Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Inko's White Iced Teas

Inko's. Now that's a new name in tea to me, but I recently spotted these at an Ingle's grocery store that is on the route I pass when I'm visiting my parents. I stop by occasionally when I need to pick up a few things, and this time I was intrigued to see yet another new name in teas.

The Inko's label touts the fact they use "all natural ingredients" which include fructose crystals, not corn syrup. The White Peach tea had 7 grams of sugar and 28 calories per 8-ounce serving (2 servings per bottle), which is better than a lot of the more sugary bottled teas I've purchased before realizing I was drinking the equivalent of a candy bar! This tea had a lightly sweet taste with the emphasis on the peach, not the sugar.

I give high marks to the Blueberry flavor as well since, once again, the blueberry-ness really was a natural flavor, not one of those faux-berry flavors you sometimes run across. (The calories and sugar content are the same as the White Peach flavor.) I definitely think I'll be buying these teas again, and soon. Anyone else tried Inko's before?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tea Horse teas from England

Recently I was invited to sample some Tea Horse teas from the U.K., and since I was asked which teas I'd most like to sample I selected their black teas. After drinking so many fruity herbal teas this summer, it was time to try some new grown-up teas! When my samples arrived in the mail, they included Ceylon Uva FBOP, Assam Mangalam SFTGFOP1 and Panyong Golden Needle.

When I opened the Ceylon packet, I got a nice scent that reminded me of wood shavings combined with something sweet, like the smell of a candy store perhaps! Once I brewed the tea, I found it to be a smoky, sweet and rather brisk blend. The strong (but not too strong) tea was quite enjoyable, and I think some of you black tea purists would really enjoy it as well.

The Assam had a woodsy scent also, and I was pleased to find that nice malty quality that seems so prevalent in a really fresh Assam. It made me wonder why I don't drink Assams more often!

Finally, the Panyong Golden Needle had a woodsy/spicy scent and a lovely sweet/spicy taste to match. I very much enjoyed sampling Tea Horse teas. (Wondering about the name? To learn about the Tea Horse Road in tea history, go here.) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the (very elegant) Tea Horse website offers very reasonable international shipping, so anyone who wants to try these teas ought to be able to. Count me a new fan!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The summer stationery winner is ...

Judith of the Lavender Cottage blog in Canada! Congrats, and I'll have these goodies headed your way very shortly, Judith!

The Anne Hathaway's Cottage Teacup

If you're like me, you've probably got a teacup "wish list" that's a mile long. There are loads of things I don't own and would like to, and recently I came across a particular style of teacup I've seen before and wanted, only I'd never found an unchipped cup and saucer in this style until now!

I've really developed a fondness for red transferware after seeing it on so many other blogs. These patterns blend so well that no matter which ones you collect, they all look good together, it seems.

What I find most intriguing about this cup and saucer set—and I do hope you can tell from the image—is that the saucer is quite unusually shaped, with a depression for the cup in the middle but then sort of curving up and out, giving an almost flat appearance to the saucer. It sort of reminds me of a dip tray with that little bowl in the middle!

And as a fan of The Bard, I of course loved the fact this J. & G. Meakin pattern is Anne Hathaway's Cottage. If anyone happens to know what you call this style of saucer, I'd love to know!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #30 - Waioli Tea Room (Honolulu, Hawaii)

I hadn't made a good old tea bread in a while, so this week a recipe I found in a 1974 tea room cookbook sounded awfully good, this Mango Bread.

The cookbook is the "Waioli Cook Book II," compiled by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary of Honolulu and the Waioli Tea Room Restaurant. Still in business today, this tea room was built in 1922 and is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. There are at least three different volumes of this cookbook I've seen, and I plan to add volumes I and III to my collection as well. Since the recipes were from Hawaii, I knew I wanted to make something with a bit of a tropical flavor to it.

This Mango Bread with fresh mango and shredded coconut was super easy to make and very, very moist. I also enjoyed eating the fresh mango that was left over, and if you're a mango fan as well, give this a try!

