About Tea Kettle and Tea Pots
One thing is clear: the demand in Europe for teapots was strong, even if teapots were not originally part of Chinese tea drinking. But if the Chinese didn’t use teapots, where did the Europeans get the idea that teapots were so important? There are two possibilities.
The first suggests Islamic coffee pots. During the sixteenth century, coffee was also becoming popular in Europe, and new coffee houses were using these pots to brew the drink before serving. Coffee pots and teapots of this time look almost identical.
The second possibility involves Chinese wine jugs that were also being transported to Europe. These were usually packed with tea to prevent the jug from breaking during transport from China. These jugs had a long spout and a rounded belly, and confused Europeans may have assumed that they were meant to be used with the tea they came packed with.
For a long time, European teapots were lower in quality than Chinese teapots—Europeans simply could not make the fine-quality porcelain the Chinese had been producing for centuries. Until 1710, European importers ordered teapots from Chinese craftsmen according to European tastes: fanciful Western perceptions of “Chinese” teapot designs, teapot patterns conforming to European designs, teapots emblazoned with coats of arms, and so on. After this time, Germany developed the technology to produce fine porcelain teapots, and soon Europe was making its own. Shortly afterwards, silver teapots also became popular. This period of new, fine materials gave way to the fantastically embellished teapots of the Victorian era.
By contrast, most modern-era teapots are a study in simplicity. The 1920’s saw an emphasis on the functionality of teapots, evolving into Art Deco shapes and designs. The 1960’s produced many minimalist, clean-lined teapots that echoed the larger “modernist” trend in decorating and architecture.
Today, you can find teapots of all makes and styles. Tea aficionados will tell you that the shape and material used in your teapot makes a big difference in the taste of your tea—so choose wisely. Whatever your taste in tea and in style, there’s a teapot out there to suit it. Read more about tea kettles.