Friday, February 28, 2020

A Tea House at the 1904 World's Fair

Despite the blooming jonquils and the rose bushes that are leafing out, it's turned freezing cold again here in Georgia this week. And since I can't play outdoors, I've been looking up gardens old and new on the internet, including tea gardens of yesteryear, which led me to this photo of the Chinese Pavilion at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904. I love seeing the ladies' fashions as they're walking toward the pavilion. It's hard for me to imagine a time when such an outfit was as casual to them as a comfy pair of slacks and a blouse or top would be to us today.

I found an interesting video here that said that the rest of the world didn't know much about China in 1904, and the Chinese Pavilion at the World's Fair that year was an attempt to change that. All interesting, but I still failed to detect the word "tea" anywhere in this information, so I wondered why it came up in conjunction with this photo when I searched the Library of Congress website.

Then I found this photo on Wikimedia Commons, and I think this explains it. That gorgeous building to the left was the tea house of the Chinese prince's reconstructed, scaled-down summer house. Looks like it materialized right off of some Blue Willow china, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A thrifty teacup ornament

It's never too early to start looking for tea-themed Christmas ornaments, and I found an oldie but goodie at the Blake House Thrift Store in Carrollton the other day, this Hallmark Keepsake ornament called Friendship Time.

I guess my tea radar was working properly, because I spotted that curve behind the 49-cent price sticker and thought, "Is that a teacup handle?"

Indeed it was. The ornament doesn't appear to have ever been taken out of the box, and it dawned on me that 1989 was more than 30 years ago now. And by the way, I did not pay 49 cents for the ornament because they were having a half-off sale, so I got it for 25 cents. This is probably the fourth or fifth vintage Hallmark ornament I've found over the years, and it's early in the year, so maybe I'll find some more before Christmas 2020!

Monday, February 24, 2020

"In Cold Chamomile" by Joy Avon

"People didn't appreciate just the sweet taste of Iphy's creations but also her decorative imagination, and often took photos of her treats that they then shared online, bringing new visitors to Book Tea and new reservations for booking tea parties."

— From In Cold Chamomile by Joy Avon

The third "A Tea and Read Mystery" from Joy Avon was recently released, and I'm once again enjoying this delightful cozy series about a tea business offering book-themed tea parties. This time, Callie Aspen of Heart's Harbor, Maine, is helping her great-aunt Iphy with a Valentine's-themed event at historic Haywood Hall. Among the offerings at the event is a baroque orchestra's performance, and when the singer who performs with the group arrives, he turns out to be a mysterious man from great-aunt Iphy's past.

As preparations for the Haywood Hall event get underway, one of the offerings that seems sure to attract visitors is a book appraisal featuring an expert who sounds much like one of the antiquarian book dealers from Antiques Roadshow, except that this one is dishonest and likes to stir up trouble. When he's found stabbed to death, there's no shortage of suspects who might have had it in for the man.

Finding the book expert's killer is no easy task, and Callie and her aunt both have their hands full trying to keep their tea business running while attempting to nail another killer. Relationship issues abound in this book, including Callie's own growing relationship with Deputy Ace Falk, who grows increasingly frustrated that Callie keeps inserting herself into his murder investigation.

The book has lots of red herrings so that the killer isn't discovered too soon, and Avon's winsome writing style makes this a quick and enjoyable read. It's a pleasure to find another cozy series that features tea on so many pages, and now I can't wait to follow up on a few relationship cliff-hangers that definitely left me wanting more. If you haven't checked out this new series yet, I highly recommend you get caught up before the next book comes out!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Taking tea with the Marietta Daisies Garden Club - Part 2

My friend Lorelle had told me that the Marietta Daisies Garden Club tea on Monday would include an area where members could blend their own tea, so I envisioned a few small bowls where perhaps everyone would whip up their own individual tea bag for the refreshment time. But no, this was much, much more elaborate than that. Turns out that the lovely Katryn Taylor of is a member of this garden club and is a tea vendor herself. Here, she explains to a group of ladies how to select a base for the tea (black, green, or herbal) and then add various flavorings.

