This article is part of our CelbriTEA slots, monthly guest blogs on the 1st of the month from the cream of the vintage and tea world. Carol Oldham is the Director of Dormouse and The Teapot. She set the company up in 2008 to bring vintage English china to a wider audience.
From being quite young I have always had a passion for tea and all things tea related. One of my earliest memories was of my granny, who I can only describe as avid tea drinker, pouring cup after cup of hot golden tea from what seemed to be an endless pot. It was one of her greatest pleasures in life to fill up the teapot and treat herself to a nice cuppa. I was fascinated by the glamour of it all, the rose patterned teacups, the tiny milk jug and the welcoming generous tea pot. It was only when I was shopping for my own home and was met by a host of plain white mugs and metal teapots that dripped and made the tea taste ‘tinny’. That I came to realise that a whole generation might never get the opportunity to enjoy the quiet ritual of tea making, or know what it was like to sip a cup of loose leaf tea from a beautiful china cup. I wanted to do something to help to resurrect this very British pastime.
I began to collect individual vintage cups and saucers and mismatched them to create new sets. When I saw how delighted my friends and relatives were when I served them tea in a china cup, I started to give them mismatched tea sets for Christmas and birthdays. However, it was only when people began to ask me to put together mismatched vintage sets for their friends and families that I realised that my passion could actually become a business. Dormouse and The Teapot was born.
I think tea drinking today is less about how many cups you can get out of a pot and more about the quality and presentation of that tea. People want to inject some glamour into their lives. Many of our cups and saucers are beautiful works of art lovingly painted by hand by craftspeople who took real pride in their work. They have stood the test of time simply because they were well made and well cared for. People like to buy vintage because it allows them to reminisce. It might remind them of their childhood and allow them to recreate their grandmothers Sunday tea set for example or they want to imagine what it was like in the past when everything stopped for tea and the best china was brought out.
In the current climate people are also recognising that we have lived in a throwaway culture for far too long, that we should reuse and preserve what we have. As well as being beautiful vintage china is also very functional so is still an acceptable item to purchase. The credit crunch has meant that many people are not going out to eat as often, and I imagine people having tea parties in their own home. However people still want to spoil themselves and have the experience and the luxury of a traditional tea and that’s where vintage china will come in. Our range of tea pots, cake stands and tea sets mean they can still afford to treat themselves, even if that’s just to tea for one.