I don’t know about you, but I always keep my eyes peeled for beautiful, useful or interesting teaware – whether shopping at home or traveling abroad.
I have stumbled upon great little finds in many out-of-the-way and unexpected places. And that could be from the local consignment store in my small hometown all the way to the antique shops of one of the most famous shopping roads in London – Portobello Road Market.
Portobello Road is a place to be experienced, no matter what you might be shopping for – antiques, tourist kitsch, clothing, home décor, cricket balls, doorknobs, maps and artwork, to name a few! – well worth a Saturday morning out. Take the Tube to Notting Hill Gate early on a Saturday morning to get the best experience – getting there just as stores and stalls are opening gives you better access while tourists are only starting to get there; by about 11 a.m. it starts getting quite populated and you have to start elbowing your way to the tables and booths.
I always start at the antiques end of the road, where there’s a particular booth that specializes in wooden tea caddies that I like. There’s also many many stalls and stores up and down the road with display cases or tables with silver-plated tea spoons, tongs, and other small bits and pieces where one is simply spoiled for choice. I even bought an antique crumb-catcher there once that I’ve used when I served afternoon tea to friends at my home (I didn’t even know what a crumb-catcher was before finding one)!
I especially love poking through the display cases of spoons and other small items. The last time I was there – earlier this year before the virus hit – I found this great little silver-plated butter server, and small spoon.
Even though the butter server is meant for serving pats of butter, it works great for serving clotted cream with scones; and though I couldn’t tell you if this small spoon was originally intended for using to scoop tea, it works great in that capacity as well.
So when you run into little treasures as you go antiquing or shopping, even if they’re not specifically intended for use in the tea service, you might be able to adapt to add a special touch to your next afternoon tea!
I know there are perceived “right” and “wrong” ways to do just about everything associated with afternoon tea – how to prepare the pot, how long to brew the tea, milk first or second, jam first or second, etc. But when it comes to setting a beautiful afternoon tea table, I’m always open to a little creativity, and both beautiful and ordinary objects to add to the overall experience. So see what you come up with, and enjoy!