Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

Yay!   Yesterday’s afternoon tea talk went wonderfully :-)   Again, a big thank you to the Ringwood Public Library for asking me to come and speak.

The ride up to the library itself was gorgeous.   Lots of trees and mountains all around (I was driving, so sadly, no pictures!).   There were also quite a few hiking trails that my boyfriend Camilo and I now plan on going to once in a while.

All together, we had 41 people at the tea (WOW!) and all of varying ages.   Everyone was dressed appropriately, wearing large green, blue, and beige hats.   One couple was draped in what seemed like black fur and looked really regal.   There was no question that they were ready for their proper afternoon tea.   Once everyone settled in, I gave my speech on tea, the history, details of an afternoon tea, and how to brew a cuppa.   Then, the Friends of Ringwood Library handed out samples of all six teas.

I told them that I was a little worried about their idea regarding the tea sampling portion.   For those who have attended my talks, you know that I normally have people bring their own mugs and they line up in front of me as I serve them tea.   However, this library had a very dedicated group of people who placed the sample cups on their trays, poured a bit of tea in each one, and ran to all the tables ensuring that every single person got some tea.   It all went very smoothly, and the guests seemed to enjoy being pampered by the staff and volunteers.   That day, the guests were treated like kings and queens.

Janet’s Quality Baked Goods, Inc., who is a vendor at the local farmer’s market, donated lots of freshly made goodies, and a local mother trying to start her own baking business donated fresh cupcakes.   I love to bake, but I feel like I can never match the goodies that were donated!   Scones, clotted cream, lemon curd, chocolate cookies, creme puffs, vanilla cupcakes with a dollop of vanilla frosting, tri-colored cookies that tasted like chocolate-covered raspberries… the list goes on.   During my entire talk, I kept looking to my left where the tiers of sweets rested, longing for the moment I could wrap up and dig in myself!

The library held a raffle that had all sorts of gifts.   Tea pots, tea cozies, tea, a gift certificate to High SocieTea in Wayne, New Jersey (which I want to visit so badly!), flowers in tea pots, so many fun prizes!   I had the honor of drawing for the raffle winners and watching the glee on their faces when they realized they had won.

So again, to the Ringwood Public Library, thank you so much for asking me to speak at your event.   It was truly an experience, and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.   Supporting your local libraries is so important, and I have yet to find a library I did not like.

Want me to come speak at your event in New Jersey?   Shoot me a message here, on Facebook, or email me at Catherine.Felegi@gmail.com!

Hi everyone!

Just a reminder!   This Saturday, April 25th, I will be having a Tea Love talk at the Ringwood Public Library, 30 Cannici Drive, Ringwood, New Jersey 07456.   The event will be held 2:00 – 4:00.   Tickets for members of Friends of the Library costs $20, while non-members pay $25.   All funds will benefit the Ringwood Public Library.   If you want to come, make sure you register with Elise Bedder at (973) 962-6256 Ext. 15, or email her at bedder@ringwoodlibrary.org.   Come out, have a good time, and drink some tea!   Clara, my tea supplier, just dropped off the tea last night and it all looks and smells delicious :-)

For this Tea Love talk, I am going to be focusing on afternoon teas.   But what exactly is an afternoon tea?   How did it come about?   Why is it called afternoon tea?   And why are people so obsessed with them?

Well, first, let’s clear something up.   Many people confuse afternoon tea with another popular term, high tea.   High teas are in fact the tea that is a bit less regal.   That one is more of a dinner tea.   This is a common mistake outside of the UK, being that high tea sounds, well, higher than the afternoon tea (fun fact, high tea is also called “meat tea”, while afternoon tea is also called “low tea”, referring to the low furniture that you typically use for the ceremony.   Maybe that will help you distinguish the two?).

Afternoon teas are historically a ladies’ social, more often being enjoyed by women than men.   It started when the Duchess of Bedford became peckish one evening between meals.   Instead of waiting for her dinner like others did (and quite frankly, being that the only meals eaten at the time were breakfast and dinner at 8:00 or 9:00 due to the new invention of kerosene lamps making late dinners possible and popular, I can’t quite blame her), she decided to have tea and a snack beforehand.

Soon, she decided to invite her friends to come with her to drink tea.   This evolved to regular parties to walk through the gardens, drink tea, and snack.   When Queen Victoria picked up the custom, though, the afternoon tea concept went viral!

Popular culture depicts the afternoon tea constantly in British TV.   Elegant, graceful, proper, it seems that people became enamored with the old-world charm that is involved in having a cup of tea with family and friends.   Everyone from Downton Abbey to Keeping Up Appearances show the afternoon tea as indicating the person throwing the party is wise, beautiful, and probably wealthy.

