Friday, September 29, 2017

The coolest tea sample ever - Part Two!

Last week, I wrote about this unique tea sample I received from Teavivre, their Xinhui Green Mandarin Orange Ripened Pu-erh. After I read online that I could brew the entire dried orange full of tea, I had to give that a try as well!

Some of the tea leaves immediately floated out of the orange, which wasn't a surprise since I had loosened them last week. But I was curious to see whether the tea would indeed steep from its tightly packed home inside of the dried orange, and the answer is yes! I still think this is one of the most creative tea presentation ideas ever, and I'm so happy Teavivre shared this tea with me! (Still delicious, by the way. If you've been hesitant to sample a puerh, this would be a fun one to try.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Siegel-Cooper Afternoon Tea Menu from 1906

I read something recently about the New York Public Library, and that reminded me that I'd been meaning to explore some of the old tea menus in their digital collection that's now available online. Siegel-Cooper in New York is a store I'm not familiar with, but looking at one of their 1906 menus certainly makes me want to know more. I learned that the store opened in 1887 and closed in just 1917 after merging with B. Altman. It served as a military hospital during WWI, and the building was later renovated for new retail use. Today it's the home of Bed, Bath & Beyond, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, which is sort of a nice footnote to one of the old department stores.

I found it curious that on Oct. 12, 1906, all the specials featured oysters: oyster sandwich, oyster stew, oyster pie, and oyster fry.

I love all the pie choices (everything from apple to rhubarb), the pastry and dessert choices (lady fingers and napoleans always seem like a good idea), and I was especially impressed by the "fragrant teas" on offer.

This scan is not the clearest, but as you can probably make out, the "fragrant teas" included Young Hyson, English Breakfast, Formosa Oolong, Basket Fired Japan, India, and Ceylon. For some reason, I'm surprised that so many teas were available in 1906. Are you? At any rate, wouldn't it have been nice to dine there and enjoy a ten-cent pot of tea!

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Taste of Fall

The week of Hurricane Irma, temperatures here dipped to the sixties and seventies, and I just knew fall was here to stay. Last week, it was back to the nineties, typical for Georgia at this time of year, so over the weekend, I decided I'd just have to get a "taste of fall" in another manner. And since I had to run in Walmart for a few things, I decided to check out the fall home goods, and that's where I found this cheerful new "Happy Fall" mug for just $2.48. (I've been wanting a mug that says "Happy Fall, Y'all," but I have yet to see one with the comma between "Fall" and "Y'all," and since I'm a grammar geek, it would drive me nuts to have to look at a grammar error every time I sipped out of it. This "Happy Fall" one avoids that problem and will serve nicely.)

And while I love Walmart, I don't go in there often simply because it takes so long to go through the store! When I do hit a Walmart, however, I usually take my time and browse the home goods section, the office supply section (always need pens and paper), and of course the tea aisle. Now, did you know Walmart sold Harney tea? I don't think I did, and when I saw this tin of Hot Cinnamon Sunset tea for just $5.48, I grabbed it!
A few times over the years, friends have shared samples of this tea with me, but I don't believe I've ever purchased a tin of it for myself. I thought this was the tea that tasted like liquid red hot cinnamon candies, and when I got home, I was thrilled to discover that yes, this was the one! So while the calendar says it's fall, the weather outside does not, but at least my tea cabinet is looking and tasting a little more like fall. What about you? What's in your cup these days?

Friday, September 22, 2017

The coolest tea sample ever!

When Teavivre sends me samples to try, I like to space them out over time and not sip them all at once. That gives me something to look forward to, and I learn a little restraint in the process. This little sample packet had a nice fat bulge in the middle, so I had assumed the puerh inside would be one of those balls of tea I'd have to break apart with my puerh knife. This week, I decided it was time to give it a try.

The wrapped ball looked like this, and since this tea was their Xinhui Green Mandarin Orange Ripened Pu-erh Tea, I assume the graphics were of an orange, and maybe I'd see some orange peel mixed in with the loose tea. Is that what you would have assumed?

Well, you would have been wrong. When it says "Mandarin Orange Ripened," it means it was ripened *in* a mandarin orange. HOW COOL IS THAT? (Sorry, don't mean to shout, but I thought this was absolutely amazing!) I detected the citrusy scent as soon as I opened the silver foil packet, and the citrus scent was quite pronounced when I opened this dried orange with the puerh tea inside.

