We were saddened to learn of the death of Lord Piers Wedgwood on January 29, 2014. Read his 2007 interview with TeaTime.
It’s not every day one has an opportunity to take tea with British nobility, but a lucky audience in Birmingham, Alabama, had just that. The jewelers at Bromberg’s and the staff of TeaTime magazine joined forces to welcome Lord Piers Wedgwood back to Birmingham for an exclusive by-invitation-only tea party. Bromberg’s, which boasts one of the largest displays of fine crystal, china, and sterling flatware in the Southeast, also carries a wealth of Wedgwood pieces and has played host to the venerable Wedgwood heir for two decades. Lord Wedgwood, who claims Birmingham as one of his favorite cities for its unfailing sense of hospitality, typically appears annually at Bromberg’s for an in-store event with local clientele. This year, TeaTime Publisher/Editor-In-Chief Phyllis Hoffman joined him for a question-and-answer session with the audience. For TeaTime readers not lucky enough to attend the event, the charming Brit agreed to answer a few of our questions in print.
Q. Your family-owned company is closely tied to the art of afternoon tea. Tell us the items you consider essential in one’s own personal store of supplies and accoutrements for tea served at home.
The essential items I feel everyone should own in their personal store of supplies and accoutrements for tea served at home are Wedgwood bone china teapots, cups and saucers, sugar bowls, and creamers.
Q. The Wedgwood line claims many stunning lines of table and tea wares. Aesthetically speaking, what are your personal favorites?
My personal favorite Wedgwood pattern, in current production, is Madeleine, especially the cake plate. The Madeleine pattern is inspired by the pure, classic style that once influenced Josiah Wedgwood, as well as the beloved 19th-century French church for which it was named. The pattern is rendered in distinctive Wedgwood blue and the palest of cream, with the intricacy of acid-etched 22-karat-gold fleur-de-lis border.
Q. Can you instruct our readers on how best to care for some of their teatime treasures? For instance, is the cleaning and storing of Jasperware different from that of bone china?
The best thing to remember when caring for your teatime treasures is that bone china and Jasperware are strong ceramic bodies. Bone china can be cleaned in the dishwasher as long as the recommended detergents are used. Jasperware is more ornamental and can be hand-washed, using a brush to clean around the bas-relief. When stored, everything should be separated by some material or paper towels.
Q. Ambiance is essential to afternoon tea. What are your thoughts on beautiful tea wares and what they bring to the experience of tea?
Ambiance is essential, and using beautiful tea wares such as tea sets from Wedgwood help make “everyday” special and bring lasting memories of special occasions.
Q. Tell us how often you are able to enjoy afternoon tea, and describe what you consider to be a “proper tea service.”
Time permitting, I try to have a tea ritual every day! The proper tea service includes a full tea set, with cloth napkins. A variety of serving pieces in different heights, shapes, and materials add visual interest to your table. Don't fret if you haven't got a matched tea set—mixing and matching patterns and materials create a unique and stylish setting. Foods include freshly brewed loose-leaf black tea, served with tea sandwiches, pastries, and cakes.
Q. Any personal preferences surrounding tea you might share with us—perhaps a favorite tea blend or scone?
My personal preferences are Earl Grey in the morning and Darjeeling in the afternoon, both with plenty of scones!
Q. Most tea lovers have a familiar and favorite teacup, one they use again and again for quiet moments. Describe yours to us.
I love to use my Madeline classic footed cup with saucer every day!
Q. There is an unquestionable “tea renaissance” in America. Have you seen evidence of this in your travels and in your business?
Yes! I have seen the tea renaissance in America. People love to enjoy time with family and friends and experience the wonderful rituals with a strong history of the art of taking tea. Wedgwood has also seen the overall sales of Wedgwood tea wares increase within the last few years with this trend. Hotels, restaurants, and shops are serving and selling tea.
Q. What is the Lord Wedgwood Charity, and who benefits from your work?
The Lord Wedgwood Charity raises funds to supply high schools’ sports programs with defibrillators to use when anyone experiences cardiac arrest. Survival statistics go from under 5 percent to over 70 percent with a defibrillator!
Q. Finish this sentence for us, “Afternoon Tea is…”
Afternoon tea is an elegant and refreshing occasion to relax and reflect with family, friends and colleagues.