expect you to either bring your own or brew the tea with the leaves in the pot and use an external strainer. I like a large infuser myself (but size isn’t everything, it’s the way you use it) and one that’s removable means I can control the strength of the brew.

Step 9: Celebrate

Make a pot of tea with your new teapot. Don’t drop it this time.