Teapots are essential if you want to make a decent cup of tea.
It is believed that the teapot originally derived its shape from the wine
ewers and ceramic kettles that came from China when tea was originally
shipped to Europe in the 17th century. An alternative theory is that the
original shape may have come from Islamic coffee pots.
What we can be sure of is that tea had a high price at the time and
therefore was the domain of the wealthy, so teapots produced
during the 17th century were made of a comparable material, (eg. silver) and
Although the world owes tea to the Chinese, the design of the teapot has European origins.
The first ceramic teapots were heavy with short straight
replaceable spouts. These teapots broke easily, so at the beginning of
the 18th century the East India Company (the main tea importers)
commissioned Chinese artists to create teapots to the company’s design.
China’s porcelain was more durable and, as porcelain can withstand sea water
damage, the East India Company placed the pots in the cargo areas of the
their ships with the tea being stored on top in the dry. This
arrangement also gave the ships better ballast in the cargo areas making
them more stable during their voyage.
Around the mid-1800’s, William Cookworthy discovered a way to produce
porcelain similar to the Chinese and founded a works in the town of
Plymouth, UK. At first, of course, the designs of the European pots were
influenced by the Chinese designs.
The most popular drink in the UK was ale, but once William Pitt’s
government cut the tax on tea (and thanks to poor grain harvests) pots began
to increase in size as the general population started to consume more tea
With the advent of the industrial revolution the pottery industry grew by
leaps and bounds and finally in 1791 the East India Company stopped
importing porcelain from China.
The invention of tough, durable bone china in the 19th century allowed
the industry to easily manufacture enough pots for the consumer boom of the
next 200 years.
If you’ve never had a cup of tea made in a teapot you should try it now.
Trust us. Tea really does taste better made in a pot!