The process of seasoning a brand new Zisha teapot is call “opening” in Chinese. Before you start, you should first think about what kind of tea you want to use with this teapot. Some teapot-only collectors do not care about this but the most valuable teapots are the ones only been drinking one kind of tea. That is why many people say tea lovers and teapot lovers are not the same breed ☺. There are two common ways to open your brand new teapot or re-open a used teapot. Riskier (you might break the teapot during the process, not likely but happens sometimes) but more effective way to "open":
1. Boil in clean pot (no grease) for an hour
2. Stuff the teapot with tofu and boil for an hour
3. Chop up some sugar cane and boil with the teapot for an hour
4. Stuff the teapot with the tea you are going to use and boil for an hour In between each step, make sure you take the teapot out and let it completely cool down and dry before boiling again.
Safer but less effective way is basically doing a shorter version of the above without actually boiling the teapot
1. Rinse the teapot repeatedly with boiling water
2. Brew a pot with tea you are going to use and let it sit in tea water as well
3. Get a piece of soft cloth damped with brewed tea and repeatedly massage the teapot
4. Let it cool and dry and repeat the process for several days (yes, you can drink the tea too, only some super serious teapot lovers actually do not drink the tea until the teapot is ready which I think is a little excessive)
With either way, you always sacrifice the first many brews of tea for the teapot, it is only when the teapot is saturated with tea, it starts to give back. With the first way, it takes shorter time and the second method takes longer. In the second method, the step of massaging the teapot is also a routine many teapot collectors do for maintenance of the teapot. You can use any soft cloth that does not scratch the surface (like the brow cloth many probably saw I use). Some people use a soft brush too. A diligently maintained teapot can develop Bao Jiang, a dark gentle glow, as soon as in a year. I'm usually lazy and only rinse the teapot with tea water when I'm actually drinking and almost never massage the teapot so it will take years. Never "wash" the teapot but always rinse it with boiling water thoroughly after each use and let it dry completely, with lid off the teapot. If you use the teapot everyday make sure you let the teapot rest for 3-4 days every couple of month to let it just breath. Not a problem if you don't use it everyday.