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Teamakers are becoming rather common these days, and there are some models that are quite elaborate, automating nearly every step of the teamaking process and then taking the dog for a walk when they’re finished. I’ve used a number of these gizmos over the years, and they’re quite fine, but I always seem to find myself drifting back to less elaborate methods of preparing tea.

But while I can see the sense of using one of these gadgets, I don’t have any desire to build my own. Apparently, there are those who do harbor such a desire, and presumably it all has to do with the rise of the so-called maker culture in recent years.

So if making your own teamaker is the kind of thing that might grab you, march forth to the Instructables site to check out this article. It promises to show you how to make something called the ATTiny Tea Maker, which shouldn’t cost you more than twenty dollars before it’s all said and done.

One starts by creating the circuit that will serve as the brains of the thing, then going on to building the framework, assembling and finishing it all. It seems like a lot of a work to build a very basic teamaker, but as someone who used to pore over Heathkit’s extensive catalogs of DIY electronics projects I guess I can relate, to some extent.

For an even more basic variation on this same theme take a look at this Instructables article about the Little Tea robotic tea brewer. It’s nothing fancy and as you can see from the accompanying photos its made with cardboard and a popsicle stick, among other things. But it you’re clever and ambitious enough to make this plain Jane model, I suspect that you can probably come up with a way to make it a bit more stylish. As for the mechanics of the thing, it appears that its primary objective is to remove the teabag from the cup at the appointed time. Not terribly elaborate, but there it is.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is the teapot tree real? Or is it a myth, a legend, a figment of some moonshiner’s imagination? Time to go on the hunt and find out.

Years ago the most beautiful and youthful Elizabeth Taylor starred opposite the very youthful Montgomery Clift in a movie called Raintree County. It’s a Civil War era romance/tragedy, but the movie title is the key here. What is a “raintree”? And what does it have to do with the teapot tree? First, the raintree was supposedly planted somewhere in Raintree County by John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) and was still out there in the swampy areas growing taller and taller. The teapot tree is said to be where all teapots originate, crop after crop being generated each year.

I know what you’re thinking: “Aw, c’mon, teapots don’t grow on trees. People make them using different types of clay or other materials such as glass, silver, and brass.” I am well aware that those are the common tales told about teapots. But their veracity is a bit up in the air. In fact, it’s up in a teapot tree!

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that teapots come in different sizes, from teeny weeny to super large. They also have all kinds of shapes and colors. This just proves my point. Apples also come in lots of sizes and shapes and colors. Apples grow on trees. Ergo, teapots come from trees. Right? Well, try this…

Once upon a time there was a guy named Johnny Teapottreeseed (no relation to Johnny Appleseed – any similarity is purely coincidental). The location of his birth is a mystery, but some say it was in eastern Canada and others say as far away as New Guinea. He certainly predates our War of Independence against the British Empire and is said to be the founder of the many potteries along Stoke-on-Trent in England. At some point he decided to come to the U.S. and head westward from Philadelphia. He planted seeds for teapot trees in a little town called New Stanton, just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they continue to bear fruit…uh, teapots to this day. He then traveled on west into Ohio and Indiana, finally working his way to the Midwest and somewhere along the way he planted his most special tree – the one that has become that legendary teapot tree!

The location of the tree is pretty secret, but I had a friend who has a friend who went to his high school prom with a girl who heard a rumor that an old woman living on the corner of her street had heard someone talking about having actually SEEN the teapot tree, so I took a chance and went to the old woman’s house but she didn’t live there anymore but the family that did said she had left them a map she’d made based on that conversation she’d overheard and I followed it and found the tree and was able to snap this photo:

Teapots ready for harvest from the teapot tree. (image by A.C. Cargill – no teapots were harmed in the making of this composite)

Teapots ready for harvest from the teapot tree. (image by A.C. Cargill – no teapots were harmed in the making of this composite)

