Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Teapot Happenings - Buyer Beware!

So, this is the teapot that I purchased sometime back from an online tea store in Portland, Oregon. 
It was only about a month ago that I used it for the first time.

When I initially saw this pot,  I was charmed by it because it was unglazed, simple and had much potential in achieving a nice patina with constant use. 
However, this was not to be. 
What I discovered instead was a genie in the bottle that gave me wishes that I did not ask for.

The initial finding on taking the pot out of the box that said "Made In India' was a little black spot. 
I checked the tea website and saw that they had posted that the teapot was made in China. (Hence, the packaging of the box was not where the pot was made.)
There are no markings or seal imprinted at the bottom of the pot as most pots usually do have some sort of marking.
I wipe it off with a damp cloth and the mark became larger. 
At which point I decided to wash the teapot thinking it could be accumulated dust from manufacturing.
To my surprise the larger mark became even larger and the rest of the pot became somewhat dark. 
I waited for it to dry thinking it would remedy itself. 
It did not.

Then I decided to use the pot and it became brackish. 
I then asked my colleague as to what was going on with teapot, as I thought I was going unimaginably delusional.
This is what the teapot looks like after a month of use.

After one month of use - possible carbon in clay?
So, this is the professional opinion as to why the pot discolored quickly and not from the natural aging process of use.

'My experience with clays in not large but many years ago I was involved in the potters craft as a hobby. I remember my teacher explaining to me that with traditional clays used for various potteries that a glaze must be utilized to be able to withstand daily use over fire, baking, etc. The typical white/gray clays unglazed when exposed to high heat, (during firing) that the clay did not have the properties to withstand the heat and exposure to other heat sources during daily utility like oven, boiling water, etc. I inquired if this could be remedied and to his knowledge mentioned only that adding carbon dust to the clay will dramatically alter it's vulnerabilities to heat exposure during daily use.
I noticed this difference in color in the teapot and not so much in the lid....you could discern the amount by tiny black specs in the clay.
In the picture the pot is dark and oddly colored (patina). - C.H.C'

So that's the supposition, that carbon dust may have been added to remedy the clay the manufacture was using. 
It would have been ideal for the tea store in Portland, Oregon to have divulged this even if they did not know about it initially. 
But life is not always ideal. 
It may not have been important to them however, to keep your customer base's trust is what keeps you in business for the long term.
This could have been remedied by sending out an email to your customer base or even putting a notification regarding the issue on their website. 
However, knocking the price down to closeout their inventory does not remedy the fact that people work for their money and want value for their money spent.
No one likes to be hoodwinked!

Things are just that, things. 
Man-made, susceptible to great and minor flaws - these are our inherent traits regardless of what the social garb you choose to put on for your presentation.
Being upfront about the flaws of your product does not show your weakness but your strength to trust your customers and their judgements.
Needless to say, after almost 10 years of patronage, I have sadly chosen to no longer be part of their customer base or referral.
An unfortunate choice but nonetheless a conscientious choice.
Buyer beware!

Art of Tea on the eve of Yom Kippur

In a few hours it will be Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement. 
It merits mention because forgiveness is the key component that all seek even when a small demerit is committed against our fellowmen. 
Atonement is really about making peace with oneself because until this occurs we will never be able to achieve the altruistic ideals of world peace. 

We stand in solidarity with all sentient beings that this achievement of peace begins with the simple act of forgiveness. 
We forgive ourselves first before we can forgive another. 

The Art of Tea is about contemplation and meditation that can leads us to certain revelations when we need to unwind from the aggressions of our busy minds.
So, when we sip our next cup of tea, we remember those making a concerted effort on Yom Kippur to remind us what true accountability is, saying you are sorry and meaning it without having to be coerced.

We stand with our practicing Jewish friends and customers on this Yom Kippur by turning our teacups over  for 25 hours.

Blessed Yom Kippur.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Drinking from the cup of history - Ardalt Cup and saucer

        June 5 1947 Secretary of State George C. Marshall called for a comprehensive program to rebuild Western Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany in WW II. The war had left Europe in economic, social and political ruins. In March 1948 Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act aka the Marshall Plan with funding of over $12 billion to rebuild Western Europe. This regenerated the revival of Europe’s industrial economy opening Western Europe to foreign investors as well as creating a market for U.S. goods.

             The major concerns of the Allied Forces rejuvenation of Germany economy was to make sure that Germany would not arise again as a military power to threaten the peace of Europe as well as not become an economic burden upon the Allied Forces, particularly the U.S. The mainstay of the rebuilding of Germany was to carry out the program that would allow for industrial disarmament and demilitarization, to enable reparations for the war and to approve exports and imports. 
      One of the many industries that began was the production of porcelain ware in Germany. The American company Ardalt Inc. was established at 42 Lexington Ave, New York, New York in 1945. They imported Occupied Japan’s and Germany’s porcelain goods – everything from tea and coffee sets, dinnerware, figurines, beer steins. Some of the imports were reproductions and also original designs. The Gold cup and saucer is one of the many examples of porcelain ware that can still be found.

             This particular piece is from my personal collection. A single find that is still in pristine condition considering the piece is between 65 and 68 years old. There is some wear on the gilding found in the cup and on the saucer but no chips, cracks or breaks. The markings are still clear and visible stamped as follows – ARDALT handpainted china Item Nr. 7080 Germany – US. Zone. This particular set featured approximates dimensions are - cup-1 ¾” tall, 2 7/8” diameter, saucer-4 3/8” diameter. It is handpainted gold with scalloped edge saucer. I am unsure as to the function from the dimensions and capacity of the teacup is about 2 fluid ounces it seems to be more of a coffee service rather than tea. However, because the cup is bowled with a curved lip it suggests otherwise.

             The history of the Ardalt Company was scarce as records show that they became inactive or merged out on December 31st 1971. Some of their chinaware replacements can still be found on Replacements.com.


Allied Occupation of Germany, 1945-52 (Allied Occupation of Germany, 1945-52)

History: A year of Potsdam, the German economy since the surrender: Contents (History: A year of Potsdam, the German economy since the surrender: Contents)

Business Lookup - ARDALT%20INC%2E (Business Lookup)

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