Tea strainer

DATE: late 19th- early 20th century (made)
PLACE: Norway (made) probably
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver-gilt and plique-à-jour enamel

Tea strainers first appeared in the 1790s and gradually replaced the earlier ‘mote spoon’, which had been used to remove loose leaves floating in the teacup. Strainers became an essential part of the tea set in the 19th century, before being superseded by the tea bag in the 1950s and 1960s when strainers largely fell out of use. The handle and borders on this example are decorated with translucent plique-à-jour enamels where ground glass and iron oxide are applied to a wire framework then fused together under intense heat. It is often considered one of the most difficult enamelling techniques due to its high failure rate.