Text by Jane Pettigrew • Photography Courtesy of N Sethia Foundation
As we brew our daily cups of tea using modern conveniences such as electric kettles, it is perhaps easy to forget that porcelain factories, jade workers, potters, and silversmiths have been designing and manufacturing tea wares for thousands of years. Their creations include tiny, highly decorative porcelain bowls; carved jade pots; enameled bowls and saucers; small unglazed earthenware teapots; elaborate silver tea sets and urns; and exquisite caddies in wood, silver, crystal, and curled paper work. Those precious objects are important not just as the work of skilled and talented designers, but because they tell the story of tea through the centuries. They explain who was drinking tea and during which period, the trading of tea between East and West, the way the leaves were brewed in different countries, how the tea liquor was served and drunk, and the various accoutrements required for the rituals of different nations.