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Trained at the Ivor Spencer Butler School, Julius entered private service over thirty years ago. He has been responsible for arranging numerous functions globally and has had the honour of personally serving over 20 Heads of State. Julius offers consulting services to households on how to set up and run their residences, giving staff polish and confidence.

Published

19 February 2024

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During my time in service, I lost count of the numerous times I served tea to my principal guests. During one such occasion, I was asked if there was any difference between a china teapot and a silver one. The obvious answer is price – silver pots will be more expensive; however, the other answer is a little more complicated.

Traditionally, tea was sourced from two countries – China and India. Tea from China is more delicate, and so is better suited to porcelain or glass teapots as these are flavour-neutral and do not alter the taste, colour or bouquet of the tea. Tea from India, which was usually black leaf and more robust, reacted with the minerals in the silver metal when hot water was added. This enhanced the flavour. 

Which teas for which teapots?

Now that we know the difference between the two types of teapots, we need to discuss the correct teas to use.

When using the china or glass teapot, the ideal teas are green, yellow or white. Herbal teas such as chamomile and fruit teas work well, too. For silver teapots, it is best to use teas such as Assam, Darjeeling and lastly, the late Queen Elizabeth’s reported favourite, Earl Grey. 

Of course, when there are 3,000 known teas around the world, so it cannot always be an exact science.

Cleaning your teapots

Lastly, we must ensure we maintain and clean our teapots correctly, as they may have been handed down from generation to generation.

For the porcelain teapot, the most obvious problem is a stain left inside from the tea leaves called tannin. To remove this, mix some baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and water and place the paste on the offending area, then, after 20 minutes, wipe away and wash thoroughly.

For the silver teapot, you need to bring out the silver polish: there are numerous to choose from on the market, and everyone has their polish of choice – Goddard’s has always worked for me

Lastly, for both types of pots, the most important thing to check is the handle is secure. After all, we don’t want to spill hot tea over Granny!


Read more about what makes a good teapot from our historical advisor, Steven Moore.

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