Friday, June 30, 2017

A saucer from Miss Ellie

There are worse things I could be known for than my love of dishes, I suppose. Not long ago, I was sitting in the early morning service at church when one of our sweet older ladies, Miss Ellie, passed along a ziplock bag with something wrapped in tissue. It was this lusterware saucer, and she wanted me to have it, she said. Since she is in her nineties, I think it's safe to assume this piece is quite vintage!

I told her I was thrilled to receive this piece of lusterware, and that now brings my "collection" up to exactly three pieces. "Lusterware" is the name for this pottery with an iridescent metallic sheen, and I love to hold it up in the light and see the pink design turn into almost a coppery looking finish.

My other two pieces are a cup and saucer I found at an antique mall in Asheville, North Carolina ten years ago. I think lusterware is gorgeous and have even considered collecting it a time or two, but it's a pricey thing to collect, and my cup already runneth over, collecting-wise. Instead, I was surprised by a saucer from a dear friend, and I'm happy to think my small collection is now complete. Do any of you collect lusterware? If so, I'd love to hear about your collection!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

July/August 2017 Tea Time Magazine

It finally dawned on me that the reason my new issue of Tea Time hadn't arrived was that I'd let my subscription expire. When I realized that, I headed to the store to get a copy before the new issue sold out. The teawares on the cover this time are exceptionally pretty, and I was surprised to learn the maker is the very affordable Grace China, a brand I know many of us have purchased at our local T.J. Maxx.

I enjoy reading the page in each issue that focuses on a particular tea. I thought it was quite fitting that the article on oolongs featured all blue teacups. I appreciate that Tea Time includes the name of the teacup pattern right there with each variety. Saves me from having to look it up!

And much as I enjoy finding new teawares, I guess I'll always have a fondness for the vintage ones, so I was pleased to see this Royal Albert Moss Rose pattern featured in a spread on a Simply Summertime tea. If you've got your new issue of Tea Time, which features did you like best?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Not all the tea in China, but some of it!

Last week I had dinner with a friend I haven't seen in a while, and she showed up at the restaurant with an elegant looking red bag. I asked if it held wedding materials (she's busy planning her wedding at the moment), and she said, "No, it's for you. It's tea. From China."

Turns out, her boss had recently taken a trip to China, and he brought back goodies for the whole team. "Don't you like tea?" he asked.

She told him that she did and thanked him for the tea, but she said she knows that I love tea and she thought I should have it because it was so different. Lucky me!

The tins are large, about 6-1/2 by 5 inches, and naturally this is a tea I've never tried before. Of course, I can't read the wording on here. Do any of you happen to read Chinese? Or know someone who does? I'd love to get a translation. In fact, I looked online and found this website, but I couldn't quite find the exact symbols I'm seeing here.

I'm assuming it's a black tea because of the brisk, bold (but not too astringent) flavor and the coppery color of the brew, and maybe there's some Yunnan tea in the mix because of these golden leaves scattered throughout. I very much enjoyed this new mystery tea and so appreciate my friend's passing it on. The gift was such a lovely and delicious one, and because there's so much of this tea, I imagine I'll be sipping it for quite a while to come!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The vintage teacup winner is ...

Barbara C.! And Barbara (also known as Travelgirl16), I've sent you an email asking for your snail mail address so I can get the teacup headed your way. Congrats, and thanks to all who entered!

Tea and Pearls

I love pearls, the creamy white ones featured in jewelry, so it's probably no surprise that I was inclined to like any tea with "pearls" in the name. I've had green tea pearls that usually have a name like "Jasmine Dragon Pearls," and the latest "pearls" I've tried are these Black Dragon Pearls.

These pearls were in a sample I recently received for review from Adagio Teas. I find them similar to the jasmine-scented tea pearls, only they're much larger.

While jasmine pearls are what I would call pea sized, these are almost dime sized.

Of course, once the tea is steeped and the leaves unfurl, the steeped tea leaves are pretty indistinguishable from any other tea leaves. Aside from the novelty of tea pearls, I want to be sure to mention that the tea was quite tasty as well. When I saw the golden leaves in the pearls, I wasn't surprised to learn that this tea hails from Yunnan province. The tea had a pleasantly brisk and faintly earthy taste, and I greatly enjoyed trying on these new pearls, you might say! If you'd like to read more about this tea, click here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sampling some puerhs from Teaspec

I recently received some great puerh tea samples from Teaspec. I received samples of both the raw puerh and the ripe puerh.

