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Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News
Tea sets at the Peteetneet Academy include assorted "fruits."

PAYSON — Tea sets with personal and historical significance go on display at the Peteetneet Academy today for five months.

Six members of the Payson Historical Society — Gwyn Harmer, Helen Walker, JaNay Friedli, Ivan Haskell, Helene Jones and Historical Society President Gloria Barnett — dug into their cupboards and came up with a variety of tea sets that came from ancestors to more modern children's collectibles.

Friedli's granddaughter, Taylor Spanheimer, added a Barbie tea set to the mix. A newer "Beauty and the Beast" tea set is still in its Disney packaging.

The oldest is a silver set that is over a century old, a wedding present to an early Payson resident. A descendant donated it to the academy.

Most of the others are of china or porcelain and of various shapes. Harmer contributed one that belonged to her great-grandmother, Miriam Crawford. The kettle is in the shape of a cat. Walker's "Granny Teapot" has a face of a grandmother molded into the side. It's at least a generation old, Harmer said.

Another old pot is small and green. It belongs to Haskell and was once his grandmother's. It, too, is at least 100 years old, Barnett said.

"I don't know why we have teapots. We never used them, But they are fun to collect," she said.

So what are teapots doing in Mormon country where the predominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, eschews the use of caffeine-laden tea?

Early pioneers to the region consumed other kinds of teas that didn't contain caffeine, a Peteetneet volunteer said.

A pioneer tea that had numerous monikers, including "Brigham tea" and "Mormon tea," was made from a plant that grows throughout the Southwest.

The LDS Church's Word of Wisdom — which bans regular tea — wasn't enforced in the early days of the faith, so early members, many from England and other European countries, brought their tea and teapots with them, Barnett said.

When they ran out of tea they began making tea from the branched, broomlike shrub, she said. It doesn't have caffeine but is loaded with ephedra and is a mild stimulant.

Indians drank the tea for a variety of disorders, including stomach and bowel problems and to lessen the effects of colds, fever, and headache.

Some of the teapots are tiny, even child-size, yet were never used as toys. Rather they were set out on occasion as decoration, Harmer said.

Friedli contributed six sets, each in the shape or color of fruit or flowers, including a sunflower, grape, strawberry, melon and the flowers of spring.

Barnett's contribution, however, fills an entire glass case. Her collection started with a rose teapot friends gave her when her mother died. She keeps jelly beans in it. Most of the others came as gifts.

"I've always enjoyed china, and people knew it," she said.

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com