Last month, my mum found this Zisha pot in a storeroom. To cut a long story short, she bought it about 10 years ago but somehow forgot all about it.
Happily I brought it home but when I unwrapped it, it emitted a foul smell, a mustiness to it. 10 years of built up. So I proceeded to cook it in tea leaves but to no avail. I soaked it in tea leaves overnight but same thing. That offensive smell remained and the thought of brewing any type of tea in it and drinking from it was unimaginable.
It seemed like a real shame, it was a well-crafted pot, and gave a low metallic sound.
Then when I spoke to a tea utensils vendor in China about my pot, she said ‘just use a toothbrush and a toothpaste’, her nonchalance in contrast to my disbelief.
‘You mean as in what you use to brush your teeth?’ Feeling stupid even as I asked that.
‘Yes. If that doesn’t work, you can pour hot water it, let the pot heat, empty it and pour cold water straightaway. Do it a few times and you should clear up the smell completely.’
Stranger and stranger. My physics classes were a distant memory but I was pretty sure my tutor would have frowned at that very suggestion. It seemed like a recipe for creating cracks in my little pot.
I struggled with that for a while, did I really want to risk drinking mint tea? Or risk my mother’s wrath of destroying (yet another) pot?
The heck with it, I decided to take a chance. After all, the vendor had otherwise proven rather reliable.
I pulled out an old toothbrush and some Colgate Sensitive toothpaste- less mint taste I thought. To my surprise, that actually removed the smell to some extent and there was no lingering toothpaste smell.
But it wasn’t complete, I thought about it for a while and starting boiling water. Accordingly, if it is genuine Zisha (Purple Clay), it will not crack and Mum was adamant that was genuine Zisha, since she bought it from Wuxi Museum.
As I poured the boiling water it, I felt the heat radiate. I quickly poured it out and doused it with tap water- bracing myself for a crack.
That didn’t happen.
But the smell did subside somewhat. After repeating that another 6-7 times, undoing 10 years in the making, the smell did clear up.
Now I have another usable Zisha Pot!