Friday, August 26, 2016

A 1941 Tea Menu for Dining Car Service

So I've found another interesting old menu on the New York Public Library's digital collections site. This one is a 1941 tea menu from the New Haven Rail Road. Look inside!

Have you ever seen a tea menu that asked you to "please order by number"? That's a first for me. I'll have the #6, thank you very much, and no fries with that. I believe that the "Bar-le-duc" in #5 refers to a type of currant jelly from France.

It's always fun to look at these old menus, and it's especially fun to see a Tea Menu for Dining Car Service!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A mysterious teacup ailment

Some months ago, I mentioned finding my current favorite chintz teacup, this $3.33 find from one of the area Goodwill stores. It was stained in the bottom (and now it is again), but I bleached it out and it cleaned right up. But then …

Some days later, I prepared a cup of tea and saw these mysterious black spots  begin to appear …

And these! So now I'm rather spooked and don't use the teacup anymore. I've Googled and learned I shouldn't have used bleach, but the reasoning was only that bleach can damage the teacup, not that it could cause a stain. Now since chemistry was never my best subject in school, I'm wondering if any of you smart people might have an explanation for the black spots on my teacup. Anyone?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Divinitea's Waves of Joy Organic Ginger Lemon Tea

A friend recently shared with me this Waves of Joy tea from Divinitea. I loved the name, Waves of Joy, and that would have sold me on this tea without even knowing what was in it!

But since I happen to love ginger and lemon flavors, I suspected this herbal tea would be one I'd enjoy. It includes organic lemon grass, organic ginger, organic rose hips, and organic lemon myrtle. I love being able to see all of these individual bits in the loose blend.

And steeped, this tea had just the spicy ginger and lemon flavors I was hoping for. Ginger gets me in the mood for fall, yet the lemon is a lingering nod to the last days of summer. I very much enjoyed this tea, and if you'd like to check it out for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Death at the Day Lily Café" by Wendy Sand Eckel

I will read almost any book with a teapot on the cover, and as I suspected, Wendy Sand Eckel's newest cozy mystery had plenty of tea-ish moments to keep us tea lovers happy! And although this was the second book in a series, I had no difficulty at all jumping right in with the storyline and understanding what was going on.

The recently divorced Rosalie Hart of Cardigan, Maryland, has just realized her dream of opening her own café when, shortly after the grand opening, her friend and fellow merchant Doris comes asking a favor: Doris's sister has been accused of killing her husband, and Doris wants Rosalie to help prove that the sister is innocent.

This book has a rich and diverse ensemble cast I greatly enjoyed meeting, including Glenn, Rosalie's 72-year-old best friend and right-hand man; her other wait staff member, Crystal, the young "hippie" who makes teas and tinctures; frequent customer Janice, whose hot flashes inject a bit of humor that middle-aged readers will no doubt appreciate; hunky Tyler, who runs Rosalie's farm; Annie, Rosalie's college-age daughter; and Kevin and Jake, a gay couple who find the town surprisingly welcoming— with one notable exception.

Doris's deceased brother-in-law is suspected of having stolen some money from the construction site where he'd worked, and it turns out that plenty of people had a reason for wanting him dead. Eckel keeps us guessing the killer's identity right up till the satisfying end, but best of all, she layers this cozy with some complex, messy, and thoroughly realistic lives that make this mystery a pleasure to read.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Karyl Conover will be coloring …

Okay, I liked the alliteration of being able to say that Karyl Conover is the winner of the coloring books! And Karyl, if you'll send me your snail mail address via the email button at right, I'll have these headed your way shortly. Congrats! (And I will certainly be on the lookout for more of these to give away since some of you have been unable to find them.)

A weekend of books, books, and more books!

This week I was able to attend my first Killer Nashville, a well-known conference for mystery writers that is held each year in Franklin, Tennessee. I got to meet so many wonderful writers and attend three days of educational sessions, including two sessions with the delightful Janet Evanovich, who graciously signed my copy of her book on writing, "How I Write." I'm about to read her new novel, "Curious Minds," which I've been hearing good things about!

