A cup of tea is a staple drink in countless countries. In Britain, where it’s sometimes known as a “Cuppa”, nearly 60 billion cups are drunk every single year. English people even make a point of inviting others to the house for “tea”, showing how this humble beverage has become a focus of hospitality around the world.
It’s safe to say that no one loves a brew more than Indian businessman Nirmal Sethia.
Sethia grew up in a poor family but was determined from an early age to make a success of himself. His very first job was as a taster for a tea company, which no doubt inspired him to found the Newby tea company, one of the biggest names in the industry.
Keen to build on his success, Nirmal Sethia went on to design the one-of-a-kind masterpiece teapot “The Egoist” which at around $3 million is the most valuable teapot in the world.
In case there’s any doubt about this, the Guinness Book of World Records officially recognized the Egoist as the most valuable of its kind in September 2006 at a private event in Mosimann’s private dining club in Belgravia Square, London. Mr. Sethia chose a very rare Muscani tea to showcase the Egoist for the occasion, made by his very own company Newby Teas of London.
A little too rich?
This price may seem a little extravagant for the most expensive teapot (The Egoist), particularly one that can only hold a single cup of tea at a time, however, this is no ordinary teapot. A great amount of attention to detail went into its creation.
The Egoist Teapot was made by Milanese Jeweler Scavia based on Mr. Sethia’s designs. Scavia’s master jewelers spent six months creating the Egoist using precious stones selected by Nirmal Sethia himself. By the time it was finished, the Egoist contained no less than 1,658 brilliant-cut diamonds and 385 round brilliant-cut rubies. The crowning jewel was a super-fine Thai ruby framed in the shape of the sun. The lid is no less lavish, containing natural ruby beading.
Mr. Sethia chose to make the Egoist handle from mammoth ivory: as the species is now extinct this was very difficult to obtain and only adds to the Egoist’s allure.
Once the Egoist was complete, Sethia proclaimed, “It shines like the sun of South East Asia. They’ve made gold and silver teapots in the past but no one thought of adding Diamonds.”
Brewing a cup of history
Although the Egoist has no equal when it comes to luxury, Nirmal Sethia was keen to explain that he didn’t commission it just for show “I designed the Egoist to raise awareness globally of the historic and cultural importance of a magical refreshment that has lasted over millennia and is part of the fabric of civilizations since the Tang Dynasty. In five thousand years, no one has done anything like this.
Sweet dreams are made of teas
After the Egoist was valued, Mr.Sethia donated it to the Chitra Collection, which dedicated to all things tea-related.
The collection named after Sethia’s late wife and has a current value of around $212 Million. It includes almost two thousand teapots past and present, such as the silver tea set owned by Winston Churchill’s daughter, a 1,000-year-old Song Dynasty set and even hand-painted service for which Louis XVIII paid 10,000 Francs in 1816. One of the hallmarks of the collection is a silver teapot owned by Lord Nelson.
Now the famed collection has been complemented by the most expensive teapot (The Egoist), the crowning glory of thousands of years of tea making. We must wonder if a thousand years from now, visitors will be enjoying the taste of tea flowing over gold, diamond, and rubies.
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