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March: when everyone is Irish – A Belleek inspired tea

Welcome back diners! I was inspired to do a March tea for me and my mom using Belleek china as inspiration.

First however i wanted to thank reader Margaret C. for this kind note and primitives puzzle! I had never seen these little puzzles, but apparently they were given away for brand loyalty. I can only imagine a grateful mother years ago with this little puzzle to occupy curious kids. Thank you Margaret – you introduced me to an entirely new area of vintage collecting!

Can you figure out how to get both spools to the other side?

Ah, Ireland: home of family, Waterford crystal, Guinness beer, in the top five bucket-list locations, and Belleek. Beh-what? Belleek porcelain china. Made in Belleek Ireland, Belleek china is the oldest craft pottery in Northern Ireland. It was established in 1857, and each piece is created by 16 different artist, which explains its price! Belleek is an ivory china with a rich yellow luster, and no two pieces are the same (ah again…see above). The other unique feature of Belleek: it is remarkably thin.

The most iconic Belleek patterns are shamrock, neptune, and basket weave.  I do not have any basket-weave pieces (there is a limit to my super-power), but here is a sampling from the Belleek website:, (Feb 16, 2021)

Oh swoon and drool, even my super-power has limits!

I started with this cute shamrock table-topper and napkins. 

Next, I included this three-tier serving tray, and added a variety of green plates each with floral centerpieces. For any great tea, a three-tiered serving tray is a must! A crystal bowl for berries and a cheerful spring platter for shortbread.  This tray also belonged to my grandmother, and has a bit of orange just for her, because “we’re not that kind of Irish dear.”   Berries and shortbread are also perfect tea accompaniments.  Shortbread is a classic Irish and Scottish cookie made of three ingredients only: butter, sugar, and flour. 

The classic shortbread recipe: 1 cup butter, ½ cup granulated sugar, 2 cups of flour, mix well and bake 12-15 minutes at 325.  Shortbread works best if refrigerated for 20-30 minutes prior to baking and can be rolled and cut or pre-scored and placed onto a sheet pan.  Are the forks prick essential?  Yes they are!  It helps dissipate the butter as its baking. 

Now for the most important part of our tea – the tea set!  The teapot and cups are the Neptune pattern.  You can see the amazing detail in the teapot and the shell feet of the teacups.   The small bowls with cream and jam as well as the cream and sugar set are a simple pattern – you can really see the yellow luster in the sugar bowl.  The sugar bowl and creamer are currently available at NOWVI, an Etsy shop: Check out this shop with great vintage pieces, Margaret always ships same day!

Time to enjoy!

There seems to be an unwritten rule of the three-tier tray: the first layer are the savories. In this case its egg salad; cream cheese, cucumber, and tomato sandwiches; and coronation chicken salad a curry chicken with dried fruits and nuts. The second layer is for either crumpets or scones with clotted cream and jam. The third layer: reserved for the really good stuff!

Thank you for stopping by again, please take the time to comment and share. I’d love to hear your favorite tea experiences. Check back later in March to explore vintage linens. Until then, enjoy something beautiful! ~d

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Those tea cups are exquisite! I only have a few pieces of Bellleek, I bought some when I was in Ireland last May. I don’t want to start another collection, no more room!

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