Friday, September 7, 2012

Spouting Off About Teapots

by Nancy Jill Thames
A Mother's Day Gift
"Queen of Afternoon Tea"

From Wikepedia we learn a brief history of a clever invention - The Teapot!

The teapot probably derived from the ceramic kettles and wine pots which were also made in bronze and other metals and were a feature of Chinese cultural life for thousands of years. The earliest example of a teapot that has survived to this day seems to be the one in the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware; it has been dated to 1513 and attributed to Gongchun.

Early teapots are small by western standards because they are generally designed for a single drinker and the Chinese historically drank the tea directly from the spout. The size reflects the importance of serving small portions each time so that the flavours can be better concentrated, controlled and then repeated. *I would also add that the spout was designed with a grate to keep the tea leaves from getting into the person's mouth or later into the cup.

"The sweetest melody is always found in the heart of a friend."
From the end of the 17th century tea was shipped from China to Europe as part of the export of exotic spices and luxury goods. The ships that brought the tea also carried porcelain teapots. The majority of these teapots were painted in blue and white underglaze. Porcelain being completely vitrified will withstand sea water without damage, so the teapots were packed below deck whilst the tea stayed on top in the dry.

My Everyday Teapot
Tea drinking in Europe was initially the preserve of the upper classes since it was very expensive. Porcelain teapots were particularly desirable because porcelain could not be made in Europe at that time. It wasn't until 1708 that Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus devised a way of making porcelain in Dresden, Germany, and started the Meissen factory in 1710. When European potteries began to make their own tea wares they were naturally inspired by the Chinese designs.

A Gift from London, England
In colonial America, Boston became the epicenter for silver production and artistry. Among the many artists in Boston, there were four major families in the city's silver market, including Edwards, Revere, Burt and Hurd. Their works of art included silver teapots.

A Wedding Shower Prize
I'll refrain from posting a photo of my silver tea service because currently, it's wrapped tightly in plastic and I'm not ready to use it. We'll wait until the weather turns cooler and we can sit by the fire.

I used to own a simple white teapot, but one year I decided to give it to my Mom along with a Thistledown tea cozy for her birthday. She has entertained many of her neighbors serving tea using this gift.


The heroine in my novels enjoys afternoon tea whenever she gets an opportunity, whether at the Ritz-Carlton or serving it to her garden club friends. Her little Yorkie companion Teddy adores a few morsels from the fare as well!

From "The Mark of Eden"

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Teddy appreciated the morsels of chicken salad sandwiches, but when someone gave him a bite of cucumber sandwich, he only ate the bread spread with cream cheese. Later, she would find bits of cucumber behind the sofa. After enjoying some bits of scones with the lovely crème fraiche, he hopped up onto the sofa, nestling in his favorite mohair throw. The ladies’ soothing chatter soon lulled him to sleep for a lovely nap, while Jillian continued to refill teacups with the blackberry sage tea, and offered more of her tempting specialties.

Here's an excerpt from "Murder in Half Moon Bay."

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I never tired of the Ritz-Carlton’s afternoon tea. Warm sunlight filled the soft peach and muted green lobby where they serve tea every afternoon. Ann waited for me, sitting comfortably in a green and white printed booth. A white tablecloth lay across the table adorned with a small bouquet of fresh fall flowers. Ann smiled upon seeing me come toward her and moved over a bit to make room for me to join her.
“Hello, Jillian,” she said. “You look pretty discouraged. The tea ought to revive you. Here’s our server.” A young dark haired woman wearing the hotel tan and green print uniform smiled and asked if we would like the ‘Set Tea.’ After answering in the affirmative, Ann and I put our heads together and debriefed...

The server brought our tea—a pot apiece, steaming with our individual choices, and then a three-tiered plate stand filled with sweets and savories of every description.
We helped ourselves to the delicacies as the server, Alicia, poured out. “Milk?” she asked. We both nodded a “yes,” and then she asked, “Sugars?”

From the Dollar Tree
Teapots, for me, hold wonderful memories. I've poured many a cup for my garden club friends, neighbors, nieces and nephews. 

What about you? Tell us about your teapots.

Next week I'll share some cups and saucers from my collection. Each and every one also holds a particular memory of the person  or occasion from where it came.

A Gift From My Sister-In-Law
A Miniature Beatrix Potter Tea Set

Nancy Jill Thames is the author of the Jillian Bradley Mysteries.

Find out more about her on the About Us page, here on Cozy Mystery Magazine.

Thanks for joining us today!


  1. Nancy--Bee-you--tiful teapots. Loved reading about the history as well. Thanks for a lovely post:)

    1. Thank you, Linda. Glad you enjoyed it!

      ~Nancy Jill


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