March 16, 2012

Fine China Friday

Jana at Jana's Thinking Place has pitched an idea I think is fun. She's turning people on to how terrific it feels to be kick up dinnertime a notch, once, twice, or even seven times a week. You know that china sitting in your sideboard, in boxes or on display? Jana's encouraging you to use it if you've got it. I'm gently suggesting the reluctant among you start with tea.

One of my favourite memories of our family's traditions is that of the mismatched tea cups. At some point in Canadian history, it was popular for young women to collect a variety of tea cups and saucers without catering to any particular pattern or theme. It was common to receive these when serving as a bridesmaid or for a special occasion. I believe this was true in both my mother's and my grandmothers' times.

After dinner on special occasions adults and children alike would choose a tea cup and saucer in which to have our tea. I remember there were so many beautiful patterns -- some painted with scenes, others with patterns. I don't remember one argument between we four girls (which says a lot, trust me) there were so many lovely ones from which to choose.

I would add as much sugar to my tea as I could get away with -- at my Nana's house the sugar was cubed or big thrilling multi-coloured crystals -- and a large quantity of milk. My sisters and I would be a well-mannered "ladies" sipping our tea and having silly conversations. Once we emptied our cups we would sit and compare the designs, talking about what made each special.

I love the way my children reflect our tradition of both fantasy and reality. My two daughters and one son relish in the ritual of having tea. They serve their friends tea too, either in their play set or, on their birthdays, in my grandmother's china. Their friends take their cues from my kids and seem to appreciate both the specialness of the gesture of a birthday table set with fine china, and the trust I have in them to handle it with reasonable care.

But mostly? I love the airs they put on when the fine china comes out.

My Nana's china in play on my birthday
Gigi demonstrating proper tea drinking etiquette

Do you have fine china that gets table time, or does your "good set" sit in your sideboard or on display, collecting dust? Or do you simply not have any? I have more to say on the matter of the fancy, so watch for more Fine China Fridays in the months to follow. By the time I've exhausted the subject, I'm thinking that even the most reluctant among you will have at least a pair of tea cups and saucers, and perhaps even a dessert plate or two in rotation ...


  1. I love this. It seems so fancy, schmancy Canadian to me. When we were in Victoria(for like one minute during our cruise) I really wanted to go the Empress for high tea. Now I just want to come over to your place.

    1. Have no fears. We will do high tea. Here, there and everywhere.

      (And I heard the Empress's high tea is not done properly anyway. Let's do it! Let's have TEA one day!!!)

  2. I like the idea of different cups - at garden parties one can find one's own again!
    It is great to have an occasional 'smart' meal where the good china and genuine silverware get an outing.

    1. I like my china for occasions. We're very good at "occasions" so mine gets used.

  3. You know, I love this so much. I collect tea cups and saucers. I have a cup from my grandmother's wedding china. I have a cup from an old boyfriend. I have cups from all over the world. And we've never used them. And my china set is rarely used. I'm going to make some tea tonight.

  4. Ooooooh! Pull 'em out! Pull 'em out!!! (And I have a post coming about what magic occurs when I serve tea in nice china ...)