Tea is the national beverage of the United Kingdom. The British have elevated the serving of tea to an art form. Perhaps only the Japanese have managed to outperform the Brits in staging "the theatricality of the tea service."
These days, tea is enjoyed from end-to-end of the UK socio-economic spectrum. I've seen (very beat-up) electric kettles steaming-away within the dingy security kiosks at the gates of British construction sites. But, once upon a time—when tea was an expensive, foreign luxury—the mistress of the house was likely to keep the key to her locked tea caddy tucked snugly within the folds of her bodice. An Eighteenth Century servant might only sneak a few sips from an unfinished teapot or from the bottom of an abandoned teacup. Tea was precious and only to be enjoyed by those who could afford it (the aristocrats). The beverage was served with pomp and ceremony, delivered with numerous tea-making accoutrements (including a locked tea caddy), accompanied by fancy sandwiches and baked delights.
Speaking of baked delights: finger sandwiches, biscuits and scones might be served on plates, stacked upon a "cake rack" (or "tea stand") like the one shown above. This one comes from the first third of the Nineteenth Century (the Georgian Era, pre-Victoria). Its heavier, more rustic look reflects the furniture style and woodwork of the prior three centuries. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
And before tea is served, practice saying "scone." All my British friends say "skon," not "schone."
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248