Mango Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh mango, chopped fine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil*
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup melted shortening*
3 eggs

(Note: I wanted to reduce the oil content in this recipe, so I used just 1/4 cup each of the oil and shortening and added 1/2 cup applesauce, my new favorite substitution in these kinds of recipes.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two loaf pans with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and stir. Make a well, add remaining ingredients and combine. Divide batter in loaf pans and bake for 1 hour or until firm to the touch. Yields 2 loaves of tea bread.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tea sightings in recent magazines

It's always fun to come across tea news when I'm reading a new magazine, and some recent issues have turned up several articles I thought you might want to know about! First, the always lovely Garden & Gun has in its June/July 2013 issue a fun feature on how to make Sweet Tea Granita. Now I'm not just a huge fun of ices (or even ice cream) myself, but if you are, this sounds quite easy to make. Go here to link to the article and recipe online.

And the July 22 issue of People magazine, of all things, shows the stars of a show called "Moonshiners" having tea at New York City's Lady Mendl's. How fun is that?

In that same July 22 issue, which you might can still snatch from your local hair salon, there are three recipes for David Segal's Iced Teas, including Mango Iced Tea, Spearmint Tea Mojito and Iced Tea Pop. (The recipes aren't up at yet, but perhaps they will be soon!) David Segal is cofounder of the DavidsTea stores (spelled just like that: DavidsTea), and I must say I'm a bit surprised I've never heard of him or his teas, perhaps because the stores are mainly in Canada and a few northern states in the U.S. I think I'd like to place an order from the DavidsTea website, though, so if you've tried these teas I'd love to get a recommendation!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer stationery to share!

Some of you have come across tea goodies in the bargain bins at Target because you've told me so, but I never have. Not once. Last year, my stepdaughter, Heather, up in Wisconsin sent a photo of some cute-cute-cute little metal pails she found at Target because she noticed they had teapots on them and wondered if I'd seen them. I had not, and in fact I never found them at any of the local Target stores even though I spent weeks looking. I was delighted when our Christmas gift arrived and she had included a great stash of items with these tea-themed designs on them!

I saved them to enjoy this summer, and although I've been too busy to host a tea party just yet, I'm still thinking these little 4-inch pails would be just adorable at four place settings, maybe holding napkins, maybe holding scones. We'll see!

I also received these cute magnets …

… and some great handmade cards …

… and two magnetic list pads, all with the same cheerful summer design.

Now the pails are all mine-mine-mine (not like y'all didn't already know I'm greedy!), but the stationery, well, I thought it would be nice to share in case, like me, you never had the opportunity to come across these goodies for yourself! So just leave a comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Monday, July 29, and you can win a sheet of magnets, two cards and a magnetic list pad for yourself! Good luck!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Scones from Trader Joe's

Usually when I mention the initials "T.J." on this blog I'm referring to T.J. Maxx, but today I have a different kind of T.J. to talk about, Trader Joe's, where I recently found some new scones I had to try!

The ones shown above were made with this new Mixed Berry Scone Mix. All you do is add water, stir and bake for about 15 minutes, and soon you have …

… some very berry scones to eat! Now I don't expect I'll ever find a mix for anything that equals the taste of homemade, but nonetheless these were quite good! I had two with lemon curd for my lunch one day and was very pleased with the light, airy taste and the yummy berry flavors.

I don't often see ready-to-eat scones in stores, with the exception of those tasty little two-bite scones from Whole Foods, so when I saw these Chocolate Chip Scones at Trader Joe's I had to get some of these as well. They actually had the texture of a nice, lightly sweetened roll, not really what I think of as a scone type of texture, but the combination with the chocolate chips was so good I'd probably buy these again. Have you tried scones of either type from Trader Joe's? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Free reads for tea lovers!

Though I've had an iPad for several years now, it wasn't until fairly recently that I actually began to read e-books on the thing. My husband loves his Kindle, but I had resisted reading books that weren't printed on paper. I still prefer paper, but I have to admit it sure is convenient to have dozens of books loaded on my iPad and ready to take with me whenever I'm on the road. Last week, it occurred to me I had never looked for free tea-themed e-books on Amazon, and I was pleasantly surprised at several of the goodies I spotted. First, this "Tea With Emma" e-book by Diane Moody is Book One in The Teacup Novellas. It was a charming inspirational romance and even included some yummy-sounding recipes at the end of the book--can't believe it was free!

I love anything to do with tea history, so I went ahead and downloaded a copy of "Tea Leaves: Being a Collection of Letters and Documents Relating to the Shipment of Tea to the American Colonies in the Year 1773, by the East India Tea Company." Yes, the title's a bit long, but I'm interested to see what Francis S. Drake had to say on this topic when this book was published in 1884!