Proof positive that there is a teapot tree still growing after all these years. We owe a lot to Johnny Teapottreeseed!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Various items in nature – plants, birds, fish, animals, insects, mountains, and so on – have been inspirations for artists and craftsmen for years. Sometimes, though, it seems that the resemblance is a little too uncanny! Thus it was the day we found a whole, intact cicada shell (the exoskeleton that he had wriggled his way out of and then flown off to await the hardening of the new one). I saw it and was immediately reminded of a certain teapot I had. So the urge to bring it inside and snap a photo or two was irresistible. And here is the result:

Cicada – real life versus teapot (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Cicada – real life versus teapot (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Cicadas are common in temperate-to-tropical climates. They are widely known, being of a large size and emitting a unique song. There are about 2,500 species of cicada, and they are related to leafhoppers, which are responsible for the flavor of a certain oolong tea known as Oriental Beauty. Small wonder they tend to ornament teapots like mine. But these insects have other aspects, too. They are an important food source in many countries, including China, Myanmar (Burma), Malaysia, the Congo, and Latin America. They were also popular in Ancient Greece. The females are meatier and therefore more sought. The shells are even used for medicines in China; a decoction is prepared by boiling down the shells to a concentrated broth that you drink, or they can be ground to a powder and added to water. The cicada (chán  蟬 or  蝉) is also an important symbol in China. It represents eternal youth and happiness, rebirth, immortality, and life after death (it survives underground for a long period of time and then emerges and flies into the sky).

Now, in case you’re wondering, a cicada on my teapot lid does not make the tea taste better nor assure that I will live to a ripe old age. It does assure me of getting a good grip on the teapot lid when I need one (and don’t we all need a good grip on things? hee!), and it adds a bit of cuteness (unless cicadas creep you out) to my tea time. This particular teapot is made in the Yixing area of China from Zisha clay. It is unglazed inside and out and therefore absorbs some of the tea during infusing. Over the years, this tea residue builds up and actually enhances each pot of tea. But you have to use each such teapot with a separate type of tea. This one is for oolongs in honor of those leafhopper relatives of the cicada.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I love Autumn. The cooler temperatures that bring relief after Summer’s heat. The lower humidity level that makes that cooler air seem refreshing. And the colors. Especially the colors. So why not bring that indoors to your Autumn tea table? One great way is with a dishware pattern. There are tons to choose from, but these seven caught my eye. They show the variety that’s out there, mainly featuring colorful Autumn leaves but also a classic design with a very plump turkey – we had this pattern (#7 in the image below) as kids and ate our Thanksgiving dinner off of them every year. Just the sight of them can make me start salivating for my mom’s cooking.

7 patterns to set an Autumn mood (Yahoo! Images composite by A.C. Cargill)

7 patterns to set an Autumn mood (Yahoo! Images composite by A.C. Cargill)

1 Hall’s Autumn Leaf

Created starting in 1933 and ending in 1976 by the Hall China Company exclusively for the Jewel Tea company in Barrington, Illinois, that gave out pieces to customers as premiums when they purchased other products (now a grocery store chain in the northern Midwest). Different pieces would be discontinued over the years to make customers want them more. The teapot is especially sought after.

2 Franciscan Autumn Leaves

This pattern is called Autumn Leaves and was made by Franciscan China between 1955 and 1966. Delicately designed leaves in various colors are on a cream-colored and speckled background. It’s pretty typical for its era and is in what is called the coupe shape, the same as their Starburst pattern but not as popular.

3 Taylor Smith & Taylor Autumn Harvest

The Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery was founded in 1899 by C. A. Smith and Col. John N. Taylor. They took over the facilities of the Taylor, Smith & Lee Pottery that had ceased operations three years earlier and enjoyed quite a bit of success until closing in 1981. They were historical for being one of the first potteries in the U.S. to switch from older methods used by “pioneer potteries” to the most modern mechanical devices available at that time. This pattern was made from 1959 to 1965. (See more about the company here.)

