People have been drinking tea since the 4th Century, and today tea drinking is experiencing a resurgence of popularity, with tea shops opening up in many mid-sized cities around the world. In other words, tea isn't just for the Queen at 4 p.m. anymore.

And with this trend, the accessories that make tea-drinking its best are becoming de rigueur in homes around the world. Not everyone has a tea set handed down by Great Aunt Margie, and so you can take the pleasure of choosing a tea set that best complements the look of your home.

You may think that the world-wide consumption of tea pre-dated the consumption of coffee, but actually, coffee was introduced in Europe in 1582, and tea wasn't introduced until the 1660s. Therefore, many people simply used their coffee pots for brewing their tea, but soon found that a different shape worked better - and that using a separate vessel you would prevent the strong taste of coffee from coloring the taste of the tea.

Along with the tea itself, the daintily-decorated porcelain teapots of Asia were also imported to Europe, where they quickly became popular. Chances are that when you think of tea pots, you think of the traditional bowl-shaped design, perhaps with the familiar willow-ware pattern. This type of tea pot is perfect for a traditional home.

Another traditional style is the Japanese teapot, which we see in an updated look, here. This kind of teapot would nicely suit any modernist home, or any home that's aiming for a spare, Asian design.

Many teapots today are anything but sedate, and many could never be accused of being boring, as ceramicists try their hand at making teapots in the shape of almost anything. Whether you want a teapot shaped like a ladybug or one shaped like the Cheshire cat, all you need to do is look around and you're bound to find a shop selling just the teapot you crave. These whimsical, collectable teapots for instance, are hand-crafted in the Yorkshire, England.

And, while you're shopping for your teapot, don't forget to pickup the other accessories you'll need. You can easily find matching cups and all the other tea party necessities, from tea cozies to tea strainers, to add to your collection. Then, all you'll have to do is find the right kind of tea to put in your beautiful new tea set!

Tip: Today, teapots come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, from the traditional to the avant-garde. One option is the single-cup tea pot, which is one of the handiest inventions for dining, as the cup actually works to keep the tea warm while it's brewing.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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