Monday, January 30, 2017
And while I don't know what this particular plant is, the cutline says to fill a teacup with "any low-growing, cool-weather-loving alpine plant," so I guess I'll be researching that. Isn't it lovely how the little plant spills out of the teacup?
Friday, January 27, 2017
This tea contains organic hibiscus, organic rose hips, organic lemon verbena, organic purple tulsi, organic lemon myrtle and organic dandelion leaf. It's a refreshing herbal blend that tastes like a nice marriage of citrus and berries (from the rose hips, maybe), and I'm enjoying it as a lovely change from all the mint and oolong teas I've been sipping lately.
And in honor of the new "Victoria" series on PBS, I reached for a teacup I've neglected for a while, one I bought in the gift shop at Windsor Castle a few years ago. The pattern comes from a Minton dessert stand purchased by Queen Victoria at The Great Exhibition in 1851, and I think it's a dandy teacup to use for my "Victoria" viewing this winter!
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
So are you watching "Victoria" on PBS? I missed the first episode but caught up online and then watched it on TV Sunday night. Count me in! I had actually started rewatching my old "Downton Abbey" DVDs the other weekend, but then I realized "Victoria" was in progress and knew I wanted to watch.
Queen Victoria is well worth studying, and some years ago, I read a terrific biography of her (reviewed here with some Queen Victoria tea-related tidbits from the book). The show is, of course, as lavish and spectacularly filmed as I hoped it would be.
And I noted on the PBS site that they confirmed it was indeed John Brown who "taught Victoria how to put a nip of Scotch in her tea."
If you haven't yet watched the show, click here to see a preview … and grab a cup of tea because you'll be hooked!
Monday, January 23, 2017
Over the weekend, I tried her recipe, and I was thrilled with how easy and delicious it was. And just three ingredients! If you'd like an afternoon treat of shortbread with your tea this week, I highly recommend this recipe.
Brown Sugar Shortbread
1 cup softened butter (no substitutions)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. (I used a hand mixer.) Gradually stir in flour. When blended, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead till smooth, about 3 minutes. I used a rolling pin that flattens the dough into a perfect 3/8-inch thickness and cut out cookies with a small teapot cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet, prick with a fork, and bake for 25 minutes, just until bottoms are beginning to brown. Yields about 40 (2-inch) cookies. And as Sandy noted on her recipe card, they are indeed quite yummy!
Friday, January 20, 2017
I am making it a point to check the Library of Congress website periodically to be sure I don't miss any new additions to their collection of tea-related photos. This week, I came across one I'd not seen before, a 1931 image titled "Tea for three at three aboard the Detroit Mackinac Chicago boat." Now I wish the photographer hadn't chopped the shoes off the lady at far left, but I sure enjoyed seeing all these great clothes as well as the shoes on ladies number two and three.
When I see a vintage photo like this, I am always tempted to make up a story to go along with it. Who were these ladies, and why were they taking tea together on this boat? And who is the little boy standing behind the woman seated at right? Her son? Her nephew? Her charge?
And more important, what brand of tea were they sipping? I love seeing vintage photos of women together, and I hope you do as well!
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Years ago, one of my Christmas gifts from my mother was some pink Depression glass plates I had wanted in the Old Colony (also known as Lace Edged) pattern. I opened the box, thanked her for the pretty pink plates, and set the box aside again until months later when I actually unpacked the paper-wrapped plates to use them for something. I knew the box was heavy, but hey, Depression glass weighed a lot, so I didn't think too much of it. Until I unwrapped all the pink plates and found there were eight more plates in the box, these Craftsman Dinnerware Primuline plates from Homer Laughlin! I thought they were pretty, and it was like getting a gift all over again, but I never actually pulled these out to use them until last week. I added some pink glasses, napkins in teapot napkin rings, and some smaller pink glass plates that sat atop the Primuline plates.
Monday, January 16, 2017
The first one says "You wash, I'll dry," and the second one sports an all-over teacup and bowl design in a cheery palette. If you'd like to win them, just leave an "Enter me" to this comment before Friday, January 20, at 7 a.m. and you'll be entered to win. (US and Canada only, please.) Good luck!
