Susette has a Masters degree in Sustainable Development. She leads her local Green Council and writes for The Sustainable Business Review.
A teapot is a vessel in which you steep tea leaves or tea bags prior to drinking tea from tea cups. It is not the vessel in which you boil water. That's a tea kettle.
. . . Unless you're American. Then you boil filtered water in a kettle and call it a teapot. You pour it directly into a coffee mug (not a teacup), where a chamomile tea bag (not "real" tea) is waiting. You add whatever sweetener you like (usually honey) and maybe a little sea salt to taste (salt??). And you drink it while eating a toasted bagel, ignoring the glances of coffee drinkers surrounding you.
If you're British or from a former British territory, you boil water in a kettle, then pour it into a teapot, add black tea, and let it steep. Then you pour the tea from the teapot into a teacup. In the teacup you add half a cup of sugar and some milk and stir. You sip to test the temperature (with your little finger in the air). Then you pick up a bickie (biscuit/cookie), dip it into the tea, nibble what didn't drop in and sip the tea again, while discussing the royal family with your mates. See if you can use them to trigger tea party ideas.
If you're Asian you boil water in a kettle and go through a little official ceremony to get the green tea into the teapot. Then you carry the tea tray to each guest, pour a little tea into each tiny teacup with no handle (burning the hands of the guests) and try not to notice when someone hides the addition of a little saki.
Teapots and kettles come in all sizes and makes. Although they have their expected use, you can really use them for whatever you like. Here are some of my uses, followed by other teapot stories.
Large Stainless Steel Tea . . . Kettle
Someone in my family bought me this large tea kettle for Christmas one year. It seemed too big for one person, so it took me awhile to start using it. Now I much prefer it over any other tea kettle I've owned.
Technically, the difference between a tea kettle and teapot is that the kettle is used to boil water, while the pot is used to steep tea. The kettle is usually made of metal and is intended to stay on the stove.
The pot can be made with ceramic, clay, or glass and is often decorative. Once filled with tea and heated water, it is usually set on the table to steep while guests are sitting down.
Medium Ceramic Teapot
The teapot on the right holds about enough water for two cups of tea. It's attractive, but small. When I got the big stainless steel kettle, I put this teapot in the cupboard and didn't touch it for a few years. Then I discovered a new use for it.
Today it's cold and rainy outside. My teapot is on the stove filled with water and aromatic herbs. The heat is on low and the smells of roses, mint, and eucalyptus fill the house, generating coziness and contentment. It makes my place feel like a real home.
Since I live alone, any evidence of something happening outside of me, other than traffic, gives me a feeling of company. I change my herbs depending on the weather, season, and any holidays. The smells create a great atmosphere for a tea party, should I decide to have one.
This pot didn't work for tea, since I pour boiling water straight from the kettle into a cup (I'm not saying what kind), but it's perfect as a scent diffuser. In spring, before it gets warm outside, I mix rose hips, lavender, and mint together. If I have a cold I use eucalyptus, mint, and sage. Over Thanksgiving, cloves, allspice, cinnamon and other Thanksgiving smells prepare me for spending time with family. Over Christmas, pine, myrrh, and frankincense are scents to experiment with.
Small Neti Pot
Although this kind of pot does hold water, it is not used to drink, but to wash with. Some of the same preparation procedures are followed: Mix filtered water with sea salt and heat to lukewarm. Steep herbs in the water that help with breathing (eucalyptus or mint). Strain the herbs and fill the neti pot with the water mixture.
With head tilted sideways, pour water into the upper nostril, letting it roll out the other nostril. Breathe through your mouth. Then switch sides. This is the nose tea ceremony used to clean nasal passages in Ayurvedic circles.
It all started with the Utah teapot!
The Utah Teapot is a graphic of a simple white teapot that has been used to develop nearly the entire computer graphics industry. It started out as a simple, informal ceremonial CAD design.
As CAD software developed further, new graphic techniques and codes were tried out on the teapot - first the addition of colors, then texture, light reflections, and more advanced actions like 360 degree turns or making steam rise from the spout.
Although only a virtual teapot, this visual has contributed to the development of business and computer cultures worldwide.
