Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company
Recently, we brought to your attention the Tea Cozy, and now we turn to the TEAPOT!
The teapot is a vessel for steeping loose tea leaves or herbal infusions. Although the pot does not have as long a history as the leaf, its humble beginnings were also in China.
At first, tea was boiled in open pans. Not until the Ming Dynasty did the idea of a covered pot became popular. Those pots were small, and the tea was taken directly from the spout. But they served their purpose well, keeping the flavor and allowing the steeping process to be repeated several times. More about this later!
Towards the end of the 16th century, the Dutch started shipping cargoes of tea to Europe, and the teapot came along. The designs were mostly blue and white stoneware. Dutch potters started re-creating these designs, and by 1710, Germany began production in the Meissen factory, followed shortly after by production in France and England.
At that time in Colonial America, Boston became a center of silver production, which included the making of elaborate teapots. Two Dutch potters who settled in England established the pottery industry in Staffordshire, and it was some hundred years before they discovered the secret of making fine translucent pottery called porcelain. The teapot journey had begun!
In the eighteenth century, Josiah Spode is credited for creating the distinctive look of English China and famous names as Wedgewood, Worcester, Minton, and Derby. All created such beautiful and elegant designs. Maybe you are lucky enough to have one in your collection!
Shapes and Sizes
Over the years, the size and shape of teapots have changed to suit tastes and fashions. Now, of course, we can get any size or shape or material imaginable. From the finest china to stoneware to glass, basically, anything goes! But which is the best style of the teapot?
I urge my customers to think carefully about their tea-drinking habits, as bigger is not necessarily better. The early Chinese method rings true for a reason. It seems that the majority of people, if they have a 6 cup pot, then they cannot resist making a full pot and maybe only take 1 serving! You can stash the leftovers in the fridge for some Iced Tea (or Ice Tea.)
Whilst drinking that 1 serving, the remaining tea is becoming quite undrinkable unless you like major astringency! My advice is to make 1 serving and reinfuse the leaves for a second helping when you are ready, continuing till you have no flavor in your leaves…Multi-Steeping, not to be confused with Infusion Confusion.
If you were to decant the 6 cups of tea into another vessel upon completion of brewing, that would also be acceptable. The key is to gauge how much you will be drinking and brew accordingly. Choose a pot to match your drinking habits; life is too short to waste good tea! Along with Life is too Short to Drink Bad Tea!
How to use a Teapot
How to make a nice pot of tea? In Yorkshire, they would say ‘take the pot to the kettle and not t’other way round.’ Warming the pot is so important! Place the leaves in this inviting environment and they start to release their aroma. Stick your nose in the pot and inhale deeply.
All teas vary slightly in weight. The general rule is one teaspoon per cup, and I add ‘one for the pot’ because my mum always did! Steep for the recommended time or your preference and TAKE TIME TO ENJOY YOUR TEA. Enjoy the first cup, and when you are ready, re-infuse your leaves, and don’t forget your tea cozy to keep the tea warm this time!
So, what’s your favorite teapot look like, or what would you like it to look like? I invite you to have some fun with us on Pinterest.
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Thanks for the wonderful response to our first newsletter. Your comments and kind wishes are always welcome. Thank you.
Many of you asked after Glynis. She is well and has been working at Selby Gardens in the Welcome Center. She still helps with all adjustments to our tea line up, and she still drinks a lot of tea. Lately, though, Glynis has been drinking ice tea. Yes, Ice Tea!! I can hear the collective gasp from those who have heard her opine about Hot Tea. It is hot here in Sarasota, so she is making pitchers of Bertha Palmer Rooibos Iced.
Others asked about some of our discontinued teas. I’ll start with our new teas and then list our excuses:):)
Island Mango Black – Created for the Gaugin exhibit at Selby. So popular that we kept it. Black tea with mango and lime.
Black Lemon Ginger – We needed a black tea with ginger and lemon, and we found it! This is an excellent quality black tea, an OP (Orange Pekoe) from Sri Lanka.
* Black Coconut – We still get a bunch of requests each month for this tea. And we are still working on a replacement.
