Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Antique Tea Accoutrements

I love these silver antique tea strainers. Although I usually use tea bags, I think they're beautiful. Tea strainers are made of sterling silver, stainless steele or fine china. Tea is one of the world's oldest beverages, and today is the second most popular beverage, next to water. I love that the whole process of "tea time" is so ceremonial that it requires special accoutrements. Even if one doesn't own fancy tea strainers or teapots, most people who are confirmed tea drinkers have their own special cups or mugs and a favorite "routine" of preparing and savoring tea.
It's believed that tea dates to 2737 BC in China, when it was first used for medicinal purposes. Around 780 AD, a Chinese scholar named Lu Yu documented his twenty-year research on tea, which helped elevate it, and the "art" of drinking tea was born.

Antique Chinese copper teapot

18th Century Porcelain Chinese Teapot

Tea was not introduced in England until the mid-17th century. It was actually first offered in London's coffee houses, but by 1750 it had become the favored drink of many. The custom of "afternoon tea" is said to have started with Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford. She enjoyed having tea in late afternoon between lunch and dinner, as dinner was often not served until 8:00pm or later. The custom caught on, and through the years "high tea" in the late afternoon became the main meal of the day for the working classes of England.  Today, "tea" is still the evening meal in England, which most Americans refer to as "dinner."
Vintage English teapots

Georgian Sterling Silver English Teapot

1786 George III antique silver English teapot

The British brought their love of tea with them to America and by the mid-1700s, loose-leaf tea was the most popular drink consumed in the Colonies. The tea bag was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, and with it, an increase in the popularity of tea, most likely due to the convenience. Prior to that, a tea infuser, sometimes called a tea ball or tea egg, was another method of steeping the tea leaves in the pot or cup.

Until next time ~ take time out from your busy week to remember: "Tea is a cup of life!"


Brenda said...

Cindy, We need to throw a tea party. Love those photos.

Cindy said...

Brenda, yes - a tea party sounds fun, doesn't it? I love them, too. I think I'll start collecting vintage teapots!

Cindy Adkins said...

Hi Cindy,
Oh this is all so BEAUTIFUL!!! I agree with Brenda--we need to throw a tea party!!


Cindy said...

Thank you, Cindy! Ok, girls...I can see I'll be working on another "tea party" post!! And you're all invited! lol

Hertsgent said...

I love the old teapots and strainers. I have a tea service that I use occasionally, that dates from the 1920s, and which belonged to my gran. I don't have an old teapot to go with it, alas.
The whole ceremony of afternoon tea is delightful. Mind if I join you, ladies?

Cindy said...

Of course you may join us, Hertsgent! So nice that you have your gran's old tea service. I'm envious! Thanks for stopping by my blog.


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