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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.

Invasions can begin small and grow so gradually that, before you know it, you’re totally taken over. No, I’m not talking about people. I’m talking about teawares. They can take over your house without any warning, filling every nook and cranny. Here are some signs to watch for so you can at least manage the onslaught.

The display in our house that made folks ask when we’d set up shop! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The display in our house that made folks ask when we’d set up shop! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Sign 1: Teawares fill the kitchen cupboards

Where regular dishwares and cookwares would normally be, that is, in the kitchen cupboards, resides various teapots, teacups, saucers, and dessert plates. Those other items are stacked on the counter or in boxes.

Sign 2: Teawares displace books on the shelves

The kitchen cupboards are all full up with teawares, so now you start displacing the books on the shelves and replace them with the additional teawares that just seem to magically appear in your abode. The books end up in stacks in the corners yet still handy to read while you enjoy your tea.

Sign 3: Teawares cover the dining table

The cupboards and bookshelves are full, so you start just stacking those teawares on the dining table. Who eats in a dining room much anymore anyway? Everyone wants that eat-in kitchen or that open floor plan so when guests are over the cook and/or host/hostess can be in on the action with them. So, stacking the dining table high with your teawares just makes sense and uses valuable space.

Sign 4: Guests ask when you set up your shop

You’re giving a party, the guests arrive, and one of the first things out of their mouths is, “When did you set up a teawares shop?” And then they start looking for the price tags. It could take you awhile to convince them that it’s really not a shop. Some will remain unconvinced and say to you as they leave at the end of the party, “Let me know when you have a sale.”

Sign 5: A 3.5 to 4.5 Earthquake makes a big clatter

An earthquake of 3.5 magnitude is known to shake things in your home or office but otherwise may not even be felt, and a 4.5 magnitude quake will definitely rattle things. [source] Your teaware-filled house will resound with the clinking of those teawares during that earthquake. Sort of a symphoTEA!

Sign 6: You never need to wash teacups

You have so many teacups around that you never need to wash them in order to have a clean one. It works at a Mad Hatter Tea Party, so why not at your house? Just have a cuppa, set that teacup aside, get a clean cup, and have another cuppa.

Sign 7: Ditto for teapots

Once the teapot is empty, simply set it aside and grab another full teapot to continue imbibing.

Sign 8: You don’t ask for borrowed teawares to be returned

A neighbor or friend asks to borrow a teapot and/or teacups and saucers. You say sure and never bother to ask for them to be returned. And when they try to return them, you run the other way.

Sign 9: Dusting/cleaning your teawares involves an Indie 500 style pit crew

The pit crews at the Indie 500 know their assigned jobs and perform them to the utmost to help the driver get out of that pit and back on the track in the shortest time possible. Imagine them, dust rags and dishcloths in hand, making short work of dusting and washing your teawares. Like those pit crew members who change the tires, refill the engine oil and other fluids, etc., your teawares dusting crew will each have its assigned area, some dusting the items on the bookshelves, others tackling the ones stacked on the dining table, and still others collecting the used teacups and teapots left sitting around and giving them a cleaning.

So, has your house been taken over? Ours sure has.

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.

What is modern? When it comes to teapots, the sky seems to be the limit and there is no one agreed upon design standard. Time to check out a few.

Sleek and Elegant Designs

This seems to be the styling that most readily comes to many people’s minds when they think “modern.” It certainly was what popped up most often in my online searches. Some choices are (shown below and going from top left to bottom right):

4 sleek and elegant teapots (all ETS images)

4 sleek and elegant teapots (all ETS images)

More are available, such as the three Asian-inspired designs shown below:

3 more Asian-inspired designs (from Yahoo! images)

3 more Asian-inspired designs (from Yahoo! images)

All of the above teapots say, “Hey, I really know how to steep tea, but I don’t have to be ugly.” And I agree!

