Today I spent some time flipping through the Stash Tea catalog and found myself asking, “What would I recommend for my readers to purchase?” The catalog is only one example of a listing that includes some basic items the tea lover might want to have on hand. I offer these recommendations as a starting point for the tea drinker who wants to serve tea to themselves and others.
Tea Party Girl’s Everyday Teapots
The Teapot–Do you own a teapot? They don’t have to be expensive. In fact, I recommend purchasing a plain-colored pot and covering it with a decorative tea cozy for warmth. For everyday, I use two different teapots depending on how much tea I want to brew (one holds 42 ounces and one holds 24 ounces). They’re in colors I like that fit in my home, but were made with simple ceramic. I save the fancy one that came with my husband’s great-aunt’s china for the couple a year sit-down tea parties I host. DON’T confuse the teapot with the teakettle. I know a woman who thought they were one in the same and used the teapot to boil the water on her stove. She ruined grandmother’s teapot by burning out the bottom.
The Teacup and Saucer–Start by finding one just for you. Then add another for offering a friend. Then add two more at a time to build up a collection that matches your hospitality. If you are beginning to enjoy drinking tea like the English, start small. The teacup and saucers do not have to match each other. I don’t even use a saucer with my favorite thin-lipped mug that I drink from throughout the day. However, when I serve tea to others or drink tea in the evening to wind down, my favorite cups and saucers are within easy reach.
Tea Party Girl’s Everyday Cups and Saucers. Can you guess which one says, “Made in China?”
The Sugar Bowl and Milk Pitcher–Many people, Americans and children especially, love to fill their tea with milk and sugar. While my goal is to teach people to try the tea first and refrain from pouring in the extras, I still offer the milk and sugar to my guests. Especially for tea drinking novices, they really enjoy pouring the milk from the little pitcher and using the tongs to add a lump or two. I think it helps people feel as if they’re experiencing the real thing. “No wonder our grandmothers did this everyday!” their eyes exclaim. Again, the sugar bowl and milk pitcher don’t have to match your other items. But it is ideal that they match each other. I tend to use my Mary Englebreit set when friends are over because it holds a larger quantity. I own a nicer set I inherited from my grandmother; but it’s fancier and once I chipped it, I held off from using it as often.
Tea Party Girl’s Milk and Sugar Sets
Speaking of chipped china, many people say use what you have everyday and if it breaks, it breaks! At least you had the pleasure of its use vs. keeping it stored away. I agree and disagree. Know what you own and its worth and make an informed decision. I have not been careful with some very nice things and regretted it, because I didn’t know what I was doing. Turn your tableware over. If it says “Made in China” it’s safe to chip, break, and throw in the dishwasher (though eat off of it at your own risk). But if it doesn’t, do a little research and learn where it came from and how much it would cost to replace. This is especially true for items that have been passed down to you. I wrecked some beautiful teacups of my husband’s grandmother because I had no idea what I’d been given and threw the dainty things in the dishwasher. AFTER they’d cracked, I looked up how much they cost to replace and found the price tags hovering around $100 per cup and saucer set. Ouch!
Any questions or thoughts? Which items do you already own? What do you want to invest in?