Friday, March 29, 2024

A vintage tea company image for Good Friday

Here's an oldie but goodie—an old advertising label from the Great Overland and Pacific Tea Co., and it's one of my favorite vintage Easter images because of the cross, so central to the Easter message for those of us who are followers of Christ. I hope you all have a very Good Friday and a blessed Easter weekend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

London Fog Milano Cookies

I'm in so many groups on Facebook that I have a hard time remembering what I've read or seen where, but I believe it was one of the tea groups there that first reported that Pepperidge Farms has come out with some London Fog Milano Cookies featuring "a taste of Earl Grey tea with vanilla."

So for the past two weeks, I've been hunting down these cookies like Veruca Salt in search of a Wonka Bar with a golden ticket. And yesterday, I'm happy to report, I found them at the third Publix I've visited lately (locals: it was the one on Lower Fayetteville Road). I was so pleased when I finally nabbed this pretty lavender package!

And the cookies taste like … regular chocolate-flavored Milano cookies. I didn't detect any Earl Grey tea flavor or any vanilla, despite the vanilla-ish-looking coating on them, and no tea (or bergamot flavoring) is listed in the ingredients. However, an ordinary Milano cookie is still superior to most other cookies, so it's not like this was a total waste. Still, I'm glad I've got THAT out of my system. If you've tried these cookies, did you taste any Earl Grey? Is it just me?

Monday, March 25, 2024

Skirted Soldier teas — and a fun family blossom!

On Saturday, Alex and I made a brief stop in Eufaula, Alabama. It's just about two hours south of Newnan, and I was surprised to see how "pink" the town was with all of the azaleas already in bloom! We also did a little shopping at the downtown stores, including Superior Pecans & Gifts, where I bought some tasty Cinnamon Spiced Pecans as well as some Skirted Soldier teas from a female-veteran-owned company!

I got the "Colonel" and "Battle Buddy" blends.

I've tried only one so far, and I was amused that each package is said to contain "two preloaded tea bags." Ha! The Colonel blend is a caramel pecan black tea, and it's the delicious dessert tea I'd hoped it would be! I can't remember where I first heard of these teas (you can learn more here), but this marked the first time I'd actually come across them in a store, and I definitely want more of this Colonel blend and look forward to trying the other one!

Eufaula, however, was merely a pit stop on the way to meet up with some of my hubby's cousins in Fort Gaines, Georgia, who were gathered at the home of his cousin Anne, shown here. An accredited camellia show judge, Anne is a true Renaissance woman, and she is always happy to entertain my many questions about her flowers. She even sent us home with one of her 'Don Mac' ruffled camellias. Isn't it gorgeous? And guess how she readied it for travel?

She popped a grape on the end! Isn't that clever? I think I'll try that the next time I want to give someone a Camellia sinensis branch or two to root. And I'll leave you today with a few more flowers from Anne's garden since hers is so far ahead of mine!


Friday, March 22, 2024

Recommended Reading: Magnolia & Moonshine

Scrolling through Instagram's lovely photos is one of my nightly pleasures, and I see lots of tea wares, cake-decorating videos, and flowers in my Instagram feed. The other night, I saw a post about what sounded like an intriguing new Southern magazine, Magnolia & Moonshine, so when I saw a copy at Barnes & Noble this week, I had to give it a read, especially with all those gorgeous dahlias on the cover!

The photography throughout is great, and I loved this article about a family that celebrates both a Christian and Greek Orthodox Easter.

I might have been a wee bit influenced by all of their glorious Herend porcelain!

Baking stories always catch my eye, and I enjoyed reading about San Antonio baker Adesuwa Elaiho, “the first student to complete all three culinary degrees offered at Le Cordon Bleu.” And I love the clever photo of her flicking flour at the camera!

Finally, I grew curious about Marshallville, Georgia, after getting a peek at some of Turner's Antiques in this photo, and I'm glad the magazine brought it to my attention. I later learned that Magnolia & Moonshine has been published for about two years now, and I’m a little surprised I’d never heard of it before. As a former city magazine editor myself, I am especially fond of magazines, and I certainly like to track down new ones. Anyone else got a new magazine to recommend?

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Welcoming spring with Welbeck tea wares

Since my husband's birthday is March 21, he is rather annoyed that the first day of spring was March 19 this year instead of on his birthday as it often is. Actually, he didn't quite acknowledge yesterday as the first day of spring, but I did, because I like for spring to arrive as soon as possible. Also, it's the day I first pull out my Welbeck chintz tea wares each year! This spring, I've added a vintage Easter tablecloth from a local antique mall, so it's quite sunny-looking in my little dining room.

I will always love chintz teacups, and I can't imagine a more appropriate pattern for spring than this cheerful yellow one from Royal Winton!

For springtime sipping, I'm enjoying more of my jasmine tea samples recently shared by, and yesterday's sample was their Jasmine Mao Jian, a tea scented with jasmine five times. I love that this tea steeps in just ten to twenty seconds, and since it can be steeped three or four times, I really feel that I'm getting good use out of each tea bag. Also, I find that the tea gets even smoother-tasting with subsequent steepings, and as a jasmine tea lover, I very much appreciate that quality! You can learn more about this tea here. Happy Spring!

