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

Archive for the ‘Tea Ceremony’ Category

Back From Sabbatical!

 

 

Hi all!

So, here I am, back from a mini Sabbatical. Turns out, August was a bit of a slow month in the tea world, so I sat back, relaxed a little, and waited for things to speed up again.

First, I want everyone to mark their calendars! On Thursday, October 8th, I will be up at Pequannock Township Public Library, 477 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Pompton Plains, for a Tea Love talk! The talk starts at 7 PM and will take you through a brief introduction on tea, as well as a tea tasting. Bring your own mugs to this, and make sure to get their nice and early to get a good spot! For any questions, contact Debbie Maynard, library director, at (973) 835-7460.

Now, onto the next topic. I have to brag, that when you are sitting down reading this blog, I am sitting at a quaint café overlooking the Seine with my sister-in-law Amanda and our friend Pam, sipping our own cuppa in Paris, France! It’s a trip I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl stealing my brother’s French books in order to learn more about the language and culture, and I am so excited to be going with some great people.

But when we hear about Paris, we often think about coffee. After all, aren’t they more popular for their café du lait than they are for their thè? Non, non, monsieurs et madams! They also have a nice tea culture!

One can stroll along the cafés and find exclusive tea places as well. Blogger Annelies Zjderveld of Mighty Leaf explains that she would often see announcements of salon de thè (tea salons) along with beer and food printed on the store fronts. Stores such as Asian-style tea houses that had long lists of teas, as well as others that were quite literally walled with canisters of tea.

Herbal teas are quite popular in France. Why? Not only are they seen as being good for digestion after a meal, they also do not have the caffeine that can be found in traditional tea. You might see Verbena and tileul teas, as they are native to the South of France. I must admit, I have not tried either of these, though I am excited to now!

Verbena, writes Zjderveld, has a buttery citrus profile. This sounds like it would be nice to sip after having a heavy chocolate dessert, like an éclair or a slice of chocolate cake.

The other, tileul, is made with the dried leaves of the Linden tree and has a woody profile to it.

The Parisians also seem to like their mint tea. Since I like chocolate, I am going to think of a mint tea with some chocolate mousse.

In terms of true teas, Paris seems to enjoy their black teas. You can find the common English Breakfast and Earl Greys there, though sometimes, you can also find the fruited blends, which are also becoming more popular with the youth.

So for now, I am going to say au revoir, relax, and enjoy my time in Paris. Enjoy your Sunday, and happy sippings!

 

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A Tea Love Talk Coming Up On Saturday + High Teas

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!

Downton Abbey = Tea Time!

So, my mom is absolutely giddy – Downton Abbey, the popular television show on PBS about a British aristocratic family going about their drama-filled lives starting with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, is starting back up tonight.   From what I’ve seen of the show, all I know is that Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter) is in the show,which is enough for me to say it must be excellent.

Obviously, being proper Brits, this family MUST have their tea.   Whether it’s the afternoon tea imbibed between  4pm and 6pm or the high tea sipped between 5pm and 7pm, sure as rain, you can find this elite family sitting down and having their tea to discuss the issues of the time and the drama of their lives.

Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, sitting with her silver teaware for an afternoon tea.

Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, sitting with her silver teaware for an afternoon tea.

Tea companies apparently watch the show too, as they are coming out with numerous Downton Abbey merchandise.   Here’s a small sampling:

Downton Abbey Tea, The Republic of Tea:

Two of the three Downton Abbey teas from The Republic of Tea.

Two of the three Downton Abbey teas from The Republic of Tea.

The Republic of Tea was founded not too long ago, 1992, and has strived to spark a tea revolution in order to get people to sip most tea.   For Downton Abbey, The Republic of Tea has come out with a line of teas, including an herbal English Rose filled with raspberries, roses, and hibiscus flowers, an Estate blend consisting of earl grey,  and a spicy Grantham Breakfast blend flavored with ginger root and Assam tea.

So why not buy some tea and sip away while watching the Crawley family fall apart?

Keep Calm And Ring Carson to Bring Tea, Signals.com:

Keep Calm and Ring Carson To Bring Tea Shirt

Keep Calm and Ring Carson To Bring Tea Shirt

Signals.com’s slogan is to offer “Gifts that Inform, Enlighten, and Entertain”.   They specialize in public television that invoke thought and discussion while inspiring continued learning.

Apparently, the thought here is to get a butler to bring you tea.   I don’t know about you, but I think I can get behind that thinking.

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding –

More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines, Barnes and Noble:

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary's Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding -  More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding – More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines

Wouldn’t you love to serve some smoked salmon mousse with your tea?   How about some crunchy fig and bleu cheese tarts?   Wouldn’t some dark chocolate truffles go so well with the Grantham Breakfast blend from The Republic of Tea?   Emily Ansara Baines gathered recipes that your favorite characters supped on and is offering for you to dine like British aristocrats.    Available in both hardcover and for the Nook, you can have your high tea with a little bit of clotted cream and some scones like The Dower.

