Tea time

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collecting vintage tea sets

Afternoon tea is a treat for Dr Joy Er of AvaDent in Cannington, WA, when she uses her vintage teacups.

“When I was about 18 or 19, I went to high tea for the first time and really enjoyed it. I loved the delicate fine-bone china cups that were decorated with beautiful floral designs. Soon after that, I was at a flea market and came across a stall selling vintage teacups.

 “I now own a tea cabinet with about 60 trio sets, cake stands and four teapots. A trio set includes a cup, saucer and a little plate. I have just enough for my cabinet and being a minimalist, I now retire an older one that no longer speaks to me if I want to make a new purchase. This prevents addition without mindfulness. I’m happy with the size of my collection so this isn’t really a problem. It just means I only buy trios that I really want.

 “All vintage teacups have different designs and styles across the eras. I tend to gravitate towards floral designs, mainly in light colours or pastels. The brands I like are Royal Albert—its vintage designs—and Paragon, which isn’t in production anymore. Depending on the brand, shape, condition and pattern, a quality vintage teacup can cost between $60 and $200. Most of my collection is at the lower end as I use them as well. The expensive ones are so delicate that if I did use them, I would be constantly on edge and unable to enjoy the experience.

“Flea markets are my hunting ground for teacups and I generally pick up a couple when I go traveling. I have some pieces from a market in London that are just beautiful. 

“I think what draws me to these vintage teacups are my passions for art, flowers, patisseries and Federation-style architecture. Vintage cups are intricate because they were all minimally produced and handpainted. To me, the teacups are great to view as decorative pieces, but are also beautiful additions to use and enjoy. Being someone with a sweet tooth, I’ll have friends over for a tea party or I’ll just relax after a hard day or on weekends with a cup of tea in a beautiful cup.

“They remind me of a more genteel era when people took the time to take a break and really enjoy a cup of tea. Afternoon teas are always relaxing and a lovely way to slow down and recharge. And if there are cakes involved, even better!” 

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