Metal and Glass Designs

Metal and glass epitomize our modern age. New techniques in making both led to their widespread use throughout our environment, ranging from soaring skyscrapers to common items for your home. The teapot is no exception, whether it’s an almost “Robby the Robot” looking Henley 47-oz Stainless Steel Teapot, a simple and stylish Zen Style 42-oz Glass Teapot, or a sleek design (the Sorapot Modern Teapot) that combines both metal and glass (shown below left to right).

3 glass and metal teapots (left to right: ETS image, ETS image, from Yahoo! Images)

3 glass and metal teapots (left to right: ETS image, ETS image, from Yahoo! Images)

Retro Designs

Nostalgia is in full bloom in the hearts and minds of many ceramists and potters, inspiring them to create teapots that echo eras gone by, such as th Scatter Rose Fine Bone China 6-cup Victorian Teapot shown below at left, or introduce elements of another time and/or country as in the Japanese-styled teapot below at right.

A modern Victorian retro teapot (left, ETS image) and a Japanese-inspired retro teapot (right, from Yahoo! Images)

A modern Victorian retro teapot (left, ETS image) and a Japanese-inspired retro teapot (right, from Yahoo! Images)

Oddballs and Cuties

Odd teapot styles abound (as I spoke of in a previous article), but rather than repeat my listings in another article, I selected one that was a bit odd but attractively so. The goal often seems to push the envelope of acceptance on what the traditional shape of a teapot is. This teapot (called the “Donut Teapot”) shown here certainly does that.

Donut Teapot and Cup by Pats Pottery (image via Yahoo! Images)

Donut Teapot and Cup by Pats Pottery (image via Yahoo! Images)

As for cuties, they abound, too, with everything from cupcakes to James Sadler Shakespeare’s Cottage Teapot (more info about Sadler) featured in their designs.

Cupcakes (left, from Yahoo! Images) and Sadler’s Shakespeare Cottage (right, ETS Image)

Cupcakes (left, from Yahoo! Images) and Sadler’s Shakespeare Cottage (right, ETS Image)

Whichever design you choose, your tea time will certainly be a special one!

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.

We all know about designer clothing. In fact, designers have branched out into all kinds of areas, including facial tissue boxes, unfortunately! (They used to be pretty and discreet but are now rather loud and a bit obnoxious.) Of course, teapots are included in the array of designwares!

Here are a few I’ve come across recently:

(Screen capture from site)

(Screen capture from site)

  • Muuto Bulky Tea Pot — A porcelain teapot designed by the Swedish architect and designer Jonas Wagell. It’s colorful, expressive, and a little oversized to fit better in a child’s hands and imagination. Muuto is a company seeking to expand the Scandinavian design tradition with new and original perspectives. Their name comes from the Finnish word muutos (“new perspective”). They seek out new designers and give them free rein to approach everyday objects in an expressive way, representing the best of Scandinavian design today.
  • Genie Teapot — Designed by Stefan Lie, this sleek and stylish teapot takes a giant step away from the practical. Tea time is sure to be a giant step away from boring, too! Lie was born in Sydney, Australia, but raised and educated in Zurich, Switzerland. From the age of 20 he pursued a career in toolmaking and design, winning various awards, and has lived and worked in various countries, including Australia.
(Screen capture from site)

(Screen capture from site)

  • Armani Casa Durer Tea Set — Any man with a sense of style has an Armani suit in the closet. And women also know that “a little Armani in the closet never hurts.” Besides men’s and women’s apparel, Armani has a division called “Armani Casa” that features wonderfully designed items for your home. This tea set is a great example. It is ivory enameled porcelain decorated with a striped motif and a 22-carat GA logo. The set is a harmony of design coordination, playing off the translucence and fineness of the porcelain. Made in Italy.
(Screen capture from site)

(Screen capture from site)

(Screen capture from site)

(Screen capture from site)

  • Calvin Klein China Teapot with Lid — This is another designer that is practically a household word. The brand is on a wide range of products, including clothing, fragrances, and this teapot. The design is sadly discontinued. It has such a sturdy appeal and looks like it could last for ages, serving up potful after potful of perfectly steeped tea.

