Time for tea | TheFencePost.com

Time for tea

Barbara Ann Dush
Fullerton, Neb.

Delsa often gives presentations of her teapot collection. She had 26 of her collection on display for a group of assisted living residents and later served them white tea, apple tea and oohlong, of which the latter was the resident's favorite.

Whether it’s time for high tea, afternoon tea, or just relaxation, Delsa Bone has the right brew to make it a special occasion.

Her 50-plus teapots reflect her love of collecting the unusual, although a teapot collection wasn’t something she always had in mind.

“When I started going to flea markets with some of my friends, they were all interested in something, and I had nothing,” the Fullerton woman chuckled. Then she spotted some “cute little teapots” and an idea was born.

“I didn’t want anything big, and this (collection) is just the right size for me. Because I didn’t intend to have brewed tea, I just wanted to have something pretty around. Then it’s just grown from there.”

Delsa’s new hobby was initiated when her niece in Japan gave her a one-cup teapot, which still remains her favorite to this day.

She opted for the inexpensive teapots as she began growing her collection.

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“Then I thought, if I’m going to put money into something, I’m going to get something for my buck,” Delsa said.

Since then, her collection has grown into teapots from the Hull, McCoy, Shawnee and Fenton collections, as well as teapots from Poland, Japan, Germany, Turkey, Prussia and one from England that commemorates Queen Elizabeth’s coronation anniversary. Some of the teapots she has picked up on personal travels overseas. She also has a musical teapot that plays “Tea for Two,” one made of Lennox China, and another that looks like Aladdin’s lamp.

History of Teapots

History records that the need for teapots began with necessity because of the invention of tea.

Some attribute this invention to a Chinese emperor in the third century who was sitting under a tree while boiling his drinking water. When the leaves of Camellia Sinensis (a common tea plant) fell into his bowl, the agreeable taste was the beginning of tea drinking.

“Then the monks took the tea leaves to Japan, then it went to Asia and all over the world from there, ” Delsa explained.

Teapots were not used immediately upon the discovery of tea; however, the transition from drinking bowls to teapots was a smooth one. The evolution of teapots spanned several hundred years, and with it came the global spread of tea and the teapot. Eventually the Japanese demand for teapots created an industry growth in the form of pottery.

A good brew

Steeping tea leaves and preparing a tasteful cup of tea can be an art in itself.

“When you’re making tea, you should start with cold water, bring it up to almost boiling, turn off your heat, wait three to five minutes, then start to brew the tea because if the tea is too hot, it will shrivel your tea leaves and you won’t get any flavor out if it. It will be bitter,” Delsa advised. “If you use a diffuser that has a mesh to it when you’re brewing tea, you’ll get more flavor out of your tea leaves. Also, when you fill your diffuser, only fill it about half full so the tea leaves have room to expand to let out their flavor.”

“You can put your tea right into your pot, then you’ll need a little strainer to put over your pot to catch the leaves.” Delsa orders some of her tea leaves out of a company in Wisconsin after learning about it through a fellow tea drinker from Milwaukee.

While doing research on tea, Delsa learned that “when you go into a Chinese restaurant and they give you tea almost immediately, that’s to help with the digestion of the food.”

Another addition to Delsa’s collection are small tea glasses from Turkey. “As you go into the Turkish shops, there’s a little teapot with glasses as you enter. It’s traditional and polite to stop and have at least a couple of swallows of tea. It’s like a greeting from the merchant to you. You thank the merchant for that and of course, they hope you buy something.”

Afternoon Tea and High Tea

In recent years, “high tea” has become a term in America for an elaborate afternoon tea. High tea in the United States is also used to refer to “afternoon tea” or the “tea party,” a formal ritual gathering in which tea, thin sandwiches and little cakes are served on the best china.

In the United Kingdom, high tea (also known as meat tea) is an early evening meal between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., usually consisting of cold meats, eggs or fish, cakes and sandwiches, while an “afternoon tea” is a light meal eaten typically between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The custom of drinking tea originated in England. Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served in teacups with sugar and milk, accompanied by various sandwiches (customarily cucumber, egg and cress, or fish paste), scones and cakes or pastries.

While afternoon tea used to be an everyday event, nowadays it is more likely to be taken as a treat at a tea shop or cafe, though many British still have a cup of tea and slice of cake, biscuits or some chocolate at tea time.

Although most of Delsa’s teapot collection has never served up a spot of tea, she finds the joy of collecting is in the chase. “There’s an Annie Crannie teapot that’s all done in green that I seen at Clay Center last year. It was rather pricey and it got to stay at Clay Center, ” she laughed. “But I’m thinking sometimes I might want to get it.”

Benefits of Tea

* Tea contains antioxidants that help cells regenerate and repair

* Tea can lower stress hormone levels

* Tea fights cavities and reduces plaque

* Tea keeps you hydrated: Every cup of tea you drink, especially low or no caffeine varieties, counts as a cup of water

* Tea can help lower blood pressure

* Tea aids your body in digestion

* Tea may help prevent diabetes

* Tea can help beat bacteria

* Tea aids your immune defenses