4 222 Fifth Autumn Celebration

The 222 Fifth is a brand name used by PTS America, in New York City, the marketing and distribution arm for PT Sango Ceramics, Indonesia. Their Autumn Celebration pattern, featuring glorious fall foliage, is discontinued but remains very collectible. Bold patterns featuring plants, flowers, geometrics, and even some solid colors are fairly typical for this brand. They also control the entire manufacturing process to assure quality, blending the raw materials to create their own porcelain, stoneware, and fine china. The patterns are applied using a silkscreening process that is regarded as one of the finest around.

5 Royal Albert Lorraine

From Royal Albert LTD., maker of many fine china wares. The Lorraine pattern of grapes and leaves are beautifully painted in hues of blues, greens, browns, and purple.

6 Ganz Autumn Leaf

This pattern features embossed leaves and green trim. It’s part of the Bella Casa line of products from Ganz, a privately-held family company established in 1950 by Samuel Ganz and sons Jack and Sam Ganz. The headquarters is in Toronto, Canada. In the beginning they made toys, especially plush kinds like the popular Webkinz and even a plush Grumpy Cat! Later they added collections of giftware, tabletop accents, candles and personal care, garden décor and more. The Autumn Leaf pattern is discontinued, but you can find pieces here and there online.

7 Johnson Brothers Autumn Monarch

This pattern features an ornate fruit and vegetable design on the rim of the plate and a puffed up tom turkey in the center. Made by Johnson Bros, (Hanley) Ltd., a firm founded at Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent in 1883 (in 2003 they moved their manufacturing operations to China just as many others have done). In 1888, they began producing under-glaze printed ware for which they became famous, so much so that they had to open up additional factories to meet demand. In the 1930s, they started bringing in more modern production methods, including kilns run by electricity. This pattern is discontinued but, as I said above, was around and served up our Thanksgiving dinners for several years when I was a kid. It holds a special place in my memory and would certainly do the same for you.

Seek out these or other patterns for a fabulous Autumn tea table!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea has practically become synonymous with England. The Brits do more than their share to keep those tea gardens in other parts of the world very busy growing and processing tea. Two of those places are China, where tea growing and drinking is said to have originated, and Japan, where tea is so important to their lives that it was part of their emergency rations after a tsunami hit a few years ago. While a Western or British touch to your tea time is very customary, more people are opting for that Asian touch. Here are 5 ways for you to join in the trend:

1 A Tea from China or Japan

Tea time starts with tea. So an appropriate choice is important. And you have quite a few. I focused on the green ones, but in China there are others – black teas, oolong, white teas, and a wide variety of pu-erhs.

Top to bottom: Bamboo strainer, tea scoop, and teapot (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

Top to bottom: Bamboo strainer, tea scoop, and teapot (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

Chinese Green Teas to choose from:

Most tea in Japan is green, but they have quite a variety.

Japanese Green Teas to choose from:

2 A Matcha Experience

The matcha tea mentioned above is part of a tea ceremony. You don’t have to go quite that far. But a Matcha Tea Spoon will certainly help. The “spoon” (more of a scoop) is just short of 7½ inches long and made of bamboo, a quick growing member of the grass family. (The spoons are sold separately.) Bamboo is a symbol of longevity in many Asian countries, so you are also adding that image to your tea experience.

3 A Zen Style Teapot

This Zen Style Glass Teapot isn’t really Asian, but it will convey that Asian air to your tea time. It holds a generous 42 ounces of liquid. The body of the teapot is hand blown borosilicate glass, and the handle is bamboo. It comes with a raised bamboo base, bamboo tea scoop, and micro-mesh stainless steel filter. The filter is definitely NOT Asian, but compromises in tea preparation or blending in with your usual pattern some different ways to enjoy tea can be inspiring. The scoop is great for getting the loose tea leaves into the teapot.

4 A bamboo tea strainer

Once the tea has steeped in that glass Zen teapot, you can use a bamboo strainer to keep the leaves out of the cups. Keep a few on hand, so that they can thoroughly dry between uses, and don’t use them for teas with very fine particles.

