A Message from Ruth at Antiques And Teacups

Welcome to the blog of Antiques And Teacups! Let's share a cup of tea and talk about the things we love...like teacups, antiques, collectibles, visiting England, antiquing and learning about victoriana and quirky gadgets. Fun!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tuesday Cuppa Tea Blue Willow History and Earl Grey Cookies For Tea

Hello and welcome to Tuesday Cuppa Tea! This is a compilation post of odds and ends from a week of visits and things surrounding my birthday...all fun, but a bit of a whirlwind, with another full week coming up...last ditch of summer for a lot of folks, and for us a break finally from smoke as we have finally had a bit of rain clearing the air a bit...WooHoo!  So we have come out of hibernating with a vengeance! Lol!

I found this tea themed poem from the writer T S Eliot recently as I was browsing Sandy Clough's book The Art Of Tea And Friendship while having a scone and afternoon tea in our sunroom with my Honey:

The naming of teas is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your everyday games--
Some might think you are mad as a hatter
Should you tell them each goes by several names.
For starters each tea in this world must belong
To the families of Black or Green or Oolong;
Then look more closely at these family trees--
Some include Indians along with Chinese.
T S Eliot
from The Art Of Tea And Friendship by Sandy Clough, pg 27

Very fun!

For my teacup (s) this week, I am sharing a perennial favorite today...various versions of the Willow pattern. 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. Some of these teacups are from the archives at Antiques And Teacups, just click on the photos.

This Willow teacup is by Woods and 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.
It is in the most popular colorway, blue, and many names of the variations call this version Blue Willow.

The history of the pattern, Willow and all of  it's many 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.  
The elements that usually turn up are: of course, the Willow tree, the bridge the lovers 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, of course,  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.

There are even versions in red, yellow and green, although the blue is the most popular....

This is a red, unmarked early 1920s version in red...

Wedgwood made this Yellow Willow pattern in the 1920s as well...

And Masons, England made this Green Willow version in the 1920-1930s...

And this, a very thin porcelain version from Occupied Japan which dates it from 1945-1954.

And lastly, a 1950s version by Royal Wessex, England in a more modern mid century ironstone version...

So...long live Willow, and may there be many more versions to come to extend a wonderful history!

Our PBS station, KCTS9 in Seattle is hosted some of the cast of Downton Abbey in August 2011, to drum up interest for series 2. The actors attending were 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.
I have made them several times, and posted them once before in 2011....

Earl Grey Tea Cookies
Program: 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 or licorice spice and basically say any tea is great.

Thanks so much for joining me for tea today!
I am HOPING to join these blog memes this week, but....

Here is the Tuesday Cuppa Tea linky for your tea related posts...please remember that it is SSSLLLOOOOOOWWWW but if you are patient...it's there!  I am so looking forward to visiting you!


  1. Hooray for being able to come out of hibernation, Ruth! Thank you for your history on the blue willow pattern, and all your pretty examples. The poem on tea was very apropos for your tea party with your cookies. Thank you for hosting and enjoy being outside!

  2. I've always admired the blue willow pattern so I enjoyed your interesting history lesson. I think that the BW sets that I own are ironstone (I'm too lazy to check the manufacturer). Earl Grey is one of my favourite blends so I'm intrigued by the recipe that you shared. Thank you for hosting!

  3. Hi Ruth!I love your post so much this week!Blue willow is a great pattern...love the pieces in green,red and yellow too,very beautiful!Happy Tuesday Cuppa Tea!Thanks for hosting and visiting!

  4. Oh Ruth, your Blue Willow post is fabulous! I love the classic Blue Willow. Thanks for hosting!...Christine

  5. Hi Ruth,
    I love the Blue Willow pattern and especially the Royal Doulton one that is trimmed with gold- do you have any of this? Thank you for hosting Tuesday Cuppa Tea. Blessings, Karen

  6. Ruth, I love Blue Willow and all kinds of blue and white patterns. And your cookies looked wonderful, so I decided to go with that theme and link my Earl Grey Shortbread post with photo of Blue Danube teaware. Thank you for all the info on the Willow pattern. I always learn a lot from your posts. Thank you for hosting.

  7. Thanks for hosting the Blue Willow patterns. I always enjoy your information on different topics.
    Have a wonderful week!


Thanks for visiting and we love to hear from you! We read every comment. If my husband's health permits, I love to visit andreply. Have a wonderful day and a cuppa tea always at hand! :)


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