This was the raw puerh, which had a lighter color (and it was a rainy gray day, so the color inside is a little off).

And the ripe puerh had the dark copper color I associate with puerhs. Both teas had that musky-earthy flavor so indicative of these "fermented" teas, and I liked them both, but I liked the ripe puerh best because it seemed stronger and yet smooth. According to the company, "Our teas are aged in Malaysia because it is widely acknowledged that Malaysian aged Pu'er is more sought after over Pu'er stored in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or elsewhere. This tea has matured like a much older vintage because it has been aged in Malaysia under the most ideal natural environment." I liked puerh tea (and I spell it "puerh") from the moment I first tried it, but I understand that it is not a favorite of all tea drinkers. If you happen to be a puerh fan, do you prefer raw or ripe puerhs — or does it matter? I'd love to know! (And you can click here to learn more about Teaspec.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

June Giveaway: A vintage footed teacup

Have y'all found any cute tea stuff in stores lately? I haven't. If you have, please send me a link or a photo or something for inspiration, because my search for a new item for a June giveaway came up short. And since that was the case, I decided to give away something many of us love, a vintage footed teacup with roses on it! There's no back stamp, and I have no idea where or when I got this teacup, but I have several similar ones and think the ornate handle is just so lovely.

If you'd like to be entered to win, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. Friday, June 23, and you'll be entered to win.  US residents only, please. Also, you must include a way for me to contact you if you're the winner, and you can list your email this way if you wish: angelamcrae at charter dot net.  Good luck!

Friday, June 16, 2017

"Ultra Select Dishes for Afternoon Teas," 1913

My latest find on the Library of Congress website is an old cookbook I'd not heard of before, Ultra Select Dishes for Afternoon Teas by the "World Famous Chefs" of the United States, Canada, and Europe. It's copyright 1913 and was compiled and edited by A.C. Hoff.

Even the title page is lovely and so representative of its era.

I always like to learn what the cooks of yesteryear considered "fancy" sandwiches for tea. It's also interesting to see that the book recommends using wet napkins to keep sandwiches fresh, a trick we still use today (but with waxed paper in between them and the sandwiches to keep the sandwiches from getting soggy). I'm not sure I would have cared for the "Scraped Chicken Sandwich" very much, though!

I noted that the "Chicken Salad Palace," containing chicken, celery, mayonnaise, and bread, sounds quite similar to a simple chicken salad of today. It's always fun to see old recipes, and I so enjoy finding them on the Library of Congress website. Click here to view this book for yourself.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Adagio's Casablanca Twist Green Tea

I drink both hot tea and iced tea all year long, but this week, I decided to try one of the samples Adagio Teas provided me with earlier this year, their Casablanca Twist Green Tea.

Casablanca Twist is a blend of Darjeeling tea and peppermint, a combination I don't believe I've ever seen before.

Now I love peppermint teas, both hot and cold. I first sampled this tea hot, and I enjoyed its clean, fresh, minty taste. But then I tried it iced and loved it even more! Some teas seem to wimp out when ice is added to them, but this tea, if anything, had a more intense flavor when iced. And even though I do still drink a fair amount of hot tea, I know I've been drinking much more iced tea now that warmer days have arrived. What about you? Do you sip more iced tea or a mix of both hot and iced?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sweet-Tea-with-Lemon Cake

Last week I saw a magazine recipe on Facebook for a cake said to taste like sweet tea and lemonade. That certainly appealed to me, so I purchased the ingredients I needed for the cake and got ready to bake. Fortunately, just before I was about to head to the kitchen, I noted the reviews for the cake, which were abnormally low with lots of 1- and 2-star ratings. Apparently the cake was turning out too dry for lots of people, and some even found it inedible. Ruh-roh, as Scooby Doo would say!

I really liked the idea of a cake with the flavors of sweet tea and lemon, though, so I searched through vanilla cake recipes and thought about what works well in the cakes I like best. I decided to experiment with flavoring the cake batter with tea, and here’s the result, a dessert that made me happy (the cake was not dry!), and my husband said, “That one’s a keeper. Save that recipe.” So I am.