Here's what some of the tea leaf looks like. I liked puerh already, but I loved this orange-scented puerh. It had a great softening effect on the tea, resulting in an exceptionally smooth and less "earthy" tasting puerh. Simply brilliant! Later, I went online and learned that I can also infuse the entire orange full of tea and "the tea texture will be soaked out of the peel." I think I want to enjoy another cup or two of the loose tea first, but when I soak the whole orange in hot water, I'll be sure to post photos of the result. It ought to be interesting!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Two little girls at tea …

Oh, some of these old Library of Congress photos make me laugh! This one is adorable not only because of the little girls at tea but because of their expressions. What do you think they're saying and thinking? I think the little girl on the left is saying something like, "Hey, do you know why the chicken crossed the road?" And the little girl on the right is thinking, "If I have to listen to one more of your lame jokes, I may go cross that road myself."

The little girl on the right looks kind of bored and cranky, which of course makes me like her best. What about you? What do you think is going on in this photo?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The winner of the Tiesta Tea is ...

Robin Coxon! Robin, I've just sent you an email so that you can send me your mailing address, and I'll get this tea headed your way shortly. Congrats!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Some delightful and dainty new finds

My weekend visits to T.J. Maxx and Marshalls didn't turn up any good teawares, but the Douglasville Goodwill store produced two of the most charming (and thrifty) pieces I've found in a while!

First, I spotted this adorable little lacy bowl on the Christmas aisle, but when I saw how delicate it was, I just knew it had to be plastic. Nothing that fragile could have survived on the shelf at Goodwill, could it?

It was marked on the back "Iris 1922 Fine Porcelain Cluj-Napoca." So yes, porcelain! (And for $1.91!)

I ran my fingers around the edges about a hundred times, but I couldn't find one flaw or one break in the lines of this piece. Amazing! (And check out a similar piece that sold on eBay a few years ago. Wow! If anyone wants mine for $163, I'll bet we can make a deal.)

That would have made me happy enough, but then I found this! Many of you know that I collect Santa mugs and sip my tea out of them over Christmas, and I generally forego the snowman mugs (that would be a whole 'nuther collection), but something about this one caught my eye. This little fellow's expression looked so familiar, and when I turned it over, I found …

It is a mug of a snowman character from one of Jan Karon's beloved Mitford books! I came to those books late, long after everyone else had been reading them, and didn't learn about these collectibles until it was too late to buy them. Today, I will certainly scoop up any thrift store goodies I ever come across that are related to the Mitford books, which I read over and over again because they're an absolute pleasure to read and incredibly uplifting. So it was definitely a good day at Goodwill. Have you found any fun thrifted treasures lately?

Friday, September 15, 2017

September Giveaway: Nutty Almond Cream Tea

I start to get antsy if I haven't found a tea giveaway by the middle of the month, so I was delighted to come across one of my favorite new teas on sale this week and decided this would make a great fall giveaway. It's an apple cinnamon herbal tea from Tiesta Tea called Nutty Almond Cream. I say it tastes like a Krispy Kreme doughnut, but others insist it tastes like a cinnamon roll. Either is fine by me, and I hope that it sounds tempting to one of you!

If you'd like to be entered, just leave an "Enter me" to this post by Tuesday, September 19, at 7 a.m. and you'll be entered to win. US and Canada only, please. (And the teacup is not included since it was a gift from a friend!) Good luck!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Zhena's fall teas: The giveaway that wasn't

Friends, I have been looking for something fun for a fall giveaway, but so far it has eluded me. On Saturday, I was at T.J. Maxx when I came across these stackable tins of Zhena's teas, and I thought oh boy, this is it! With Pumpkin Spice, Caramel Apple, Chocolate Truffle, and Cranberry Bliss, what could be more perfect, right? Alas, I found only one set of the tins, and I selfishly decided to enjoy it for myself. On Sunday afternoon, I heated water in my electric tea kettle, plucked a tea bag from one of the tins (there were only 16 tea bags total, I discovered), and prepared to enjoy the flavors of fall.

But the Pumpkin Spice tea didn't taste very pumpkiny. It tasted like a so-so tea with a little cinnamon in it. Then I tried the Caramel Apple, and it tasted just as weak. Huh.

