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A teaspoon (tsp.) is an item of cutlery. It is a small spoon that can be used to stir a cup of tea or coffee, or as a tool for measuring volume. The size of teaspoons ranges from about 2.5 to 7.3 mL (0.088 to 0.257 imp fl oz; 0.085 to 0.247 US fl oz). For cooking purposes and, more importantly, for dosing of medicine, a teaspoonful is defined as 5 mL (0.18 imp fl oz; 0.17 US fl oz), and standard measuring spoons are used.
A teaspoon is a small spoon suitable for stirring and sipping the contents of a cup of tea or coffee, or adding a portion of loose sugar to it. These spoons have heads more or less oval in shape. Teaspoons are a common part of a place setting.
Teaspoons with longer handles, such as iced tea spoons, are commonly used also for ice cream desserts or floats. Similar spoons include the tablespoon and the dessert spoon, the latter intermediate in size between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, used in eating dessert and sometimes soup or cereals. Much less common is the coffee spoon, which is a smaller version of the teaspoon, intended for use with the small type of coffee cup. Another teaspoon, called an orange spoon (in American English: grapefruit spoon), tapers to a sharp point or teeth, and is used to separate citrus fruits from their membranes. A bar spoon, equivalent to a teaspoon, is used in measuring ingredients for mixed drinks.
A container designed to hold extra teaspoons, called a spooner, usually in a set with a covered sugar container, formed a part of Victorian table service.
In some countries, a teaspoon (occasionally "teaspoonful") is a cooking measure of volume, especially widely used in cooking recipes and pharmaceutic medical prescriptions. In English it is abbreviated as tsp. or, less often, as t., ts., or tspn.. The abbreviation is never capitalized because a capital letter is customarily reserved for the larger tablespoon ("Tbsp.", "T.", "Tbls.", or "Tb.").
United States customary unitEdit
As a unit of culinary measure, one teaspoon in the United States is 1⁄3 tablespoon, exactly 4.92892159375 mL, 1 1⁄3 US fluid drams, 1⁄6 US fl oz, 1⁄48 US cup, 1⁄768 US liquid gallon, or 77⁄256 (0.30078125) cubic inches.
For dry ingredients (e.g., salt, flour, spices), if a recipe calls for a level teaspoon, it refers to an approximately leveled filling of the spoon, producing the same volume as for liquids. A rounded teaspoon is a larger but less precise measure, produced by heaping the ingredient as high as possible without leveling the ingredient off. A heaping or heaped teaspoon is an even larger inexact measure consisting of the amount obtained by scooping the dry ingredient up without leveling it off. For some ingredients, e.g. flour, this quantity can vary considerably.
As an unofficial but once widely used unit of apothecaries' measure, the teaspoon is equal to 1 fluid dram (or drachm) and thus 1⁄4 of a tablespoon or 1⁄8 of a fluid ounce. The apothecaries' teaspoon was formally known by the Latin cochleare minus (cochl. min.) to distinguish it from the tablespoon or cochleare majus (cochl. maj.).
When tea-drinking was first introduced to England circa 1660, tea was rare and expensive, as a consequence of which teacups and teaspoons were smaller than today. This situation persisted until 1784, when the Commutation Act reduced the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%. As the price of tea declined, the size of teacups and teaspoons increased. By the 1850s, the teaspoon as a unit of culinary measure had increased to 1⁄3 of a tablespoon, but the apothecary unit of measure remained the same. Nevertheless, the teaspoon, usually under its Latin name, continued to be used in apothecaries' measures for several more decades, with the original definition of one fluid dram.
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