I know personally, give me a cup of tea with good friends, some drinking out of mugs, others out of cups, some lazing around on the couch while others sit upright in a chair, and I am happy.

Make sure you come to the Tea Love talk to learn more about the afternoon tea!

Doing Good With A Cuppa

I adore my philanthropy work.   I work at a job where I feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives, I constantly assist at my church (maybe to a fault!), and am constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to better the world around me, especially for the homeless population and those that suffer from hunger.

I also adore my tea.   A nice cuppa after a crazy day at work is relaxing and gets my mind away from any evil thoughts that might infiltrate, ranging from depressing, lonely thoughts to, “Did I remember to do that thing I wanted to do today?” thought.   While I drink coffee, that revs me up and keeps me moving, while tea rocks me gently into a certain bliss.

Mix the two together, and I am in love.   On Saturday, April 25th, for example, I am going to be heading up to Ringwood Library, 30 Cannici Drive, Ringwood, New Jersey 07456 for a high tea fundraiser.   There, I will be explaining all about high teas and offering samples.   Tickets are $20 for Friends of the Library members and $25 for non-members.   For more information, you can visit the website or contact Elise Bedder at (973) 962-6256, ext. 15, or email her at bedder@ringwoodlibrary.org.   All proceeds benefit the library.

Another good thing to think about with your tea is Fair Trade.   GOOD Magazine wrote a news article on the whole idea of being Fair Trade.   Being that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world and the sixth most consumed in the US, everyone should do their part to give tea growers a good life.   Thankfully, Americans are doing just that.   Tea consumption is on the rise and per Fair Trade USA, between 2012 and 2013, Fair Trade Certified teas (produced by cooperatives and farms) imports jumped by 26%!   Given that tea consumption in the US has quadrupled since 1990, that is HUGE.

But what does it mean to be Fair Trade?

To get Fair Trade Certified, a company must ensure that the farmers receive safe working conditions as well as sustainable wages and fair capital.   The capital is determined by the prices set for the products.   Workers also get a premium (the extra price that a consumer pays for a product that a consumer pays for a product that goes back to the farm source), which they can choose to invest back into the farm or the community.

The work is very strenuous and is often done by working mothers, many of whom tend the fields with their babies still on their back.   In some circumstances where companies are not Fair Trade certified, these women are getting paid $1.35 a day, not enough to feed their families.   Some even have to resort to human trafficking and sending children to bigger cities for the possibilities of better work opportunities.   However, Fair Trade certified companies do not have that.

When a company becomes Fair Trade certified, the farmers democratically decide how their Fair Trade premiums.   In India, this often goes into college scholarships or retirement funds.   In China?   This goes to building school dorms, building roads, installing gas stoves, or building sanitation facilities.

While being organic is not required, many companies go this route.   All the same, Fair Trade certification enforces environmental standards to help maintain healthy living conditions and working conditions, such as restricting the use of pesticides and fertilizers, banning GMOs, and protecting water resources.

So do yourself, farmers, and the world a favor.   Buy Fair Trade.   Help the farmers, help the earth, and make your heart smile.

Happy Easter From Tea Love!

Happy Easter From Tea Love!

A Blessed Passover From Tea Love!

A Blessed Passover From Tea Love!

It was the International Day of Happiness last week!   I hope you all got your happy on!

Break It Down Now!

Break It Down Now!

We know all the numerous health benefits that are derived from a cup of tea – lower blood pressure, possible cancer-preventing agents, more antioxidants, just to name a few.   But what about its overall impact on your happiness?

Tea engages all the senses.   The hiss of the tea pot as your water comes to a boil, ready for its tea to be plopped in.   The sight as the water transforms from a clear to an amber, a purple, a green, a golden yellow, as the tea brews.   The warm embrace as your fingers wrap themselves around a warm cup, radiating out to tingle your entire body.   The smell drifts up and reminds you of relaxing times, times when your mother might have cared for you when you were sick, or when you met with a friend to discuss light things at a cafe.   The taste washes over your tongue and creates a complex array of delights.   You can fully immerse yourself in a cup of tea and be present.

Tea also has a sort of ceremony that begs one to slow down and enjoy it.   You can’t exactly rush the brewing of a cup of tea.   For the best type of tea, you need to be methodical, measure everything appropriately, have the right temperature, have the right cup, and brew for the right amount of time.   Sure, you can throw in a bag and forget about it, but it’s so much more therapeutic to take your time to relax.

Sure, you can brew a cup just for yourself, but it means so much more with a friend.   You can even sit in silence together, enjoying each other’s presence.   It does not matter.   With the tea between you, it’s just being there that makes all the difference.

I hope all of you enjoyed the International Day of Happiness!   And I hope that you all got a good cuppa in that day as well to help enhance your day.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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