AskDefine | Define teapot

Dictionary Definition

teapot n : pot for brewing tea; usually has a spout and handle

User Contributed Dictionary



Portmanteau of tea and pot.



  1. A vessel for brewing and serving tea.



vessel for tea
  • Bosnian: čajnik
  • Bulgarian: чайник
  • Dutch: theepot
  • Finnish: teekannu
  • French: théière
  • Hebrew: תֵּיוֹן
  • Italian: teiera
  • Japanese: ティーポット (tīpotto)
  • Kurdish:
  • Macedonian: чајник
  • Russian: чайник
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: чајник
    Roman: čajnik
  • Slovak: čajník
  • Spanish: tetera

Extensive Definition

A teapot is a vessel used for steeping tea leaves or a herbal mix in near-boiling water. Tea may be either in a tea bag or loose, in which case a tea strainer will be needed to catch the leaves inside the teapot when the tea is poured. Teapots usually have an opening with a lid at their top, where the tea and water are added, a handle for holding by hand and a spout through which the tea is served. Some teapots have a strainer built-in on the inner edge of spout. A small hole in the lid is necessary for air access inside to stop the spout from dripping and splashing when tea is poured. In modern times, a tea cosy may be used to enhance the steeping or to prevent the contents of the teapot from cooling too rapidly. A tea connoisseur will warm the teapot by rinsing it with boiling water and then draining it completely before making tea.

History of the teapot

The teapot probably derived originally from the ceramic kettles and wine pots which were made in bronze and other metals and were a feature of Chinese cultural life for thousands of years. The earliest example of a teapot that has survived to this day seems to be the one in the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware It has been dated to 1513 and attributed to Gongchun
From the end of the 17th century tea was shipped from China to Europe as part of the export of exotic spices and luxury goods. The ships that brought the tea also carried porcelain teapots. The majority of these teapots were painted in blue and white underglaze. Porcelain being completely vitrified will withstand sea water without damage, so the teapots were packed below deck whilst the tea stayed on top in the dry.
Tea drinking in Europe was initially the preserve of the upper classes since it was very expensive. Porcelain teapots were particularly desirable because porcelain could not be made in Europe at that time. It wasn't until 1765 that William Cookworthy devised a way of making porcelain and founded a works at Plymouth UK for the production of a porcelain similar to the Chinese. When European potteries began to make their own tea wares they were naturally inspired by the Chinese designs.

Teapot care

Unglazed teapots are recommended not to be washed in a dishwasher or soapy water. They should be rinsed with warm water only and left upside down to dry. If unglazed teapot is used with different teas, it is advisable not to mix them and have dedicated teapots for every tea variety to preserve the taste. Natural tannin sediment in an unglazed teapot should be left untouched as over time it will enhance the flavouring without flaking off as in a glazed teapot. To remove build-up of tannin in a glazed teapot one can use boiling water and a couple teaspoons of baking soda and leave it overnight, then wipe and rinse to desired state.

Teapots in non-teamaking contexts

A teapot has a rather peculiar shape, and its fame has often nothing to do with its primary function.

In architecture

  • The (purported) world's largest architectural teapot is to be found in Ohio 1938 The Chester Teapot was constructed by William "Babe" Devon. The Teapot started its life as a gigantic wooden hogshead barrel for a Hire's Root Beer advertising campaign. Devon purchased the barrel in Pennsylvania and had it shipped to Chester where it was set up on Carolina Avenue, which is also State Route 2. A spout and handle were added at this time and the wooden barrel was covered with tin to form the teapot's shape. A large glass ball was placed on top to make the knob of the "lid". The Teapot stood in front of Devon's pottery outlet store. Local teenagers were hired to run a concession and souvenir stand which was set up inside the Teapot.

See also

  • Samovar, a heated metal container traditionally used to boil water for tea in and around Russia, as well as in other Slavic nations, Iran and Turkey
  • Yixing clay teapot, a special Chinese clay teapot
  • Kettle
  • Russell's teapot
  • Kyusu Japanese teapot with side handle

Further reading

  • Steve Woodhead, "The Teapot Book" A.&C. Black, 2005 ISBN 0713660163.
  • Robin Emmerson, "British Teapots and Tea Drinking" HMSO, 1992 ISBN 0-11-701509-1
  • Garth Clark "The Artful Teapot" Thames and Hudson ISBN 0-500-51045-8
  • Edward Bramah "Novelty Teapots" Quiller Press ISBN 1-870948-72-6


teapot in German: Teekanne
teapot in Spanish: Tetera
teapot in Esperanto: Teujo
teapot in French: Théière
teapot in Indonesian: Poci
teapot in Italian: Teiera
teapot in Dutch: Theepot
teapot in Japanese: 急須
teapot in Polish: Czajnik elektryczny
teapot in Portuguese: Bule
teapot in Russian: Заварной чайник
teapot in Simple English: Teapot
teapot in Swedish: Tekanna
teapot in Turkish: Çaydanlık
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