Tag Archives: tea

Fancy Shmancy Travelling Tea Sets

10 Mar

If you thought the Chinese tea baskets yesterday were nifty, wait till you see today’s beauties! I’m beginning to feel a distinct relationship with Alice (of Wonderland fame) and her white rabbit pursuits: following my own food-carrier-meal-travelling-rabbit (or should that be cat?) down the intertubes has almost overwhelmed me with serendipitous finds – which you will be privy to.


One such white rabbit is Christopher Dresser, Victorian industrial designer. As a novice to Things Design I had not heard of him but am quite delighted to make the acquaintance here, here, here and here. Above you see a French Cased Gilt Silverplate Christopher Dresser Traveling Tea Set. At an estimated value in the region of 1.000 USD it probably behooves it to have such a distinguished name. Scottish-born, Dresser (1834-1904) was a protegé of Owen Jones, an English-born Welsh architect (1809-1874). Jones is considered one of the most influential design theorists of the 19th century and well-known for his book The Grammar of Ornament, which you can find in the illuminated books project.


Housewares Czar and Topsy Turvy Design started their blog Getting ready for … (Gatsby!) in June last year, on the occasion of the Art Deco Society of California’s annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon picnic. On one of their preparatory entries Housewares Czar shows off some beautiful vintage picnic sets – including the antique silver-plated travel tea set from the 1900s above.


A fine two person travelling tea set designed by Christopher Dresser, is displayed above. The pigskin-lined box houses a kettle with stand, a burner, sugar bowl, tea pot, cream and milk jugs and two sunny-yellow Royal Worcester cups and saucers. Hinged double fronted doors open to reveal a suede-lined interior with two spoons and sugar tongs. I’m so glad I love tea.


This (above) is a Louis Vuitton Travel Tea Case, found on the tea-tumblr MyrtleMakesTea. According to the slides (#14/28) of Priyanka Rawat this grained leather tea case was made for the Maharaja of Baroda 1926 of the Gaekwad dynasty. Today the city in Gujarat, India, is known as Vadodara.


Now there’s an unusual reason to start a blog by Gamil, a graphic and product design firm: A few years ago they noticed a remarkable amount of new traffic on their website. Realising that lots and lots of Gmail users were visiting them instead of their email accounts they started a blog to say “Hi!”. One of the blog entries shows tea on the go colonial style with the above tea set.


Housed in a wicker basket this travel tea set has the necessary tea-making and -drinking paraphernalia for two persons as well as a biscuit carrier and two linen napkins. I’m sure your little (pinky) fingers are itching to be raised.


And finally also in a wicker housing but with more robust tea-drinking items: An enamel and wicker traveling tea set, British, late 19th/early 20th century.


Culinary practices in crime

9 Mar

Whodunnits – set in other times and places – are a favourite of mine, certainly because of the crime stories but also because of the small window into another culture and into another era, courtesy of the authors. Two in particular I would mention here: Firstly, the Erast Fandorin Series by Boris Akunin (Grigory Chkhartishvili), whose tongue-in-cheek treatment of his tsarist-Russian hero adds to my reading delight. Foodscapes in the form of banquets and cafes feature as backdrops for the unfolding stories.


Secondly, the Judge Dee Series by Robert van Gulik, set in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Here culinary habits add to the temporal setting. The detective escapades are based on the historical magistrate Di Renjie (or: Ti Jen-chieh). van Gulik, a Dutch diplomat to Asia, first translated an 18th century Chinese detective novel Dee Goong An on the legendary Tang statesman, before starting off on his successful series.


One of the recurring customs in the Judge Dee books is the serving of tea kept warm in a tea basket to the judge. I always imagine Judge Dee puzzling over the aspects of the crimes while sipping hot tea kept warm in a travelling tea set such as the following examples.

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