The largest teapot in the world - much larger than anyone could drink from - is located in Chester, West Virginia (USA). It stands 14 feet tall and 14 feet wide. It was originally made in 1938 from a hogs barrel wrapped in tin, with spout and handle added. There was a glass ball on top to represent the lid. Inside the Chester Teapot the owners ran a concession hot dog stand.
Since then the teapot has gone through many renovations. In 1984 it was almost taken down by a phone company that bought the land, but was rescued by local citizens, and now stands on its own fenced and landscaped property as a non-functional city landmark.
Some teapot stories are downright scandalous. Teapot Dome, although it doesn't look like one now, did once look like a teapot before weather eroded it down. It stands in Wyoming USA in a vast area once covered by warm, shallow seas, which left behind extensive coal, natural gas, and oil deposits in its Cretacious rock formations.
In 1922 one of two oil operators, Sinclair Oil Company, was granted a low-cost lease to fields around Teapot Dome, which made the company rich. In return, the company found ways to enrich the Cabinet official who granted them the lease.
This caused a huge scandal when his peers noticed him living beyond his means. A government investigation ensued and he was fined and thrown into prison for accepting bribes, which became known as the Teapot Dome Scandal. It was the first time a US government official had been imprisoned for committing crimes during the call of duty.
"Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea." ~Henry Fielding, Love in Several Masques
Tea Party Ideas
It may be that some of the scenarios above are giving you great tea party ideas. Here are some others:
- At the coronation of the next king or queen of any country, think conquest. Think colonial. Invite a bunch of friends over for tea and bickies. Add a sweet that's indigenous to that country. Go to your local international store and buy a little décor piece to add to the atmosphere.
- Invite your guests to bring alcohol that they think might work with tea. Have plenty of steeped tea on hand and spike with the different types of alcohol your guests brought. Rate them for future reference.
- Host a party to explore tea party ideas. Depending on your historical preference, you can choose a country to represent the first time - say, a celebration of the American Tea Party that started the American Revolution. Then have your guests choose the next themes and maybe host it themselves.
Big Oil handpicked President Harding and, through him, his Cabinet in order to further their own corporate ambitions. The citizens of Chester rallied to save their historic giant teapot for future generations. The Utah Teapot enabled the growth of computer graphics. The neti pot opens up nasal pathways. My ceramic teapot makes the house smell great. And my tea kettle does what a kettle should - boils water. What do all these teapots have in common? . . . umm, well . . . a name, a shape, a story, and maybe fodder for some great tea party ideas.
Other Interesting Articles
- All About Tea: The History of Tea and Other Fun Facts
If you enjoy a good cup of tea you may be interested in how tea became so popular. Read the history, health benefits and other fun facts in this hub.
- Afternoon Tea with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace
My husband and I had tea, with Her Majesty the Queen of England, in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. We were not alone with her, though, as it was a royal garden party!
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on March 25, 2015:
LOL. Thanks Kristen. You made my day. Here's to you back.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 24, 2015:
What a fascinating hub about teapots and the history of tea parties. I'm an avid tea drinker. This mug's for you. Voted up!
Carla J Swick from NW PA on July 27, 2013:
I love tea - I drink a cup every night before bed! Thanks for sharing - the white teapot bring back memories of my youth.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on July 26, 2013:
Thanks Eco-Lhee and Melovy. I've seen electric kettles before, but I've also traveled a bit, so I don't know where it was I saw it. And let's not get started on the oil companies. Growwwl. You know there's another leak in an oil well off the Louisiana coast, near where the BP spill was? They haven't been able to shut it off yet . . . . Nope! I'm not going to talk about it. Lets, see . . . cinnamon - great smell, Eco-Lhee!
Yvonne Spence from UK on July 26, 2013:
Well, I have learned a lot from this Suzette, and from our chat on FB. I had no idea that kettles were generally called teapots in the US, and no idea that electric kettles weren't the norm.
We have 2 teapots, both ceramic, and one of them was a wedding present from a friend who now lives in Australia so I think of her every time I use it and it adds to the pleasure of drinking tea!
