Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teacups, Teapots, and Tea Sets

From the time I was a little girl, I've loved tea sets: the matching cups and saucers, the fancy tea pots, the coordinating creamer and sugar.... I was destined to be a collector. I know Megan shares my sentiments exactly--that's part of what drew us together! In fact, the reason I wanted Lenox fine china was because I liked the shape of the teacups in their classic china collections.

We've both come to a disturbing realization lately--disturbing but freeing at the same time: we have too many tea pots and tea cups (gasp!). Is that possible? Unfortunately, yes, it is. Megan has been inspired to write an amazing short story that hopefully will published--one that reflects our dilemma and provides a wonderful solution. In the meantime, whilst we all wait with baited breath for the publication of said story, here's what I've come up with (giving credit where credit is due--this is all thanks to Megan's inspiration!).

My number 1 criterion for keeping various teapots and teacups:
Do I enjoy using it?

If it doesn't meet that criteria, then, no matter how attractive, how sentimental, how priceless, I need to consider getting rid of it. This has prompted some interesting reflection. For instance, I was using a teapot that I enjoyed using, but which had no value other than I simply liked the way it looked. A recent kitchen redo took away some of my storage, and I was forced to part with at least one teapot. I got rid of that very one because the others were all more sentimental in some way, and I simply decided to start using them! It's akin to using the good china instead of letting it linger unnoticed year after year. I'm sending a precious tea cup to a friend of mine who's going through a hard time. We both spent time in Scotland, so I know a teacup from Scotland will mean a lot to her. I don't enjoy actually using that teacup--I just like the way it looks and knowing its origin. Now, it's on its way to a mission much more spiritually uplifting than gracing my teacup shelf. And, oh, the pleasure of "using the good stuff"! If it gets chipped along the way, oh well--at least I'll have enjoyed its tenure in my possession.

Speaking of having "enough" teacups, I have 26 teacups (or nice china mugs) that coordinate with existing sets of china, so I'll never be short for a normal tea party. Thus, it's purely up to my enjoyment of the extras as to whether they'll "make the cut." I have teacups I've collected from different countries--the fun part is trying to figure out if I actually like drinking out of them. If not... then they're on to a new mission. This is where the freeing part comes in--if I don't enjoy actually drinking out of it, I need to find another use (small vase? coin/change holder? Goodwill box?).

I'm hopefully going to inherit a teaset from my mother. It sits on a small table at my mother's house, and I've never seen it used. It's the tea set that started me on my love affair with tea sets when I was a little girl (that and my voracious appetite for British literature). Will I use it when I get it or sit it on display? Probably both--after all, tea sets are meant to be used. Will I enjoy drinking out of those diminutive cups? You betcha! Will I be sad when and if one breaks? Of course, but I'll know that it was fulfilling its mission in life: to be filled with tea and to bring joy to someone.

On a final note: I let my kids drink out of some very sentimental tea cups I got in the Czech Republic. They're quite small and the perfect size for little hands. My daughter, especially, loves drinking out of "real" teacups. And I've been drinking out of my all-time favorite tea cup every day for the past 2 weeks.... (pictured above and purchased in London)


  1. Well said, Betsy! Thanks for elaborating on my own convictions.

  2. Hey Betsy! I got to you via Redeemer Reader (I made the comment about Francis and Lilly). This is a great blog!

    Every year we give my daughter a teacup for her birthday (she is seven). Each one reflects something about that year: her favorite color, where we were living (many of them are from antique shops), or where we were visiting. I love seeing her collection grow! The idea is to give them to her when she sets up her own home—it will probably be hard to see them go!

  3. Birthday tea cups--what a great idea! My daughter got one this past year (age 5) and cherishes it. Her first tea cup gift (age 3) got broken by one of her brothers. She also got a tea set (age 4) that used to belong to my mom... so I guess we're on the birthday tea cup thing without me even knowing it!


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