Monday, March 18, 2024

The So-Ugly-It's-Cute Tea Mug

Do you remember macramé? And do you remember when macramé started coming back a couple of years ago? I wasn't wild about the craft the first time, and I wasn't any more enamored of it the second time around. That's how I feel about today's mushroom trend too. No offense if you're a fan, but you can have ALL the mushroom art that's out there. That said, can you believe I just bought a new tea mug with dried flowers in it?

Are you diggin' it?

I'm laughing at myself here, because I was so tickled by this $4.99 T. J. Maxx find over the weekend that I had to have it. Plus, I awarded points for the company noting that it's "great for coffee & tea"! Funny thing, too, is that while it clearly says it's glass, I schlepped this thing all over T. J. Maxx while I shopped, assuming by its super light weight that it was plastic. When I got home, I discovered the clerk had wrapped it in paper and thought, "Well, bless her heart. She thought she was wrapping glass." Only when I took the tag off did I realize that yikes, it IS glass!

But I like the large size, the light weight, and even the groovy dried flowers. It feels very much like a Tervis mug with a handle.

I had apparently moved on to the decade of the eighties when I discovered these cute paper napkins in the shape of a bunny. I was immediately attracted to the rose design and knew I wanted these not for dining but for crafting, as paper napkins are great for decoupaging. And who made these? They're bound to be Shabby Chic, right?

Nope, but close—Laura Ashley! So I got a 1970s mug and a 1980s pack of napkins. I'm still not sold on all of that seventies decor that seems to be having a moment, though. Is there anything coming back in style that makes YOU scratch your head? I'd love to know!

Friday, March 15, 2024

"Steeped in Malice" by Vicki Delany

I've just finished reading the fourth cozy mystery inVicki Delany's Tea by the Sea Mystery series, and it kicks off with an intriguing premise. Lily Roberts, the proprietress of the Tea by the Sea tearoom on Cape Cod, visits a local antique fair and purchases a wicker box containing a child-sized Peter Rabbit tea set. Soon, the original owner, a woman named Kimberly, comes calling. After tracking the sale to Lily, Kimberly shows up at the tearoom and demands that Lily sell the tea set back to her. In the midst of serving tea to her guests, Lily refuses to stop what she is doing and hand over the tea set but agrees to let the rude woman return and purchase the set later. When Kimberly comes back, it turns out that she is simply looking for something that she believes is inside the wicker box and has no interest in the tea set itself.

An old acquaintance of Lily's, Rachel, also shows up to inquire about the tea set. It seems that Rachel and Kimberly are half sisters, and both are searching for the latest copy of their late mother's will. Adding to the fun? Kimberly has recently married Lily's old boyfriend, Wesley. So when Kimberly is found dead near Lily's house, the accusations start flying, and a lot of people appear guilty.

Lily's bestie, the aspiring novelist Bernie, and Lily's eccentric grandmother, innkeeper Rose, are in fine form in this tale, and Rose especially gets the chance to shine. As the search for the missing will—and Kimberly's murderer—continues, the stakes increase, and even the tearoom and the B&B are in danger. This was a delightful mystery to try to solve, and only near the end did I suspect the person who actually ended up being the criminal. Delany definitely knows how to keep us turning pages, and fans of teatime will lap this one up.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A new tea magazine: "Tea Lover's Handbook"

Last summer, I came across a new tea magazine, Tea Parties, that was published by the same folks who publish Woman's World and First for Women magazines. Well, I just found another new title by them at Barnes & Noble, Tea Lover's Handbook. And the cover says display until March 11, but B&N rebelled and had several copies on display on March 12, so I would suggest getting to a store ASAP if you'd like a copy!

I haven't even had time to read through the whole thing yet, but I could immediately tell that I would enjoy this issue. There are articles on different types of tea, and I think it's always a good idea to include that, especially for those new to the world of tea.

There's an article on Chinese Tea Culture, another topic I enjoy reading about.

But what really caught my eye? This piece on "The Use of Tea in Forming Political Alliances." I was intrigued to read, "During the Cold War era, tea played a significant role in diplomatic relations between countries. Nikita Krushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, often opted for informal tea parties instead of stuffy meetings when interacting with foreign dignitaries, allowing for more unhindered conversations among world leaders." (The photo, by the way, is of Mao Zedong shaking hands with Richard Nixon, whom he is said to have gifted a small box of tea worth $200,000!)

Other articles in the magazine discuss the history of tea in the US and around the world, clipper ships, the British Empire, and more, so I think many of you would enjoy this issue too!

Monday, March 11, 2024

Sampling new teas from iTeaworld in China

The first day of spring.
I had thought it might be nice to wait until the first day of spring to share the jasmine tea samples that recently sent me directly from China, but when I saw this elegant packaging and tasted some of their smooth floral teas, I couldn't wait!

This Jasmine Tea Selection arrived in an elegant golden-yellow-sleeved box.

It had an "Open" tab at the end, so of course I removed the sleeve and opened it!