Just think of it — you could have an entire house/condo/apartment/etc filled with all Armani or all Calvin Klein and include in that array a great designer teapot dazzler. Or you can go for the stubby but cute Muuto Bulky designer teapot or the super sleek designer teapot by Lie. Wow! Don’t you just love free choice? And no dull tea times!

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.

Awhile back I wrote about some expensive teapots. But price does not make something a true treasure. Provenance does. That is, it’s the story behind the item that makes it truly desirable. This is as true of teapots as it is of Fabergé bejeweled eggs or Chippendale furniture. With that in mind, here are some teapots that have that magic thing: a provenance that makes them true treasures.

  • High Handle YiXing teapot from Wu Jing tomb — Declared to be “the great grandmother of YiXing teapots.” It dates from 1533, comes from the tomb of a palace servant (one highly placed enough to be made a eunuch), is not made of pure Zisha clay, and was used to boil water instead of steep tea (making it a transitional piece since later pots like this were used exclusively to steep tea). It is currently in the NanJing Museum and is beyond price.

High Handle YiXing teapot from Wu Jing tomb

  • Silver Dragon Teapot — A silver teapot with gold accents, made in Edo (Tokyo), Japan, inscribed by Miyata Nobukiyo, and dating from 1876 when it was displayed at the Centennial Exhibition Philadelphia in the Memorial Hall in Philadelphia. Since that exhibition, the teapot came into the possession of the Walters family of Philadelphia, passing from William T. Walters to Henry Walters to the Walters Art Museum. Another teapot beyond the reach of us mere mortals.

Dragon Teapot

  • Meissen Chinoiserie teapot and cover — Made around 1724-25 by the Royal Manufactory at Meissen (specializing in items presented as gifts to members of European courts). About 16 years earlier their master potter Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus developed a special kind of porcelain called “hard paste” but died a few months later. His successor Johann Friedrich Böttger brought this discovery to market. Look for their signature logo (crossed swords), introduced in 1720 to protect their products, making it one of the oldest trademarks in existence. Hard paste porcelain dominated the industry for almost 50 years. This teapot is now part of the collection at the National Museum of American History.

Meissen Chinoiserie teapot and cover

  • Movie Star Teapot — Lights, camera, pour! Those of you who watch the new Sherlock Holmes series on BBC may recognize this bone china teapot, decorated by a hand-printed map of the British Isles with ships sailing around. The design is by Ali Miller exclusively for Rockett St George, an online interiors emporium offering an eclectic mix of contemporary and stylish homeware and gifts. You can buy a copy of this teapot, but not the one used in the riveting exchange between Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty in “The Reichenbach Fall.”

Sherlock Holmes teapot

Yes, as you can see, these teapots are generally kept out of circulation and on display, not “in harness” in someone’s kitchen or tea parlor. That is, they are retired now, although they probably steeped up a storm in their early days. Becoming a true treasure apparently takes time as well as a great provenance.

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.

We all know that spout shape is important, that short, squat teapots can be better steepers that those taller, thinner ones, and that different materials (glass, metal, bone china, terracotta, zisha clay, etc.) affect how the teapot steeps. But it’s time to take a look at some not-so-serious reasons to buy that teapot for your collection. And so I present this guide!

