Tuesday, January 8, 2013

All Things Lemon at Tea Time

Lemon Accoutrements 

- Lemon Plate, Server, Tray or Nappy -

Take your pick which name you'd like to call the beautiful bone china dishes used for serving lemon at tea time.  Nappy was a new term to me:  "A shallow, open serving dish with no rim." Sometimes these beautiful dishes function as candy or nut dishes too.   I have six in my collection.

Five have the candle holder style handle and one has a center handle.  The center handled dishes are a bit harder to find.  The dish below is backstamped Meito China, Made in Japan.

These two are made by Noritake China, also from Japan.

The last three are hand painted and don't have a country of origin.

As I prepared for this post, I was amazed that neither the Internet nor my personal tea library provided any information about lemon dishes.   They are vintage, and I learned from E-bay and Etsy listings that they date back to 1890 up through the 1950's.   Japan seems to have produced the most [at least on E-bay], but other countries made them too.  A plate for lemons is a tea table accoutrement that is reasonably priced, and easily found in antique stores. They compliment any tea table - and we all know tea time is usually all about the details.

I'd welcome any additional information anyone can share about them, or the names of books that reference them.

- Lemon Forks and Lemon Squeezers -

Lemon forks are most commonly set out at formal afternoon tea parties.  They usually have flared tines, but not always.  I have three in my collection. The lemon squeezer is typically used when serving lemon wedges.

Lemon forks can also be used on iced tea trays.

I love  lemon tea bread or lemon desserts at tea time.  Today I made a  loaf of lemon bread with a yummy lemon glaze to go with my tea.  Lemon poppy seed bread or muffins are also great accompaniments to tea.

I prefer using loose-leaf tea, and Simpson & Vail carries a great green tea that I enjoy called, Lemon Jade.  However, St. Dalfour carries an organic Ceylon lemon tea that comes in bags, which I thoroughly enjoy.  When my son comes down with a cold, it's his tea of choice! ;-)

Here's some lemon trivia and lemon Faux Pas

  • Add sugar to tea first before lemon or the citric acid will prevent it from dissolving.
  • Don't add lemon if using milk in tea, or the milk will curdle.
  • Lemon is agreeable with most black teas.
  • Never put the lemon slice in the cup before pouring in the tea.  
  • Never place a lemon slice on the edge of the saucer in anticipation of adding it to the cup later.
  • Never transfer a lemon slice from the tea cup to the saucer.  Should you desire another cup of tea, the pourer will remove the slice from the cup before pouring a fresh cup.
  • Never use the spoon to squeeze the juice from the lemon slice after it's been placed in the cup.  The lemon will yield its essence to the tea naturally.
  • If serving lemon wedges instead of slices, provide a squeezer or wrap the wedge in gauze to prevent seeds and juice from squirting when lemon is squeezed.
  • If no squeezer is provided, it's permissible to gently squeeze the wedge with your fingers and then place it on the saucer. 

Tips for lemon storage:

Purchase lemons that are heavy.  Heavy lemons have thinner skin and more juice. and they can be stored longer without drying out.

Room Temperature - Place lemons in a decorative container, out of direct sunlight.  Use within a week before they begin to dry out.  

Refrigerated - Remove from thin plastic produce bags and transfer to a large zip-lock plastic bag.  There should be no moisture in the bag.  Place in the crisper drawer.  Remove one at a time as needed, resealing the bag each time.  They will keep for up to four weeks.  This is the best way to store lemons if you need to keep them on hand for long periods of time.

Cup-up lemons - Store in a covered container and in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2-3 days.

To extract the most juice from a lemon, start with one at room temperature.   Microwave for 30 seconds, then gently roll the lemon on the counter to break up the pulp inside.  Cut in half and squeeze.

I've been on a roll with lemons today, haven't I?  ;-)  

*  *  *

Today I'm joining Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday

Bernideen's Tea Time blog for "Friends Sharing Tea"


  1. Fun post, Phyllis. I was not familiar with the lemon trays.

  2. I learned several things I didn't know about lemons! And what pretty little dishes. Will keep my eye out for them now that I know what they are! I never think about putting lemon in hot tea, I always put some in my water glass but I don't really care for it in iced tea (which you know we drink down South). That lemon jade tea sounds delicious though. Thanks for the info!

  3. This is a wonderful, educational post and I loved seeing your treasures!

  4. You amaze me at your collections! Love anything lemon, especially if it has to with tea too. I will keep my eyes open for these little lemon dishes. Your lemon bread looks delicious!

  5. What a sweet collection you have, Phyllis. I don't think I have ever seen a lemon nappie before but I can certainly keep my eye out for one now. I usually serve lemon sliced up into a little bowl but the nappie is a wonderful idea. Yummy looking lemon bread too. Thank you for a most informative post. I have really enjoyed it and thanks for coming to tea. Happy New Year, my friend!


  6. Nappy usually refers to a shallow plate or bowl, without the handle. The handle changes it to a lemon plate or server. They were very popular when tea was more a part of life, and Japan made loads of them, although there are plenty of English & continental ones too. Love your setting...so pretty! It's so fun to learn about all the little table items & gadgets, isn't it?

  7. I love lemon breads and desserts! Great post!

  8. Teatime with lemon bread sounds delicious..You have such a pretty collection of lemon servers... Your teapot and teacup are so very pretty too..Looks like a chintz type pattern..I love lemon anytime. Thanks for all the zesty information.... Happy New Year...Hugs

  9. Wow! I didn't know such a thing as a lemon fork even existed. That's advanced tea-making and -serving for you!

  10. How interesting! I would probably use it to collect my earrings! ha. Thanks for sharing such great information!! Happy Tea Day! Your lemon bread looks amazing...made my stomach growl and I have already had lunch! ha.

  11. That's a wonderful collection!

  12. The lemon serving dishes are so pretty! I've never seen those before. I LOVE lemon bread, too. It's one of my favorites. I'm learning so many new things about tea and am now your newest follower.

  13. What an informative post! I have several nappies, stored in various locations, so now you've got me wondering how many and what colors I have! I do not, alas, possess a lemon fork. I *thought* I bought some last year, but they are seafood forks. Live and learn. I appreciate the lemon produce tips, as I have often let them go bad, which is not good because I love lemons! Just this week, I read a book with a recipe for Lemon Cornbread, which sounds weird but I believe I will try!

  14. I unexpectedly found a Noritake (!) lemon dish at a rummage sale for free earlier today, mixed in with a bunch of very miscellaneous, unmatched, and uncollectable dishware. It's different from the two plates you have, with a picture of lemons and leaves painted on the center, and is very lovely. I recognized the name, but the idea of a small plate with a handle eluded me, and I've been messing around on the internet on and off the rest of today trying to find information about it, and I agree, there is surprisingly little of that out there, so I was very happy to find your post. The best I've come up with for mine is it's lusterware from after 1921 and probably before 1937 or so. The few listings for similar pieces on Ebay and Etsy don't seem to know much, other than that these were used to serve lemon slices, and occasionally don't know that. A couple also called it a nappy and said they were used to hold a dampened napkin, but gave no other details, and somehow that explanation sounded a bit sketchy.

  15. I agree! I also couldn't find anything on what the "plate with the little handle on it" was in my google search until I came across your post. So thank you for the information!


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