In order to understand the improvement effect of potassium (K) on the catalytic activity of iron-loaded calcined scallop shell (CS) for the steam reforming tar derived from biomass, various K precursors were applied for the catalyst preparation. It is found that pompom-like iron-based particles with a mesoporous structure were easily formed on the surface of calcined scallop shell (CS) when K2CO3 was used as K precursor while no such kind of microsphere was formed when other kinds of K precursors such as KOH and KNO3 were applied. The optimum K-loading amount for the preparation of this catalyst was investigated. Based on the experimental results obtained, a mechanism for the formation of these microspheres was proposed. This pompom-like potassium-promoted iron-based catalyst showed a better catalytic activity and reusability for the steam reforming of tar derived from lignin.