Here Janet is with Clay Stafford, the founder of Killer Nashville, leading her breakout session called "How I Write: Secrets of a Successful Author." Aside from all the helpful professional stuff, I *loved* hearing that she gains 15 pounds at the end of every book she writes and then has to go to the gym for a while. (She looked great, though, even though she told us she was wearing Spanx.)

One quite unexpected "tea" moment came when we heard from author Robert Randisi, at left, who is hands-down the most prolific author I've ever heard of, having written more than 700 books! He described his typical day for us and told of writing from about 1 p.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., then taking a nap, then writing till midnight when he prepares "tea and cake" for his girlfriend when she arrives home, and then he writes until about 5 a.m., when he forces himself to go to bed. (I will not be following that writing schedule, in case anyone wonders.)

Anne Perry, the famous British writer of historical fiction, was on a panel I attended about using our fiction to promote social change. At right is novelist Paul H.B. Shin, and they gave me lots to think about!

Since I'm polishing up the draft of my first cozy mystery, I was particularly interested in the cozy authors I came across, including  Cheryl Hollon, center, who writes the "glass shop" cozy mystery series I've been hearing about, and another session (where my photos didn't turn out) featured Gail Oust, who writes the Spice Shop cozy mystery series I've also been hearing good things about.

And since her book was already on my Kindle, I was delighted to arrive at the conference and discover that one of the panelists was Wendy Sand Eckel, whose "Death at the Day Lily Café" has a teapot on the cover! I liked her panel and what she had to say about her book so much, I immediately started reading it on the way home (Alex was driving), and tomorrow I'll have a review. I must say that after so many days talking about books, books, and more books, I feel as though I am living the famous Louisa May Alcott quote: "She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain"!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — North Carolina

North Carolina is a state I have grown to love for a number of reasons. My tea friend Ginger lives there, my favorite statewide magazine is based there (Our State North Carolina), and not insignificantly, the awesome publishing company I edit for, Red Adept, is based there. And happily, I know that some pretty unique tea news comes out of North Carolina!

 This vintage postcard depicts a teapot that marks the site of the famous Edenton Tea Party in Edenton, N.C. Some courageous women led by a Penelope Barker vowed they would no longer “conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea.” Some 51 women met on October 25, 1774 to protest the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament in 1773. They signed a petition vowing that they would give up their tea and boycott other British products "until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed."

• Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, N.C. is a well-known nursery that grows and sells tea plants. A friend and former blogger in North Carolina actually gave me my own thriving camellia sinensis plant, and if I ever need another, one of the first places I will turn will be Camellia Forest Nursery. You can go here to learn more about the varieties of tea plant they sell.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has spearheaded a tea mapping project showing the locations of tea plantations in the U.S. The U.S. League of Tea Growers wrote about the project here. With tea being grown all over the U.S. these days, I think it's a great idea to map all of the tea-growing areas of the country, and I look forward to hearing more about this project in the years to come!

Friday, August 19, 2016

One more coloring book giveaway!

Friends, I have two more of these "Time for Tea" coloring books from Dollar Tree to give away, so I thought I'd make this a weekend giveaway and give everyone until Monday at 7 a.m. to enter.

If you'd like to be in the giveaway, just leave an "Enter me" to this post before August 22 at 7 a.m. EST and you'll be entered to win. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Chinese tea and cake party

One of the tea-themed images I recently found on the New York Public Library website was this 1908 postcard titled "A Chinese Tea and cake Party." Do you find it interesting that the tea party attendees are all men? I do. It's not surprising that Chinese men are drinking tea, but it is surprising that this is called a "tea and cake party" and it's attended by men. I think it's highly possible the men wouldn't have labeled their gathering in this way!

I always like to find that one person in a photo who looks like he wishes the photographer would go away, and that's pretty clearly the gentleman at far right.

If you ever have a hankering to look for old tea images like this, by the way, the website is here, and it's well worth browsing!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Celebrating the new T.J. Maxx & HomeGoods in Peachtree City

Last Thursday, I was getting ready to go to a business function when I got word that the new Peachtree City T.J. Maxx & HomeGoods store (a two-in-one sort of store) was celebrating its Grand Opening that day. I was torn (do I skip the event or head to Peachtree City?), but duty won the day and I headed to my event. The next morning I had another meeting, but as soon as it was over, I headed my little Ford Focus to Peachtree City and was stunned to discover the entire parking lot of the new shopping center was full! Didn't those women (and yeah, it was 110 percent women) know that these were *my* stores? How dare they! At any rate, I had to make it for the opening weekend, and after a parking space finally opened up, I did some leisurely shopping and left with a new notebook (not tea-themed, but writers can never have enough notebooks) as well as some new teapot spreaders and a new tea mug.

