Phillip Donnelly 21/07/22 (In update).
A Good Cup of Tea.
So many teas to choose from and then all these Tea Pots. Black Tea, Green Tea, oolong tea, White Tea, Yellow Tea, Herbal Tea…. there are over 3000 different types of tea but they all come from one plant the Camellia sinensis plant which in the wild will grow to 6ft or more yet to maintain quality of the leaf are kept to around 3 feet or 1 metre tall when cultivated for tea.
There are two main varieties of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The Chinese variety, Camellia sinensis sinensis, has a small leaf and is more tolerant of cold weather. The second variety, Camellia sinensis assamica, is native to the Assam region in India. It thrives in tropical areas and low elevation.teasource.com
Now there are thousands of Teapots and Billions of Mugs.
Round, Square, Heart, House, Car, Bus, Typewriter etc. Then materials Ceramic, Clay, Silver plated, Stainless Steel. Then sizes from one cup to 20 cup tea pots. I’m old enough to remember the days of the office tea lady doing the rounds with her trolley and tray of biscuits.
Now I wouldn’t write about teapots normally but I bought a tea pot from Carters of Suffolk on the 13th of July 2022 at their shop in Stoneham Aspel Suffolk. And I bought a teapot that may never be used to make a cup of tea. So from that we can determine that a teapot can be an ornament or a vessel for brewing tea.
My Teapot image here.
In the 21st century most of us use tea bags, Britons use 61 Billion tea bags per year and that equates to 1,460 cups of tea per person per year, not including second dunkers. Sounds like there is plenty of room for more tea bag brands doesn’t it. An average box of tea bags is 180 which includes all types of tea from luxury tea brews to good old fashioned builders tea. Incidentally, when I was growing up tea was always brewed in a pot and pored into a china cup or mug of which we had few unlike today. My mother never used a tea bag and the first time I came across anyone using tea bags to make tea was in the mid 70’s.
I have around 20 mugs in my cupboard for tea and no cups and saucers at all, fortunately I don’t have posh visitors though I do love high teas. Up until the 80’s many ceramic producers manufactured cups and saucers, in the UK retailers have 2.5 billion mugs on shelves and being sold every year, I don’t know how many are broken. When I was growing up tea pots were ceramic or stainless steel and the pot was always covered in a tea cosy, many people make tea with tea bags these days but there are just as many people all over Britain who love using their tea pot.
We have the tea bag, the first tea bag was made in 1908 and was purely by accident, produced by an American and in the USA and not England! So the tea bag was an American invention. A tea and coffee importer created samples of his tea and gave them out in little cotton pouches but it wasn’t long before some bright spark decided to drop the whole thing in a pot of water. Tea had been brewed for many years in devices known as defuses, metal containers that held the tea to stop the tea leaves entering the cup. We also had the tea strainer of course which the majority of people used. The tea bag was mostly in use by the Americas as it was also used to make coffee.
As I mentioned my teapot came from Carters of Suffolk but plenty of other manufacturers cater for a special market, teapots aren’t just for brewing tea, it’s also a work of art. And if there’s one thing British households have loved for as many years as I can remember is their ornaments, from the pretty figurines to the personality induced ceramic Teapot. I often look for teapots in charity shops, most of them are metal but it seems that teapots in charity shops are the hardest thing to find. Many just reside in cupboards around Britain just in case.
Tea and Biscuits.
Before the tea bag we had loose tea which was introduced in the 1700’s, and many select brands still sell loose tea and ome would say tea bags are never gong to taste as good as brewed cup of tea. I would agree, tea always tastes better from a pot. Place your comments at the bottom of this post.
The vast majority of Britain’s tea drinkers use tea bags and contrary to popular belief a tea bag doesn’t need to be left to ‘brew’ as with loose tea. Loose tea is larger, the tea in tea bags is fine, fine because the taste of the tea is released faster meaning the tea bag only needs 60 seconds to brew in a cup of hot water. Loose tea needs to be left for a minimum of 3 minutes and a maximum of 5 minutes for the best taste. I researched that! Anything longer and the tea becomes cooler and staler. The optimum brewing time for all teas is 3 minutes, and the maximum brewing time for fruit or herbal teas is 3 minutes. Tea also has a maximum life span of 12 months with the tea absorbing moisture over time and the natural oils in the leaves evaporating over time, the fresher the tea the better the flavour. Tea bags that are simply boxed in other words not bagged in foil or cellophane bags will not be the best tea but very likely the cheapest tea. To check your teas health you have to use your nose. If it is in a sealed bag it’s very likely to be good after 12 months. So don’t go to your holiday home and leave the tea in the tea caddy or an open bag in the box. By the way, water, yes, the water. For better tea filter the water and the softer the water the better the tea.
Britain’s favourite Biscuit with a cup of tea is the Chocolate Digestive. Personally I love dunking a Rich Tea.
Now you know about the tea how about the Pot.
Carters of Suffolk
Carters of Suffolk have been producing novel and creatively designed teapots for over 40 years which isn’t really that long, that really takes us back to the 80’s by which time many people were using teabags for their everyday cuppa. Teapots have been manufactured using various materials including ceramic, metal, porcelain and clay. Carters use made from Clay which they describe as Vegan Friendly.
While we were there we had the pleasure of talking to a jolly lady making teapots by hand and decorating teapots by hand. You can buy a 2 cup teapot in the shape of a policeman and teapot in the shape of Typewriter with or without paper. And the Typewriter is a beautiful piece of design. The gold decoration is created using Gold leaf, the silver decoration is made using Platinum with the highest quality Glaze that they say will last a life time so look after your Carters tea Pot.
Carters sell their teapots online, at select stores including Harrods, Liberty of London, Bloomingdales and Macy’s. I will add that carters of Suffolk are the sole remaining teapot producer of hand crafted and hand painted teapots using traditional processes that go back 300 years and more.
My favourite is the LOCO teapot measuring 290x160x90 designed on a 1950’s coal fired steam driven locomotive. The teapot is available in one cup and larger in green or brown. Just visit the website to view the full range.