Secret Sterling Silver

Secret Sterling Silver

There are many things I’ve learned through my tea experience that most people know and other things that are quite obscure and what I consider “secrets.” I’m about to share one of my secrets that I can’t believe more people don’t know about.

A few years ago two gentlemen from New York in the antique business came into my shop asking me if I had any sterling silver teapots. We had some silver-plated teapots but no sterling ones. He began to discreetly tell me that the best pot of tea is made in a sterling silver teapot. I had never heard that before.

I actually did not own a sterling teapot at that time, but I remembered that my mother had one. I had a silver-plated service and some large silver-plated urns for serving groups of people. I began to think about the whole concept of silver and tea. My memory was that the last time I had had a formal tea party for a large group, I had used the beautiful urn. I recollected how disappointed I was in the black tea. It was hot but seemed to get stronger and stronger and very bitter the longer it stayed in the urn.

I was able to get my mother’s teapot which is pictured in this blog. It’s very special to me since it belonged to my mother and real father who died when I was a teenager. I began to experiment by making black tea in this teapot, probably made in 1948. It’s a simple 6-cup Prelude pattern sterling pot, pours perfectly, better than any teapot I have and is very balanced with a handle that does not get hot.

I discovered the antique dealer was right. Sterling silver teapots make the best tea. Silver-plated teapots make the worst tea! A chemical reaction takes place to produce a very bad pot f tea. So polish that beautiful silver-plated teapot and put it on a shelf for decorative purposes or make a lamp out of it, but don’t make tea with it. In fact paint it black and then rub some of the paint off for a burnished look. I found an old silver-plated teapot like that once that is so charming to look at.

So after this discovery, I was on a search for sterling teapots. Guess what? You can’t find any, and they are outrageously expensive. I was just looking for a small 2-4-cup pot to use on a daily basis, something simple. Many of the sterling teapots are a part of big elaborate sets for thousands of dollars. I even talked with some silver professionals about making a teapot I could sell for the purpose of making tea, not for show. So far I haven’t found anyone who could produce one for me for a reasonable price.

Last year I was antiquing on Charles Street in Boston searching for a sterling teapot. When I mentioned my secret to a dealer, he said, “Well, I’ve always thought the best wine glass is a sterling one. I always drink my red wine in my sterling wine goblet.” He said silver has an antibiotic element of purity to it. Then I thought of all the sterling chalices used throughout the church for communion.

So last year I gave my husband and myself two sterling wine goblets for our anniversary. He’s right. Wine tastes great in sterling. It even stays the right temperature.

I have hesitated sharing this secret with the world since there are so few sterling teapots around. Most people who have them don’t even used them for tea. So if you’re a black tea drinker and want to experience the best pot of tea, ask your grandmother or aunt if you can borrow her sterling teapot. (Be sure to check the sterling markings on the pot.) Let me know if you find a stash, and I’ll let you know if I can produce a perfect sterling teapot for everyday use.

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8 Responses to “Secret Sterling Silver”

  1. Jason Witt says:

    Yes, I’ve heard that silver makes a good pot of tea. What I didn’t know was that you need the pure stuff, through and through. So go for the Sterling and leave the silver-plated junk on the shelf to look at. Good to know.

  2. Corina says:

    Thanks for sharing the secret! You mention only black tea in reference to the sterling silver teapot. Would you make other teas in using the s.s. teapot?

  3. carol says:

    Jason,
    I’ve only recently learned this myself. I’m surprised that more people don’t know it. Let me know the results when you find a sterling teapot and experiment for yourself.

  4. carol says:

    Corina,
    This is a very good question. I think there is less of a negative chemical reaction using herbal teas with silver-plated teapots. I’m mostly familiar with black tea. I would expect that green tea might also get more bitter as it sits in a silver-plated teapot versus a sterling one. Thanks.

  5. Carol,
    Thanks for sharing this information. It’s fascinating. I have always looked at sterling silver tea services, but also found them very expensive. Maybe for my next anniversary, I’ll drop a ‘hint’ to my husband! I am really enjoying my teapots that I have found at the Tea Embassy. I use them every day.

  6. carol says:

    Rebecca,
    Perhaps your husband can find you one in England. I think Europe may be the best place to find one. Just check the markings to be sure it is sterling silver. I’m surprised more people don’t know about it. Thanks for the reply.

  7. Jason Witt says:

    I couldn’t resist posting an update here. I recently became a convert to sterling silver myself. I have a couple sterling goblets like you’ve mentioned and I now have ordered a sterling pot on Ebay. The key is to get one that isn’t brand new and isn’t an antique. It might be 50 or 60 years old. My teapot cost $310. Can you believe it? It’s on its way here right now. The guy selling it suggested if you don’t want to use it you could buy it “for scrap.” I wanted to save it from such a fate. Of course I did. It’s just what I was looking for. And I knew from what I’ve read of bloggers like yourself to avoid the silverplate. Thank God I knew this. And yes, sterling kills germs so well it will keep your drink from going bad. You don’t have to refrigerate it. It’s ideal for raw, young Puerh as well as for its traditional black tea companion. I’m a Puerh Guy so it’s quite pleasing to me. –Teaternity

  8. carol says:

    Jason,
    Let me know how your tea taste when you get your new sterling teapot. Sterling is becoming very rare. Most people don’t appreciate its value concerning tea. What a treasure!

    Thanks,
    Carol

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