Saturday, 11 June 2016

My New Tea Service

Many years ago I inherited a china tea service from my grandmother. It was incomplete then, and over the years other pieces got broken until there wasn’t enough left to be valid, so it was with sadness that I got rid of the final pieces. Some years later I bought some Denby pottery cups and saucers which I have been using since, but these are very heavy and quite thick, and not so nice to drink out of.

It has been on my mind for a while to get a new tea service. I am doing a lot of baking now I am feeling so much better, and after my Allerton Three tea party recently, am keen to invite more friends round for tea. It seems that afternoon tea is enjoying something of a revival in this country – it used to be a national institution but with the increased numbers of wives and mothers going out to work, and different eating habits, it rather fell into disuse. I suppose it has great nostalgic value for me because birthday parties were always tea parties, and we experienced amazing teas up in Scotland with my grandmother when I was growing up. For me, afternoon tea is a very happy meal, with highly indulgent food – not something one eats every day, but a real treat, just for sheer enjoyment and to celebrate the great British institution of home baking.

I have found that modern bone china tends to be somewhat thicker than the vintage variety, so I decided to look on Ebay to see if there were any old tea services to be had, and soon I found a quite beautiful floral one. It is made by Paragon and the design is called “Country Lane” which I love – our Devon hedgerows are full of wild flowers at this time of year, and the design on this china reflects that.

Here is the complete set. There are six cups and saucers and six tea plates, and a milk jug. There is no sugar bowl (I may look out for that as an individual item on Ebay but in the meantime have something else that would do), and the set came with one sandwich plate. The seller had the second sandwich plate as a stand-alone item and I decided to buy that too.

01 Complete Set

The china is in excellent condition. It is beautifully thin and delicate and the milk jug pours with no trace of a drip. I tried it out for my tea this afternoon, and had forgotten just how much better good tea tastes from a fine bone china cup – like wine from cut crystal!

02 Complete Set Detail

Here is the backstamp. Nice to know that Paragon has a Royal Warrant! I wonder if the Queen uses this same tea service when she sits down for her afternoon tea? I certainly felt like a queen this afternoon.

03 Backstamp

Tea plate.

04 Tea Plate

The beautiful milk jug.

05 Milk Jug

One of the two sandwich plates.

06 Sandwich Plate

Now all I need to get is one of those 3-tier cake stands! They are so exuberant and really make a tea table! I was looking for one on Ebay yesterday but couldn’t find one I liked enough to buy, so I shall keep looking.

I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes in my “Bake Off Creme de la Creme” book. If I make them well enough, I think they will make a great partnership with this beautiful china.

6 comments:

  1. Gorgeous tea set, Shoshi, and you're showing it off beautifully! Paragon is a well-known make - we inherited some pieces from my MIL, but I think they go back another couple of generations. Afternoon tea is indeed a great British tradition and it should be nurtured! Whenever we go down to Cornwall/Devon, we always make sure to have cream tea at least a couple of times while we are there - you absolutely have to be in that part of the country for the authentic experience. Collecting tea cups is a big craze in the US and other parts of the world. I've seen some swaps online, although it's not something you can easily send in the post. Good thing yours arrived all in one piece! Hope you're enjoying your weekend! xx

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  2. Your tea set is so beautiful. That makes me sad that tea is no longer a ritual in the UK. That is one of the traditions I love so much about your beautiful country. I have always wanted to go to England to have a proper tea. I truly do love tea. I spent a fortune on tea this evening.

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    1. Thank you Aiyana - so glad you like it. Afternoon tea is certainly enjoying a revival in the UK these days so don't despair - it's still one of our traditions!

      Shoshi

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  3. I so enjoyed this Tea post! Dare I say it is because of Downton Abbey this renewed interest in teatime? I am so happy to hear about it. I would love to come have tea with you sometime! I love your new tea set! Good for you!

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  4. Beautiful set! I miss entertaining friends, sometimes. But most days I just enjoy the solitude of this place. My good china seldom gets used anymore. Hugs! Kelly

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  5. That really is the prettiest tea set I've seen, I love it! It also looks gorgeous against that beautiful tablecloth. I have a passion for teacups and collect old cups and saucers and sometimes trio's with the tea plate as well - I justify it by saying I use them for photography but really I just can't resist them! I shall be on the look out for a stray cup and saucer in your pattern to add to my collection now!
    How are you getting on with the Infusions - have you tried them out yet? Just a word of warning - I must have had powder on me and not known because when I stepped out of the shower this morning (in the bathroom next to my studio where I clean all my pots and brushes) my flooring and cream bathmat suddenly came alive with vibrant splashes of colour - obviously the powder had fallen off my clothing but it was only when I added water from my shower that it sprung into life - it's come off the lino with lots of rubbing, but I'm waiting to see the outcome of the bathmat!! Good job I'm not houseproud!

    Happy entertaining,
    Diana xx

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