The Origin of Teapots

The telos and techne of teapots developed in response to the rise of whole-leaf tea; material development of the ware is innately linked to the intended brewing methodology. Teapots teleologically originated as a brewing method for whole-leaf tea, an implied and applied technique for control of the infusion[1].

The diversity of teas available throughout Chinese history, and the variety of brewing methods practiced, are often understated: while the history of tea is commonly portrayed as a linear progression from “powdered and boiled tea” to “powdered and whisked tea” to “whole leaf tea”, such simplification of history focuses exclusively on the experiences of the wealthy and their consumption of the most en vogue teas of their time[2]. While loose leaf tea was popularized during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 CE), it was commonly produced and consumed as early as the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 CE). Lu Yu, writing in the Tang dynasty describes four types of available tea:

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