Sweet-Tea-with-Lemon Cake

1 cup whole milk
3 teaspoons loose black tea (or substitute tea bags)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Heat the milk on high in the microwave for 2 minutes, add the tea leaves, and steep tea for five minutes before removing from milk. (I used a paper tea filter for steeping the tea.) Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, add sugar, and combine. Add the oil and vanilla and combine well. Using a hand mixer, slowly add the dry ingredients alternately with the tea-infused milk. Pour batter into the pan, and  bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

Frost cake with your favorite cream cheese icing recipe and flavor with lemon flavoring or fresh lemon juice, adjusting the amount of flavoring or juice to taste. (Here’s the recipe I used.)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Doilies, "Death," and Dollar Tree

Did you know that you can get a variety pack of doilies for just $1? I recently discovered these lovely rose design paper doilies at Dollar Tree, and the package of 32 includes eight each of the 6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch doilies. Nice!

Do all paper doilies have roses on them? I haven't paid attention! I just know that I was fresh out of doilies and decided the price was definitely right on these.

And of course I am simply incapable of walking past those $1 books, and would you look at some of my recent cozy mystery finds! Death of a Cupcake Queen by Lee Hollis, and from our beloved tea shop mystery author Laura Childs, books from her two other cozy mystery series, Gilt Trip, a scrapbooking mystery, and Eggs in a Casket, a Cackleberry Club mystery. I think I'm set for a while!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wanted: The Perfect Pattern for The Sacred Fabric

Back in April, I wrote about my quest for some Susan Winget Tea Time fabric. Shortly thereafter, two kind readers very generously sent me a total of two yards of the fabric, precisely the amount I was looking for. Within the next month, I acquired two companion fabrics from the same Susan Winget collection, a simple blue solid (found at Jo-Ann crafts store) and a teacup-and-text pattern fabric (found on eBay).

And now, my problem is that I don't want to cut this lovely fabric with the teacups and handwriting on it! I now think of this particular stash as The Sacred Fabric. I have spent the better part of a month scouring every quilt catalog I can find for a simple pattern that will let me spotlight this wonderful print. The only contenders that I've found acceptable are here and here. (And the more I look at it, the second one makes me fear the pieces are still too small to feature the print.)

My challenge is, I don't want to cut The Sacred Fabric into too-small pieces. The two fabrics I found on my own, including this one, well, I'm willing to chop those into tiny squares if necessary, but The Sacred Fabric can't be purchased anymore, so the perfect pattern must be found before I take a stitch. If any of you quilters or sewing friends have ideas for where to find quilt patterns that showcase large-print fabrics, I'd be much obliged if you would share! At least every other day I find myself walking by and "petting" The Sacred Fabric (it's that pretty), and I probably need to think about cutting it before I just give up and pin the fabric to my walls!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Teatime treats from a trip to North Carolina

Last weekend I was in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the annual Red Adept Publishing party, and I once again squeezed in a visit to the wonderful Tin Roof Teas! This is my third year to stop by while I'm in town for the party, and oh, how I wish I had one of these stores back home. They have a huge variety of all kinds of great teas, and with teawares, tea samplers, sugars, strainers, infusers, and oh so much more, it's all deliciously overwhelming.

What I came home with this time was a beautiful new turquoise tea mug (sigh; I was trying to cut down) and one of the teas featured in a display, the Peachy Green Rooibos, which includes peach pieces and sunflower blossoms. It's as pretty as it is tasty! I got the fresh-juicy-peach flavor I was hoping for, and I also like the fact that rooibos is a low-maintenance sort of tea to prepare. I can wander off for 5-8 minutes instead of hovering nearby for the 2-4 minutes at which I usually prefer to steep my green and black teas.

And doesn't this sign just say it all? I so agree!

Friday, June 2, 2017

American Red Cross nurses at tea, 1918

Had I planned better, I would have shared this photo last month during National Nurses Week! This is one of the latest tea-related vintage photos I've found on the Library of Congress website, and this one is by photographer Lewis Wickes Hine and was created on June 25, 1918. The title is "How many Lumps? Afternoon tea in the American Red Cross Nurses' Rest Room in an American Hospital."

This image was taken at the hospital in the town of Chaumont, France, which was the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Must say I was rather delighted to come across a teatime photo of nurses who were actually serving during wartime!

To read more about the American National Red Cross photograph collection at the Library of Congress, click here.