Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tea for One

While I love throwing tea parties, I also like making tea part of the quiet times in my life. To remind myself to do this, I have started collectinge tea for one sets. I like using a pot with an infuser rather than just dunking a tea ball in my cup because it feels a little more elegant, I don't have to figure out what to do with the ball, and -- this may be psychological -- tea just tastes better coming out of a pot.

These are my two favorites:

They are not expensive peices, but I like the simple styling and size of the cup on the white one, and I like the old feel and floral pattern on the other one.

We tend to think of tea-for-ones at kitshy modern inventions, festooned with puppies and bows or shaped like ladybugs. And there's a place for that. But stacking teapots have a long and elegant history. Royal Wilton has been making these sets since the 1930s, mainly in floral chintz patterns.

They harken back to the French villeuse, which literaly means night-light. Popular in the 1800s, these decorative pieces included a stand (often translucent) which held a candle or a container filled with vegetable or nut oil and a wick. Stacked over this stand would be a teapot. They were usually small, holding a demitasse-sized teapot just right for one final cup of tea before bed.

I've seen other antique stacked sets, some out of metal, from Turkey and Russia. I'm guessing that the elaborate Russian tea ceremony, with its need for a number of pots, coupled with the need to save space, gave rise to these examples.

So, as I sip bush tea out of my discount tea for one, I still feel connected to all this history.

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