The enjoyment of tea drinking is shared by many around the world whether as a connoisseur of tea, delighting in delicate infusions, or preferring more humble brews with hug-a-mug comfort. I’ve come across tea lovers who have elevated preparation and imbibing to the point of ritual; all well and good if you have the time for such practices. For others an appreciation of tea exists in the choice of tea bags available on the supermarket shelf.
I indulge in both aspects of tea drinking, the fine and the functional, which I would argue can be enjoyed in equal measure if your expectations are managed in direct proportion to the ingredients you use. Personally, I prefer to drink the stuff rather than enter into debate about the subject. For me, the telling difference between a good cup of tea and a great cup of tea depends on how it’s brewed. There’s no doubt in my mind that the method of brewing contributes to taste, which is why I try, when I have the time, to make tea in a teapot rather than a mug.
In fact I’d go as far as to say that in my experience different teapots can create unique flavours; my excuse for having more than a few, china, pottery and several made of various metals. Such is my teapot collection that I’ve had to steel myself to be hard-hearted towards those that haven’t been favoured in a while. Every now and then I donate one or two teapots to our local charity shop, telling myself they will be probably be better used by a new owner. These charity donations also help free up valuable space in my cupboards. Of course, as you probably know yourself, it’s difficult to drop off unwanted stuff at a charity shop without discovering at least one item you “can’t leave without”. In my case this is especially true if I spot a teapot which looks like it could brew the ultimate tea experience, or, more typically, I just find particularly attractive.
So which teapot is the best teapot? I’ve test-brewed many over the years and for me it’s a metal one, given to me by by husband as an anniversary present (read on before you scoff). Last year, as we wandered around a lovely antique centre near Oxford, hand in hand of course, I turned down the offer of the expensive decorative item my husband wanted to buy me. Instead my present of choice was a teapot, milk jug, sugar bowl and tray with which, when first my eyes fell upon it, I instantly fell in love. (OK, scoff now if you like)
I lovingly brought my anniversary present home, not forgetting husband, and set the kettle to boil before I’d taken off my coat. I proudly arranged my new collection, filled the milk jug and poured the boiling water onto the tea in the pot. I waited with excited anticipation! The long drive home had no doubt sharpened my appreciation of the resulting cuppa. To my taste buds the combination of tea and pot delivered a flavour that was simply … Mmm, heavenly cup of tea.
Was my experience more fanciful than factual? How much does a particular teapot influence the flavour of the tea? What’s your experience?