The Art of Tea Making

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By Ellen Hill

Fill teapot with boiling water. Let sit for a few minutes. Discard water. Place tea leaves in teapot. Fill with boiling water. Let steep for five minutes. Pour and enjoy.

The warm feeling and comfort of a good cup of tea is a tie that binds.

There’s no one who knows that better than Mr Teapot himself (aka Maurice Cooper OAM), owner of the Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms collection and custodian of teapot heritage and stories.

“Tea is a great reflection of life: our happiest times can be shared over a cuppa and as well as our saddest,” he says.

While the Chinese and Japanese have complicated tea traditions steeped in symbolism and culture, he specialises in the Western way, where tea making is a combination of personal choice and “the done thing”.

The type of teapot is a matter of personal choice. Some people swear by fine bone china, others prefer earthen-ware and some won’t drink from anything other than sterling silver.

Maurice, who uses willow bone china, has one cup of tea at the beginning of every day, at about 4.30am.

“I have the weakest, weakest black tea because my grandmother used to have it so strong it could stand up and walk to town.”

Most people drink tea hot but Maurice drinks his “virtually at room temperature”.

“I always have a squeeze of lemon and definitely no sugar.”

Some people add milk (before or after? Let’s not go there).

And teabags? The gasp says it all. Bygone Beautys is home to more than 11,000 teapots, with more than 5000 on display, alongside tea wares such as loose-leaf tea, cosies and strainers.

Refreshments include high tea and Devonshire tea. There is also a range of antiques and estate jewellery.

In 2022, Mr Cooper and partner of 57 years Kerry McKenzie celebrated 30 years of ownership of the collection begun by Ron Hooper and then wife Noelene.

Visit Bygone Beautys at 20-22 Grose Street Leura
www.bygonebeautys.com.au

 

Listen to Maurice Cooper in Episode 6 of the Blue Mountains podcast

 

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