5 Asian Symbols

A few Asian symbols are a nice touch here. Since we are heading into that colder time of year, include in those symbols the 3 Friends of Winter: Plum (mei 梅), Bamboo (zhu 竹), and Pine tree (song 松). A bit of red here and there are good, too, since it is the color of good luck and happiness. Or go with yellow which is one of the 4 colors of longevity. Combine both red and yellow for double good luck. Chrysanthemums symbolize the tenth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (roughly our October), so have a vase of them on hand. The crane is another sign of longevity, so a picture of one is great to have.

Whatever your particular selections, have a great Asian tea time!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A pastry fork is totally indispensible. True. Have you ever tried to hold a plate in one hand and cut a piece off that slice of pie, tart, or other goodie residing on it with a regular fork? I have. Not a pretty sight. Makes a total mush of that lovely pastry (especially éclairs and cream puffs), British-style pudding (which is more like a cake), or other delectable goodie that some talented pastry chef slaved over in a hot kitchen for weeks (okay, it was probably just days…uh, hours…anyway, you get the point). So, why is a pastry fork (aka, a “pie fork”) indispensible? Glad you asked. Here’s why:

1 Only Three Tines

First, I need to clarify that this isn’t the kind of pastry fork used to work a batch of pastry dough prior to baking. It’s for using after all that hard work is done and you get to enjoy those efforts. Salad and dinner forks mostly have four tines. But a pastry fork has only three. And they are a bit further apart to spread them across the full head of the fork, which is the same width as the salad fork. Why is three tines better? Because of how that third one is shaped.

The pastry fork explained. (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

The pastry fork explained. (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

2 An Extra-Wide Third Tine

The third tine, counting left to right as shown in the image here) is twice as wide as the others. You are supposed to hold the plate in your left hand and cut a bite-sized piece out of the pastry or pie with the wide tine of the fork in your right hand. Thus this pastry fork is indispensible for the more casual style of tea time served buffet style.

3 Challenges Lefties

The one drawback is that pastry forks are designed for right-handed people. At least, I couldn’t find any online made for the lefties out there. So using such a fork will be a bit of a challenge for them. Maybe a left-handed pastry fork is needed. Any of you designers out there have a golden opportunity here. And an indispensible need for inventors is a problem to solve. And that’s the lack of a left-handed pastry fork!

4 Keeps Those Dessert Spoons Company

Dessert spoons can get pretty lonely in your silverware drawer. A lot of people think they are just an odd-shaped teaspoon. So, they generate a chuckle or two and then get passed over in favor of the more normal teaspoon. But those who discover the wonders of a pastry fork (the kind you eat with) will soon learn how well it pairs with the dessert spoon. According to an etiquette site, “Traditionally, a dessert spoon and dessert fork are used when eating such pastries as cream puffs and éclairs; the pastry is held in place with the spoon and cut and eaten with the fork.” So the pastry fork is indispensible for keeping the creamy fillings from squirting out too much. And for keeping dessert spoons from languishing in the silverware drawer.

5 A Conversation Starter

Whether you’re a leftie dealing with that awkward, odd-looking fork your host foisted on you, or just one prone to observing and commenting on unusual items that cross your path, you can certainly have plenty of conversational ammo here. Awkward pauses at tea time will be a thing of the past as your host regales you with an elaborate (and probably mostly fictional) account of how the pastry fork came to be while you spend your mental capacities working out which tidbit is fact and which is falderal. So the pastry fork is indispensible here, too!

Whatever the case, your tea time (solo or en masse) will be unforgettable, thanks to the indispensible pastry fork!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gold Plated Rose Demi Spoon (ETS image)

Gold Plated Rose Demi Spoon (ETS image)

You know the saying that “silence is golden” and also that as we age we enter our “golden years.” Well, a golden touch for your tea time is another good one – and you don’t have to be King Midas to have one. All it takes is an item here, an item there. Start with something simple and work your way up.

