REPROACH

CALL THAT A TEAPOT

The tea pot. A handsome vessel in which to steep tea leaves or other herbal mixes. An intrinsic part of cultures from around the globe. And, around in its modern form since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). So you’d think by now we’d be able to get them right.

There are (apparently) many ways in which a teapot can be sub-optimal. The walls of the pot may not be thick enough at the base, or thin in the wrong spots, leading to heat loss, unfortunate convection routes and thus a poorer quality of infusion. The handle may be too small or awkward. It may be made of—gasp—tin. The lid may even fall off when the pot is tilted. Yet many of these defects can be detected on close inspection and handling of the pot, pre-purchase.

But the spout—the spout! So vital to the successful pouring of tea and so often it disappoints. How often have you poured yourself a cup of tea only to have it go everywhere but in the cup? Frequently this flaw is discovered immediately after the purchase of a new or second-hand teapot, leading to quite the opposite mood and sentiment drinking a cup of fine tea is supposed to produce. [1]

Now, I cannot just look at a teapot and discern from the angle or curve of the spout how well my tea might pour. I cannot tell if its shape and size will allow too much or too little tea into my cup. Orwell and others have given us guidance on how to make a nice cup of tea, but little in the way of how to choose a nice pot—beyond “china or earthenware good, silver and enamel bad”. [2]

Therefore I call for national, nay, international regulations requiring all purveyors of teapots—first or second-hand—to allow the potential customer to test-pour your wares. Only in this way can we be sure of purchasing a quality teapot, rather than one that would be better served as a home for dormice. And if we all were able to drink our nice cups of tea from well-pouring teapots, think what peace and unity might be achieved!

Those blackguards attempting to sell inferior pots would naturally also be cast into rat-infested prisons like the villains they are, thus sending a strong message to the manufacturers and peddlers of substandard products that their perfidy will not be tolerated. [3]

ALICE CANNON, MELBOURNE

  1. I have decided there is usually a reason a teapot has been relegated to a second-hand shop—buyer beware.
  2. Check at least that the teapot has a small hole in the lid, to allow air inside—this helps to stop drips and splashes.
  3. “Teapots” made by small children in pottery classes as gifts may be excused from this ruling (alas) as there is (usually) no intent to deceive, and said pots are not being sold commercially as functional items (ie they are decorative only).
These nuns would have been very cross to climb all the way up this mountain only to discover their teapot was inferior. (Enamel teapot excused due to fragility of porcelain in rocky environments). One would hope even the most unprincipled teapot-seller would refrain from selling shoddy wares to members of the clergy. [Clergyman and five nuns sitting on rock drinking tea, teapot between them, Mt. Buffalo, Vic.], glass plate negative, ca 1890-19300. Alice Manfield, photographer. State Library of Victoria, H2003.96/28.

These nuns would have been very cross to climb all the way up this mountain only to discover their teapot was inferior. (Enamel teapot excused due to fragility of porcelain in rocky environments). One would hope even the most unprincipled teapot-seller would refrain from selling shoddy wares to members of the clergy. [Clergyman and five nuns sitting on rock drinking tea, teapot between them, Mt. Buffalo, Vic.], glass plate negative, ca 1890-19300. Alice Manfield, photographer. State Library of Victoria, H2003.96/28.