They had very few teacups, which was a surprise, but they had a great selection of tea mugs, including a cute one with teapots on it, but I resisted. Then, I got to the very-long-but-very-efficient checkout line, and that's where I spotted this Milly Green mug in honor of Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday. I'm trying to downsize my china a bit and had told myself, "Self, no more tea mugs!" but a $3.99 royal commemorative? So, yeah. Had to.

And have you ever seen prettier spreaders in your life? I had not. These were $7.99 (less than $2 each!), and I have some tea events planned soon where these will come in handy. Not a bad beginning to the new T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods store, which is located 8 miles from my house. And yes, I clocked it. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

For Tea's Sake Sour Apple Martini Tea

When I was at Plumyumi Day Spa last week, I was intrigued by the name of one tea in particular, the Sour Apple Martini blend. It's rather ironic since I'm a teetotaler (or tea-totaler, as I like to say), but I have always love-love-loved sour apple anything! When I commented that I was interested in this tea, the owner of the spa offered to brew me a cup on the spot, and I took him up on it. It was a wise move on his part, because after just one cup, I bought the largest tin they had before I left!

Are you a fan of sour apple flavor? I remember fondly the sour apple Jolly Ranchers of my youth, and I also recall a sour apple chewing gum that I don't see around anymore. A good grown-up replacement is this Sour Apple Martini green tea, which contains green tea, apple and lemon pieces, safflower and sunflower petals, and natural flavors. Somehow, they managed to subtly capture that "sour" taste in the tea, and I just love it!

I steeped the tea in a filter basket in my teacup, and I enjoyed seeing the bits of fruit and the tea leaves spring to life. While this tea is one of those I'm now fortunate to be able to  purchase locally, if you don't live nearby, you can visit the For Tea's Sake website and check it out for yourself!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Plumyumi Day Spa now offering loose leaf teas!

Have I ever written about a day spa on this blog before? I don't think so, so today may be a first! A few months ago, Eddy Logan, the owner of Plumyumi Day Spa in Peachtree City, contacted me in search of some tea advice. His wife had discovered my tea blog, and since they were considering offering specialty teas at their spa, he asked if I would mind meeting with him and sharing my thoughts. I've never been asked to talk about tea to anyone in the spa business, but Eddy seemed genuinely interested in tea and the process of properly preparing and serving it, so I was happy to meet with him. He asked about varieties of tea, presentation of the tea, storing the tea, steeping the tea, the electric kettle for boiling water for the tea, the best implements for infusing and filtering the tea … all the things that let me know he had done his homework!

When he texted me last week to say that the new tea display was now up at Plumyumi, I of course asked if I could stop by and take a few photos, and he graciously agreed. I love that a new line of teas is now available just eight miles from my house in the Thomas Crossroads area of Newnan, and for local readers, I highly suggest a visit to Plumyumi! If you're a spa-goer, that's great, but you don't have to be booking a spa service to shop here. (By the way, if you're headed to Peachtree City from Newnan on Highway 54, Plumyumi is in the shopping center on the right that's *just before* the shopping center with the new T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods. I personally am delighted with the proximity of these businesses!)

The line chosen to launch the new tea experience at Plumyumi is called For Tea's Sake, and the ones I've sampled so far have been absolutely delicious. The staff has obviously mastered the art of brewing them perfectly. Last week, I tried the Red Velvet Party, a wonderfully rich and truly velvety rooibos; Skinny Sip, a terrific oolong and green tea with a subtle smoky hint; and a third tea that I'll tell you about tomorrow because I brought a tin of it home with me!

I love the variety of teas, the colorful packaging, and the fact that samples are available for sniffing. Also, the price point ($12.95 for the large, nearly-3-ounce tin) is a very good value today.

