The antithesis of hustle culture, burnouts, and coffee-to-go is patiently waiting to come out of hiatus from your kitchen cupboard.
When was the last time you enjoyed a pot of tea?
Given teabags have been the dominant form of tea consumption in Australia since 1997, you’re not alone if the last time you used a teapot is a distant memory. Nor is a lack of teapots in your life necessarily a conscious choice either.
While The Tea Centre wouldn’t go as far as some to say “this nation is a bunch of latte sippers,” the past twenty-nine years has shown us that instant beverages are king. Or are we just being misled?
The rise of the teabag correlates with the escalation of hustle culture in the United States, with the late twentieth century seeing both imports wash up on Australian shores.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century and productivity is put on a pedestal. Coffee catch-ups are less casual and more ‘opportunities to network.’ And the question on everyone’s mind is “how do we fit an 80-hour work week into five eight-hour days?”
Moreover, supermarket teabag conglomerates now own the largest portion of Australia’s tea market. These are the same companies who directly benefit from consumers believing that instant tea is better than brewing the humble loose leaf.
The subliminal messaging is this: taking time out to do something as simple and enjoyable as a pot of tea is too wasteful.
Too inefficient. Too slow. As if the indescribable fulfilment that comes from brewing tea in a teapot could be measured by productivity outputs and cost-benefit analysis.
Australia wasn’t always like this. In the 1830s, the Sydney Gazette wrote that the colonies were in the throes of a “tea-drinking mania” where, instead of loose leaf tea being deemed inefficient, it was rationed out freely to agricultural workers and convicts.
Today, the opposite is true. Australians receive breaks in the workday, but ‘the grind’ mentality makes one feel guilty for taking them. Luckily, many people recognise that this is a problem. However, what is the solution?
Why, the answer lies neglected in the back of kitchen cupboards and dusty display cabinets across Australia.
While The Tea Centre does love an eco-friendly tea bag or the odd tea-to-go, nothing compares to the insights gleaned and moments stolen with a teapot. We want to change the teapot narrative from ‘time-consuming’ to time enjoyed and let consumers in on the simple happiness that comes from brewing loose leaf tea.
Furthermore, who said teapots weren’t conducive to productivity? Celebrated composer Alvin Lucier recreated popular songs—the Beatles ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ and ‘Nothing Is Real’—using a loudspeaker inside a teapot.
Prolific fairy tale writer Hans Christen Anderson wrote a fable called “The Teapot”, whose inspiration is clear:
“I have a spout, and that makes me the queen of the tea table…I am the one who gives forth, the adviser. I spread blessings abroad among thirsty mankind. Inside of me, the Chinese leaves give flavour to boiling, tasteless water.”
— “The Teapot” by Hans Christen Anderson, 1863.
What’s more, who’s to say that Bertrand Russell didn’t come up with the philosophical “Russell’s teapot” analogy over a strong pot of English Breakfast?
Great epiphanies aside, the unassuming breakfast teapot is a beautiful symbol of life’s little joys too. Up there with backyard barbecues and round tables, the very design of the teapot encourages togetherness and time spent with others.
A large capacity allows for multiple cups for multiple guests. An elegant spout and handle denotes pouring out tea for yourself, but also other people too! And who doesn’t love a languorous afternoon spent chatting over tea, stirring in milk and sugar to the beat of the conversation?
A full teapot is warm and inviting, like morning pancakes on a slow Sunday. Most of all, there’s something about the slow dance of the tea leaves inside that reminds one that it’s not about how many hours there are in a day, but how you enjoy them that counts.