A tea pot sometimes needs to be cleaned. Tea pots made of clay are, like every living being, fragile, and hurt from hard impacts, and chemicals. Preferably, a clay pot should be handled only with pure water, pure tea leaves and soft, attentive, gentle hands.
But sometimes accidents happen. Some years back, I had an unexpected experience with a so called a ‘toxic free, organic’ wall paint, with no emissions, according to the ad. Well, no matter how natural and expensive it was, it never dried properly. The paint remained wet for weeks and turned into a noxious smell, permeating my body, my lungs, my skin, my home, and of course my collection of Yixing clay pots, and my tea. It was a mixture of chemicals in gas form, including the toxic gas formaldehyde according to a test in a laboratory three months later. For a period of time it turned my life, my health, my lungs and my home into a kind of a hell. Everything I owned that could not be washed thoroughly with detergents had to be discarded. It left me with a likely lifelong sensitivity to chemicals, it gave me an intensive exposure for chemicals know for causing cancer, breathing difficulties and nightmares; and, an almost heartbreaking realization; my tea and clay pots were ruined. Any soaps and detergents known to me, which might dissolve formaldehyde, would leave other traces and render the porous pots forever tainted. And no matter how often I boiled them in pure water and soaked them in tea, they could not be used.
Some years later, and many tears and moments of despair later, a good friend of mine, and a fellow tea lover, suggested I try the water soluble bleach, sodium percarbonate, and/or pure white ash to add to the boiling water. So after four years of being stored away in the attic, soaked with a sticky toxic, I now bring the pots back into my life; I wash and boil the beautiful pots all over again with bleach.
Humans are fragile, just like the tea pots. We need a healthy and kind environment to thrive and stay healthy. And when we get dirty, or sick, we sometimes need the good advice and encouragement of a kind friend to help us find the proper ways to wash and recover ourselves. So – never give up, keep your pots, no matter what, and listen to your friends!