I got to meet Deanna, a friend of my friend Lorelle (and now Deanna and I are Facebook friends), and here she is blending her tea in the glass Katryn provided. These glasses (in case you ever need to know this) fit perfectly in those little rectangular bags of tea that we have probably all purchased at one time or another.

Here are some of the flower petals …

And here are some other photos from the blending station. After my presentation, I blended my own tea using black tea, mango, and coconut. I named it "Marietta Daisy Mango" blend!

When I started admiring all the elegant touches on the tea tables, I learned that these flower lollipop favors (see the rosebuds?) are also Katryn's handiwork. Beautiful!

I absolutely loved how the ladies mixed and matched vintage flatware and tied it with velvet ribbon. So pretty!

And the food? I was quite surprised when the plated food came out. The menu included:

• Vanilla bean and rose panna cotta with orange-blossom-infused toasted pistachios
• Poppy seed-dressed oven-roasted mini roast beef sandwich with melted cheese
• Goat cheese cherry-lime preserve with fresh basil and pansy flower rice roll ups
• Cream cheese fresh basil sliced carroty Argentina red shrimp rice roll ups
• Open-faced cucumber sandwich
• Tea-baked roast beef sliders with horseradish
• Chicken salad sandwiches topped with muscadine jelly and lavender petals
• Southern deviled eggs
• Fruited scones
• Mediterranean cheese balls (black olives/sun-dried tomatoes, rolled in walnuts/rosemary)
• Fig pepper preserve cheese balls (rolled in bacon/parsley - with a kick of cayenne)

Afterward, Lorelle asked if I had time to go to lunch, and I told her that while I had the time, I was stuffed and couldn't eat another bite! She felt the same way, it turned out, so instead, we went to an antique mall and a Goodwill store together.

 The Marietta Square store I used to know as Dupree's is now Park West Vintage, and wow, did they have the teacups and plates and …


I left with a couple of vintage Christmas goodies that I'm sure I'll be sharing later in the year, and I found a new Santa mug for my collection at Goodwill. So from beginning to end, my day with the Marietta Daisies—and particularly my friend Lorelle—was a wonderful treat and just the thing to brighten another rainy, cold week here in Georgia!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Taking tea with the Marietta Daisies Garden Club

On Monday, I had the incredible pleasure of being the guest speaker for the February meeting of the Marietta Daisies Garden Club, and I must say that this was definitely some of the most fun I have ever had as a speaker! From the food and decor to the friendliness of the club members, I was just delighted to become acquainted with these ladies!

The group meets at the Marietta Educational Garden Center, which is located in a beautiful historic building near the Marietta Square. Since I spent the first thirty-something years of my life going there to visit when my maternal grandmother who lived in Marietta was still alive, this was like going home to me.

I love the architecture of old homes, and this one, I learned, is just around the corner from where my friend Joy grew up!

I knew I was in for a treat literally from the moment I stepped inside the building, because this is the first thing I saw—a very good sign!

I enjoyed peeking into all the rooms with their beautiful furnishings.

And I had heard that there would be a blend-your-own tea station at the event (more about that on Friday), but wow, I didn't expect it to be this elaborate!

Someone had even taken the time to share this quote, "Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things." This quote pretty much sums up how I felt about the entire day!

So how did I end up speaking to a garden club in Marietta? My West Georgia College friend Lorelle is a member, and happily, we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago and realized we both love tea and antiques. She got in touch with me last year and asked if I would consider speaking to the group. I told her I would be glad to, because a) a tea program is one of my favorite presentations to give and b) tea people, as we all know, are the loveliest people!

As the meeting was about to get underway, we were welcome to select one of three blends from Camellia Estate: Rose Chocolate Chai with Cream, Blueberry Green Tea, and Bunny Whiskers Fruit Tea. (As a fan of bunnies, I chose that one and loved the fruity flavor.)

Here's a close-up of the garden basket that was on that table, and it contained small bottles of wildflower seeds suitable for planting in the shade. I was happy that I received one, too, and after hearing me mention how often I kill plants, Lorelle thoughtfully texted me the growing instructions when I got home, which was great since I didn't think to ask! 

I don't know how many ladies must have contributed decor to this event, but I was quite impressed with their effort. I have been to tearooms that didn't have this much tea-themed decor!