That Utah teapot sounds fascinating, and as for the teapot Dome. Why does it not surprise me that an oil company paid off a politician…
Eco-Lhee from Alberta, Canada on April 03, 2013:
I am a true to heart tea drinker, and I use a carafe for my tea. I do however, use a similar pot to the one you use on your stove, I like putting cassia bark in it, I love the smell of cinnamon. This was great information on teapots, I really enjoyed it.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on December 25, 2012:
I've used Constant Comment, Becky. Can't remember what it tastes like, but I agree, it's good. And you have an antique silver teapot set. Cool!
To everyone - It's really interesting hearing what your teapots and teacups are like and the little details about how you use them. I guessing the pampering aspect of teamaking and serving is what the Japanese custom is for. Thanks for sharing! And merry christmas to you all!
Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on December 24, 2012:
I love tea and teapots. My favorite blend is a Bigelow tea, called Constant Comment. I have an electric tea kettle. My teapots range in size from 2 cup to a whopper that holds 8 cups. They range in age from about 6 months to 85 years old. That one is silver and I inherited it from my mom with the coffee pot, creamer and sugar bowl. I never use them and just try to keep them from being permanently blackened from the oxidation. Oh well, never done; got to get back to polishing.
I really enjoyed this hub and have voted all of the good ones and shared. The comedy was great.
Faythe Payne from USA on December 08, 2012:
Voted up..I love anything tea related.....Unforutunately for me I only own a couple of tea pots ..But I have quite large collection of tea cups...and always on the hunt for more..LOL..great hub
Stephanie Henkel from USA on December 08, 2012:
Loved your hub on teapots! You've tied together some fascinating facts and stories about teapots into a great hub!
I love using my porcelain teapots to serve tea. Although I'm mostly a coffee drinker and usually use sturdy stoneware mugs, when I have tea, I like to use a pretty teapot and porcelain tea cups. I don't dip in the biscuit and discuss the royal family, but it does make me feel a little pampered! :) Voted up and shared!
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on December 07, 2012:
Mary - I just added a link to a hub Denise wrote about the history of tea. It talks about how iced tea was invented by southerners, so it's funny you should say that.
Denise - Thanks a lot for the votes up. You need to get another teapot. Ummm . . . Christmas is just around the corner (voice sing-song). I would go for ceramic this time. ;-)
Denise Handlon from North Carolina on December 07, 2012:
This hub is Awesome, w.g. I love reading anything about tea and have had fantasies for about 12 yrs of owning a tea shop. What a very interesting hub. I rated it up/A/U/I Oh, my teapot? I have none... :( I had one given to me for my birthday one year (the photo in my tea hub of the glass teapot) but it was 'accidentally' broken. Great hub, rated Up/U/A/I
Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 02, 2012:
What an interesting subject for a Hub! We Southerners drink a lot of iced sweetened tea. The water is brought to a boil in my ceramic teapot, the tea bags added, then it is seeped (just let it sit for a while). Then the tea is mixed with sugar and water.
I voted this UP, etc.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on December 02, 2012:
And black tea is super-dried green tea, as I recall. Interesting. I'll look at camellias differently from now on.
Sharon OBrien on December 02, 2012:
Yes. The types of "tea" come from how the plant is prepared and which parts are used. Also, even what part of the world it is harvested from. For instance, white tea comes from the flowers and green tea from a younger leaf.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on December 01, 2012:
Thanks everyone - It was fun writing this article and I'm glad you're getting a lot out of it. So SM O'Brien does that mean that tea is related to the camellia flower?
Leah Lefler from Western New York on December 01, 2012:
I love tea - especially Earl Grey! We have a cheap metal teapot, but I would prefer a ceramic one. Maybe I'll get a new teapot for Christmas!
Sharon OBrien on December 01, 2012:
Love it! I have always loved tea pots, and own several. I have my cast iron for green tea, my china for my black and traditional teas, and ceramic for my herbal and medicinal teas. As for my kettle, I always prefer glass or ceramic to metal personally. Then I have a few that are strictly ornamental. (A side note - technically, only brews made with leaves from the camellia sinensis plant are classified as tea. One of those odd and interesting little facts). Great hub. Voted up.
carol stanley from Arizona on December 01, 2012:
I love creative hubs and this one surely is. I had fun reading about all the teapots. Thanks for sharing this fun hub.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2012:
What a great hub about teapots, teapot scandals and good old fashioned kettles for boiling water and aromatics. Well done! Many up votes even including funny and will share with my followers.