Home is Where Your Teapots Are

What is a Teapot? Ti/pot, a noun describing a pot with a handle, spout, and lid, in which tea is brewed and from which it is poured.

A teapot is a simple vessel that we fill with hot water to steep tea leaves in for a refreshing beverage. Teapots are short, often wide with a handle and a spout, as the childish American song lyrics in 1939 sing..

I’m a little teapot ; short and stout Here is my handle Here is my spout. When I get all steamed up then I shout Tip me over and pour me out

Teapots are many and varied and come in all sorts of sizes, colours and shapes but usually have a lid with a hole for the steam to escape and sometimes an infuser or strainer inside to filter the tea leaves plus a pouring spout and handle. Teapots are made of ceramic, fine bone china, glass, thermoware, silver, stainless steel, cast iron, brass or enamel. The decorative aspects, sizes and shapes of Teapots are endless and only restricted by our imagination, as my own collection of Teapots will attest.

Unfortunately the teapot is becoming less used in the modern world because of the massive use of teabags in our Western culture. I can guarantee that loose leaf tea leaves in a teapot make far superior tea even if a little more time consuming.

“Afternoon Tea” George Goodwin Kilburne, 1897

The Teapot, Serene and Genteel

The very sight of a teapot puts a smile on the face of most people. One cannot help but  think of more serene and genteel times. From a whimsical child’s teapot to an elegant English Teapot, to collectible teapots that adorn some homes,

they are a subtle reminder of all that is good in this world. 

Barbara Roberts

Where did Teapots come from? The teapot originally is said to have come from China during the Yuan Dynasty where the shape was derived from ceramic kettles or wine pots. These were made of bronze and other metals and were a feature of Chinese life for thousands of years. By the Ming Dynasty, teapots were widespread in China and some have survived until today and are on display in the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware dated to 1513.

In the 17th century tea was shipped from China to Europe when the export of spices and luxury goods began. The ships also brought the tea and porcelain teapots. The majority of these early teapots were painted in  blue and white underglaze being completely vitrified, and would withstand sea water without damage, so the teapots were packed below deck whilst the tea was stowed above deck to ensure that it remained dry.

The pastime of Tea drinking in Europe was the preserve of the upper classes, because it was costly and the Porcelain teapots were particularly desirable because porcelain could not be made in Europe at that time. Porcelain was not made in Europe until the German Meissen factory opened in 1710. These early European pottery houses began to make their own tea wares inspired by the Chinese designs. In colonial America too, Boston became the center for silver production and artistry including silver Teapots.

The Silver Tea Service

The first silver service pots for tea were designed around 1730. Simple globular shaped designs appeared first and followed by straight-sided silver teapots, then the oval shaped teapots of the 1770’s made popular by The American patriot Paul Revere. By the 1780’s footed teapots appeared, designed to protect tabletops from heat scarring.

Although pewter teapots appeared in the Georgian era for those unable to afford silver teapots, they were seldom produced in any number after the 1790’s. Reflecting the “classic” designs favored by the new French Republic, teapots were, for a short but beautiful period, shaped as a drum.

Do yourself a favour and get out the old silver Teapot and see for yourself.

All content Di Baker all rights reserved January 2020

Images courtesy of Unsplash or Pixabay

Title quote by Helen Oyeyemi