And here are just two of the gorgeous teacup centerpieces made by a club member. First, this beautiful yellow one, which they gave me and which I will treasure as a memento of this day.

And since Lorelle had invited me to bring my "Junkin' Jewelry" mysteries along, I was so touched when I realized vintage jewelry and books were part of the centerpieces as well! (And don't you love the tea bag tags? Clever!)

And to tempt you about what's in store for the blog on Friday, here's a sample of the amazing food that was on our tea plates! As you can tell, I had a wonderful time taking "A Stroll Through the Tea Garden" (the title of my presentation) with the amazing Marietta Daisies Garden Club!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Tea and George Washington

Since it's Presidents Day, I thought you might enjoy a little tidbit I learned about our nation's first president when I was reading the book Twinings: Two Hundred and Fifty Years of Tea and Coffee by Stephen H. Twining, M.B.E. (1956, R. Twining & Co. Ltd.).

In 1796, President George Washington was paid a visit by Thomas Twining (this Thomas was a son of Richard Twining I, not the original founder). Twining tells of calling on "General Washington" and being greeted by Mrs. Washington: "She sat down on the sofa, and invited me to sit by her. I spoke of the pleasant days I had passed at Washington ... While engaged in this conversation, but with my thoughts turned to the expected arrival of the General, the door opened, and Mrs. Washington and myself rising, she said, 'The President,' and introduced me to him. Never did I feel more interest than at this moment, when I saw the tall, upright, venerable figure of this great man advancing towards me to take me by the hand. There was a seriousness in his manner which seemed to contribute to the impressive dignity of his person ... There are persons in whose appearance one looks in vain for the qualities they are known to possess, but the appearance of General Washington harmonized in a singular manner with the dignity and modesty of his public life."

Can you guess what Twining said was his one regret of the meeting? Washington invited Twining to take tea with him that evening, but because of another engagement, Twining declined.

So our first president invited a Twining to tea, and I thought that was a fun fact to share here on Presidents Day. Hope yours is a good one!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Valentine's Week giveaway winner is …

Janet P. in Texas! Congrats, Janet, and I'll soon have these goodies headed your way. My thanks to all who entered, and I hope you all had a very happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Week Giveaway: Day 3 of 3

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! It's Day 3 of my three-day Valentine's Week giveaway, and today, I am offering some of the delightful new springtime paper goods I found at Michaels. At left are some pale-blue paper napkins with a heart-shaped floral design, and the rose-design plates at right are saucer-sized, which struck me as perfect for a tea-on-the-go picnic. Or maybe you could use them for packaging up some homemade cookies or brownies to share with a tea-loving friend? Wouldn't they be cute when served on this saucer, wrapped in cellophane, and tied with a bow? Or maybe you just want to use them yourself. At any rate, hearts and roses seemed like just the thing to conclude the week's giveaway.

Oops! Except that I forgot I had tucked away a heart-shaped tea infuser that I bought last year for this year's giveaway. I haven't tried this, and frankly, it's probably more of a novelty than anything, but isn't it cute? I like the idea of it. And this might be fun to use for teatime with a child for those of you who have grandchildren or little ones running around.

So … The Day 1 prize was a set of tea-themed note cards, the Day 2 prize was a tea mug, and the Day 3 prize is shown here. And if you'd like to win all of the prizes I've shown this week, just leave an "Enter me" to this post anytime before 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, February 15, and you'll be entered to win all three prizes. Again, please note that you may comment on *each* of the three days, giving you three chances to win all three prizes. (US entries only, please.) Good luck!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Valentine's Week Giveaway: Day 2 of 3

One of the many things I enjoy about Valentine's Day is that it's a great opportunity to see lots of roses while we're out and about. From grocery stores and florists to cards, candy, and teddy bears, roses are *everywhere* in February, and I love that. So as one of the goodies in this year's Valentine's Week giveaway, I'm offering a vintage Paragon "Victoriana Rose" mug that is absolutely one of the prettiest tea mugs I've ever come across. It's so delicate and feminine that I can't even imagine coffee going into this mug. Can you? And to carry on the rose theme, I'm tucking in a couple of my beloved Whittard of Chelsea English Rose No. 12 tea bags. (This tea is "No. 12" because it's "the classic number of roses in a Valentine’s bouquet," according to the company.)