I think Plumyumi is very wise to have decided they will welcome anyone to stop by and have a free cup of tea anytime! To begin with, they'll be offering three different varieties each day, and they're happy to serve you while you browse the teas and the rest of the boutique area. Their tea gifts alone are impressive: glass teapots, tea sample sets, mugs, infuser travel mugs, tea filters, infusers, flavored honeys and more.

On a side note, I was delighted to see they have Ginger Snaps, that line of interchangeable jeweled pieces that pop in and out of bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry. I love mine, and I love knowing I now have another place to buy them. I was also asked if I'd be interested in perhaps coming one evening this fall to speak to customers about tea and have a tea tasting, so I may have even more Plumyumi news to report in the weeks ahead. But mostly, I'm just thrilled that I've learned about a great new resource for quality tea and tea gifts. If you're near the spa (click here for the website), stop by for a cup of tea and tell them Angela sent you!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — New York

I was not at all surprised to find lots of information about tea in New York, and I especially had fun discovering a few of the more obscure things about the Empire State!

 Tea Island on Lake George, New York, is a historic resort area that once had a tea house on it.  According to the 1868 book "Lake George" by B. F. DeCosta, "Two miles down the lake, on the west side, close to the shore, is the first island which we pass. It is called Tea Island, and is a perfect gem. In 1828 a 'Tea-house' was kept there to accommodate visitors, which fact accounts for its present name." And you can still visit Tea Island today! Click here if you'd like to see its modern incarnation.

• Some "society women" of a hundred years ago poured tea in New York City for the "motor men of Street Railway." This is one of those wonderful old Library of Congress images that raises more questions than it answers. Its title is simply what the photo reads up top, "Society women pouring tea for motormen of Street Railway." The photo, which is from around 1908, is part of the George Grantham Bain Collection. Who was Bain? He was a New York City photographer known as "the father of foreign photographic news." I can't help wondering whether Bain took this photo himself (those two men at right and that "society woman" closest to them look a bit, um, unimpressed, shall we say). "Motor man" appears to be a term for those who conducted trains and trolleys. So that's helpful, I guess, but why were the "society women" pouring tea for them? Motormen Appreciation Week, maybe? And did you notice the little candlestick lamps/lights on the table? Interesting. And isn't it funny that a century may pass, but we still need the basics of white tablecloths and stacks of plates and cups and a nice, big tea urn!

 • New York City is home of the Russian Tea Room, which is perhaps one of the most legendary tea rooms in the country.

This is a vintage postcard of the tea room I found some years ago, and the back reads: "Next Door to Carnegie Hall, Exquisite RUSSIAN and FRENCH CUISINE. Lunch - Afternoon Tea - Dinner - After-Theatre Supper - Vodka - Cocktails - Wines - Liquors." I've never been to the Russian Tea Room, but it's definitely on my bucket list! (Go here if you'd like to see more photos and their Afternoon Tea offerings.)


Friday, August 12, 2016

Some tearoom history from Mississippi

I am so fortunate that my blog readers are such generous souls who know precisely the sort of things I like and often share things with me. Today, I wanted to share some pamphlets with you that I received from Patsy in Missouri. I have written about the Old Southern Tea Room in Vicksburg, Mississippi, before, so I was quite delighted to get a vintage pamphlet from this tearoom as well as two more pamphlets from Natchez, Mississippi. In the golden-colored pamphlet above, I was drawn to the image of the Mammy figure on the front. Some years ago, I attended an intriguing lecture in Atlanta by a university professor who was researching the Mammy figure in American history and culture. I was also intrigued to learn that some people actively collect "Mammy" art and artifacts. While the image makes me uncomfortable, I believe that even when researching something as seemingly innocent as the history of American tearooms, it's important to acknowledge this part of US history.

The text of this pamphlet begins, "After a hard drive from California or Maine, the motorist craves good food, and can find it at our Old Southern Tea Room in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This unique oasis of refreshment was established in response to an insistent demand, but does not employ fancy chefs to prepare ornamental dishes. Aunt Elvira, our cook, presides over our kitchen, just as her ancestors did at plantation hearths during the lavish days of the Old South." (I can't help thinking that "Aunt Elvira" might have taken a different view of the work of her ancestors "during the lavish days of the Old South"!)

