Trying new teawares can enliven your tea experience. For example, you can add a visual element to your tea steeping with a glass teapot. These delicate vessels are perfect for the unusual and entertaining experience of watching a flowering tea unfold. They are also great for steeping some of your finer teas where the color of the tea “liquor” can tell you when its time to remove the tea leaves.
Being made of glass is special in itself. There is something about glass that gives things a regal air that bone china and porcelain do not. My theory is that it started long ago in a kingdom far away when a fairy godmother gave a poor girl a pair of glass slippers so she could join her wicked stepmother and stepsisters at the prince’s ball. But then again, it might just be the nature of glass itself. Here is a substance solid enough to hold liquid yet light rays pass through it. It must be some kind of magic. Right? Nope, just chemistry. Still, glass is pretty amazing, although fragile.
The number and variety of glass teapots on the market is growing by leaps and bounds, in large part, I think, because of the growing popularity of the finer teas, especially flowering teas — truly exotic and to be experienced at least once by anyone who is really into tea (or even people just looking for something different to try).
So, how do you decide which glass teapot to buy? A few things to consider:
- The capacity — How many cups of water does it hold?
- The size of the opening — 2” is a good minimum if you are going to steep a flowering tea, since you may want to rearrange the tea “flower” once it has started to open (this will give you the best visual effect), plus the “flower” will be quite a bit larger after steeping than it was in its original ball or mushroom form.
- An infuser basket — I don’t use one, but you may choose to for the fannings or broken-leaf teas you steep. (I encourage you to try at least one steeping of your full-leaf teas loose in the pot and watch the leaves expand in the water, something they can’t fully do in an infuser basket.)
- The spout — Fancy designs are one thing, but trust me that you want a spout from which you can pour without a few drops splashing on your table or counter each time.
- The handle — If you’re like me (a bit on the “Oops!” side), a sturdy handle that you can grip firmly while carrying and pouring is a must.
- The lid — It should sit firmly on the opening, keeping most of the water vapor inside (a little will find its way out through the spout).
- The overall shape — Short and squat can be best for flowering and full-leaf teas where they get the most interaction with the water, but taller teapots can be fine for using an infuser basket for your other teas.
- Style — Do you like teapots that look like they were inspired by the tales of Aladdin? Or is Victorian more to your taste? What about Asian-inspired designs? There are also art deco and ultra modern ones. There is a style to suit just about any taste, and new ones being designed almost daily.
Adding other glass teawares can make your glass teapot experience complete. Items like these:
- a glass electric tea kettle so you’ll be able to tell when the water is about to boil, boiling, or going totally crazy just by seeing the bubbles
- a glass sugar bowl and cream pitcher for those teas you like to drink with these items added
- a set of glass teacups and saucers that will let you see more clearly the clumps of biscotti, cookies, or McVitie’s digestives that fall off and sink to the bottom
One caution: Since these teapots are glass, they are more delicate than ceramic or porcelain teapots; plus, they are not intended to be used in a microwave oven or to withstand the terrors of a dishwasher (actually, they could end up getting a scratched, “cloudy” appearance which would ruin your visual experience).
Okay, so now you know. Go ahead, add a glass teapot to your bevy. Keep it ready for when you want to enjoy a truly special tea. Happy steeping!
Learn more about enhancing your tea experiences by visiting A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!