Join the tea set
Splash out on some new china and revisit the British tradition making a comeback. Gabrielle Fagan chooses the best new tea sets...
More and more of us are enjoying teatime - that relaxing ritual with its little 'formalities' - and its very pretty china. Ironically, tea time's return to fashion in the UK was sparked by it becoming trendy in the US, where being able to linger over the tea table is seen as a sure sign of status and wealth. Now we've re-adopted this essentially British tradition in what's being called a backlash against the coffee-bar culture.
An heirloom tea set has the ultimate cachet, or you could even use a collection of different pieces of decorative china found in antique shops or markets. It's more interesting if it doesn't match. Alternatively, treat yourself to a new set. There's a dresserful of desirable tea sets to choose from in high street stores, which will suit every occasion.
A floral design with boldly coloured borders could be the perfect set to bring tea enthusiasts and novice tea drinkers together. The Chelsea Flowers set is splashed with blooms. A box of four teacups and saucers, £22, and a box of four dessert plates, £22 is available from John Lewis. Herend's Campanule fine bone china tea set , decorated with delicate blue flowers, has a hefty price tag at £94.50 for a cup and saucer, but it could become a precious heirloom.
Marks and Spencer's Red Damask collection, which features brilliant red blooms on a white background, is a little more affordable and would brighten any table. Cup and saucer, £7; mug, £5; sugar bowl, £9.50; creamer, £9.50. A matching dinner set is also available.
Pretty pastels and a modern take on traditional cups and saucers will appeal to girls who love tea and a chat, and would make a lovely present. Tea's Me range from John Lewis comes in a boxed set of four cups and saucers, £25. A matching creamer and sugar set, £14.95, and teapot, £20, are also available.
'Shoe-holics' will want to match that collection of Jimmy Choos with a tea set reflecting their passion. Haute Shoes is a Parisian-influenced collection featuring quirky shoe illustrations . A Tea For Two set costs £22, and the plates cleverly incorporate a saucer and cup so there's need for a tricky balancing act as you juggle drink and cake.
Hippy or Fruity
Those who don't want to crook their finger for a teacup will probably plump for Emma Bridgewater's new tea set featuring mugs with a hearts & flowers design. The collection includes a teapot, £39.95, mug, £14.95, jug, £29.95, and plates from £12.95. Portmeirion's Apple Harvest collection is an appropriate design for tea parties in the autumn. The Apple Harvest teapot is £40, tea cup and saucer £15, and plates start at £9.
Emma Bridgewater: www.emmabridgewater.co.uk
Harrods 020 7730 1234
Thomas Goode 020 7499 2823
Other stockists: 020 7629 9229
Joanna Wood: 020 7730 5064 www.joannawood.com
John Lewis: 0845 604 9049 www.johnlewis.com
Marks & Spencer: www.marksandspencer.com
Portmeirion: 01782 743 456 www.portmeirion.co.uk
WMF: 01895 816 104
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