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Teapots & Sets

From Ming Dynasty pieces to Meissen tea services, teapots and their companions reflect both elegance and beauty in their craftsmanship and decoration. While the tradition of drinking tea dates back thousands of years, the teapot as it is known today is a more recent creation.

Early tea drinkers used teacups, but the teapot lagged behind, as it was customary to prepare tea in a stew pot over heat. The first official teapot, known as the "Yixing," emerged around the dawn of the 16th century in China's Jiangsu province. Known for the purplish-red clay, known as "zisha," from which the vessel is crafted, these Yixing teapots were renowned for their smooth finish and the ability to absorb some of the aromas from the tea.

In subsequent years, teapots became increasingly refined and decorative while also spreading westward. By the 17th century, teapots were all the rage in western Europe, and their designs emulated the trends of their respective generations. From Rococo flair in the 18th century to the streamlined modernism of the early to mid-20th century, teapots have evolved to assume myriad shapes and sizes that all share in the rich history of the refined brewed beverage.

Quick Facts

  • Some of the earliest teapots to reach western Europe were known as "East India pots" and were characterized by their pear-shaped contour and straight spouts
  • Early western European teapots were heavily influenced in their design by Islamic coffee pots, in part because the tradition of coffee drinking was already well established by the time tea drinking arrived on the continent
  • The current record for the most expensive teapot is held by a Yixing Zisha teapot. Created by renowned ceramist Gu Jingzhou in the late '40s, the vessel sold for $2,000,000 in May of 2010

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