That something simple could be a gold-plated demitasse spoon. They come in several handle designs. I have the one shown here (a gift from hubby years ago) with the rose-shaped handle and feel like Anna, Duchess of Bedford, herself when using it. Roses not your style? Check out this more simply styled Gold Demi Spoon, this Heart-handled Demi Spoon, and this Teapot-handled Gold Demi Spoon. Other possibilities are this pair of Gold Rose Pattern Sugar Tongs and this Gold Teapot Warmer. (A quick tip from my personal experience: keep any gold-plated items dusted so the finish doesn’t get marred.)

Your gold touches can be a bit more subtle. One example is this Yorkshire Gold tea (available loose and bagged). Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold Tea is a malty tea with a rich brown color. Blended from the fine teas of countries like India, Sri Lanka and Africa, this tea is great for breakfast. Since it is a stronger tea, it is often enjoyed with milk and sugar. Of course, you can get that “golden” flavor from the store brand, deep and rich. (Harrogate is known for the quality of its water and, therefore, its many teashops, going back from the first of tea being popularized in England.)

Want more gold? How about the golden hues of honey from the appropriately named Dutch Gold. You can get it as Pure Clover Honey and Orange Blossom Honey. Great for tea or cooking and baking. Try the clover honey over ice cream, in yogurt, or with oatmeal for a deliciously sweet addition. The Orange Blossom honey also pairs well with fruit, salad dressings, and even as a meat glaze.

Oh, and don’t forget a teapot with a golden touch to it. The Timeless Rose Porcelain Teapot is a fine example. It holds 37 ounces of hot, tasty tea and is decorated in the beautiful Timeless Rose pattern with fine gold edging. (It’s part of a complete tea set and a 45 piece dinner set, so you can go all “King Midas” here if you want.)

While “all that glitters is not gold,” these gold items will certainly make your tea time glitter, sparkle, and make you feel rather royal!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jams and preserves are as much a part of the English-style tea time as the teapots are. And the empty jam jars can be fodder for a number of creative projects. Just the way those tea tins and unwanted teapots and teacups could (see my article here). Save some up and then try your hand at one of the creative uses shown below.

The More Obvious Uses

You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far here. Several uses spring to mind immediately.

  • Candle holders – the possibilities are endless, including filling the jar with hot wax and a wick in the middle.
  • Flower vases – the flowers will have to fit the jar sizes, which can vary quite a bit.
  • Storage jar for non-food items – extra buttons, bits of ribbons, small toys, game pieces, coins, paperclips, rubber bands, and any number of other things.
  • Pencil, pen, and brush holders – some people even go so far as to paint the jars.

More Crafty and Whimsical Uses

Let your creative spirit roam free with ribbons, lace, and even little toy figures attached to the jar lids. Some starter ideas:

  • Salt and Pepper shakers – just a few holes in the lids with a nail and hammer will suffice (pepper needs several, and salt often only needs 2 or 3).
  • Pincushions – people seem to be able to make pincushions out of anything, as I pointed out previously about teacups.
  • Paint jars for your kids – make them even more fun by gluing toy figures to the tops.
  • Holiday gifts and decorations – from pumpkin candleholders to cute snowman jars.

One Final Use

Awhile back, I did my own little experiment in creating a flavored tea (one where the tea leaves have things like spices, flowers, and fruits added in). The vessel used for storing this mixture was a very well-cleaned used jam jar. The flavored tea turned out rather well, and that jam jar kept it fairly fresh. (In case you’re wondering, it was half Scottish Breakfast, half Kenilworth Ceylon, a couple of pinches of coriander, and several cardamom seeds split open and the contents added to the tea. It is wonderful served hot with milk and sugar.)

