I am sharing a perennial favorite today...a version of the Blue Willow pattern by Woods & Sons, England in the line called Woods Ware in ironstone. The Woods are part of a famous potting family from Staffordshire, England with a long history back to 1865.
The history of the pattern, Blue Willow and all it's variations goes much farther back...actually the 1770s. Blue Willow comes from a Chinese legend of 2 lovers, forbidden to marry who elope and are chased by the emperor. At the end, the boy is killed defending his fiance and the girl commits suicide. Sigh...not too cheerful. There are some elements that usually turn up are the bridge they crossed to elude pursuers...often with the lovers or with 3 people being variously the lovers and a helper or the lovers and the emperor, a house they took refuge in and always includes 2 birds, doves flying together representing the 2 lovers which has become a symbol of undying love.
This is a Royal Grafton, England version from the 1940s in bone china.
And this, a very thin porcelain version from Occupied Japan which dates it from 1945-1954.
Willow has always been popular and therefore was frequently made by various potters. Because of it's long life as a pattern and relative abundance of pieces, it is often overlooked as an important part of pottery design. It is fun to compare the elements of the design. For more info on any of these teacups at Antiques And Teacups, just click on the photos.
Our PBS station, KCTS9 in Seattle is hosting some of the cast of Downton Abbey in August to drum up interest for series 2. The actors attending will be those that played Lady Mary, Cora, Countess Grantham and Matthew. As part of the promotion, they cooked up an Earl Greay Tea Cookie that was posted in our program guide.
Earl Grey Tea CookiesProgram: KCTS 9 Cooks
Presented by: Paula Nemzek, KCTS 9 Cooks
Cook's Note: Try these delectable slice-and-bake cookies with your own favorite blend of tea. Delicious! We created these sophisticated cookies in honor of our August 2 event with Downton Abbey Cast members. We think Cora, Countess of Grantham, would approve!
makes 18 to 24 cookies
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves, crushed, or 1 1/2 tablespoons from tea bags (about 5 bags)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, blend flour, tea and salt. Add half of flour mixture to butter mixture and stir together. Add remaining flour mixture and mix together until just combined.
Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll into a firm log about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Seal with plastic, twisting both ends tightly, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.
Slice the cookies into 1/3-inch thick rounds and place on the parchment at least 2 inches apart. Bake about 14 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. These are best served freshly baked.
The comments by the chef also said that they pack a buzz so use decaf if that would be a problem. Several of my friends have made them experimenting with other blends of tea including matcha & licorice spice and basically say any tea is great.
Enjoy visiting the other Teacup Thursday posts and thank you to Miss Spenser for hosting. And check out the Blue Willow next time you come across it...as you undoubtedly will.