Inside? All sorts of goodies to delight the senses, from 20 individual packets of loose-leaf jasmine tea to an envelope of fillable tea bags and a beautiful pamphlet detailing how to prepare both hot and cold-brewed versions of the tea.

I started with the Jasmine Bi Luo Chun tea, which is scented three times. Did you know that "bi luo chun" literally means "green snail spring"? Those tiny little snail-shaped tea leaves are always fun to behold—and although I've eaten snails before, precisely once, I am pleased that there are no snails in this tea! If you're not familiar with the process by which jasmine tea is scented, you can visit this page to learn more. I've seen videos online about the scenting process, and I'm always impressed at the time and care it requires. (And at night, according to iTeaworld. If I ever knew that, I'd forgotten it.)

This envelope of tea bags was a thoughtful addition to the package. I had assumed it would contain your standard-issue paper tea bag filters. 

But no! Inside are *silken* tea bags for you to fill if you so desire, and I did! Preparing the tea according to the directions required just 10-20 seconds of brewing in water at 80-90 degrees Celsius, and I went for 20 seconds, wondering if that could possibly be long enough. It was! The pamphlet said the tea could be brewed three to four times, and I easily brewed this Bi Luo Chun four times. I'll be trying the others throughout this month as well and will let you know what I think, but as impressed as I was with this first one, the lowest grade, I look forward to working my way up the progression in quality. (The teas range from three scentings with jasmine to nine scentings.)

Now, I knew that I enjoyed this tea, and I also knew that I was quite impressed at the splendid packaging, but when I went online to check it out (not wanting to be influenced by their PR before I'd even tried the teas), I was absolutely stunned to learn this set retails for only $39.99, and the first order over $9 gets free shipping. And even though the package was shipped from China, my teas arrived in less than two weeks, I believe, which is quicker than I can receive a letter here in the US these days. (A girlfriend mailed me a handmade card on January 11, and it arrived February 22, so I got teas from China much faster!) was a new name in tea to me, and I am absolutely delighted to share it with all of you! You can learn more about this sampler as well as their other Chinese teas at

Friday, March 8, 2024

A surprise on Antiques Roadshow

I had not watched Antiques Roadshow in years, but the other night, I was looking for something to watch on Amazon Prime, just some nice background noise while I surfed Instagram or something. I saw that the new season of Antiques Roadshow was up, and Season 17, Episode 1 featured finds from Corpus Christi, Texas.

Learning about any antique object or artwork is interesting to me, but I was delighted to see a teapot appear on screen (this is a screen grab from my computer). According to this lady's aunt, the teapot was brought to Holland by the Dutch East India Company and was said to be a forerunner of the Delft Blue wares that are so popular today.

The expert sounded like he was about to burst her bubble when he said that "unfortunately," the teapot wasn't that rare, but he estimated that it was 300 years old and would bring at least $800-$1,200 at auction. So if I see one of these at the thrift store, just you try to beat me to it. Ha! (And now I'm hooked on Antiques Roadshow again. Check your local PBS listings if you don't get it via other channels, because these are definitely our kind of people!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

A tea-loving bunny!


Now, don't judge, because I am just getting started on my Easter decorating, and the tea trolley is definitely not done yet, but I glanced at this adorable bunny I plopped there this week and realized that oh my goodness, I meant to share him here in case one of you wants/needs to go find one at your local T. J. Maxx! I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket(book), so this is what I got.

And I love him! From his turquoise suit and cheerful yellow teacup …

… to his rose-embellished hat …

And even the way his little bunny paws are perched atop this teacup pedestal. He was just $16.99, which I thought was a great price for such a charming piece that's more than 14 inches tall!

Monday, March 4, 2024

Teacups and bunnies and cards, oh my!


Since Easter arrives on March 31 this year, I figured I'd better get started if I plan to get a few Easter cards in the mail to friends!

I used some stamps and dies I found on Amazon, the set here, which was a little iffy. I don't think the Origarch sentiments stamp as well as those in my Stampin' Up stash, but for just $9.99 for the stamps and dies, I'm happy to simply use the teacup and bunny stamps and pull the sentiments from my own stash.

I liked being able to use some bright-pastel cards and envelopes that seem well-suited for spring. I went to Hobby Lobby last week to purchase some white cards and envelopes, but they had a pack of 120 cards and envelopes (I'm talking 120 of each) on clearance for just $5 and some change. Sold!

And while I don't normally use a lot of lavender in my card making, I sure loved using this pretty wisteria color, which is perhaps my favorite spring pastel! What's yours?

Friday, March 1, 2024

A different kind of shamrock …

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I was busy looking through old photos on the Library of Congress website in search of something that combined the words "shamrock" and "tea." Well, I did find an old photograph that included both of those words, and while it wasn't at all what I was looking for, I was still intrigued. Do you recognize the dapper gent at the center of the photo?

The entry reads: "Photograph shows Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton (1848-1931), purveyor of Lipton teas and America's Cup challenger, and the crew of Shamrock IV at Morse's Dry Dock, Brooklyn, in preparation for the 1920 America's Cup race." (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2017)

If you haven't read A Full Cup, you can go here for my summary of the fine book about the life of Sir Thomas J. Lipton!