Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Whittard of Chelsea's English Rose Tea

I'm a sucker for a prettily packaged tea, and I saw a new one at T.J. Maxx the other day that was just irresistible for a number of reasons, but largely because it was English Rose flavor!

I love the way the box is clasped, and since I've enjoyed the relatively few Whittard of Chelsea teas I've tried, I felt pretty confident in giving this one a try, especially for just $3.99 for 25 tea bags.

It's always a plus with me when tea bags are individually packaged, as these are. The great thing about this tea, however, was its smooth, light rose flavor! I've heard complaints that rose-flavored teas are too perfumey for some tea drinkers, and I get that. But this one was much more "black tea" than "rose," and the lovely combination is one I will happily look for again. I'm just curious, though … would you/do you drink rose-flavored tea? I'm wondering whether I'm in the minority in liking this tea!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Melville Candy's Lavender Honey Spoons

I like discovering new teas to try, and I also enjoy finding new tea accompaniments to try. This weekend, that meant some new flavored "honey spoons" to enjoy with tea!

I've seen these Melville Candy spoons at Barnes & Noble before, but at T.J. Maxx in Carrollton, I found these new Lavender Honey Spoons, and for just $3.99, much less than I seem to recall paying at B&N.

"Enjoy with tea," they say, and who could resist that? They also come in a few other flavors, but these are the ones that most appealed to me.

Each honey spoon is individually wrapped, which would make these great favors for tea parties or tea-themed goodie bags. I definitely tasted the honey and only a hint of lavender, but the combination was just lovely in my black tea. Have you tried any of the honey spoons yet? If so, what did you think of them?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Inigo Jones at tea

I had heard of Inigo Jones the famous English architect, the one who lived in the 1500s and 1600s, but I wasn't aware of the meteorologist Inigo Jones from Australia, who became famous for his long-range weather forecasts. I recently discovered a circa 1940 photo of the latter-day Inigo Jones on Flickr here, where he is shown having afternoon tea with his wife, Marion, and a very civilized dog who appears to be the guest of honor.

I'm impressed by the size of their teapot, and I wish they would have taken the cozy off for a second so I could see what it looks like!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Coming soon: New tea-themed novels

I'm trying to read more ebooks since the bookshelves at my house are groaning, but I will never stop adding new titles to my reading list on Goodreads. In fact, I've just started a list of tea-themed books to help me keep up with the new tea titles as I read them. Since I've learned that quite a few new tea-themed novels will be published this year (one of these is actually already out), I wanted to share a few titles that you may be interested in as well. And unless you absolutely hate a book, please don't forget that the nicest thing you can do for an author is leave a review!

Coming June 11, 2019: Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon

Sleuth Callie Aspen wants to light up the Fourth of July tea party by solving a celebrity’s decades-old disappearance, but her digging results in more fireworks than she expects.

Last Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart's Harbor, Maine. Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt’s vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue. Though she’s excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her. Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate key moments from the town's rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart's Harbor before she vanished—allegedly to elope—Callie probes the townsfolk for information. She’s stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica's disappearance. Did she intend to leave her hit TV series? Was she being stalked by her ex? And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the story at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer. But it’s no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn’t want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they’d been at liberty to admit. If Callie and the Book Tea crew can’t crack the case, they’ll pay a very steep price in Joy Avon's explosive second Tea and a Read mystery.

Coming March 5, 2019: Broken Bone China by Laura Childs

Theodosia Browning serves tea and solves crimes in Charleston, a city steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.

As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.

Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.

Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO's soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO's personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques' dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancée of one of Theodosia's dear friends, who turns out to be an employee—and whistle-blower—at SyncSoft?

Coming March 3, 2019: Rosie's Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Rosie Lewis has her life together. A swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.

That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he's had an affair.

Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.

Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found travelling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?

