Thursday, December 8, 2016

"Twelve Days of Tea" from Revolution Tea

I received the most wonderful surprise in the mail this week when my friend Nancy in Senoia sent a "Twelve Days of Tea" gift set from Revolution Tea!

Inside the bag are 12 little plastic "ornaments" …

And as you can see, each "ornament" holds a tea bag. Now is that clever or what!

I started with the Citrus Spice Herbal Tea, and the set also includes a nice variety of other flavors, ranging from English Breakfast Black Tea to Tangerine White Tea and Honeybush Caramel Herbal Tea. How did I not know about this? I would *had* to have acquired this set, but I am so blessed that my friend thought of me with this lovely gift!

And yes, that Citrus Spice Herbal Tea was just as good as I knew it would be!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Christmas tea party, circa 1906

This week I came across a new image on the Library of Congress website, a stereograph card from 1906 titled "The Christmas tea party."

The image is a little dark (and I lightened it!), but I think you can make out the seven children around the table enjoying tea.

And I will share with you what a tea-loving reader shared with me a while back, that if you stare into the distance and relax your eyes, the two photos will become one and you can see the depth. I have almost but not quite got the hang of it, but even in its current state, what a charming Christmas image!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Two new bottled teas ... and an interesting new bottle design

When I stopped by a new organic grocery store last week, I was pleased to find several new varieties of bottled tea. I had a hard time choosing, but I finally selected the peach-flavored Moonshine Sweet Tea (don't worry; it has no moonshine) and the Citrus Mint Green Tea from Tea of a Kind. You'll note that the tea on the right appears clear because the tea is actually in the cap and hasn't been "brewed" in the water yet!

First I sampled the Moonshine Sweet Tea in the Sweet Peach flavor. Perhaps I should have been clued in by the fact that the word "sweet" appears on the label twice, and the bottle has 30 grams of sugar. I didn't detect a peach flavor, but I most certainly did detect the sugar, and as someone who grew  up drinking plenty of sweet tea, even *I* found this tea too sweet. I diluted it with water and then it was drinkable, but still not enjoyable, so I quit.

Then I tried that clear bottle of Citrus Mint Green Tea from Tea of a Kind. I was fascinated by this product! It says on the bottle that the tea is stored in "the patented Gizmo cap, which prevents degradation of key ingredients. By simply twisting the pressurized Gizmo cap, you transform this bottle of purified water into delicious real brewed tea with the full benefit of antioxidant Vitamin C, refreshing tea taste, zero calories."

Sure enough, I twisted the cap and felt a (slightly scary) pop from the vibration of the pressurized cap doing its thing.

This tea wasn't any more expensive than many other bottled teas (two dollars and some change, I believe), and I marveled at the design that went into this. Unfortunately, I also marveled at what a  medicinal-tasting tea this was! I can usually choke down an ounce or two of anything, but this tea tasted like the aftertaste from some kind of clear cough medicine, certainly not like "citrus" or "mint" or "green tea." I was intrigued with this bottle, but my goodness, why didn't they put more effort into simply making the tea taste good? Did they think we would overlook the bad taste? I'm so scarred by this week's tea-tasting experiment that it's time to go sip a cup of (unsweetened!) Candy Cane Lane tea to cleanse my palate!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sharing the light … with snack sets!

Some months ago now, Nancy Sanker read one of my columns in The Coweta Shopper and suggested I stop by sometime to see her collection of snack sets and learn about the new way she is using them. I was delighted to spend some time with Nancy in her lovely home last week, and after I heard her plan, I was eager to tell you all about what she is doing. Those who live locally may be able to help spread the word, and those who don't may be inspired to follow Nancy's example yourselves!

I already knew Nancy's name because here in Newnan, she has been featured in local media for her work as the founder of Lights for Linda Luminarias, an organization that was started in honor of her late sister, Linda McGrenaghan, who waged a 19-year battle with leukemia. Nancy and some friends began selling luminary kits around the holidays to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The idea is to have "a hopeful glow" on Christmas Eve in honor of Linda and all those who are health challenged, as well as their caregivers. So far, Lights for Linda Luminarias has raised more than $23,000. I think it's terrific that 100 percent of the monies raised go to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Not content to stop there, Nancy has thought of a creative new way to raise even more more funds to help in the fight against leukemia and lymphoma.

Nancy likes snack sets, which you have probably seen me refer to over the years as "tea and toast sets." They're also called "tennis sets" by some collectors, and Nancy has "hundreds and hundreds" of them! Now, Nancy and another snack-set-collecting friend have decided they will loan these snack sets for events like baby showers, luncheons, and weddings, and the fee is simply a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This new fundraising effort is called "Lunch with Linda: Vintage Rentals for Your Celebrations." In addition to the snack plates, Linda will rent ice buckets, sheet music, baby shower items, and much more.

She likes the fact that these snowflake design sets feature different snowflakes!

How many snack sets do she and her friend have? Nancy says she could easily equip a wedding reception for, say, 250 (!). Her desire is to see the snack sets used for good, a thought that has me busy trying to figure out how I can use my own teawares for such a cause!

