The Teapots Journey - Chinese,
Japanese to the English Designs.
It's said one needs teapots to properly serve tea. Whether you prefer a Chinese, Japanese or one of English design, the possibilities are vast.
Time has changed the basic design of this vessel very little. They all have a bowl shape with a handle, spout and lid.
The Chinese began to experiment more with brewing the leaves. So they needed something to brew their tea in.
The very first one was made from purple sand clay that was found in the Yixing Providence of China and was unglazed. These are referred to as the yixing tea pots, since they were made in the Yixing Providence of China.
The Chinese drink tea in small quantities, so these vessels would be small, able to sit in the palm of your hand.
They also found that by placing a lid on top this prevented the steam from escaping, gave the leaves a chance to fully release their essence.
The English Brown Betty Teapot is almost identical to the Yixing in the way they are made. Oneexception is that the Brown Betty's interior is glazed.
These tiny pots began to appear at the end of the Sung Dynasty (960-1279)
China's Yuan Dynasty was the beginning of China's porcelain era. The porcelain teapots that were produced would become
world famous. They also became the favorite or the British Empire.
Later pure white clay was discovered. This created stronger porcelain, which was decorated with cobalt blue designs.
These were favorites of the Yuan emperors and also the Ming emperors as well.
The Ming’s (1368-1644) liked the color glazes, including yellow. Yellow was to be used for the Imperial Family only.
In choosing a Japanese brewing vessel you can choice from three different mediums. You have the choice of porcelain,
hand-thrown stoneware, or cast iron.
It is said that Japan copied from the Chinese in their designs, well technically so did everyone else. With that being said...
Porcelain teapots began to be made around the beginning of the 17th century. They continue to make them down to today.
The hand-thrown stoneware brewing vessels are fired in a wood-burning kiln. These tend to have a more textural feel to them,
giving the user a connection to things more down to earth. Many times these vessels are preferred over the porcelain.
The most famous is the Tetsubin or the cast iron brewing vessels. In the beginning they were larger and mainly used as a
heating vessel only. Later they came into fashion as a way to actually brew tea. They became smaller and sleeker to accommodate
there new use. Very much like the ones you can buy today.
The English or European Teapot.
When the Chinese would ship a box of tea to Europe they would include in the box a porcelain teapot.
Due to this fact...in 17th century Europe a craze for this porcelain began. So about the mid-1600's Chinese porcelain became a secondary market to that of the tea trade. Then about the 1700's it became very important to acquire the properwares in which to serve ones tea.
The demand for such wares had the Europeans searching for ways to produce this type of porcelain ware for themselves. Thequality of porcelain clay found was not able to withstand high temperatures.
Silver was able to withstand these temperatures but would allow the tea to cool to quickly. Not good on cold days. It was not until 1707 that things changed.
A German named Johann Friedrich Bottger found that by adding a little kaolin clay to the porcelain clay a more heat resistant clay could be produced. So in 1710 in Meissen, Germany a porcelain factory produced hardier porcelain.
In time, factories opened in England toward the end of 1767. They were able to provide England with heat resistant tea wares.
Today we are able to select from a variety of Brewing Vessels. The possibilities are endless, or maybe overwhelming...Relax noneed for that. Buy what you like...use them...enjoy them.
It's all part of the enjoyment of sitting down and sipping a cup of tea.
Learn more about tea equipment
More on Yixing Teapots