It's also interesting to note that Duncan Hines and the American Automobile Association recommended this tearoom.

Another eatery recommended by AAA was the Carriage House Restaurant at Stanton Hall, a property of the Pilgrimage Garden Club of Natchez, Mississippi. I love to read old menus, and this one is fun because it focuses on Southern foods of chicken and ham, desserts, and coffee and tea. While there are some aspects of yesteryear that I wouldn't want to return to (see above), oh, for the days when we could have enjoyed a lunch of gumbo, salad, bread, dessert, and tea for just $1.75.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The "Book of Tea" winner is …

Daniele K.! I've sent you an email seeking your snail mail address, Daniele, so as soon as I receive it, I'll get this book headed your way. (And if I see any more copies of this book at Dollar Tree, I'll be sure and pick them up so we can have more giveaways!)

Tea-blending, circa 1896

I've written frequently over the past year of my fondness for the many great digital resources available on the Library of Congress website. I've often explored the newspaper and photography archives there, but I haven't delved too deeply into the digital *books* available on the site. This week, I was frankly surprised to learn about "Tea-Blending as a Fine Art," a book on tea-blending that was written (and self-published, interestingly enough) by Joseph M. Walsh in 1896! Mr. Walsh obviously placed great stock in the importance of tea, as the first sentence of his book reads, "There is no article handled by the grocer which demands greater attention, engages more of his time, or has a more important bearing upon the success of his business than Tea, as it stands in many respects far ahead of all the other commodities in commanding and maintaining patronage, as well as in attracting and retaining trade for numerous other articles, and at the same time yielding a larger margin of profit to the dealer."

When I flipped over to page 15, I was impressed by the variety of Oolongs Mr. Walsh was able to list: Ankoi, Amoy, Foochow, Formosa, Saryune and Pekoe. Then he moves on to "Congou Teas," which he notes are "grown principally in the Bohea hills in China, and are known to trade in this country as English Breakfast Teas. They are divided into Kaisow or Red-leaf and Moning or Black-leaf Tea, and are a distinct variety differing in color, liquor and flavor from the Oolong sorts."

I marvel that he wrote all this without benefit of iPad, iPhone, or Internet. Can you imagine? That's just a small sample of what's shared in Mr. Walsh's book, and I'm so happy to have discovered it. If you'd like to check out this book for yourself, or simply to bookmark it for later reading, as I often do, click here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A midweek giveaway!

When I see a tea book for only $1 at Dollar Tree, I can't help myself. Yes, I already have "Book of Tea" by Annie Perrier-Robert (I posted a review of it here back in 2010), but I'm betting one of you could use it. Yes?

If so, please leave an "Enter me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, August 11, and you'll be entered to win! (US and Canada only, please.) Good luck!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tea Time Magazine's September/October 2016 issue

Local public school students started back to class last week, and another sign that fall is on the way is that the September/October issue of Tea Time magazine landed in my mailbox. Oh, how I love when those spice tones of fall start appearing on the covers of my magazines!

The cover cake on this issue sounds like one I definitely need to try. Do you bake more in the fall? I sure do. In fact, I've been a slacker of a cook this whole summer, rarely doing anything more adventurous than oven-baking some of the copious quantities of (delicious!) squash my dad kept us in all season long. But this Walnut-Apricot Spice Cake ... oh my goodness. From the spicy-looking interior to the nutty exterior and the luscious looking apricot jam and vanilla buttercream on top, well, I can just imagine the glorious flavors. With a cup of apricot tea, perhaps. But it has to wait till fall. I just can't enjoy a fall flavor at the tail end of summer, can you?

And owing to my current love of all things turquoise, I enjoyed reading about this "Afternoon Teal" (not "tea" but "teal") that uses the teal color to bring awareness to ovarian cancer. (Note the simple ribbon-shaped fold of the napkin at lower left. Clever!) Kentucky tearooms are highlighted in this issue as well, including, I was pleased to see, the Greentree Tearoom in Lexington that I visited with Linda Jennings and other tea friends a few years back. There's also an article about Jane Pettigrew, whom I once got to meet at a World Tea Expo, receiving the British Empire Medal and attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace. Have you received your issue yet? If so, what were your favorite features?