I smile every time I walk past a display of tea-for-ones. They sit proudly, wherever they are placed, their double handles making them look a bit impatient. They are sometimes called tea butlers, but I prefer the term tea-for-one. I also enjoy tea for two or tea for a group, but a pot of tea, just for me, will always refresh and refine my thoughts.
A tea-for-one consists of a teapot sitting on top of a matching cup in a visually pleasing way. It is no accident that when such a pot is full of hot water, and tea leaves, the cup beneath it absorbs warmth. A warmed cup is a pleasure to hold and keeps the tea hot right to the last drop.
A tea-for-one pot is designed to hold the right amount of tea for the cup beneath. Draining the teapot, entirely, keeps the tea leaves from sitting in a puddle of water and becoming bitter. Adding water to the once used tea leaves creates a second cup as delicious as the first. The second infusion, however, contains little or no caffeine. Enjoy!
If you add milk to your tea, put it in the cup before you sit the warm teapot on top. While the tea steeps, carry the tea-for-one to your favourite chair. Once the tea is ready, pour the hot tea into the warm milk. This action will create a perfect swirl; there is no need for a spoon.
Having tea should be pleasant in every way, so I only keep items that delight me. I have given away some of my tea-for-one sets, in spite of their beauty, because the lips of the cups were too thick for my liking. I occasionally look in antique stores and online for something to add to my collection. I hope to find a tea-for-one that matches my mother’s Lady Hamilton tea set by Royal Albert or my mother-in-law’s Billingsley Rose by Spode.
The cheery, polka dot set in the photo came from the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has the Theodore Maass mark on the bottom. Theodore Maass has been around for 125 years and sells tea and accessories under the name TEE-MAASS. Although the company sells tea-for-one sets online, I was delighted I was able to examine this set and judge the thickness of the lip for myself. I knew this set would be perfect in my collection.
If you have a tea lover in your family, a tea-for-one makes a perfect gift. A package of quality loose tea is a natural accompaniment. Ask the tea store to provide you with the brewing instructions for the tea you buy. Different teas require different water temperatures and steeping times. Whatever your preference, enjoy a little tea for one, from time to time, and keep collecting the things that give you joy.
Where there’s tea, there’s hope.
A thought by Arthur Wing Pinero
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