Showing posts with label Mrs Irwin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mrs Irwin. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tea pots, cozies, and orange rinds...

My first tea pots
Recently QMM, a fellowess (I continue to make my own words) blogger showed a hand crocheted teapot cosy on her blog.  This made me think about my own tea cozies and then led to the thought to share some of my teapots.  There is just nothing like a nice cup of tea in mug and well, in cup and saucer for finer moments.  Nowadays so many only  make a cup of tea using a bag, but there is more enjoyment brewing tea in a pot.

I learned to drink tea "properly" holding my cup of fine china with little finger posed up from the Grand Mrs.Jessie Irwin, my uncle John's mother. I've written about her before on this blog.  Jessie hosted Sunday high teas which I did not particularly enjoy because I had to sit still, upright, not fidget and remain charmed by the conversation. As a yongster I was not charmed, I assure you.   Still, Mrs. Irwin educated me in the proper way to brew tea, including warming the pot first, and discarding the water, a practice  I never understood but find myself doing from time to time today. When I graduated from high school, Mrs. Irwin "presented" me with my first two teapots, the two blues above, which I still own today, a small Blue Lustreware individual pot by Hall China and a fine china pot, made in Japan. 

My Queen tea cozy from England,
Isn't she stunning?
Wikipedia says, "A tea cosy (American English tea cozy) is a cover for a teapot, traditionally made of cloth or wool, which is used to insulate the tea, keeping it warm while it brews. Cloth tea cosies often have padded inserts, which can be removed and washed separately.   Although the history of the tea cosy may begin when tea was introduced to Britain in the 1660s, the first documented use of a tea cosy in Britain was in 1867. It is probably the Duchess of Bedford who, by establishing the activity of afternoon tea in 1840, would have brought the popularity of the tea cosy. Afternoon tea was the time for networking and keeping up to date with aristocracy gossip and topical news. With all the chatter at teatime the teapot would get cold, which would have at times cut short some tea parties. And so, the tea cosy came about. Tea cosies then flourished during the late 19th century, where they appeared in many households across Britain, motivated by the obsession of decorating and covering objects characteristic of the Victorian era.  

Tea cosies started to be used in North America in the same period. Newspapers of the time reveal that tea cosies enjoyed "a sudden and unexpected rise in public favor" among women who hosted tea parties. Newspapers of the time included advice columns on how to make one: "Some very handsome ones are made of remnants of heavy brocade, but linen is generally used, embroidered or not, according to taste, as these covers are washable. Make the covering large enough for your teapot and provide a ring at the top to lift it off with."

Many years ago in CA  I converted to tea drinking, a necessity, because of my long commute time to work, coffee seemed to stir up the bladder and made it difficult to last an hour or longer..until I could arrive at the office.  That could have been a problem indeed.  Tea did not have the same effect on me.  While I still like a good  strong French roast cup of coffee now and again, I prefer my tea.  Two aunts were tea drinkers as long as I can remember and made almost a ritual of brewing their teas but then handy Lipton tea bags became their preference.  Another reason I switched to tea in career days was it was easy for me to drink cold tea if I had to leave it interrupted, not so with cold coffee.  And I could always take along a tea bag to a meeting and find hot water to brew my drink.  Green tea became my preference for morning brew many years ago but at night I prefer a cup of herbal.  Another of my preferences but only in the cold weather is Japanese  Genmaicha, a  blend of traditional green tea and roasted brown rice which amuses me with it's sometimes popped rice kernels resembling tiny popped corn.  I can't explain why I like that tea only in winter but I do. 

Blue green plaid tea cozy
While tea cozies are intriguing, I only have  two, both gifts.  I seldom use these because I consume my tea quickly and do not need to protect it to keep it warm but if I have a friend over to drink tea it is a good idea, to keep the warmth in while we talk, as mentioned in the history.  This blue green plaid  cozy was  a gift in CA from the proprietress of a tea room in our area.  I took many friends there just for the experience and one friend and I had standing monthly meetings at the establishment. She carried wonderful teas, my favorite being Earl Grey White tip. Tea rooms became popular for a time in CA and I believe that there is still one in Newcastle where we lived.  Being a tea drinker, I welcomed these shops, I thought our time had come at last.  While a teabag cannot be beat for convenience there is something  much nicer in brewing a pot of loose leaf tea.    