A dented silver teapot — victim of a fracas? (Yahoo! Images)

A dented silver teapot — victim of a fracas? (Yahoo! Images)

  • Be sure the color of the teapot matches the color of your arm cast — wouldn’t want to clash at tea time!
  • Speaking of clashing, avoid teapots that cannot hold up to boisterous clanking if your tea time happens to get a bit … uh … rowdy (which would account for the arm cast mentioned above). Even those metal teapots (stainless steel primarily) can wimp out and dent if you get a bit carried away with your celebratory actions. Cast iron may be your best bet here.
  • On second thought, cast iron may not be good, since you could end up injuring or getting injured if those teapots go flying, so go with something that won’t leave too big of a lump when it contacts your head. Glass, porcelain, or even bone china should shatter nicely on impact and therefore pose a lesser danger.
  • But wait, those shattered teapots could end up causing serious cuts. Maybe it’s best to stick with that stainless steel. Won’t shatter and won’t leave as large a lump or cause a mild concussion if you get hit with it.
  • Watch out for those floral patterned teapots when you are having an outdoor teatime. I’m not saying that bees are stupid or anything, but they, as well as wasps, get attracted to bright colors. You might also get confused and lift up a bunch of flowers instead of that teapot and try to pour out a cuppa for your guest.
  • Which brings up the issue of contrast, a key factor in our visual perception of things. If your teapot blends in too well, such as a red teapot on a red tablecloth, how do you find it? Reaching blindly around on the tea table can result in a bit of knocking things over. And as any good tea lover knows, wasted tea is a terrible thing.
  • One sure way to avoid wasting tea is to make only the amount you plan to consume at a given time. Since teapots come in a variety of sizes, this should be pretty easy to do. Just buy a bunch of different sizes so you can have the right one available when needed (use a shopping cart for easy transport to the checkout line). For example, you would hardly use a 6-cup Brown Betty to steep some Longjing or Sencha. And that Irish Breakfast tea is best steeped in a teapot no smaller than a 2-cupper, since it is a tea where one cuppa is never enough (at least not at our house).

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. So, now you are armed. Go forth into the tea stores and seek and find your perfect steeping vessels. And again I was not saying bees are stupid, so you apiarists can settle down now.

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.

My little transferware creamer made by Churchill of England in Colombia, the same company that makes Blue Willow, a very popular transferware pattern. (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

My little transferware creamer made by Churchill of England in Colombia, the same company that makes Blue Willow, a very popular transferware pattern. (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Transferware revolutionized teaware designs. Teawares and decorations go together like tea and cookies. Hand-painting teacups and teapots had been popular for centuries. But they were slow to make and had to be limited in detail.

Where It Started

As tea in Europe became more popular, the demand for fancier teawares grew. Famed potter John Sadler (see my article about Sadler collectibles) and his associate Guy Green developed a method in 1756 for transferring more detailed images onto teapots, teacups, and other china wares. They claimed that their method could “without the aid or assistance of any other person or persons, within the space of six hours, print upwards of 1,200 earthenware tiles of different patterns, which were more in number, and better, and neater than 100 skillful pot painters could have painted in the like space of time in the common and usual way of painting with a pencil.”

The Method

An engraver skillfully etches a copper plate with the design. Printers ink is rubbed across the entire surface and the excess wiped off, leaving ink only in the etched parts. A sheet of paper is laid on the plate and pressed to pick up the ink from the etched parts. Then that same sheet is laid face down on the dish. Here is where a bit of experience is needed. Getting the paper positioned properly on something shaped like a dinner plate is relatively simple but on a gravy boat, coffeepot or teapot is another matter. Once in position, the paper is rubbed to transfer the ink to the dish. Once the ink is dry, the dish is placed in a kiln to burn out any excess. Finally, the dish is glazed and fired again in the kiln, giving the piece a shine.

The secret of this method didn’t stay secret long, and transferware, as it came to be known, became the dominant type of dinnerware. This peaked between 1815 and 1835, with transfer prints being at their height of creativity and quality. The U.S. market for these wares exploded with tons of transferware being produced in England and imported for sale there. This was the revolution. Now, complex patterns and images could be reproduced by the thousands relatively quickly and therefore much more affordably.

