"Real diehards will brew only one kind of tea" in a Yixing pot, according to Amanda Verdery of Dobrá Tearoom in Burlington. The special clay used in these pots comes from a particular area of China's Jiangsu province. It hardly shrinks when fired, which makes for tight-fitting caps, and the unglazed clay is quite porous - that's why it "seasons" with use. Legend holds that if you brew tea in the same Yixing teapot for 20 years, tea leaves are no longer necessary to produce a flavorful cup.
Dobrá recently received a large shipment of Yixing pots, each of them stamped with the artisan's signature. The pots range from simple to complex and, in Verdery's words, "super-tiny to party-sized." Many of the designs "reflect nature," she adds. Simple pots frequently have floral or bamboo motifs, or look like something from The Arabian Nights. Some of the most intricate are shaped like tree trunks or are carved with detailed dragons and phoenix. Most cost less than $40, although some are more expensive. Cups are sold separately, for $1.50 to $5 each. Dobrá also carries a selection of other Chinese tea-brewing vessels.
Pouring something stronger? Another legendary ceramic vessel option is right around the corner, on the Church Street Marketplace. Three Tomatoes Trattoria is selling its signature "lucky" chicken pitchers for $59 - and that includes a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant.
Why is the chicken a good omen? The story goes that a marked Italian nobleman was awakened from a drunken slumber by some chickens, just in time to save his life. But forget about holding the poultry pitcher responsible for your red-wine hangover.