There are a number of things to consider when buying a teapot, whether for yourself or as a gift for someone else. By thinking about your needs before you seek out a teapot, you can make the purchasing process much more efficient, and you can ensure that you get exactly what you want. Once you have settled upon the style of teapot you want, there are a number of resources for buying a teapot, ranging from kitchen supply stores to specialty retailers such as shops which specialize in equipment for the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
The first thing to think about is how you will be using your teapot. If you plan on making pots of tea for yourself, for example, you might want a small, relatively plain teapot. If the teapot is going to be used to serve casual groups, it might be larger and more decorative, while formal teapots are available for events like hosted teas and luncheons. If you will be using your teapot for something like a tea ceremony, you may want to talk to your tea ceremony instructor about picking out the best teapot.
Materials are an important consideration when buying a teapot. Ceramic, porcelain, and earthenware are all common materials, but teapots can also be made from metal, glass, stone, and wood. Metal teapots are convenient because they can be heated or kept warm on the stove, as can some earthenware teapots. Porcelain and glass tend to be more fragile, while novelty teapots made from materials like wood should be carefully inspected before purchase.
Different teapots also have different features. The best way to brew teas and tisanes is in looseleaf form, in which case you may want to think about buying a teapot with a strainer in the spout which allows you to pour tea directly into cups. Some companies also make teapots with large central chambers lined with mesh, allowing you to brew looseleaf tea without having to contend with floating leaves in teacups. You may also want to think about the materials used for the handle and lid; metal lids and handles might seem elegant, but they can also sear your hand when the rest of the teapot gets hot.
Teapots are also prone to dribbling. A teapot is actually quite difficult to make; some ceramics and metalworking programs actually use teapots as final projects since they represent a high level of technical skill and accomplishment. If possible, you may want to test drive a teapot with fresh clean water before buying it, to determine whether the spout leaks and dribbles, as this can be extremely irritating.
Finally, if you are a tea purist, you might want to think about multiple teapots. Some brewers prefer to designate specific teapots for aromatic teas, black teas, tisanes, and other infusions, to ensure that flavors are not transferred. You do not want to taste previous pots in every cup of tea, so if clear flavor is important to you, consider buying a teapot assortment to prevent unwanted mixing.