Use of a Silver Tea Service
Question: I've inherited a silver tea service, or maybe it's a coffee/tea service, I'm not sure. There are two pots, one larger than the other. Are they for different types of tea or for tea & coffee? There is a kettle with a built in burner (which has not been used). I assume the kettle is for hot water, but why/how would you use it,since the tea in the pot is already brewed? There is a tray, a creamer, a sugar bowl and a slop bowl. Obviously, I can't carry the tray fully loaded, so I assume that to actually serve, some of the items are placed on the tray and some to one side for ease of service. Does it matter what goes where? What is the slop bowl used for, and where does it go when setting up?
I've had tea parties before, but it was just with simple teapots, and it was a little more straight-forward. Thank you for your guidance.
Answer: Thank you Dian for your inquiry!
From what you describe, you have inherited a complete tea set that includes a coffee pot as well. Most tea sets will come with a coffee pot since it is common to offer both beverages.(This does not mean that you need to do so, it's optional.)
The kettle would be used if you are having a large gathering, you could have a supply of hot water on hand for making more tea and you wouldn't need to wait for the water to boil. You would not need to use it for a small gathering, and it would not go on the tea tray. It would be kept on the buffet or in the kitchen.
You don't mention if the kettle is electric, or does it have a 'chimney' down the center of it for charcoal? If it has this you may have an older Russian Samovar, newer ones are electric.
Most tea sets are arranged on the tea table, bringing the tea pot to the tray once it is all arranged. If you have a tea cart, the tray can be loaded up in the kitchen on the cart and then wheeled to your desired spot. If you are setting a buffet table, you would put the tea at one end and the coffee at the other. Cups, spoons, sugar and cream(milk for tea)would be placed at each end with the coffee and tea.
Arrangement of the tea set and tray is usually fairly simple, taller items like the tea pot and coffee pot are put towards the back, shorter item like the creamer and sugar bowl towards the front.
Just for clarification, you would not carry a tea tray around a table like a waitress. The tea service is place on the table, whether it is a tea, dining or buffet table,and the hostess or her helper will serve it out from there.
The slop bowl is for discarding tea leaves/bags after you have brewed a pot of tea. The slop bowl can go on the tea tray if you have room and you will be making more tea right where you are. Otherwise it can stay in the kitchen or where ever else you will be brewing tea.
I hope this helps you to understand your silver tea service more so you can enjoy it to its fullest potential! If you send me a picture of it, I will include it here.
Your Tea Party Guide