When Jessica Hill was living overseas in England she became enthralled with the ritual of high tea and began scouring the country to collect the delicate tea sets used in the time-honored tradition. Now that she’s back in the states, living in Connecticut with her family, she wants to bring the tea party trend stateside. She rents her tea sets for events through her company The Dish & Spoon Vintage.
We love the idea of setting the table with vintage tea sets, and we are so happy to be working with Jessica and her company. Ask us about renting vintage tea sets for your next event!
We spoke with Jessica about the origins of her company and what she loves about tea parties:
PBS: What inspired you to start collecting vintage tea sets?
Jessica: My favorite indulgence while living in the UK was the ritual of high tea. Nothing is more decadent than wiling away the afternoon on a comfy couch, sipping tea (and champagne) and eating way too much clotted cream. There is a sense of occasion when drinking from a china teacup as opposed to a clunky mug and one impulse buy led to many more.
PBS: Where did you find your pieces?
Jessica: I visited auction houses in and around London, charity shops, outdoor vintage and antique fairs and even found some pieces online.
PBS: Are you finding new pieces now that you’re back in the states?
Jessica: Estate sales can be a treasure trove. And I have enlisted UK friends to schlep teapots over the ocean for me when they come to visit. More surprisingly, since I started the business I have also received the occasional phone call from tea set owners looking to sell.
PBS: What made you want to start your business?
Jessica: I am a mom of two, and I wanted to start a business that would allow me to work and be creative while still having the flexibility to spend time with them and play an active roll in their schools.
PBS: What are some of your favorite pieces?
Jessica: Multi-tiered cake stands. No question. They are so elegant!
PBS:Tell me about the trend of using tea party china for adult drinks? Where’d you see these parties? What sort of drinks were served?
Jessica: In her book, The Vintage Tea Party Book, Angel Adoree creates a myriad of tea-related cocktails: from: Green Tea and Pear Cocktail and Wild Hibiscus Champagne, to Gunfire (which is English Breakfast tea with rum and orange) and Saffron G and Tea Shots (Earl Grey tea, gin, lemons, sugar and saffron to decorate) to name just a few. I have been to a bachelorette party where we learned how to make tea-inspired cocktails and sipped them from teacups. It added a layer of both kitch and elegance to our boozy night.
PBS: Do you have a favorite brand or style of tea?
Jessica: Fortnum & Mason or Harney & Sons are both great, and I prefer Queen Anne or Earl Grey.
PBS: How do you take your tea?
Jessica: With black teas in general I love a bit of milk and sugar. Earl Grey is supposed to be served with lemon, which is nice but I have been known to put milk in that too.
PBS: What do you like to serve with tea? Any favorite recipes?
Jessica: I have a great Queen Victoria sponge cake recipe from Jamie Oliver, which is quite impressive and easy to make. But when I indulge in high tea, my go-to will always be plain scones with clotted cream and jam–extra clotted cream!