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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 email@example.com. 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!
This post is something special to me.
Back in 2011, I went overseas, from New Jersey to Japan in order to visit my friend Sara, who happened to be studying Japanese as an exchange student at the time. Sara’s mother, Sherri, and i boarded our flight in Newark, New Jersey, and landed in Narita Airport March 11, 2011. We disembarked the plane and were walking through customs when the first wave hit – a 4.0 earthquake. Sure, it was scary. I remember not knowing what was going on at first and even thinking that it was turbulence from a plane taking off. But once I saw people starting to duck and cover their heads, it hit me – this is an earthquake.
Sherri and I joined a group that was huddled in the middle of the room, drawing other frightened tourists towards us and covering our heads to protect ourselves. Fortunately, that wave passed and we laughed it off. Nothing big at all. We must have looked pretty silly to those who go through earthquakes on a regular basis.
When the second one hit though, that was about a 7.2 magnitude. Though Sherri and I did not speak any Japanese, we understood that we had to exit the building. Watching the windows ebb and flow like ocean waves was a bit terrifying.
Sherri and I managed to leave the airport and stood outside with the others who were stranded. Sherri, understandably, was worried about Sara, who is legally blind and was taking mass transit to meet us at Narita Airport. We met a woman who became our angel for the trip, Masana, who stayed with us the entire time, making sure we were safe, cared for, and that we would be able to find my friend.
Finally, Sara, through walking and hitch-hiking, managed to meet us at the airport and found our rag-tag group of friends that we had made – an exchange student named Peter, Masana, mother Maureen who was meeting her daughter Meghan, and Mithras.
Through a series of events involving rolling brown-outs, frightened nights reading about nuclear reactors melting, and even a volcanic eruption, our ten-day trip all around Japan turned into a five-day race, staying with people who were nothing short of angels throughout our trip (I will never be able to give Masana, Peter, Maureen, Mithras, Hiroko, the girls dormitory of Soka University, and Momo the fully proper thank you that they deserve).
And now, I ask for your help. Though it has been years since the earthquake occurred, the repairs will take nothing short of decades. Please, consider donating some funds to the various relief efforts to try and rebuild after this devastating disaster. This nation has been through so much, and any assistance that you can give to help these brave people are most appreciated.
First and foremost… TEA LOVE TALK SCHEDULED!
On Saturday, February 28th, I will be speaking at the Ladies Fellowship Tea for my sister-in-law’s church. This will be starting at noon and I will go over all my tea basics, as well as bring a sampling for all of you to try. Try and make it!
Now, onto tea…
Let me tell you, I am fortunate to have a guy that not only allows me to have my obsessive tea habits, he feeds into it and even engages in them himself!
So, for Valentine’s Day weekend that is coming up, I am going to talk about a gift he bought me in January – a tea plant!
Now, I am definitely not the best when it comes to plant care. Give me an animal, a human even (just babysitting though), I can coddle it, pet it, feed it, clothe it, and make it feel like the pretty prince/princess it is. A plant? They cower in fear, seemingly sentient to the fact that I have caused the death of many of their plant brethren since the day I was born. I have killed air plants, succulents, hardy mums – you name it, it probably perished by my hand at some point in 26 years.
So, needless to say, when Camilo came over to me and put this pot in my hand, I was a little nervous. How on Earth would I be able to keep this treasure alive? A true love hobby given to me by a true love – if I allow it to die, both he and I would be heart-broken.
So thankfully, while I have a black thumb, my father has an amazing green one, growing bountiful gardens every year and ensuring all the plant life that my family and I have accumulated over the years (what can I say? I see a pretty plant, I still want to at least try to grow it!) stay green. In the meantime, this has also allowed me to look up how to even care for this plant to ensure that i can one day make a proper brew out of it (PS – popping off some leaves and throwing them in a mug, while it does work, does not produce the greatest of tea. I will look into processing the leaves another day when I have a bit more time).
Important things to note –
Tea plants are all from the Camellia genus, which is resilient and adaptable.
I know that when I first got the plant, all I could think of was, Whelp, there’s another plant to throw in the compost heap in the backyard. Did I want to? Of course not! Did I think I would have to? Admittedly, with my luck, I kind of assumed that all my plants would make it there eventually. It is comforting to know, though, that it is resilient, so it won’t die within my first week of owning it.
Buy Camellia sinensis, not Camellia assamica.
The Camellia sinensis, which is this plant, is the Chinese variety that one can grow tea in hardy environments. The Camellia assamica, however, is the Indian variety. While you can produce tea still, this one is not as adaptable to the cold. Tea bushes are best in zone 7 climates (mostly in Southeastern states), but you can grow them indoors or in greenhouses to protect against the winter. As you can probably tell by my couch in the background of this picture, that is exactly what I am doing.
Acidic soil is great, but the plants aren’t picky.
My family has in our backyard a blueberry bush. That thing adores acidic soil. I was ready to possibly dig up some soil from around there, but then I found out that it is OK to just grow the plant in the same soil that I would for the vegetable garden. This is positive news, given that if you told me to measure the pH balance of the soil, I would make a deer in the headlights look intelligent and all-knowing.
Sun or shade is good, so long as they’re not competing.
Your plant won’t grow as strong if it’s trying to get sunlight.
Be careful of too much water!
This is a mistake that I was making initially. I keep forgetting – tea plants are used to drought-prone environments and survive dry summers. I was watering mine regularly, which caused a lot of the leaves to fall almost immediately and turn. I have been leaving it alone and I can hear my plant yelling, Thank you!
Wait two years for making a good amount of tea.
To make a reasonable amount of tea, wait two years. To regularly harvest, wait five years.
So, it sounds like I have a little waiting to do. For now though, I think I can wait on my tea by going into the stash that I have piling up on my kitchen cabinet.
Hope everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day!
Oh noz! My final Red Rose K-cup review! For those of you who are late to the game, Red Rose gave me three different types of K-cups to review – English Breakfast, Original, and now, Naturally Decaffeinated.
For those of you who don’t know, decaffeinated tea STILL CONTAINS CAFFEINE. It is in trace amounts, but it is still present, so please tread lightly if you have any allergies to caffeine. Tea labeled as decaffeinated must have less than 2.5% of the original caffeine level.
Red Rose uses a process to decaffeinate their tea called the ethyl acetate, or EA, process, which is also the most widely used method in the US. Basically, this means that the chemical ethyl acetate, which is found naturally in tea, is used as a solvent to extract the caffeine.
Now, the most important question – how is the tea?
The first thing that I noticed about the tea was that it was lighter in appearance than the others. While this normally is not a bad thing, it did sadly translate over into taste a bit. I only tasted a hint of the tea and have not been able to figure out why. I did find that the ethyl acetate is very difficult to remove and can leave a chemical taste to the tea sometimes. However, thankfully, this was not the case. The tea was just a bit weak for my taste. It smells strong, and I brewed it in the Keurig as I did the other teas, but for some reason, this one is just not working for me.
So, in short, while I do love Red Rose tea, I am not sure if I will be running off to purchase more K-cups. I might get the Original since that tasted like normal Red Rose tea, but the English Breakfast tasted just like the Original, so I’m not sure if that is worth it.
So Red Rose, I do thank you, and I will keep buying your tea bags, but your K-cups are not my cup of tea.