A title I've seen on eBay many times but haven't gotten around to purchasing is "Around the Tea-Table" by Thomas Dewitt Talmage. It's another that's been on my to-be-read list, and thanks to the Kindle app on my iPad I can now read it for free. These are just a few of the books currently available for free download, and the classic "The Book of Tea" by Kakuzo Okakura and quite a few others are available as well. So tell me, friends, who are the e-book readers among us? I'd love to know who reads e-books, and what device you use to read them. Oh, and if there are any freebie e-books you'd like to suggest, I'm all ears!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The weekend's fun finds

Feeling the need for a little antiquing over the weekend, I decided to visit a local antique mall, The Bone Yard in Newnan, where my friend Liz recently set up a booth. After almost five years of operating her shop in Senoia, Cydney's Alley, she decided to downsize the business portion of her life yet keep her foot in the retail world with a booth. It's the best of both worlds, I told her, and without the responsibilities of full-time shop ownership! I was in a browsing sort of mood on Saturday so I decided to visit her new booth, which is clever as always, and after browsing hers and all the other great booths in this lovely store, I left The Bone Yard with several new treats I absolutely love.

This tiny little 2-inch teacup looks sort of like a rustic concrete planter, and at first I thought these succulents were plastic but they're not. When I saw the instructions to "water sparingly," I knew this was coming home with me!

This large wire teacup planter caught my fancy as well. This will be home to either one of my larger African violets or a rooting off my camellia sinensis plant, I haven't decided which just yet. ("Oh, you must like teacups!" said the nice lady who rang me up. I just nodded. She has no idea!)

And last but not least, this hat. Oh, how I love my new $10 hat! Those of you who have my department store tea room book "Dainty Dining" may not have even noticed, but on its pink cover there is a pink and green floral hat in the background, just behind the plate of tea room food. Well, as I've been working on a follow-up book of department store tea room recipes, "Dainty Desserts," I have been desperately searching for a vintage hat with blue and aqua flowers on it to use in the same manner on the new cover. I'd gotten to the point where I was prepared to pay any amount, however ridiculous, as long as the hat had the right colors and the right "feel" to it. I found a few maybe's I was watching on eBay, but nothing ever really screamed "This is the one" — until now! Can't you just picture one of the tea room ladies of yesteryear enjoying tea while wearing this hat? I sure can, and I'm thrilled to be one step closer to having the perfect cover for a new book!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #29 - Chickadee Cottage Tea Room (Lake City, Minn.)

So much of what I find in tea room cookbooks is a guilty pleasure that it's almost a surprise to find a tea room recipe that's not only good but also good-for-you. Such is the case with the recipe I tried this week, Chickadee Cottage's Waldorf Tuna Salad Sandwich!

Chickadee Cottage is still in business in Lake City, Minn., and you can read more about it here. I'll bet at least a few of you have even visited! Me, well, I had to visit only within the pages of this "Chickadee Cottage Cookbook II," which at 218 pages is certainly one of the biggest tea room cookbooks in my collection!

Now while I've made Waldorf Chicken Salad before, Waldorf Tuna Salad was a new one for me. I loved the idea of making this healthy salad and tucking it into a whole wheat pita pocket, so that's what I did. A quick, easy and low-fat summer supper for sure. Here's the recipe, with a few "tweaks" noted!

Waldorf Tuna Salad Sandwiches

1 can (6-1/2-ounces) white tuna in water, drained (I used two 5-ounce cans and simply upped the other ingredients a bit)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or raisins (I used only walnuts, although I don't see why you couldn't use both walnuts and raisins if you like)
1/2 cup apple, unpeeled, chopped fine
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
4 croissants or pita breads

Toss all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until combined well. The book notes you may add sprouts if desired. Yields 4 sandwiches. If you use low-fat mayo and pita breads instead of croissants, you can really save a lot of calories, but either way I think you'll have a new favorite salad for tea time as well as lunchtime and dinnertime!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A new M.Z. Austria teacup

It's been a while since I splurged on a new teacup, so when I saw this $10 set at a local antique mall the other day, I thought, "Why not?"

I just love the pretty, lush roses and the soft green background.

The teacup is made by M.Z. Austria, about which I know barely a thing. I just know I liked its looks!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A new teatime treat: Blueberry Crumb Bars

Tweaking recipes seems to be a universal urge, and I am often tempted to change an ingredient or two these days. With the blueberry crop still coming in at my parents' house, I have been loaded up with fresh blueberries and went in search of a blueberry bar recipe I saw a while back. The one I used was for these Blueberry Crumb Bars shared on the Smitten Kitchen blog. She found the recipe on and tweaked it to her liking. I, in turn, have taken her recipe and tweaked it a little myself!