Nancy has been collecting for about 10 years, she said, and she grins when she hears of friends who have paid antique store prices for such sets. She describes herself as "financially aware" and says she never pays more than $1 or $2 for the snack sets, and she often mixes and matches with the sets using clear punch cups.

Her palette is pretty straightforward: clear glass and cream. She collects all patterns of the clear glass except grapes, and she has quite a few creamy milk glass pieces as well. (The one exception is some amber glass plates she thought would be pretty for fall luncheons, shown in the very first photo of Nancy up top.)

And these pinecone design sets are the only china ones she has. She found them in nearby Pine Mountain and says, "They spoke to me."

Cabinets in Nancy's charming office are filled with snack sets and vintage decor, and she admitted that yes, friends come over and gaze in awe at all of the eye candy.

Here is some of the vintage baby memorabilia she enjoys collecting.

And Lunch with Linda, Lights for Linda, and the fundraising are never far from her mind. A friend and board member of Lights for Linda, Susan Boyd, made this beautiful "Kaleidoscope of Hope" quilt which will be used as a fundraiser in the coming year.

The piece was machine quilted by Gail Lane, and Nancy shared how the eye is drawn to the "light" at the center of some of the quilt blocks. She also let me read a line that someone shared with her following Linda's passing: "She has taken her bright candle / And has gone into a room I cannot find / But anyone can tell where she has been / By all the little lights she left behind." Isn't that lovely? And how fitting that Nancy herself continues to "share the light" left by her sister as she helps raise funds for such a worthy cause. So local friends, if you or a group you are involved with would like to borrow some snack sets and make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, please visit or email I'm so excited for Nancy and can't wait to see her snack sets turn up at different events around town!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — West Virginia

West Virginia is known as coal country, but could it also be known as tea country? Hmm…

• West Virginia was home to a number of glass companies during the glass boom of 1900-1940, including the West Virginia Glass Specialty Company, maker of this tea pitcher and glass set with an iridescent rose design. Most of us own a tea pitcher or two, and if you're interested in looking up some info on the great glass makers of yesteryear, a good site to visit is here, the Museum of American Glass in West Virginia.

• Yes, you can grow camellia sinensis in West Virginia. I learned that from this 2013 article in the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail. I was happy to read that, like me, the author doesn't baby his plant at all, and it has proved quite hardy.

• In 1920, a West Virginia man became the new general manager of Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.  in the US. According to the book "Coffee and Tea Industries and the Flavor Field, Volume 43," Frederick W. Nash, who became the general manager on Sept. 1, was a man who, "becoming self-supporting at 17 … paid his own way through Wesleyan College, West Virginia, by teaching and secretarial work in school terms, and by selling subscription books and life insurance during vacations. Going to New York, soon after leaving school in 1897, he got his first position with B. Fischer & Co. as salesman of coffee, tea and spices to the grocery trade of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia." Nash had also served in the Philippines with the Fourth U.S. Cavalry and helped organize the American public school system there.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fireside Vanilla Spice Herbal Tea

When I was at that new Sprouts Farmers Market earlier this week, I spotted a flavor of Celestial Seasonings tea I hadn't tried before, this Fireside Vanilla Spice. The very name lured me right in, because what sounds cozier than a "fireside" with "vanilla" and "spice" scents?

I always hope that one day, I'll peek into a box of Celestial Seasonings and find that they've packaged the tea bags individually. But here they are again in a stack of twos. (Why are they in twos, friends? Why? I always wonder.) Such yummy teas, though.

This herbal tea definitely gets a thumbs-up. In addition to the vanilla and cinnamon (which I expected), it has a nice warm kick from ginger and cardamom. I often find cinnamon-flavored teas so naturally sweet that they almost taste as if they have sugar in them, and that was the case with this one. Are any of you fans of this tea as well?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Christmas tea column in The Coweta Shopper

For those of you who live outside of Coweta County and have asked to read it, here is my latest column in The Coweta Shopper.

I hope you enjoy it!

Note: In case you're not familiar with the Issuu platform (and I am only because I'm a publications geek who has read a lot of things online), if you go to the bottom right of the image with the column, click on the icon that looks like four old-fashioned photo corners. That sends you to full screen in the "Issuu" platform, and then you click the similar icon (again at lower right) to exit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sprouts Farmers Market's Green Tea Mandarin Lip Balm

On a trip to Peachtree City the other day, I noticed a new natural and organic grocery store, Sprouts Farmers Market, has opened since I last drove that route. Of course I had to stop by and check it out since such stores often have great new teas and tea products. This time, it was a store brand of Green Tea Mandarin Lip Balm that caught my eye along with several new teas. I don't know about you, but I can never have too many lip balms at this time of year. I keep them in my desk, purse, all coat pockets, the car … you get the idea. 

So when I saw a new one in a tea flavor, that was a must-have item.