* Sparkling Pineapple White Tea – I liked this one too, but we did not sell enough to keep it. Sorry!
* Flowers in the Factory – This was a tea created for the Warhol exhibit at Selby. We used our Organic Red Berries tea, so the cool packet is not available, but the tea is!
Our other best seller is Mote Beach Tea, and we do contribute a portion of all sales of this caffeine-free gem back to Mote Marine Laboratory. Here is a blog post, More about Mote, with details about the volunteer programs Michael is active with; Sea Turtles and Dolphins.
Our Serving Partners offering Mote Beach Tea include; Bean Coffeehouse, Cafe in the Park, Burns Court Cafe, Morton’s Bakery, Blue Dolphin Cafe, Breakfast House, Mojo Risin, AJ’s Kitchen, Mountain Comfort Coffee, Pastry Arts, Serving Spoon, State Street Eating House, Sunnyside Cafe, and The Reserve. Please support these and any other local businesses you can. Thank you.
We are always looking for tea connections out in the world. Here are a few recent favorites…
Poldark – We binged this Masterpiece Classic on Amazon Prime. Set in the 1790s in Cornwall. Great drama and even more fabulous images of the Cornwall coastline. Demelza and Ross don’t drink as much tea as port and sherry, but the 5 seasons was a great escape!
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is an Ethiopian piano-playing nun, and she will be 97 in December. I don’t recall how I came across her mellow sounds, but she is easy to listen to on Sunday mornings with a cuppa Yerba Mate. Sweet Orange Mate is my favorite. Her music is fantastic, and her story is even better.
Coverville is one of my favorite podcasts, offering themed cover songs & stories. Loved a recent Blondie Episode, especially ‘The Tide is High’ covered by Dakota Blonde – a country cover of a new wave song originally recorded as a reggae song! No tea connection, but a great listen.
Summer thriller Camino Winds by John Grisham. Not much tea involved, mostly cold beer and wine, but I look forward to a Grisham book every summer.
As ever, we welcome your comments and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
Kombucha Black Tea
Welcome to the next installment of kombucha making,
It has been an eventful and exciting period since we last talked, and there are some things I need to share. First, Kombucha making takes some patience and some structure! Michael, are you listening?
After winging the first batch, I got serious and looked for some better guidelines. This led me to a site called getkombucha.com. Dave talks you through all stages in a mini-course, which is brilliant. (I really like the way he presents his experiences, funny too) I have bought a better container and followed measurements more precisely and am hoping for better results.
The first batch (made with Pu-erh) was quite frankly a disaster and ended up down the sink, but I am ok with that. I will nail this kombucha making; after all, I am an expert with a regular cuppa tea. How difficult can it be???
The second batch (made with Kenya black tea) is now bottled and needs refrigerating before consumption. I learned that keeping the bottles out for 4 days helps build up some carbonation before you refrigerate. (A colleague took a crafty sample yesterday and reported that it tasted fantastic! She now wants in on the action too.) I look forward to drinking this daily whilst waiting for the next batch to work its magic.
Kombucha with Black and Green Tea
Another batch, which I started at home, was made with a combination of black and green tea. I brewed for only 12 days. Most guidelines indicate between 7 and 14 days, and on sampling, I liked the taste, so I went for it. In 2 of the bottles, I dropped a piece of fresh ginger (another thing I learned was that fruits need to be added at this stage).
I look forward to drinking to see if I have a success story on my hands. My goal is to continue the Kombucha chain now.
Some important tips I want to share which may have contributed to my first failure are….
- Do not cut down the sugar content (1 cup per 4-liter tea). The culture needs sugar to feed and grow,
- Make sure the mixture is covered with a cloth or paper towel secured with an elastic band. It needs to breathe whilst keeping out the bugs. Or go to getkombucha.com for all the tips!
- Just a word of warning, this kombucha making becomes somewhat of an obsession. You may find yourself very strangely watching your culture for any action. Is the SCOBY rising to the top or still on the bottom? How long do I have to wait till I taste?
BE PREPARED TO CATCH THE KOMBUCHA BUG! Kombucha Black Tea