The teapot was not invented at the same time as the tea drink. In fact, the early Chinese who made tea used their drinking bowls as brewing pots by letting the tea leaves steep in hot water for a few minutes. The tea was consumed after the tea leaves have unfurled and settled to the bottom of the bowl. Eventually, the early versions of the teapots that resembled kettles in form and function were developed through time.
These early models of teapots were spawned in the Yixing province of China; they were actually small in size compared to the teapots of today. The clay used in Yixing teapots were of exceptional quality as these teapots could withstand boiling water without cracking. Yixing teapots were fashioned like personal accessories as each was designed to hold only as much as 100 ml of tea, which is enough for one drinker.
The insides of Yixing teapots are unglazed and porous, yet these qualities made Yixing teapots venerable pieces of art for tea lovers. Due to the unglazed insides of Yixing teapots, the tannin and flavor of the tea leaves seep into the pores. Gradually, through years of use, these stored flavors season the teapots, giving more character and body to the beverage. Considering this quality of Yixing teapots, some tea enthusiasts suggest that only one type or flavor of tea should be brewed in each Yixing teapot so flavors would not get muddled.
Teapots eventually evolved in form and make as years passed. Porcelain then became a favorite material for the manufacture of teapots. As tea was exported to the West, the tea sets and tea pots that were used in preparing tea made it over to the other side of the ocean as well. Porcelain teapots were valuable to Europe as they have no means of producing porcelain on their own at that time.
As tea-drinking became a must for royals and the noble-born, the highest grades of porcelain teapots were used in social functions such as tea parties. Teapots were regarded for the type of porcelain used in them - fine china or bone china and even the type that was as translucent and as fragile as egg shells (aptly termed eggshell porcelain). The teapots in Western society were then decorated with various symbolisms of the era such as floral motifs. Teapots had gold-gilded rims and were handpainted for uniqueness.
Nowadays, teapots are still used more for the function that they can serve. Yixing and English teapots of antiquated value are now prized collections. In looking for teapots for everyday use, one can look for them in most kitchen aid stores and shops specialising in teas.