Leaves of Tea
Posted on August 9, 2014
There are 13 teapots in my house, plus 2 honorary teapots, those being a tall china coffee pot that my parents received as a wedding gift, and a floral jug with a cracked handle that belonged to my grandmother Frances. Those two pieces just somehow fit into the collection.
I have many tea cups and saucers too, both vintage and new. So, you might say that I am something of a lady of tea, a connoisseur of the vessels of the leaf, although the truth is that, out of all of those pots and cups and saucers, only one – gold edged, cream outside, shell pink inside, and reminiscent of folds of paper reopened – was purchased by me, at an antique fair in Yarrawonga late last century.
I fell in love with my first teapot at a delicious tea shop in Sassafras, in the Dandenong Ranges, called Tea Leaves http://www.tealeaves.com.au (how amazing is this gorgeous place, there, where the winter is so pretty). The teapot is in shades of green, with a rendering of an old world map on it. I must have seen it just before xmas or birthday, as my twin brother bought it for me and gave it to me later.
And so it began, slowly but surely.
Over the next few years, my sister selected for me a hand made guinea fowl inspired teapot from a potter that we knew in Rushworth; my mum bought me my first small sized teapot, in oriental blue and white, with an ornate brass handle, and my cousin Fi gave me another little, flat hand painted teapot for one.
Then there were the blues: Mum gifted me a pale blue floral teapot and cup that nestled into each other, and my friend Carolyn found me a vintage tin pot in metallic blue. Heidi gave me a blue be-hearted tea cup and saucer.
There were lovely old tea cups sourced by my mum.
This was in the 1990’s, while I was still with my ex boyfriend, and then we were no longer together, and a new era and century was bookmarked by a lovely teapot in green and blue, with serene sea creatures painted upon it, chosen by my exes mother. She brought it to me in the house in Northcote that I had shared with her son. I remember sitting at the red laminex table with her, eating cake and drinking tea, and wondering at how everything had changed irrevocably. I was 26 years old. That teapot reminds me of Byron Bay, of snorkelling under Flinders pier and of seafood dishes that I mostly did not eat. It reminds me of Mary, and her family, and 7 years of my life.
There was a lull of a long time, where the teapot collection remained static. There were surely many cups of tea drunk though. There were vintage tea cups and and saucers given to me by my friend Kate, when we worked at Tree of Life; a beautiful gold and green one from my brother Mat; a couple from Carolyn, grey and white 1960’s retro and delicate pink and gold; a matching pair of delicate white cups, one with pale pink, and one with pale blue prints, as engagement presents from my darling cousin Amber, half a dozen green glass cups, and then my choice of my great grandmother’s tea cups when my mum moved into the granny flat (the others waiting for my sister).
In later years there was the clean slate teapot, purely white and with strainer built in, from my brother Mat; the whimsy of the pot that Al found for me, with mother giraffe as the handle, leaning down to kiss her baby on the lid, and the small side step of a pair of half teapot book ends from my sister in law Karen, nicely propping up some journals on one shelf and a copy of Women of Letters on another, until the great plethora of my 40th birthday this year.
There, as grand lady of tea, or tea paraphernalia at least, I was bestowed a little white teapot in a hand knitted cosy from friends Simon and Kate; red, gold and lushly floral pot from friends Rachel and Joel; miniature collectable hand signed Peter Rabbit teapot from Al and a whole, vintage Japanese tea set for 2 from my sister Indi.
So it is that these things have found me, nestled into my life and are part of how people perceive me. I love that people see these things and think of me, and now they have become such a part of my map of self, of the stories that objects tell about our lives.