My Rose teapot
So the other day I took some photos of some  of my teapots, we will start with this my rose pot, the one I use every day.  I bought this at an estate sale, in CA, at least 20 years ago; I loved it for the roses including the bud on top and the handle like a gnarled stem.  On the other side of the pot is a rosebud, but this side has a gorgeous rose which is raised up along with leaves and buds, resembling a carving. This pot is made in the Philippines, so indicated on the bottom. It has served many pots of tea to me over the years.  I had this teapot in my office my last two years of work which many of my staff found curious. 

A gift from one of my staff was this ceramic tea bag holder, I had never seen anything like it and actually think it is quite the unnecessary, though attractive piece; I am content to keep my tea bags in their original boxes or a tin.  It is a heavy piece of ceramic made at a ceramic shop  in Folsom, CA, "Clouds" where some folks made and sold different sorts of ceramic things.  I have  never seen anything else like this and so have kept it.  There is a slot on the other side at the bottom  from which you can pull a tea bag.  The top lid lifts off to load the tea bags.  Cute, but well.....a CA idea perhaps. 

Japanese Lustreware Pot
Unmatched lid
I used this lustre ware teapot for a long time and could not give up even when I broke the lid.  I found an unmatched lid at a rummage sale long ago and it does fit so the pot is just fine with it.  But it is smaller than my rose pot, so this pot does not get daily use any longer.  I bought this from an elderly lady in Auburn, CA in about 1985; she was selling off things while downsizing.  I paid only 25 cents for it and could not quit bragging about my wonderful find!  Years ago my sister-in-law was visiting and asked where I got this pot, she said it reminded her of an old neighbor, as they lived in southern CA and we lived in northern, we knew it was  not the same woman but I suppose there were many like this around in their day. 


Longaberger tea pot

 I realized as I began to write that I really only have one teapot that is rather new,  my large Longaberger, which still is at least 15 years old now.  I especially like it if there are a couple tea drinkers around because it holds a generous amount.  My Queen cozy fits nicely over it.   This Longaberger is pottery,  made in the USA, in Ohio,  a little over 6 inches tall, but 11 inches from snout to handle and a little over 7 inches wide.  That's right, I said "snout."  When I sang that childhood I'm a little  tea pot song, I would sing, "here is my handle here is my snout"  Despite numerous corrective attempts by my Mom, Grandma and aunts, I insisted it was a tea snout and so I have continued to call it today.  It was not a Malaprop, but my deliberate choice of word, I knew what I was doing, I just preferred having my own names for things commonly called something else.   

Staffordshire England Pot

I use this pot often in the evenings when I want only a cup or two of tea.  It's my  pot of choice for  nighttime herbals  mint or chamomile which I enjoy while in my bedroom chair reading.   It is  quite grazed, showing its age.  It was given to me in CA by the daughters of  Mrs. Marion Wilson, a dear older lady who befriended my mother in law and lived in the mobile home park and attended our church.  I never understood why her daughters would not keep it as Marion drank tea from this daily; she was proud of it and had bought it on one of her trips to England years back.  They knew I was a tea drinker and when they asked if I would like to have it as a remembrance, I accepted it gratefully.   It too has lasted many years.


Found at my Aunt's home in PA. 
This belonged to Mrs. Jessie Irwin of Freeport, PA
 and was used frequently.  
Another English piece with lovely design all around;
 a  teapot that has made transatlantic voyages.
Whimsical musical teapot that plays
"Tea for Two"  Purchased at an auction
Fun to use to surprise people

These are my most unusual teapots made from orange rinds, carefully sculpted
and decorated by an Israeli man who lived in Los Angeles. 
 I have never seen any others like these.  
 He sold them in Newcastle once a year at the Mandarin Festival. 
 I have never put tea in them although he assured me they are useable. 
They have retained a wonderful orange odor even though I have had them for  over 10 years.

Last, a small box made by the same gentleman from Los Angeles
from the rind of an orange.  He began to use grapefruit rinds too for larger boxes,
 but then he did not return to Newcastle, CA so I never
saw these again.  Gorgeous work and  a most unusual craft don't you think?
So there you have it, some of my teapots and their stories.  There are a few others on other shelves and boxes.   I look for unusual tea pots now and then but have not found anything
tempting for some time.  Now it is time for a cup of chamomile, I think.