Later in the week, I tried the Chocolate Truffle. It was okay and did taste a little chocolatey. The Cranberry Bliss had a fairly fruity flavor, but compared to Zhena's teas I've enjoyed in the past, these weren't nearly as tasty. So the good news, I guess, is that I got stuck with them instead of one of you. I checked on the tin and the teas don't expire until 2019, so I'm mystified about how I ended up with such weak tea. Just an FYI in case, like me, you're at T.J. Maxx and lured by these flavors!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Storm prep, tea-lover style

By the time this post appears online, Georgia is expected to be deluged with rain and increasing winds from Hurricane Irma, so I would appreciate prayers for our safety (and ongoing electricity!) during this storm. I do have my stovetop teakettle ready because our gas stove can still heat water in the event of a power outage. Saturday, though, was a beautiful, sunny day, and while I was out shopping, I came across a new magazine I wanted to share with you, Celebrating Everyday Life by Country Sampler. Now I don't believe I've ever purchased Country Sampler because my own decorating style is more traditional and void of any rustic touches, but this issue wasn't what I'd consider "country" at all!

For one thing, I give them points for creating what is actually a *pretty* Halloween-type display that could easily be tweaked for lots of fall occasions, with its whimsical color palette and the miniature pumpkins strewn about.

There are some yummy-sounding recipes to try (Pumpkin Soup, Chocolate Orange Babka Loaf), and I was quite smitten by this red transferware Christmas tablescape too.

The magazine features a lifestyle expert I've never heard of before, Jennifer Carroll (do you know this name?), but I sure like her styling as seen in this magazine. If you like to pick up new magazines each fall and Christmas, this is a great one to add!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Chocolate Chai from Adagio Teas

I've sipped gallons of iced tea over the past few months, and when temperatures dipped just a wee bit this week, I immediately started thinking about fall teas. I remembered one I'd been waiting to try, this new Chocolate Chai sample I was fortunate to receive as a gift from Adagio Teas.

Spice teas are some of the ones I most enjoy sipping each fall, and this one has the flavors of masala chai — black tea, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon — combined with the rich taste of chocolate. Even the loose tea has those pretty golden colors of fall that I'm starting to see on the trees.

And the taste? It was exactly what I'd hoped it would be, a rich, spicy tea that was equal parts chocolate and delicious spices. I'm pretty sure I've found a new fall favorite!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"A Cup of Tea?" by Eric LaBranche and Margaret Anne Suggs

While there are lots of tea-themed picture books about little girls, I came across one on the NetGalley review site recently that stars a young boy and would be perfect for the little guys in our lives whom we're trying to introduce to tea. A rhyming picture book translated from Dutch, A Cup of Tea? is the sweet story of a little boy who is trying to get his parents to play with him. First, his mother comes home from work and he's hoping she'll play with him, but she wants "a nice cup of tea" first. His aunt comes over to visit his mother, and she, too, wants to sit and enjoy a cup of tea.

Finally Daddy comes home from work, and the little boy just knows fun time is about to begin. Alas, Daddy, too, needs "a nice cup of tea." The creative little boy decides to set up a late-night tea party for his parents, but alas, he forgets to make the tea! All's well that ends well, though, as the boy's parents tell him, "instead of having just a plain cup of tea, they said that they'd rather have a special 'cup of me'!"

The book's whimsical illustrations are pleasing on their own, but they are also interspersed with tea dribbles and stains, making an already charming picture book even more so. A Cup of Tea? will be published on October 16, and I think it will appeal to quite a few tea lovers!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Colors and "Tea Leaves"

While I have great appreciation for black-and-white images, I came across both color and black-and-white images of some artwork that surprised me this week. As I often do, I was researching tea images on the Library of Congress website when I found the image at left, a photograph of a painting by William McGregor Paxton titled "Tea Leaves."

The painting is lovely, isn't it? But because of the black and white colors of the photograph, I had a hard time distinguishing some of the objects in the photo. The bottom of the teapot, for instance, almost looks clear to me in this image. And then, like Dorothy stepping into Oz, I discovered  …

The colorized version! (Thank you, Metropolitan Museum of Art.) And wow, is this a different scene! Viewing the oil on canvas painting in color, I'm noticing the silver teapot, the ruffles of the redhead's dress, the lemons in the bowl in the foreground (I hadn't regarded them before), and the wrap or drape or whatever that is across the chair on the left. Does this color image grab you as much as it did me?