A tea time table set with blue transferware. (screen capture from Facebook)

A tea time table set with blue transferware. (screen capture from Facebook)

Blue Willow, one of the best known transferware patterns, was introduced in the 1790s by Johnson Brothers. My mother grew up eating off of this pattern dishware and so bought a set when she could afford to (we still young children). I grew up with that pattern, picking at the foods I didn’t like and pushing them from one part of the design to another, and gobbling the foods I did like. When grandma died, her set went to my mother, who then had two complete sets plus extra pieces added through the years. We had a lot of very fine meals on those dishes. And yes, the combined super set contained two teapots, two coffeepots, two cream and sugar sets, and at least a dozen teacups and saucers.

Other transferware patterns ranged in subject matter from bucolic scenes to those inspired by Asian, Greek, and Roman cultures, and scenes around England.

Most experts say to hand wash these pieces with a gentle detergent, but you can place them in the dishwasher if each piece is placed far enough apart that it doesn’t touch any other piece during the various cycles.

Transferware colors have a wide range (screen capture from site)

Transferware colors have a wide range (screen capture from site)

Collecting

Transferware has been mass produced since the mid-18th century, so you will find thousands of pieces available for sale online. If you want to collect it, my best recommendation is that you become a member of Transferware Collectors Club. They will help you weed out the so-so pieces from the truly good ones.

Blue on white, red on white, and brown on white are the most common colors, but today’s collectors mainly go for the two-tone patterns. You will rarely see pieces made from the 1750s through the late 1800s for sale anywhere. If you do, be sure to check it out thoroughly. Most of the pieces you will find for sale are those made during the 20th century which will be less valuable but equally appealing.

Rare pieces are those that are “flubbed” during the application of the pattern to the dish. Changes in design are also something to look for. In Blue Willow, for example, some have three men on the bridge and others have only two. The set we had contained a mix of both.

If you choose to seek out transferware, here’s wishing you much success. First and foremost, buy those pieces you like. Cheers!

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.

This rather elaborate teapot caught my eye because of its unusual shape, but as I looked closer I realised that the painted decoration was equally interesting and unique. It was manufactured in Rozenburg, in the Netherlands, in 1899, and is yet another example of the cross-cultural influences that permeate the world of tea. However, although the product of the Dutch pottery industry, it is quite different from the Delftware teapots usually associated with the Netherlands.

Delft teapot (source: article author)

Delft teapot (source: article author)

This teapot is made from very thin porcelain, commonly referred to as eggshell porcelain. Originally introduced in China in the Ming dynasty during the fifteenth century, this porcelain is almost paper-thin and is translucent when held up to the light. Although the knowledge of porcelain manufacture eluded European potters until the eighteenth century, by the end of the nineteenth century, when this teapot was made, European factories were producing a wide range of porcelain wares. Rather amazingly, considering the teapot’s complex shape and the delicacy of eggshell porcelain, it was manufactured in only two pieces: the body, including the handle and the spout, was cast in one piece in a rotating mould, and the lid was moulded separately.

The teapot’s flamboyant shape was the design of J Jurriaan Kok, who trained as an architect before joining the Rozenburg factory where he eventually became the managing director. His architectural background might explain the unusual shape the teapot, where the square base and square lid are offset by the rounded contours in the bulge of the body and quirky curves in the lid. The painted decoration was designed and executed by Wilhelmus Petrus Hartgring, who was a master painter at the Rozenburg factory by the time he worked on this teapot. His designs are noted for their Japanese inspiration, which can be seen on this teapot in the flat, almost pattern-like design of the water plants and the fish, which is reminiscent of Japanese Koi fish.

This teapot is certainly pleasing to look at, although I can’t help but wonder how comfortable the handle would be to hold when you actually had to pour tea! But it is a fascinating example of teapot creativity and another interesting case of cross-cultural influences; a teapot made in the Netherlands, using a Chinese pottery technique and inspired by Japanese painting traditions – that seems a pretty appropriate combination of cultural influences for an item dedicated to tea!

See more of Elise Nuding’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.