Friday, January 13, 2017
Deb and I became friends not long after she called me at the newspaper one day to see whether I might be able to help her find a nurse for Kevin Costner. He was in the area to film the 1994 movie "The War," which was set in rural Mississippi in the early seventies, and apparently he needed someone who'd been a nurse in the sixties who would know how to bandage him accurately for one of his scenes. Deb was doing some PR work with the movie back then and was asked to find a nurse, and she knew the people in a small-town newsroom might know a good one. So I asked around in the newsroom, one of my friends mentioned our retired-nurse friend Harriet, and of course she was *thrilled* to be asked to visit with Kevin Costner and see about bandaging him! Who wouldn't have been? As a thanks for my minuscule role in all this, my new friend Deb, who I'd known only by reputation, got me onto the set one day, so I got to stand around and drool over the romantic hunk—along with all the other women.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Are your taste buds ever influenced by something you've read? Mine sure are. A few years ago, I was reading a book that mentioned barbecue, and before I knew it, I was suggesting to my husband that we go out for barbecue for supper. I don't even really like barbecue! But I do like tea, so when I read that new tea book over the weekend, two types of tea I hadn't had in a while moved into the forefront of my thoughts: oolong (I promptly went to my tea stash and found one) and rooibos tea, which I have very little of at the moment. So when I saw this darling tin of Tealia's Caramel Rooibos at HomeGoods yesterday, it truly met a need. (Or at least a serious want.)
I must confess the cute tin was one factor. The tea was only $5.99, which was a good price, but they also had some other great brands of tea, as well as some of those pretty Wedgwood tins of tea. But a well-designed graphic gets me every time, and this tin of tea was the winner.
The caramel tea, by the way, is just delicious. It's sweet and caramelish and had that classic rooibos taste I was expecting, so I was very pleased with my purchase. So tell me, have you ever read about a food and then had to find that food to eat or drink?
Monday, January 9, 2017
Part One focuses on Tea Basics and covers such topics as the tea plant, varieties of tea, and grading of tea. Two entire pages of this section are dedicated to "The Chemistry of Tea," a level of detail I was pleased to find. Part Two, Tea Brewing and Drinking, includes information on brewing basics, tea tools, buying and storing tea, and the health benefits of tea. One particularly helpful item in this section is the "tasting wheel" that gave me some new names for those tea tastes I am not that great at describing. With this new tool at my fingertips, perhaps I can increase my tea vocabulary when I'm reviewing teas this year. Part Three is on Tea Blending, which I'm not interested in exploring, but if you are, there are plenty of tips to get you going.
Part Four, almost half the book, is on The World of Tea, and it's here that this book really finds its value in the tea library. This section includes a vast amount of info on the tea-producing countries, and it was fascinating to read, for instance, that Sri Lanka exports 94 percent of the tea it grows, "the largest percentage in the world." Who consumes the most tea? I've always heard that the Irish do, but Smith says that the people of Turkey actually consume the most tea—on average, more than 10 cups each day. And while I knew that Kenya was a tea-producing country in Africa, I did not realize that Kenya leads the world in exports of CTC (crush-tear-curl) black tea "and makes up 22 percent of the world's exports of tea." The book doesn't include footnotes or a bibliography, but anyone willing to do a little digging should be able to further research any of these topics that inspire—and they will.
The photography in this book is often stunning. Tea fields are a beautiful sight in and of themselves, but to see them at spots around the world is a joy. So are the photos of clay teapots for sale at a market in Hong Kong, a modern tea picker in Sri Lanka, and one of my favorites, that highly decorated teahouse in Iran. I spent several minutes gazing at this photo and trying to identify all the props hanging from the ceiling alone: lamps and globes and prisms and teapots and random glassware and … well, I'll save some of the examining for you. If you're looking for a new book to educate, enlighten, and entertain you about tea, World Atlas of Tea should do the trick.
Friday, January 6, 2017
here.) So if I'm snowed in with my books and tea this weekend, I believe we shall get along just splendidly.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
And you'll notice that I like to talk about "goals" and not "resolutions." I've never been very good at keeping resolutions, but I am actually pretty good at reaching goals, especially if I write them down. So you want to know what my tea goals are for the year? They're very simple (some of you may laugh), but with the busy life I've had this past year, if I accomplish all of these, I'll be quite satisfied. They are:
• Drink more green tea. (I'm aiming to "drink green" at least every other day.)
• Visit at least two new tearooms. (There aren't very many in my area of Georgia anymore, so this will involve some planning.)
• Host a tea for a friend or friends at least quarterly. (I miss doing this and am going to make it a priority item for 2017.)
So there you go! Do you have resolutions and/or goals for the new year? If so, do you have any "tea goals" you can share? I'd love to hear them!
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
In case some readers didn't see my post a few weeks ago, I am now on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday blogging schedule here at Tea With Friends.
Today launches my new writing blog, The Writer's Junk Drawer, which appears on Tuesday and Thursday, and you can find it here.
And if you're interested in writerly and bookish stuff, you can follow me by "Liking" my "Angela McRae—Writer" page on Facebook here. Thanks!