Coming February 26, 2019: No Good Tea Goes Unpunished by Bree Baker

Catering her childhood friend’s beachfront wedding was a dream come true for Everly Swan—and, with hundreds of guests in attendance, great exposure for her new iced tea shop and café. But when the well-to-do groom is found floating facedown in the surf, the locals of Charm, North Carolina turn their suspicions on his new bride. Could she have been so desperate to lay hands on his fortune that she arranged for his murder even before they set off on their honeymoon?

Everly knows her lovestruck friend couldn’t be behind the murder, but with clues pointing in several directions, she can’t decide which wedding guest is the most likely culprit. Meanwhile, the frustratingly handsome Detective Hays has made it clear that Everly should stay out of the investigation altogether. But with a killer on the loose and a feeling that someone is watching her café very closely, Everly knows that if she can’t solve this murder soon, her cake might be iced for good.

Coming January 31, 2019: The Tanglewood Tea Shop by Lilac Mills

Patisserie-Chef Stevie is stuck in a rut. Her beloved Great Aunt Peggy has passed away, she’s been fired from her job and the love of her life has walked out the door. But when she’s called to the solicitor’s office to hear the reading of Peggy’s will, Stevie’s life begins to change.

Left with a large amount of money, Stevie is determined to take Peggy’s advice and turn her life around. The quirky tea shop that she sees up for sale in the beautiful village of Tanglewood must be a sign, and Stevie can’t wait to make it her new home.

​But what happens after your dreams come true? It turns out that life in the village isn't as idyllic as it may have seemed. With local mums waging war against sugar, a tea shop and its patisserie-chef owner are definitely not welcome.

When the gorgeous but grouchy local stable-owner, Nick, shows up he seems like just another fly in the pastry batter but as the two grow closer, Stevie realises he might just be the perfect reason to stay and win over the village...

Released in November: The Secrets of the Tea Garden by Janet Macleod

She’s gone in search of happy memories. But was her idyllic childhood in India an illusion?

After the Second World War, Libby Robson leaves chilly England for India, and the childhood home where she left her heart—and her beloved father, James— fourteen years ago.

At first Libby is intoxicated by India’s vibrant beauty: the bustle of Calcutta, the lush tea gardens of Assam. But beneath the surface a rebellion is simmering: India is on the brink of Independence, and the days of British rule are numbered. As the owner of a tea plantation, James embodies the hated colonial regime, and Libby finds herself questioning her idealised memories—particularly when she meets the dashing freedom fighter Ghulam Khan.

As Independence looms, life in India becomes precarious for Libby, James and even Ghulam. And when James reveals a shameful family secret, Libby is forced to question her past—and her future.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Some fun finds from Tuesday Morning

A recent trip to Tuesday Morning proved fruitful, you might say. I ran across a new bone china tea mug I *needed* because it had type on it, and I also found some of those yummy fruit-flavored teas from Basilur. The mug caught my eye because of the pretty aqua color and the bird design.

Of course, I am a sucker for any tea ware that has type on it, so this qualified. And look at the date—200 years ago!

When I turned the mug over, I realized it may be the only tea mug I've ever seen that says Royal Horticultural Society. Cool!

Now, the Basilur brand of tea first came to my attention when a kind blog reader shared some with me.

The flavors are all quite tasty, and the packaging is lovely. So what teas are you all drinking here in late January? I'd love to hear!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Need a source for teatime graphics?

Thanks to a reader, Diane M., I found a great source for teatime images, and it's the Graphics Fairy's collection of teapot clip art. I quickly made the above graphic using, a graphic design site, and it took only seconds to make.

There are lots of pros and cons regarding our use of social media these days, but one thing I do believe is a benefit is that many of us have become much more comfortable creating our own graphics. I chuckle now when I look at old church program flyers where we had a rose and a "calligraphy" font and thought we were so fancy. And at the time, we were!

The next thing I'll be creating a graphic for, however, is a surprise party invitation for my Daddy's 80th birthday celebration next month, and since I'm planning to go with a golf theme, that will involve images of a very different sort of tee time!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Seeing Rock City … in a teacup!

