Teacup Eggstravaganza

Today, we’re going to feature EGGS, and, you guessed it: Teacups! Spring, with its little sister, Easter, provides some of my favorite opportunities for decorating around the house. Flowers come inside, chasing away the gloom of winter, and my tea wares switch over from darker hues to pastels. When Easter gets a little closer, my set of colored marble eggs makes an appearance wherever I need a spot of color. Since tea has become the newest guiding force in my house, teacups naturally welcomed these beauties…in ways that ensure they will make repeated appearances every year from this moment on!

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This first little gem is a 20th century version of Pink Splatter Lusterware. The popularity of this type of china has survived centuries, but was still being made as late as the mid 1900s. Mine is one of the more recent creations from England: Gray’s Pottery, Stoke-On-Trent. Note the contrast of the plastic grass in the white china with pink surroundings. Simple, inexpensive, and a bit retro since we all grew up with this look in our Easter baskets!

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Of course, nothing says “spring” like Wedgwood Jasperware – in PINK! One of my absolute favorite teacups, no matter the season. Again, not a very old tea cup, rather, a more recent mid-century Wedgwood.

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A side addiction that has developed out of my tea addiction is 18th century antiques. This one was sold to me as a “Chinese Export” piece from the late 1790s. Could be…I’m not an expert on collecting 18th century wares just yet, but I’m starting to see the difference when examining closely and holding in my hands. They say the best way to learn about antiques is from an up close and personal examination – as frequently as possible.

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Another 18th century beauty, of the “Famille Rose” variety. This describes the motif choices applied to the porcelain in the form of pink dominant enamel.

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This is a close-up of the beautiful, and delicate, detailing inside another 18th century tea cup, or bowl.

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And now for an alternative to the green nesting material used in some of the previous pictures. Honestly, any dried herb will work here, but this little white flower provides just the right accent and cushion for the egg – or the cup/bowl – I admit, the marble eggs make me a tad nervous with delicate 18th century porcelain. Dried chamomile, or better yet, roman chamomile would compliment beautifully. Since we already make tea from chamomile, the imagery would have a lovely double meaning. I also believe that the natural look is more fitting with the 18th century tea bowls. After all, why not try something that would befit an 18th century retro look…at least retro for those from the 19th and 18th centuries! Happy Easter, my Tea Lovelies!

Welcome to Tea Tableau!

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Being partially from the south, tea has always had a strong hold on the social dimensions of my life. From hot, to iced, to sweet, the infusion was complete. As hot tea edged out sweet iced tea in my daily habits, something started catching my attention. Once you move into hot tea land, the options for steeping become much more varied and flavorful. And then there is the equipment involved. All of the little items that make hot tea so very special: teapots, tea cups, strainers, caddies and cozies, packages and tea bags….can quickly seduce anyone who values the comforting act of making tea.

As a historian, tea has suddenly taken hold of my attention and will not let go. I am fascinated by tea’s very presence and ultimate infusion in our society. For thousands of years, tea has occupied an honored status of sacred ritual for a good half of the globe. As it continued to move west, it brought an influential seduction; A ritual no less sacred, just more accessible.

Even as I am suddenly aware of tea’s influence on our western society, the details of minutia demand attention. When examining tea’s presence in our society, what do you see? I’m beginning to see the graceful and delicate beauty of a teapot. I am seeing the chip on the spout that signifies heavy use tempered by hidden strength. I am noticing the demitasse and the full cup….the matching saucers and the missing pieces. When I sit down to a formal tea, each nuanced, tactile sensation comes together to perform a perfect symphony of tabletop utopia.

It is exactly those moments, those tea tableau moments that I wish to explore here. I am learning something new each day. The journey is introducing me to fantastical stories, exquisite art and craftsmanship which have begun to alter my view of something that had previously existed in the background for me. I believe it is also a key to appreciating some of the peripheral members of our society – those who labored in the kitchens – and who we took for granted. Tea is a method they used to give us comfort, courage, relaxation, and of course, sympathy. Oh the stories that have been shared over a cup of tea. I am no expert on this subject, but I am curious and slightly obsessed – hence the need for a blog to share what I discover along the way. Won’t you join me for a spot of tea?