Try you hand at turning some of those jam jars into something cute, useful, whimsical, or whatever suits your skill and imagination.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

(ETS image)

(ETS image)

Fall is coming up fast, so your fall teapot line-up needs to be brought out of storage and prepared for duTEA. Don’t have any Fall teapots? Goodness gracious! Something needs to be done about that and quickly. Fortunately, I have the solution – eight teapots that will bring a feeling of that crisp, clean, cool, Fall air to your tea time.

1 James Sadler Big Ben Monument Teapot

For some reason, Big Ben, the worlds largest four faced chiming clock, makes me think of cooler Fall-time weather. The clock is just over 155 years old and is regarded by many as the most popular landmark in the UK. Small wonder that Sadler, known for their collectible and iconic designs, would make a teapot version of this clock tower. This one is trimmed in gold and will fit in nicely with your houseful of teawares – or give you a good start on your own collection. Teapot measures 8″ high x 7″ wide, and holds 2 cups (about 20oz). Not recommended for microwave or dishwasher use.

2 English Garden Teapot

The colors of fall are well-displayed here in this hand-painted ceramic teapot. The sturdy design also seems to convey Fall, the season of harvest and bounty. The teapot holds 34 ounces, a good size for having a friend over and sharing a cuppa with them. Don’t forget the matching cream and sugar set.

3 English Cottage Fine Bone China Teapot

The iconic English country cottage is also a symbol of chilly weather outside and a warm fire inside with a nice pot of tea and cakes. This teapot, from the English Heirloom Collection, holds 6 cups to warm you thoroughly and serve your guests. It is pleasing to the eye as well with fine gold edging, vibrant colors, and a detailed rendition of the well known cottage of Anne Hathaway against crisp white English bone china. (The pattern is available as a complete tea set, too.)

4 Blue Willow Porcelain Teapot with Infuser

One of the most enduring transferware patterns is Blue Willow. This teapot holds 32 ounces, nice for a Fall tea time with a friend or two. The pattern had been around since the late 1700s and depicts the famous Chinese legend of a wealthy man whose daughter falls in love with his clerk. The young couple elopes and the father pursues them through his garden and onto the bridge where they transform into lovebirds and fly off beyond his reach. Central components to the story, the weeping willow, pagoda, bridge and lovebirds, are shown on every piece. The teapot will be quite the focus of conversation for your guests as you tell them the story.

5 Hemisphere 32oz Teapot

Orange and round like a pumpkin, this teapot, which holds 32 ounces of tasty hot tea, is ideal for a Fall tea time. The contemporary styling will suit those of you with that more modern flair to your décor. The durable stoneware helps keep your tea warm longer and assures that this teapot will serve up cup after cup for many years.

6 Wedgwood Oberon Floral Teapot

A bit more formal in design, this teapot is elegant yet very much in line with the Fall theme here. The exotic Chinese-inspired pattern is in soft shades of green and gold, with black accents, against pure white fine bone china. The border is of pale sage green with red accents, featuring vine motifs, bursts of flora and rimmed with lustrous 22-karat gold. It holds 1.4 pints of hot tea, so is a smaller one in our line-up.

7 James Sadler Teapots – Red Lion

I couldn’t resist including another Sadler design here. This teapot, depicting the Red Lion Pub in rich detail with flowers and even a dog on the front steps, will be quite the show piece at tea time. Your guest will be examining every side while enjoying the tea inside. This bone china teapot is a bit smaller, holding only about 16 ounces, for that more intimate tea time.

8 Country Sunflower Teapot

Another teapot with the colors of Fall accentuated by country sunflowers and made of sturdy ceramic. It holds 35 ounces for serving to your guests. And don’t forget the scones!

As cooler weather approaches, and the leaves begin their annual transformation, let your teapot reflect that seasonal change and bring the spirit of Fall to your tea time!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

See article text for which of these is which. (ETS images – montage by A.C. Cargill)

See article text for which of these is which. (ETS images – montage by A.C. Cargill)

Forget the teabag and steep your loose leaf tea in an infuser…or even in a strainer. Infusers are one thing. Strainers are another. But sometimes a strainer can double as an infuser. Honest! So how do you choose the one (or more) that’s right for you? Here are a few tips.