I'm trying to be good and not acquire too many more teawares, but when my friend Brad sent word that he had some teacups to pass along, how could I resist? I love the retro style of this Rock City teacup and saucer, even though I haven't, to my recollection, ever actually been to "See Rock City," as the famous slogan goes. Located in Lookout Mountain, Rock City is just 2-1/2 hours away. Maybe that would make a nice spring getaway this year!

I also love that my friend, who is obviously a fan of Chick-fil-A, packaged this teacup creatively and turned their slogan on its head by saying "Drink more tea!" instead of "Eat more chicken!" I'm so touched that he thought I would enjoy this retro teacup—and I do!

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Herbery's Peach Mango Tea

After finishing up some Christmas teas and then switching to oolongs for a few days, I decided I'd have a fruity tea one afternoon and then discovered that I didn't have any. So when I saw a new variety of Peach Mango tea at T.J. Maxx over the weekend, I had to give it a try.

"The Herbery, Teas for Well-Being" is a new name in tea to me.

The box design is one of the loveliest I've seen (and contains ordinary white tea bags that are stringless, by the way). But while the box is a nice plus, it's the tea's taste that matters most, and I was delighted with the sweetness of the mango taste of this tea. It was the fruity switch-up I was hoping for, and the $3.99 price was quite reasonable.

This is also a great time of year to check out the after-Christmas clearance items, and I was looking for a small tube of hand cream that I can keep in my purse to combat dry skin this winter. This Crabtree & Evelyn set of three for $3 was just perfect, especially when I saw that one of the scents was "Spiced Earl Grey." It smells floral, not like Earl Grey tea, but I love the packaging and scent, and the hand cream provided just the moisture I was hoping for. If you need some hand cream too, you may want to check your T.J. Maxx clearance aisle for this attractively priced set.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The new Upton Tea Quarterly

Remember that old saying, "The best things in life are free"? I often find that to be the case, and in the world of tea and tea resources, I continue to be impressed that the Upton Tea Quarterly remains a free publication. The newest one is available online here, but I recently received a print copy in the mail and absolutely love the cover photo of tea gardens in Sri Lanka.

The cover feature is written by "Nicole P." and is titled "From Garden to Cup."

"My name is Nicole and tea is my life's passion," she says. "I have been in the tea business for over ten years and have spent the past three years at Upton Tea Imports. Working with my colleagues to source premium teas from all over the world is a dream come true for me." Her love for tea is obvious in the article, and I so enjoyed reading about her trip, particularly how:

• They watched as freshly plucked tea leaves were being weighed.

• At the Somerset Estate, her team got to "cup" tea with Sri Lanka's #1 award-winning tea cupper.

• She got to practice plucking two leaves and a bud, and it took her a couple of tries to get it right.

If you don't yet subscribe to the Upton Tea Quarterly, you're missing a great free resource!

Now, a show of hands, please. How many of us who have not yet been to India would love to go one day and see some of her famous tea gardens? I sure would!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Learning from Tea Time

I've gotten serious about curtailing the number of new books and magazines I bring into my house, so I have instituted a new rule for magazines: if they don't teach me at least three new things of interest, I'm not reading them anymore. Fortunately, Tea Time passed the test and probably will for quite a few issues to come.

In this January/February 2019 issue, there were several pieces I particularly enjoyed, including this column on teatime etiquette by Bruce Richardson. While I knew that he was from Kentucky, I did not know that Mr. Teatime was originally a farm boy!

This Ralph Lauren "Patchwork" teapot in a new-to-me pattern definitely caught my eye, and I can just see it being used at a tea for friends who enjoy quilting or other needlework. And how clever to serve sweets that look like quilt blocks! I've never made a Battenberg cake like the Lemon-Orange one shown here, but boy, am I tempted to try. (Have any of you ever made a Battenberg cake? Is it as hard as it looks?)

"Taking Tea in Central Tennessee" was also of interest since a) these cities are within driving distance and b) I might be going right past some of these tea spots on some travels this year.

