I love a quirky teapot. I'm not the only one apparently. In fact, you wont believe the size of the largest teapot collection in the world...
For a while I was in danger of becoming something of a teapot collector. Collectors fascinate me - but I am not sure I am one of them. Combining obsession and shopping seemed a slippery slope for me. And then there is the dusting, of course. At last... the triumph of practicality over whimsy.
But teapot collecting seems to actually be a Thing. Who knew? Not me... bet my husband is somewhat relieved that I didnt know this... There are even instructions about how to begin a teapot collection.
In Kent, there is a lady called Sue Blayze who clearly has no need of such a set of instructions. Sue Blayze turned her 7000 strong teapot collection into a tea museum. It is aptly named Teapot Island, and even received a royal visit from Charles and Camilla.
7000 teapots? That impressed me. It was enough to earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2004. In 2011 however, the record was taken apparently controversially by someone in China with a collection of 30 000 teapots.
Part of the fascination with teapots is that they sit at the intersection of art, craft and social history. They offer insight into world culture and the history of ceramics.
As far as basic design goes, the teapot has hardly changed in 300 years. Some might have feet, (like my own favourite - the one I painted earlier this month) some might be shaped as frogs, but they all still tend to feature a pot, a spout, a lid, and a handle.
The original design is thought to be based on wine ewers from China or Islamic coffee pots. The first ceramic teapots were heavy and broke easily. Chinese porcelain pots were brought in by the East India company until 1791. William Cookworthy established a ceramic works in Plymouth and the industrial revolution brought continued improvement in the quality of the ceramics. Tough, durable bone China was created in the 19th century and was perfect for tea pots and cups.
An avid historical teapot collector would know that the size of tea pots has increased over time - particularly once William Pitt's government cut the tax on tea. Until then, the most popular drink in the UK was ale, but between reduced tax on tea and weak grain harvests the general population started to consume more tea than ale.
So get out your teapot - whether it is shaped like Buckingham palace, or looks like it belongs in a Chinese restaurant. Whatever its shape or size... tea definitely tastes better from a teapot.
Explore more of the Tea Time Post series here
See the kitchen inspired artwork available in the shop today