In our strange new reality, I’ve had to forego one of my top pleasures: thrifting! When my children were small, my Saturday-morning escape was a two-hour tour of my favorite local flea market. I didn’t always bring something home, but when I did, it was often a beautiful teacup and saucer, which my husband would greet with, “Oh, good, another teacup. We don’t have enough of those.” Phyllis Barkey’s husband likely knows how mine feels, but really, her collection is a thing of beauty. (Note the picture below represents a portion of her collection).
Missing Some Good Thrifting!
The best is that moment when your eyes spy something precious to you, and the price is an unbelievable steal. For us sentimental folks, there’s also a joy in imagining the times that this piece of furniture, this dress, this teapot lived through; the family and friends it served; how it may have been someone’s favorite thing. Perhaps those former owners have passed on, and yet this item has lasted, and can serve a new family, in a new time.
Mix Up Your Tea Service Collection!
While I am grateful to have china cups from both sides of my family, and it warms my heart to set the table with them, my creative self LOVES the idea of having a mix-and-match tea service. There are just too many artistic, romantic, stunning china patterns to fill my cabinet with only one or two complete teasets. You’ve got to leave room to discover a new piece that you love. But where to look when stores are closed?
Collecting A Complete Tea Service
Remember that to serve a proper afternoon tea, you’ll need to stock your china cabinet with one or several:
- Teacups and saucers
- Sugar bowl
- Dessert/salad plates
- Condiment pots or small serving dishes (like mine pictured below)
- Spoon rests (pin dishes can be used)
- Tiered trays
- Cake plate with dome
- Children’s teasets
The Gift of A Special Teacup
Important Note: Because the online vendor has done the hunting for you, you will typically pay more for the find than you would in a flea market or thrift store.
If you find a lovely teacup on the pricy side, consider that it would make the perfect gift to lift a tea friend’s spirits. You could deliver it along with delicious tea and tea treats and let her show it off at your next virtual tea party.
Finding Secondhand Teaware Online
Teapot, teacup and teaset collectors, the search for fabulous finds must go on! We’ve assembled a list of online secondhand teaware vendors, where you can find beautiful vintage pieces from the safety of your home. (To buy new, see our list of online tea shops).
Antiques and Teacups, Washington
All teaware and linens
The Brooklyn Teacup, New York
Three-tier and two-tier stands (option: can be made from your own china), teacups and saucers
Cup & Carriage, California
Teacups and saucers, teapots, vintage serving dishes
Helen’s Royal Tea House, New York
Three-tier, two-tier stands, tea-cup tiers and tidbit trays
Highlands Teacup Co., Georgia
Three-tier and two-tier stands (option: can be made from your own china)
Prairie Vintage Shop, Edmonton
Primarily teacups with saucers, some teapots, creamers, sugar bowls
Replacements, Ltd., North Carolina
All teaware, new and previously used, as well as a “Find This for Me” feature
The Teacup Attic, Ontario
Teacups with saucers, vintage glass, and “The Missing Piece” orphaned cups or saucers
The Vintage Teacup Shop, Massachusetts
All teaware, plus crystal and glass tableware
All teaware, plus table linens
Tell Us Where You Shop
Of course there’s always Etsy and eBay, for which you may want to filter “shop location” by North America to cut down on shipping costs. Many of the above local businesses offer free shipping in North America. If you have a favorite online vintage teaware vendor, please comment below, and we’ll update this list – thank you!
Show Us Your Latest Teaware Additions
Tag your social media posts with #destinationtea so we can see your newest find, and we’ll share our favorites. Happy teacup hunting!