Spring is the season of elegant tea parties, Mother’s Day, garden parties, birthday tea parties…all of them are such perfect opportunities for a tea. Like you, I adore the multi sensual ritual of tea, it’s an opportunity to share our culinary skills, show off our garden, and share stories of our latest travel experiences. More than that, it is the opportunity to connect with friends and family, sharing memories, interests and discoveries over a hot cup of tea.
Serving tea at home with meaningful pieces of the past is part of the fun, collected tea services, antique porcelain cups, each with a story, and a bit of personality. An antique sterling tea strainer adds a conversation piece to your table. I was thrilled recently to purchase a collection of silver strainers, here’s a little history for you to know about these beautifully hand crafted antiques.
American Sterling Tea “Spout” Strainer in floral shape.
One of the most collectable “parts” of a tea service, sterling tea strainers have been used for centuries. During the 18th and 19th century, when having tea was an important social event, tea strainers were made for the luxury market by almost every silversmith. As no one really enjoyed fishing loose leaves of tea out of their teacup, strainers were a much beloved addition to the tea table. After loose leaves were brewed in hot water in the pot, the strainer enabled the hostess to filter the leaves out while pouring tea in each individual cup. Two different kinds of strainers were produced: a small basket shaped strainer with wires that were inserted into to the pot, like the ones shown above, and below.
French Silver Plated Cristofle Spout Tea Strainer
And the kind held over each individual cup while pouring, like the rest of these shown below. Each silversmith produced a dazzling array of tea strainers, elegant in design, each one slightly different in size, shape and decoration.
Fantastic antique sterling strainer with wide band of repousse roses and flowers.
Made by Davis and Galt in the late 1800’s.
Each antique strainer is a work of art. Collectors avidly search out and thrill to add unusual sterling strainers to their collection as often as they can.
In 1908, William Sullivan, a New York tea merchant, packaged his loose tea leaves in small silk and later muslim sachet bags, his clients were unsure about what to do with the bags. They poured hot water over them, steeping the tea leaves, and so the disposable tea bag was invented.
Mr. Sullivan unwittingly changed the course of how one makes tea, although true aficionados continue to insist on steeping loose leaves in a pot. Whether you obtain one beautiful sterling silver strainer, or start a stylish collection of antique strainers, using them will add a sense of history and whimsy to your tea. You can see my current collection offered for sale here: Collect Sterling Tea Strainers.
To read more about tea, you can click on the photographs below to read some of my past posts on tea.
Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com.