I am a little nervous writing about Michigan's tea connections because the expert on all things tea in Michigan is my friend Phyllis of the Relevant Tea Leaf blog. In fact, I started to just post the link to her blog and say, "This." But that would be cheating, wouldn't it? So instead, here are my votes for three important things to know about tea and Michigan!
• You can't mention Michigan without thinking of the automobile industry there. Since my dad is retired from Ford Motor Company, I have a strong loyalty to Ford, and that's the only brand of car I've ever owned. (It helps that I've always gotten that nice family discount, but I would buy Fords even if I didn't.) I knew I remembered from reading Phyllis's blog that Clara Ford, the wife of Ford founder Henry Ford of Dearborn, Michigan, was a fan of teatime, and I found this picture of her online. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Clara's birth, and a number of anniversary teas and other events have been scheduled in honor of the occasion. In Ford R. Bryan's book "Clara: Mrs. Henry Ford," there are numerous references to Clara taking tea. She had tea with friends, she had tea before going to a concert, and in 1927, after she became president of the Woman's National Farm and Garden Association, she held a tea for 34 women at an inn. The most exciting tea tidbit I read in the book excerpt was that in April of 1928, Henry Ford was the guest of honor at a dinner given by the American Society in London, and "the Fords met King George and Queen Mary for tea at the home of Lady Astor the next day." Here's a great blog post from Phyllis in which she writes more about Henry and Clara Ford.
• I wondered if anyone was currently growing tea in Michigan, and a search led me to the internet home page of Light of Day Organics in Traverse City. You may notice that it says at the top, "Michigan's Only Tea Farm." As I was looking over their website, I found a quote I absolutely loved about how they operate: "We wanted to make sure that taste wasn’t the only thing to feel good about. Ensuring the highest quality of tea for you and life for those who bring it to us is part of our mission. We honor all of those involved in bringing this extremely labor-intensive crop from the fields to our cup by paying everyone a proper living wage and encouraging the spiritual sacredness of the family unit and community with time off from work to recharge and to play in this beautiful area that we are blessed to call 'home.'" Loved reading how a mom named Angela (ahem!) started this company in 2003 and helps her customers make healthy lifestyle choices. You can click here to learn more about the tea farm.
• When I started collecting recipes from famous department stores years ago, I was happy to learn about Detroit's J. L. Hudson Department Store, which was known for its Mezzanine Tea Room and other eateries. And then I was beside myself to learn that the great Diana Ross once worked in the basement cafeteria at Hudson's and was, in fact, the first black bus girl there. That was actually quite fitting, since Detroit is also the home of Motown, the legendary record company founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959, where Diana Ross would soon find a recording home. Frankly, if you don't love Diana Ross and the Supremes, I'm not sure we can be friends. "Stop! In the Name of Love" and "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love" and "Come See About Me" still take me to a happy place inside my head. Now one of Hudson's signature recipes was their famous Maurice Salad. And while I haven't found any evidence that Diana Ross ever enjoyed a Maurice Salad (and neither can I say that she didn't), I can tell you that I've made these simple and delicious salads myself, and they are quite delicious. I suggest eating one while you listen to Diana Ross and the Supremes on Pandora. Here's the recipe if you care to look it o-o-ver.