What are you drinking in order to prepare for the season premier tonight?

A New Year, A New Tea Tradition

Hello everyone, I AM BACK!!!!!

I greatly apologize for all the hustle and bustle that is going on in my life!   October is the month where my friends and I run around like crazy for Halloween, then November was just insane, then December was Christmas (which we hold at my house), then things busy at work, and ACK!   But no more fear!   I am back 🙂

First and foremost, guess what!   We have another Tea Love talk coming up!   This one is on Sunday, January 19th, 1:30 PM at the West Milford Township Library, 1490 Union Valley Road, West Milford, New Jersey 07480.   As always, we will have a sampling of teas after the talk, so make sure you bring your favorite mug!   Registration is required. To register, make sure you email wmtl@wmtl.org, call 973-728-2822, or visit the Adult/Teen Services desk of the library.   Hope to see you there!

Second, 2014 is on the road and is coming up fast (ACK!   Everything seems to be coming up fast lately!).   So, people are breaking out the party poppers, champagne, and noise makers as they anxiously await 2013’s exit and 2014 grand entrance.

But, where can tea play a part in all of this?

Well, why not borrow from the Chinese New Year for ours?

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China.   Image from TeaGuardian.com

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China. Image from TeaGuardian.com

According to the Tea Guardian, a website whose mission is to promote fine tea as a gourmet habit, an offering of tea is a gesture of respect and gratitude.   Therefore, on New Years in China, children would offer to the elders of the family a cup of sweetened tea, made sweeter by candied fruits and vegetables placed at the bottom of the cup (keep in mind, different fruits and vegetables symbolize different things!).   This was done with great care, with the handle facing the right of the person receiving the offering and the left of the person offering.   The child holds the saucer with both hands as the elder takes the cup by the handle with one hand and the saucer with the other, and sips the tea while listening to child offer well wishes for the upcoming year.

The person offering does not leave empty-handed, though.   The elder, after hearing the well wishes, gives the child a red packet and offers wishes in return.   At one point, the red packets use to hold the wishes, but now they tend to hold trinkets and monetary gifts.

So, this New Years, after making all the noise, the chatter, the clinks, and the mess, offer your elder a cup of sweetened tea and wish them the best for this sure-to-be-wonderful new year.   Start a new tradition that not only celebrates tea, but also celebrates gratitude and the wisdom of years.

The Art Of Tea Leaf Reading

Hello Tea Love readers!

So, the past two weeks have been MAD!   Now, back to work 🙂

First, I want to thank all those who came out for the last Tea Love Talk at the Riverdale Public Library!   We had a huge group and I got to share my birthday gift of a glass tea pot 🙂   Wonderful for showing off my blooming tea.   Handy tip – Check out the events coming up in October.   They all look like a lot of fun.

Second, I have another talk planned for all you lovely guys and gals!   This one is at the Randolph Public Library in Randolph, New Jersey!   Come out on Wednesday, October 16th, 7:00 PM, to learn all the tea basics and sample some great tea 🙂   Please note, this event is open for people 18 years old and older.   Randolph Library card members can register at any time but non-members can register only up to a week prior to the event.   Registration is required.

Come Out For My Next Talk!

Come Out For My Next Talk!

Now, since the Halloween season is upon us and my friends and I are obsessed with Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to talk a little bit about the art of tasseography, or tea leaf reading.

Now, what is tasseography, exactly?   Tasseography is an ancient art used in ancient Greece, Asia, and the Middle East to look at formations made by coffee, candle wax, and, of course, tea leaves and interpret what they mean, including telling the future.

Tea leaf reading is understandable coming from mankind.   After all, it is a journey into the self that can sometimes seem vague and mysterious.   What better drink to use than a cup of green tea?

Reading tea leaves is also a lot of fun and not terribly hard either.   Tasseography.com details the steps one-by-one:

– Make a cup of tea.   Use a light-colored tea mug or a white mug.   Any type of tea should do the trick for this particular… well, trick.   This even includes a tea bag, though you will need to open the tea bag and use the tea dustings for that particular one

– Brew your tea and meditate.   This is my favorite part of drinking tea anyway.   Why not use it to learn my future?   Just quiet your mind.   Free yourself of any distractions.   Allow the magic of the tea begin

– Find your focus while you drink your tea.   Try not to drink the tea leaves (they tend to not be the best tasting thing in the world).   Use your non-dominant hand to drink the tea.   However, if you are ambidextrous, reach for the tea with whichever hand, stop, then use the other hand.   Keep meditating and figure out what is the most stubborn thought in your mind.   As hard as this may be, you’ll need to leave some tea behind in your tea mug