Mesh infusers

These are good for those teas where the tea leaves, herbals, and other items (flower petals, etc.) are fairly small. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Which you choose will depend on what you will use them in and your own personal preference. They are usually in two halves that are hinged together. And they often have a chain attached, while others have a handle.

Examples:

  • Heart Mesh Tea Infuser – Stainless steel. Fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. To clean, open it up, shake the used tea out, and rinse well. Measurements: 2.5 inches in diameter. (“A” in the image)
  • Snap Mesh Tea Ball Infuser – Stainless steel. Fill this ball with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. Dishwasher safe. Can be used with all loose leaf teas. Measurements: 6 inches L x 1.5 inches. (“B” in the image)

More solid tea balls and infusers

On these the holes are usually a bit larger and fewer in number. That means less contact of those tea leaves and herbals with the water. Unlike the mesh infusers, you will probably get a less intense steep. The larger holes also mean you need to use them with teas where the leaf pieces are larger (but not too large) and they don’t have other thing in them, such as lots of spices, that could leech through those holes. These also come in other designs, such as ones shaped like teapots.

Examples:

  • Mini Tea Ball – 1.25 inch – 18/8 stainless steel. Fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. Intended mostly for mug use. To clean, open it up, shake the used tea out, and rinse well. Measurements: 1.25 inches x 1.5 inches. (“C” in the image)
  • Tea Ball – 1.75 inch – 18/8 stainless steel. Fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. To clean, open it up, shake the used tea out, and rinse well. Measurements: 1.75 inches in diameter. (“D” in the image)
  • Snap Heart Tea Infuser – 18/8 stainless steel. Fill with 1 teaspoon of your favorite loose leaf tea, snap shut to hold your tea in place while steeping, dip into your teacup, and stir. Rinse with water and hang to dry. Dishwasher safe. Makes great tea party and bridal shower favors. (“E” in the image)
  • Teapot Tea Infuser with Caddy – Stainless steel. Teapot-shaped, comes with its own caddy. Fill halfway with your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. The caddy acts as a drip tray. Dishwasher safe. Infuser Measurements: 1.5 inches x 1 inch, Capacity 1 teaspoon. (“F” in the image)

Mesh strainers

I’m one of those folks (and we are growing in number) who forego the teabag and steep the tea loose. So a strainer is a must, pouring from the steeping pot into the serving pot (my 2-teapot method as described here). You could also just strain into cups, especially if you are making a smaller amount, not the 6 cups (48 ounces) that we do. You can also put the dry tea leaves and herbals into the strainer and set it on the top of the cup filled with hot water and let steep that way. Here again the size of the mesh is important, with a finer mesh being needed for those teas ground to a finer dust.

Examples:

  • Mesh Tea Strainer – 18/8 stainless steel. Sits securely over your mug, allowing you to pour your hot water over it. The 1 inch deep fine mesh bowl catches even the smallest tea leaf. Dishwasher safe. Dimensions: 7.25 inches L x 2.5 inches W. Please Note: You will only receive (1) mesh tea strainer (not several as the photo shows). (“G” in the image)
  • Double Ear Conical Strainer – 18/8 stainless steel. The design allows for an even, more secure hold onto your mug. Dishwasher safe. Dimensions: 3 inches x 1.93 inches x .51 inches (“H” in the image)

Larger-holed strainers

Just as with tea balls, these strainers have larger holes and so should be used with teas and herbals that have larger pieces. These often have a matching dish for the strainer to sit in between uses.

Fortunately, the options of each are plentiful, with new ones coming out all the time.

Example:

  • English Tea Strainer – Chrome finish adds touch of elegance. Fits over the rim of your cup to catch loose leaves as you pour your tea. (“I” in the image)

Ditch the teabag

Go with an infuser or strainer. You will notice a true flavor difference that is sure to delight!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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