In ancient China tea drinking evolved gradually into a social and socially-oriented habit. Through time this method has not changed much; various cultures have simply adopted the social interaction that go with this beverage as well as added their unique cultural accent. In certain instances, such as in Japan they’ve gone to extremes and made tea drinking a cult event – but that’s not to say that other tea drinkers from all over the globe do not consider tea to be a sacred ritual.
A 500-year-old innovation
The teapot was invented by the Yixing Province in China sometime in the Ming Dynasty in the 1500’s. It was invented due to the rising popularity of black tea, which requires boiling water to infuse and at the time of the Gaiwan which was a bowl with a lid was used to prepare green tea. Making a cup of boiling water, as everyone knows, is an extremely risky task for the hands that are not protected. Wearing a cloth or gloves to hold the hot water in a bowl is also risky – anyone who spilled boiling water on themselves can attest to this!
To overcome the issue of being unable to carry and pour hot beverages the handles was made for the cup. It was clear that this was a more suitable tool to utilize. The addition of a pouring mechanism in the shape of a spout that is directional, thereby to avoid spillage, was an obvious improvement to the design
Europeans who were drinking mostly black tea, were familiar with teapots since they traded with the tea chests imported from China during the early 17th century. The clay used to create teapots was required to stand up to the boiling heat without cracking. Europeans didn’t take long in imitating Chinese pottery manufacturing techniques and then producing their own teapots and wares as well as tea services. It was the Dutch who were one of one of the initial “tea pioneers” in Europe created a line of pottery called delftware . It did not only utilize the same technology the Chinese had developed in their pottery but also copied the blue patterns found on Chinese ceramics. With their own unique cultural twist the patterns they copied would usually be inspired by European scenes, not floral designs and architecture from the oriental world that are found upon Chinese porcelain. Cobalt blue is the main ingredient for this design and the Dutch continue to make delftware the same way.
Britain created bone china, a porcelain created by adding crushed bones from animals to the firing mix, which results in extremely high-quality porcelain with exceptional heating properties. Tea is best enjoyed at the ideal temperature while making; Chinese Teapots made from bone china retain the temperature of the water for longer than other kinds of pot, which makes bone china a preferred option for the Chinese Tea set. Its versatility has been a major factor in making bone china the choice of many when purchasing a tea service one of the most costly tea products that are available in Britain are generally made of bone china.
A huge range – a collector’s wish or nightmare?
Teapots, as of their invention more than 500 years ago, have become so diverse in both design and function that one would be able to buy an entirely new teapot each day of their life and yet never have an entire collection! There are a myriad of formulations of the ingredients used to create teapots from pottery is huge and that’s not even counting the variety of other materials employed in the manufacture of. The variety of colors shape, shape, purpose and use makes teapots an extremely sought-after and desirable collectible item all over the world.