Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Teapot

You’ve all heard that little ditty “Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” but have you heard about twinkly teapots? Yes, twinkly.

The Petit Teapot — glass is great for achieving that twinkly quality. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
The Petit Teapot — glass is great for achieving that twinkly quality. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

The quality of twinkliness is not in every teapot. Those cute little Yixing (pronounced “eesheeng”) clay teapots are usually of a fairly matte or even flat finish. Some ceramic teapots also have a softer appearance due to the style of glazing. No, they don’t have that eye-catching visual quality: the twinkle.

Twinkles, at least where teapots are concerned, are reflections of light off of a shiny surface. Any teapot with a shiny finish, therefore, will have that quality of twinkliness.

The first option that comes to mind is a shiny metal. From gleaming silver that repeats and distorts on its surface the shapes and colors of everything around it to brass that is not as highly reflective but still bounces off those light rays back at you, and stainless steel and copper teapots — all have that ability to twinkle in the right circumstances.

The second option is, naturally, glass — translucent yet reflective, especially when filled with the rich color of a freshly steeped Assam or ripened pu-erh or the bright and fresh color of a white tea or a lovely tea like Tie Guan Yin.

Third and certainly not least is a highly polished glazing such as you find on ceramic and fine bone china, or even stoneware teapots. Plain colors or patterns don’t make much difference when the light is just right. That twinkle comes through to the delight of the tea time attendees.

This all leads, of course, to the question: What are the right circumstances or setting to maximize that teapot twinkle? The answer, in a word: “candlelight.”

It may be a personal preference, but to me candlelight is far superior to incandescent bulbs (and especially to those newfangled corkscrew bulbs) at eliciting that quality of twinkliness. There are three basic reasons for this:

  1. the yellow spectrum of the flame that gives a warm cast to everything around it (especially nice in the cooler weather of Autumn and Winter);
  2. the motion of the flame that will move back and forth with the slightest air movement caused by you moving around, raising an arm, pouring the tea, sipping the tea, etc., and as that flame moves it multiplies the twinkle effect; and
  3. you can have more than one and thus add to the directionality of the twinkles.

Get out that shiny teapot, steep up the tea, light a candle or two or three and get ready to sing as you enjoy the taste and the visual experiences:

Twinkle, Twinkle, little teapot
Pour that tea out steeped up so hot
Candlelight adds twinkle there
Lends the tea time lovely air
Keep that twinkle all day long
While the tea is tasting strong!


© 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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