The lip balm has a great flavor, but best of all it has a light texture that feels moisturizing but not waxy like some lip balms can be. Do any of you have a Sprouts near your home? I think I just became a fan!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A gift of a New Country Roses tea mug

It is always fun to me when I receive as a gift something that I had wanted but resisted buying for myself. Do you ever find that happening? I can't tell you how many times I've picked up this New Country Roses pink mug at T.J. Maxx over the last year or so, but I always thought no, it's too expensive and you don't need one more tea mug. But when my stepdaughter and family visited for Thanksgiving and handed me a bag containing Christmas gifts, I was delighted to find this among the goodies inside!

I love all these "New Country Roses" variations on the classic Old Country Roses pattern. Old Country Roses was my mother's china pattern, and there's a reason it's the best-selling dinnerware pattern in the world. Oh, those lush roses!

Since it was a Christmas gift, I plopped a bag of Twinings Christmas Tea inside and enjoyed a mug full of this yummy tea, which of course tasted even better in such a pretty new mug!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The weekend's tea finds

I don't shop on Black Friday, but my aunt and I went shopping on Saturday, and I was pleasantly surprised at how very uncrowded it was at the shopping centers in Rome, Georgia. I have been looking and looking for new Christmasy tea things — teawares, tea infusers, tea giftwrap, ANYTHING — but I've come up short. Have you? But I did find two practical and inexpensive items that you might like to know about.

First, I had read on the Afternoon Tea Across America Facebook group about these 2-for-1 calendars at Dollar Tree.

Yes, they're flimsy things, but hey, even a flimsy teacup calendar for $1 is still a bargain in my book. Besides, I like to hang one of these small-size calendars on my refrigerator using magnets, so the lighter the weight, the better.

And at T.J. Maxx, I found some of the cutest heavier-weight tea towels I've seen in a while. These aren't terry cloth, but they're thicker and heavier than the flour-sack type of towels. And one thing I discovered while preparing my Thanksgiving meal this year was that I can never have too many good, thick tea towels, since I go through a ton of them while rinsing off the turkey plates, cooking, and cleaning up the kitchen.

Isn't this design charming? It was $5.99 for the set of two, and I looked through all the towels, thinking I'd nab a second set for a giveaway, but alas, it wasn't to be found. You may want to check your T.J. Maxx, though, if you like these tea towels as much as I do!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Washington

Washington is a state that's famous for its coffeehouses, but happily, it appears that there have long been some tea lovers in Washington as well.

• The Culbertson Tea Room in Spokane, Washington, was the place to dine for ladies shopping at Culbertson's Department Store. I don't really know much about Culbertson's, and an article in the Spokesman-Review said only that "Culbertson’s, which carried everything from furniture to groceries, was deep in debt when the Depression hit and went into bankruptcy in 1930." That may be, but the place sure looked swell at the time this postcard was sent in 1919, didn't it? The sender of the postcard called this tearoom the "best place in the city to eat."

Judith's Tea Room and Rose Café once was a favorite of tea-goers in Poulsbo, Washington. I learned of the tearoom when I found this cookbook on eBay years ago, and I was inspired to make this soup as a result. It doesn't appear that this tearoom is in operation any more, but I enjoyed finding that another blogger shared her memories of this Washington tearoom (and a delicious-sounding cake recipe) here.

• Are you a fan of women's history? If so, you might enjoy watching the video of Susan Butruille's 2007 (I think) lecture at the Washington State Library, "Tea, True Womanhood, and Uppity Women." I liked this quote of hers at the beginning of the lecture: "Historically, when women have gotten together over tea, radical things happened." (Hint: The lecture, which is divided into four different segments and totals about an hour, is accessible here. If you want to skip all the welcome remarks, start at about the 6:30 point on Part 1.)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Highlights from Thanksgiving 2016

I meant to take photos of all the food, drinks, and desserts yesterday but, as so often happens when we entertain, I got too busy and forgot about it! So instead, I thought I'd share a few pix from my family's Thanksgiving celebration this year. In addition to Alex and myself, we had Daddy, Aunt Jane, my sister, Rhonda, brother-in-law Brad, and their children, Madison, Cari, Matthew, and Amelia, and Madison's boyfriend, Dylan, who was nice enough to take a photo of all of us when Amelia said she wanted a photo with everyone in it.

Rhonda, Daddy, me

Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while have pretty much watched my nieces and nephew grow up! Here are Madison, Cari, Amelia, and Matthew.

All the kids in our family get a Christmas ornament on Thanksgiving. Matthew got Star Wars.

 Amelia has been saying she wants a horse, so I got her one. 😉

Cari requested a Star Wars ornament and a Captain America ornament she found at Walmart, so she got two ornies this year since hers were half the price of everyone else's. (Gotta keep things equal!)

And Madison is currently studying for a career in the health care field, so this ornament seemed fitting for her this year.

Here she is with boyfriend Dylan, who was a good sport about taking and being in all the photos.

And here's my frequent shopping partner that you often read about, my Aunt Jane. A beautiful day, a wonderful meal, and the blessing of family — it doesn't get much better than that!