Pouring with safety

Tea remains a favourite beverage throughout with UK, even if an increasing number of people prefer coffee

Disregarding those sacrilegious persons who make something approaching tea by pouring hot water onto a tea bag in a cup, the preferred method is still to pour hot water onto loose tea leaves in a pot. There then comes the matter of pouring it out. While this is not a problem for most people, it is so for the elderly, because a pot full of tea can be quite heavy. Any accident with it is going to involve scalding hot water, assuming the beverage has been made in the proper manner with boiling water, brewed only for a few minutes and then poured while still fresh. There is also the problem familiar to those of us who can still afford to travel by air. Of accidents resulting from aircraft hitting sudden downdrafts while the charming hostess is aiming the liquid into one's cup. Sensible stewardesses take the cup and put it on a little tray to pour so they run less risk of spilling liquid on passengers, although this still happens occasionally. The Challenge Our challenge this month is to come up with a better teapot. One solution is to use those wretched machines which hotels and catering establishments seem to be fond of, where the pot remains static and the user presses a piston down to displace water, tea or coffee from a small spout. We cannot speak for all users, but we find these machines to be an even bigger menace than the old fashioned tea pot. Usually something has to be turned or adjusted to release liquid, and our experience is that if one pushes down fairly hard, nothing much happens to begin with, after which a lot of liquid gushes out, often in an unexpected direction, so that at least the first part of the pouring misses the cup. Electronic and robotised solutions would probably solve the problem, but what is really required is some simple, lateral thinking. The problem has been looked at and solved before, in a most elegant matter, but for some reason has been forgotten. One solution, which we have personally tested, and which, once upon a time, was used by a large number of people in the United Kingdom, is described below. Once you see it, you will consider it obvious, except that it was innovative enough to be protected by patent, and is said to have made its inventor a large sum of money. For those without access to the web, the solution will be described fully in our May edition. See if you can come up with anything better. Solution The answer to our challenge to develop a better teapot comes from retired exhibition organiser and printer, Maurice Collins, who lives in North London, and has, over the years, acquired a collection of some 1,500 patented devices, one of which is an example of a "Self Pouring Teapot", which was invented by engineer John James Royle in Manchester in 1886. The teapot has a cover with a deep flange, which engages with a short cylinder in the top of the vessel. Pressing the cover down pushes hot water down through the tea leaves on a grille in the bottom, dispensing exactly one cup full from the spout which is bent over so as to deliver its charge vertically downwards into the cup beneath it. The design was made in single handled and two handled versions and over 250,000 were sold. Users are said to have included HM Queen Victoria. Unlike many inventors, Mr Royle was a good businessman, and took over a patent and trademark attorney company in order to protect his many inventions, which is now called Wilson Gunn, and which is still in business today.