– Swirl your tea leaves three times, then gently dump them out into a saucer.   Wait three breaths, then turn your mug back around

– Look at the different symbols and record them.   Since tea-leaf readings are very personal, it is like reading an ink blot test.   You’ll need to interpret what is there on your own.   Divide the cup into rim, middle, and base, recording what is in each section in a clockwise motion.   Take your time and record everything

– Do your interpreting.   Again, because this is so personal, you might interpret things differently.   For example, seeing a black cat might instill fear for some but might remind others of a family pet.   To each his or her own.   Write down what each symbol means to you.   The first symbol represents you or someone important in your life.   The symbols you see in the rim apply to moments in time.   The middle section of the tea mug is the near future.   The base of the tea mug represents the ultimate conclusion of your tea leaf reading

Some common symbols are:

ACORN—Continued health—improved health.

ANCHOR—Lucky symbol. Success in business or in love. If blurred or indistinct just the reverse.

HEART—A lover. If close to a ring, marriage to the present lover. If indistinct, the lover is fickle.

HEAVENLY BODIES—(Sun, Moon, Star)—Good luck—great happiness and success.

OWL—Indicates sickness or poverty. Warning against starting a new venture.

PALM TREE —Good omen. Success in any undertaking. Single people learn of marriage. MOON (crescent)—Prosperity, fame. If cloudy, difficulties will be solved.

ELEPHANT—Good Luck—good health—happiness.

TRIANGLES—Unexpected good fortune.

BIRDS—Good Luck. If flying, good news from the direction it comes. If at rest a fortunate journey.

Did you do a reading?   What did you see?

An Olympic-Sized Blog

The Summer Olympics started on July 27th in London.   A show of strength, agility and general sportsmanship as people compete to show the world how powerful their country truly is.

The Olympic Rings, A Representation of The Five Major Continents (The Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceana)

The Olympic Rings, A Representation of The Five Major Continents (The Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceana)

So, in honor of the Olympics being held in London, I am going to do a feature on tea party items there!   I have posted in the past how to conduct your own British tea ceremony.   Now, we will focus on the menu for an afternoon tea.

If you take a trip to the Ritz London, a member of the Tea Council’s Tea Guild, you’ll find 17 different loose teas to choose from!   Along with the tea, if you are willing to give a few extra dollars, you can get a glass of champagne to complement your meal.   The meal portion traditionally consists of light sandwiches made out of salmon, ham and cucumber.

How about a cucumber sandwich?   Beat together some unsalted butter, mint and lemon juice.   Season it with some salt and paprika until everything is nice, smooth and creamy.   Spread your concoction onto a slice of bread.   Slice a cucumber very thinly, salt it and place the slices in a colander to drain.   Throw two layers of your cucumbers onto the bread, seasoning it with some pepper along the way.   Add another slice of bread, trim off the crust and cut it however you would like for your party.   If you want to jazz up your presentation, put the sandwiches on a platter with mint sprigs and cucumbers for decoration.

Sometimes, it’s nice to have something a bit meatier.   How about a traditional ham sandwich?   Cream together some butter, slices scallions and mustard in a bowl.   Make sure to sample this and add salt and pepper to taste.   Butter your bread and add thinly sliced ham and sprinkle some parmigiana cheese on top.   Put your other slice of bread on top, cut it how you want and jazz it up with some sprigs of watercress.

The reason for the lightness of this particular meal is because it is usually served around 4:00 PM, usually too early for dinner but too late for lunch.   Imagine how bad it would be to have a heavy pot roast or mac and cheese with a light tea and to then also have your dinner to eat (at that rate, probably closer to 9:00, 10:00!).   So, light snacks with some tasty tea is perfect for this.

Not willing to travel to London for a spot of tea?   There are plenty of places you can travel to, including Ana Beall’s Tea Room in Westfield, New Jersey, or some high tea places in Manhattan (also child-friendly ones).   If you’re still searching around, you can make sure to visit some of the top tea houses in the world in honor of the Olympics.

So sit back, watch some of the games and make sure that you enjoy some tea!   Maybe even drink one from each part of the world?

Tea Ceremony Versus Expedience

Hello, fellow tea lovers!

I wanted to do a quick post with an interesting article I just read to follow up with my blog regarding British tea ceremony.   Apparently, the British are moving away from the traditional teapot and moving more towards the tea mug, which is causing a bit of a disturbance.

What are your thoughts on the issue?   Is tea best served in a teapot, when the leaves can open and the tea made with a higher quality, or a tea mug, where a tea bag can be thrown in for efficiency and expediency?

http://www.scotsman.com/business/personal-finance/more-stories/tea_trend_makes_mug_of_tradition_1_2096837 

Source Credit:

Scotsman.com.   “Tea trend makes mug of tradition.”   Scotsman.com, 4 Feb 2012.   Web.   6 Feb 2012.

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