So Tea Time seems to have a secure spot on my bookshelves, but since there are always more than three new recipes I want to try as well, I figured this particular magazine was pretty safe!

Monday, January 7, 2019

On winter whites, white tea, and blank slates

With all the Christmas decor put away, I did my usual thing and pulled out winter whites for the January tea trolley. I do like to leave out a few snowy-looking items in hopes we'll get a snow day or two in January.

This is a detail from my white-on-white floral tea set, which was used on the table with the guest book at my wedding. A favorite memory!

Now I'm not one to select just one word to focus on all year (I've tried, and I simply cannot limit myself to only one). But if I were going to, "Believe" is a good contender, isn't it?

The other word I've considered is "Attention," as in, "Pay attention to what you pay attention to." And you know what I paid attention to here? The fact that this creamy winter white lacy tray has been with me for so many years now, and I'm still not tired of it. I've used it as a dresser tray in the bathroom, on the dining table, on the tea trolley, and I envision it one day being used in the garden cottage/writing cottage I don't yet have. Have you ever acquired a simple piece like this that became a personal favorite that you kept for many years? I think the color and curves on this piece are why I like it so much.

As I played with my winter whites over the weekend, I even enjoyed a cup of some white tea from TeaVivre. The first Monday of a new year is such a blank slate that I think a white palette—whether in tea or in home decor—is the way to go. Are you excited about the start of a new year? I am! I've got so many new projects I want to tackle, along with new places to go and new experiences I hope to have. What about you?

Friday, January 4, 2019

The "Steeped in History" winner is …

The winner of Steeped in History—The Art of Tea by Beatrice Hohenegger is Janet P. in Texas. Congrats, Janet, and I'll have this book on its way to you shortly!

A tea cartoon for the new year

Have you heard of the cartoonist Rea Irvin? I had not, but he lived from 1881-1972, and according to the Library of Congress website, this cartoon of his was published in 1916. It's titled "A happy New Year 1867 - a happy New Year 1917."

And here's the summary of the cartoon: "The 1867 panel shows a proper Victorian family -- father, mother, and little girl -- in their parlor, taking tea. The 1917 panel shows a riotous party in a restaurant with champagne corks popping, a man dancing on the table, two men playing leapfrog, and a heavy lady in a strapless dress drinking champagne. Irvin was a popular contributor of cartoons to Life (the humor magazine) before being named art editor of the New Yorker in 1925."

I probably don't have to tell you all that my New Year's celebration looked much more like the first panel than the second one!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A giveaway in support of a goal!

In my reading and reviewing of books over the years, I have accumulated way too many books, and I've decided it's time to send some of them on to new homes, including a few duplicates and brand-new tea books that I think someone else might enjoy. So to help me with my goal of reducing the number of books I keep (and to make room for new ones), would one of you like to win a new copy of Steeped in History—The Art of Tea by Beatrice Hohenegger? It's a beautiful large-format paperback book with thick, glossy pages and gorgeous photos, and I imagine someone here would enjoy it.

If you'd like to win this book, you can enter simply by telling me what was the first tea you had in 2019! Mine was the Reading Nook Tea Blend from Plum Deluxe, which calls this delicious tea "an ingenious blend of black tea, lavender, rose, and chamomile. Calm caffeination perfect for reading, writing, & lively conversations." I chose this tea just because it was something different, but it ended up being the perfect tea for my January 1 since I spent several hours reading, writing, and planning for the year ahead.

So just leave a comment listing your first tea tasted in 2019 by 7 a.m. EST Friday, January 4, and you'll be entered to win. (US only, please.) Good luck!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

So I pulled out one of my old postcards to wish you all a Happy New Year, and I noticed for the first time that the little girl … well, is it just me or is she rocking a bit of a crazed look? No wonder the little boy is glancing to the side and looks like he's ready to take his teacup and run! Ha! Here's hoping your year is void of crazy people and that folks leave your tea alone. Happy New Year!