The spout of the teapot is often overlooked by shoppers, but it can be the most important part of the teapot. Styles vary and can make a big difference when pouring out that tasty tea. Time to take a closer look!

The original European-made Chatsford (top) that was virtually dripless versus the current Asian-made version (bottom). (photo by Janis Badarau and featured in her article – click on image to read it)

The original European-made Chatsford (top) that was virtually dripless versus the current Asian-made version (bottom). (photo by Janis Badarau and featured in her article – click on image to read it)

For this article I am mostly avoiding teapots whose design incorporates the spout, as shown in my article about Veilleuse teapots.

The spout of the teapot serves an important purpose, that is, getting the tea liquid out of the teapot and into the teacup in such a way that little or none of it spills or drips. Some accomplish this better than others. Some sacrifice this functionality for clever or cool design or change their design to something cheaper to manufacture (or they don’t sufficiently control the manufacture when they contract it out overseas). The Chatsford teapot is a good case in point, as written about by Janis Badarau last year. They are now made in China and have a different overall design, including the spout, that makes them less “tea friendly.”

Amsterdam teapots and Brown Betty teapots have similar spout designs that reduce drips occurring after pouring. The Teaz teapot has a spout that is streamlined with the pot’s body yet manages to pour without much dripping. This modern design is in contrast with teapots like the Rose Teapot, with its more curved spout. As for those cute teapots, the silver teapot with the bird’s head spout has cuteness goes hand-in-hand with usefulness.

 

Variety in spout designs abound. Some are better for pouring than others. This is a small sampling.

Variety in spout designs abound. Some are better for pouring than others. This is a small sampling.

Another cute design and one I especially like is this ladybug teapot with the flower shaped spout.

Ladybug Teapot where the spout is part of the overall design! (ETS image)

Ladybug Teapot where the spout is part of the overall design! (ETS image)

When choosing a teapot to buy, be sure to give careful consideration to the spout. Clever design is not always useful design. If need be, you can ask the store owner if you can test how it pours with some water. Maybe they will let you, maybe not. If not, be sure they have a good return policy. Happy hunting!

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.

Following on from Part 1, this instalment uses two other teapots I came across in the British Museum as a starting point to reflect on the journey of tea culture across the world; the history of tea drinking is a diaspora of teapots as much as a diaspora of tea.

The teapots pictured below are a Chinese red stoneware teapot from the late 17th century (displayed further back) and a red stoneware teapot made in Staffordshire, England just under 100 years later in 1765 (displayed further forward).

Two red stoneware teapots (photo by the article author)

Two red stoneware teapots (photo by the article author)

The interesting thing about the Chinese teapot is that it was manufactured specifically for export, indicating the growing interest in and demand for Chinese tea and teawares even in the 17th century. By the 18th century, when the Staffordshire teapot was made, European potters had begun to manufacture imitations of Chinese teapots more widely. This particular stoneware teapot is an imitation of yixing ware. The pottery town of Delft, Holland, although most strongly associated with Delftware, was one of the first places to manufacture teawares that imitated yixing.  In England yixing began to be imitated in London and Staffordshire, as with this particular teapot, and by the early 18th century yixing was also being imitated in Meissen, Germany.

When walking by this case, it was the hexagonal designs of the teapots that caught my eye. They are striking, in part because it is not a shape that we strongly associate with teapots today; when thinking of teapots, I would guess that most people conjure up a more rounded shape. The similar shape of both teapots, in addition to the red of the stoneware, makes the design connections between these two teapots evident, and this is in spite of their dates of manufacture being close to a century apart.

Displaying these two teapots next to one another is an effective reminder of the cross-cultural connections that occurred in the history of tea drinking. And, despite the several hundred years that have passed since the manufacture of the Chinese teapot, it seems that some associations with tea drinking have not changed all that much: the Chinese teapot is decorated with figures of Kuixing, the god of literature – what more proof do you need for the compatibility of tea and a good book?!

See more of Elise Nuding’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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