Smitten Kitchen's recipe calls for lemon zest and lemon juice, but having recently made Zesty Lemon Blueberry Muffins, I didn't want lemon in these bars. So, I substituted vanilla and water for the lemon juice, and oh my stars, I could eat the whole pan of these things. They. Are. Dangerous! That's why I stuck half of them in the freezer to take back to my parents as a thank-you for the blueberries.

These really are sort of like Bar-Cookie-Meets-Blueberry-Cobbler. If that appeals to you as it did me, here's how I made them. (Best enjoyed, if I do say so, with a tall glass of Black Cherry Berry iced tea!)

Blueberry Crumb Bars
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1-1/2 cups sugar, divided use
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water
4 teaspoons cornstarch
4 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter and egg. Make sure dough has pea-sized crumbs because you don't want it to be too smooth. Pour half of dough into pan and pat down.

In another large bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, water and cornstarch. Add blueberries and stir just until the sugar mixture has covered all the berries. Spread blueberry mixture over crust, then top with remaining dough and smooth. Bake 45 minutes or until top begins to brown. Cool on wire rack and then cut into squares. (Drooling is optional.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wyler's Light Iced Tea with Peach

Yes, friends, it's time for another of Angela's Low-Rent Tea Reviews! By "low-rent" teas I do not mean the teas are no good, not at all. I simply mean these inexpensive tea mixes are the fast food of the tea world, and I do enjoy trying new flavors when I'm on the road a lot. In previous years I think I've tried so many that it's rare I come across a new brand or flavor. This week, however, a trip to Dollar General turned up this $1 box of Wyler's Light Iced Tea with Peach.

As a lifelong resident of the peach state, I suppose I was destined to favor the peach, and peach flavors are indeed some of my favorite fruitier blends of flavored black teas and herbal teas.

This Wyler's mix tasted great, and I mixed it up with my Dasani right there in the Dollar General parking lot. (Hey, we take our tea fix where we can get it, right?) It's the only new flavor of such tea I've come across this summer. Have any of you tried any new flavors of these tea mixes lately? I'd love to have something new to be on the lookout for!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Handwritten Recipes" by Michael Popek

Since many of you love to cook as much as I do, I wanted to share a unique and fun cookbook I came across, "Handwritten Recipes" by Michael Popek. The book is subtitled "A Bookseller's Collection of Curious and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages," and indeed the book shares some of the many recipes Popek has found inside the volumes at his family's used bookstore.

The handwritten recipes and memorabilia are a real treat for those of us who love to cook "vintage." On this spread opening the "Breads and Baked Goods" chapter, I enjoyed seeing this old trade card for Knapp's Good Food in Garberville, Calif. Do you suppose they were advertising their tea and/or coffee since the piece is teacup-shaped?

The book has lots of recipes that sound good, including a Cranberry Nut Bread Ring made with a cup of cranberry-orange relish, which sounds fun for fall baking, and this Dutch Apple Cake, whose recipe was tucked inside "The Wartime Cook Book" by Alice Bradley (1943). Interestingly, not all the recipes were found inside cookbooks. A Potato Soup recipe was found inside a copy of Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage," and a recipe for Harvest Loaf was found inside Tami Hoag's mystery "Guilty as Sin." Do you tuck recipes inside books of any kind? I don't, but if the past is any indication maybe I should!

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's fragrant, free and smells like tea?

What's fragrant, free and smells like tea? Answer: the goodies I bought at T.J. Maxx with the $10 rewards certificate I recently got in the mail!

I like to use my rewards on tea treats, and this time the finds were both fragrant ones. First, this A La Maison de Provence Green Tea Hand & Body Lotion was on clearance for just $2. A great buy AND a great fragrance. Can't top that!

But what I really loved was this 1-ounce bottle of Elizabeth Arden's Green Tea Honeysuckle Eau de Toilette. Such a light, fresh fragrance, and at $7.99 the price was right. (Though "free" was even better!) And while there are honeysuckle blossoms on the front of the bottle, I love that on the back …

… there's a nice big tea leaf. If you're a fragrance lover as well, I thought you might want to know to look for these little treats for yourself!