So this sweet mug is one of the three prizes that some lucky winner will receive this year. The Day 1 prize was a set of note cards, the Day 2 prize is this mug, and the Day 3 prize is … going to be revealed Friday. So if you'd like to win the two prizes shown thus far, as well as one more, just leave an "Enter me" to this post anytime before 7 a.m. EST on Saturday, February 15, and you'll be entered to win all three prizes. Again, please note that you may comment on *each* of the three days, giving you three chances to win all three prizes. (US entries only, please.) Good luck!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Valentine's Week Giveaway: Day 1 of 3

This year, I'm doing something different to celebrate the week of Valentine's Day. In past years, I've hosted a small giveaway and shared some of my vintage valentines each day, and every year, I've been able to collect at least seven new ones over the year. In the last year or two, I found it harder and harder to find designs I didn't already own. So while I may do that again one day if I can find some new-to-me vintage valentines, this year, we're going to have a different sort of Valentine's Week and a different sort of giveaway. And instead of having a bunch of winners, there will be ONE, but this is a winner-take-all sort of deal. Anyone who leaves a comment on the blog post today, Wednesday, and/or Friday will be entered to win all three gifts. But you won't know what they are yet, so let's see who's up for a surprise! Today's treat, courtesy of a recent bit of card making, is a bagged set of four handmade teacup cards.

I had Valentine's Day in mind when I colored these teacups pink, but except for a heart on one of them, these don't scream "Valentine's" and can be used anytime.

I made two of those cards and two light blue ones that have a more subtle palette.

A little "bling" has been added to all these cards, with pearls for the pink ones …

And blue rhinestones on the blue ones.

So if you'd like to win these cards and two more prizes, just leave an "Enter me" to this post anytime before 7 a.m. EST on Saturday, February 15, and you'll be entered to win all three prizes. Again, please note that you may enter on *each* of the three days, giving you three chances to win the entire batch of prizes. (And hey, if there's something you don't like, regift!) US entries only, please. Good luck!

Friday, February 7, 2020

The winner of the tea towel is …

JoanEC! And Joan, if you'll send me your snail mail address, I'll get this headed your way. Congrats!

The Upton Tea Quarterly's article contest winners

So apparently the Upton Tea Company decided to celebrate its 30th anniversary by, among other things, hosting an article contest. I'm hitting myself upside the head for not keeping up with Upton news, because I would dearly have loved to enter their contest. That said, I so loved all three of the winning articles that I can't think of what I could possibly have written to top them, and I salute all three. It was delightful to come across some new writers who obviously share my (and your) affection for teatime. And since I'm a happy customer of Upton Tea, I share many of the writers' sentiments about tea and about this tea company.

Are you up for a little teatime reading this weekend?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Beauty Rest Herbal Tea from the Spice & Tea Exchange

Caffeine doesn't usually keep me up at night, even if I drink it close to bedtime, but just in case, I'm happy to have this tasty new Beauty Rest Herbal Tea from the Spice & Tea Exchange. A friend got this for me at the tea shop in St. Augustine, and these shops are all over the US, so I imagine many of you have passed by one at some time in your travels.

What's in this herbal blend? According to the company, it contains organic valerian root, organic cardamom, organic fennel, organic strawberries, organic sarsaparilla root, organic spearmint, essential orange oil, natural rose extract, and organic rose petals.
I loved the smell from the moment I opened the packet, and I (wisely) decided to make a small pot of the tea, sipping several cups before bedtime. This tea has such a soothing, gentle taste, with just a hint of the minty flavor I so enjoy, and for those of you who are caffeine-sensitive, this may be a blend you want to try too. Go here if you'd like ordering info.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A tea towel giveaway for Valentine's!

Last year, I was surprised at how hard it was to find unique tea-themed giveaway items. I decided that this year, I wasn't going to stress out about it, and when I see something worthy, it will be featured in a giveaway. At Hobby Lobby this weekend, I found something I think is just perfect for a tea lover, and I'd love to send it off to one of you in time for your own Valentine's Day celebration!

If you'd like to win the tea towel, please leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, February 7, making sure to leave an email address so I can get in touch with you (if you're not a reader that I regularly correspond with), and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!