We are all familiar with the mains functions of the teapot. But there is more to a teapot than it’s handle and spout. In fact, this humble vessel has a grand, rich history which started in Ancient China.
The teapots humble beginnings
The first teapots originated in Ancient China and were made from cast iron. Over time they started making teapots from porcelain and decorated them with designs of fruit and flowers. As the notion of decorating teapots grew, the more it became a decorative piece in the home as well as a functional item in the kitchen.
The first teapots arrived in Europe in the 17th century along with the arrival of tea from Asia. Although these items were originally only available to the upper class, by the 18th century the Europeans started to make teapots from bone china which made them more affordable and therefore accessible to all people.
The oldest teapot still intact today dates back to 1513 and originates from China. It currently resides in the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware in Hong Kong.
The evolution of teapot materials
The first teapots as stated before, were made from cast iron and clay. The Tetsubin are cast iron teapots which originated in Japan. They are used for traditional tea drinking ceremonies which are an important part of Japanese culture.
The use of porcelain and silver to make teapots came about a few decades after the cast iron and clay models were designed and began a new trend of using teapots for decorative purposes.
The Brown Betty is a terracotta clay teapot which was made in England from the 17th century. It is iconic in the history of English tea drinking as is the classic silver tea set.
Over the last 50 years the glass teapot has been popular as tea connoisseurs enjoy the fact that glass does not retain the flavour of tea so therefore it can be used to brew several types of tea without ruining the taste.
The tea drinking culture
During the mid 18th century in England, hosting tea parties became a huge trend. Silver tea sets and highly decorative and elaborately designed teapots were very popular amongst the upper classes. Tea also plays a huge role in Japanese culture with ceremonies dedicated to the art of drinking it.
Even today, English High Tea has become a popular event for many people, with major hotels and cafes offering high tea events, which entails a sampling of teas, sandwiches and petite cakes.
Next time when you’re preparing your teapot with some delicious tea to be shared with friends you can impart your knowledge on to them and let them know too that there’s more to the humble teapot than meets the eye.