Lessons of a Humble Teapot

This little teapot has a lesson for anyone interested enough to listen. Not only does it pour out a hot cup of tea, but maybe it can dispense a bit of wisdom. You see, it reminds me to enjoy the little things in life we tend to take for granted. Take tea, for example. Tea is so readily available and inexpensive today, we forget that at one time it was a drink only enjoyed by the wealthy. We dunk our tea bag unceremoniously in a cup of hot water for an energy lift, with no concern for how precious a commodity it once was.

My antique teapot reminds me of days when a teapot was a treasured belonging.

My antique teapot reminds me of days when a teapot was a treasured belonging.

 

What is tea, but some lowly leaves, anyway? The botanical name of tea is Camillia sinensis and there are two main varieties available, Chinese tea (Camillia sinensis var. sinensis) and Indian tea (Camillia sinensis var. assamica). Many variations can be made by preparing the tea leaves differently for unique flavors. And then, of course, there are herbal ‘teas’ made from a wide variety of herbs completely unrelated to the evergreen tea shrub. So ubiquitous has the tea leaf become, that the very act of creating an infusion is referred to as ‘making tea.’ But how did this all start?

 

Boiling tea leaves for a beverage is believed to go back almost 5,ooo years in China. Tea leaves were a medicinal herb treasured by the upper class, given as gifts and enjoyed in tea ceremonies before Europeans ever ‘discovered’ Asia. Dutch and Portuguese traders brought tea back from China in the 1600’s to Portugal and Holland. The leaves later became coveted in Britain. Only the aristocracy were able to afford tea leaves in the beginning, as they were very rare. The stimulating drink was enjoyed immensely by the nobles, who considered it a status symbol to share tea with guests.

 

Teapots went right along with the tea. They were made from pottery or silver and belonged to the privileged. Tea pots originally had a built in strainer and were quite small, as tea was precious and enjoyed in smaller amounts. As the cost of tea decreased with the advent of the faster clipper ships, the size of the tea pot increased and the number of tea drinkers increased along with it. The invention of tea bags made the strainer unnecessary. The teapot became much more common in everyday households, such as mine.

 

The design on one side is smaller and less complex. I love the natural theme of leaves and ferns, with a touch of gold.

The design on one side is smaller and less complex. I love the natural theme of leaves and ferns, with a touch of gold.

 

I will often make a small pot of Early Grey or Irish Breakfast tea in the morning, using loose leaf, a tea ball, and this very tea pot. It is cracked and discolored inside from years of use. I don’t remember where I acquired it, probably at a garage sale in my 20s. But it has accompanied me to every home I have lived in since. I could buy a new one. Like so many people, I am often tempted to upgrade to something bigger and  better. But this teapot is just the right size for two big mugs of tea…any more would go cold before I get to it. And I like the character and history embedded in the crackled glaze and tea stains. When it was new, I’m sure it was treasured by the lady of the house. It was probably the only one she had for many, many years. This teapot reminds me to enjoy the little things in life that we tend to take for granted these days.

 Do you have a special tea pot?

Lisa Lombardo

Hi! I’m Lisa Lynn…modern homesteader and creator of The Self Sufficient HomeAcre. Follow my adventures in self reliance, preparedness, homesteading, and getting back to the basics.

22 Comments

  1. Jim Darden

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