If there is any one thing that people think of as being typically Osfriesen, most likely it's tea.
When eating a meal, entertaining guests, or just taking a break at home or work, Ostfriesens are more likely to have tea in the cup than coffee. Tea is referred to as Ostfriesland's national drink. Ostfriesens drink more tea per capita than anyone else. Throughout the centuries, a whole culture and ritual has developed around Ostfriesen tea. The tea is prepared according to time-honored traditions and served in a typically Ostrfriesen manner. Even the porce- lain that the tea is served in plays an important role.
As in other sea-faring lands, tea originally found it's way to Ostfriesland from
China. By the 17th century, the
Chinese were not only delivering the
tea itself, but the cups and teapots to
go with it. The cups were small and
formed out of very thin porcelain that was rippled on the outside, but smooth on the inside. No handle was attached. Typically Chinese hand-painted designs of stylized roses or blue flowers were common.
In 1708 in Dresden, Johann Friedrich Boettger became the first European to discover the secret of making "white-gold," as porcelain was called. Soon other porcelain manufacturers sprung up in Germany. One of these manu- facturers, the Wallendorfer porcelain factory lacated in the Thuringen area of Germany, set out to meet the needs of the Ostfriesens by sending traveling salesmen throughout Ostfriesland during the summer to sell the porcelain wares that had been produced in Wallendorf during the winter. By the mid 18th century, Wallendorfer porcelain was considered to be the Ostfriesen tea porcelain.
At first, the Wallendorfer tea sets were very much like those from China which the Ostfriesens had been using. Soon handles were added to the cups, though, and they were set in deep saucers, as Ostfriesens preferred to drink their national drink, by pouring the hot tea from the cup into the saucer and then slurping it slowly and loudly. A couple of designs were commonplace through- out Ostfriesland.
The "Rot Dresmer" (Ostfriesische Rose) design featured a purplish-red rose, with either a stylized open rose or a more abstract rose that looks somewhat like a peony flower. The more elegant "Blau Dresmer" design featured delicate
draping blue lines decorated with little blue flowers. The cups themselves were rather
small and made from the whitest of porcelain. The rippled outside and smooth inside of the pieces continued to be a hallmark to the Wallendorfer tea sets common through Ostfriesland.
Unfortunately, when Germany was divided into the eastern and western sectors following World War II, the Thuringen area was in the eastern sector controlled by the Soviets. Ostfriesens were cut off from their beloved Wallendorfer porcelain,and the factory at Wallendorf soon shut down completely. Other porcelain manufacturers stepped in to fill the gap with imitations that were mass-produced in the Far East. Soon after the iron curtain fell in1989, some tea-drinking Ostfriesens set about to reopen the porcelain factory at Wallendorf and to begin producing their beloved Wallendorfer porcelain using the historical molds. So once again, the Ostfriesens could drink their tea as it was meant to be enjoyed -out of porcelain from Wallendorf. However, lack of interest in purchasing porcelain in the 2000s caused shops to close and the Wallenforf factory closed in 2015, selling off all production equipment.