Special Share From Emily!

Emily attended the Afternoon Tea talk on Saturday, April 25th at the Ringwood Public Library.   Today, I got a wonderful email with a picture of her tea pot.   Enjoy!

Teapot From Emily - Ringwood Public Library Tea Love Talk - Saturday, April 25, 2015

Teapot From Emily – Ringwood Public Library Tea Love Talk – Saturday, April 25, 2015. Thank You, Emily!

Remember, if you attend a Tea Love talk, let the organizer know if you are bringing children and I will make sure to have coloring pages on hand.

A Wonderful Tea Love Talk With The Ringwood Public Library

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!

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!

Another Successful Tea Love Talk!

Yesterday, I was in Mahwah, New Jersey at the Ramapo Reformed Church for my first ever fundraiser Tea Love talk.   Funds went to their Ladies Fellowship.

When I arrived, it was a gorgeous setup!   Tables with white porcelain cups and plates lined the room, each with a three-tiered tray laden with sweets nestled at the side.   Tucked in the middle were 12-inch plates packed with cucumber sandwiches, DELICIOUS cheese sticks (seriously, I need to get the recipe to share!), crab cakes, ham sandwiches, and all sorts of other goodies.   Perfect for an afternoon snack.

Three tables lined the side wall.   One had hats of all sorts, most looking like the were from the 1920s.   A sign explained that they were from one of the church’s members.   The middle contained my normal table – six different types of tea, displays of books, a chawan, some bamboo tools, matcha tea, loose tea versus bagged tea, and a “Fandom Tea” from Adagio Teas.   The last table had a bunch of Barbie dolls with crocheted outfits from the past, including a My Fair Lady Eliza Doolittle doll.

There must have been around thirty women there and even a few children (including a seventh birthday for a Miss Riley!).   We talked about tea, including the history, science, medical science, and how to brew a cup.   Finally, we wrapped up by dining on the great home-made food, drinking lots of tea, and enjoying each other’s company.

I truly enjoy each Tea Love talk that I do.   One woman at my last talk summed it up perfectly.   When I asked what people associate tea with, she answered, “Community,” stating people drinking tea just seem to become amiable and come together.   After hosting multiple Tea Love talks all over New Jersey, I can say that this is true.   I’ve seen people exchange phone numbers with complete strangers as they make plans to meet for a cup of tea.

So far, there is another fundraiser in the works for April that I am really excited for.   Keep on the lookout for the announcement!   If you are interested in having me come to talk to your organization (restricted to New Jersey), feel free to shoot me a message on Tea Love’s Facebook page and I will be sure to work out the details with you.

Thank you for reading, and happy sipping!

Another Thank You To West Milford Township Library!

Hello tea lovers!   This past Friday, Tea Love had its first ever children’s tea talk, complete with pretty dresses, a few princesses here and there, and of course, lots of tea 🙂

West Milford Township Library invited me a second time (I held an adult’s talk over there a while back) to come speak to a group of little girls (and one gentleman) and their mothers.   There, we had a lot of fun learning about afternoon teas and talking about tea in general.   I was amazed by how many of these fancy boys and girls had actually sampled tea prior to my talk!

After talking to the kids for a bit, we had a relay race.   There, children balanced a book on their heads (because after all, that’s what fancy people do to stand up straight), walk tea cups to a plate, take a “sip” out of their cups, and place their cups on the corresponding color that was underneath the cup.

After all that fun, everyone was hungry, and who wouldn’t be?   We had snacks of sandwiches, homemade cookies shaped like tea bags, and English muffins with some lemon curd and fruit!   The kids REALLY liked the cookies and the English muffins (I had to wait until I got home so I didn’t get my dress all messy, but I think they all came out rather well).

My favorite part was when we got to read Fancy Nancy, a book about a little girl who is just oh-so-fancy!   We heard all about Nancy’s super fancy boutique (that’s fancy for really amazing shop) and her efforts to try and buy a fan by selling all of her old clothes and a rhinestone necklace that her little sister truly wanted.

Finally, what would a tea party be without some tea?   Tea Love supplied four different types of tea from Clara Ngo, offering every child a small sample of any tea they wanted (with their parents’ permission, of course).

We held a raffle where six children won a Golden Tea Bag plaque and everyone took home coloring pages which will hopefully be submitted soon for an amazing blog!

So again, thank you so much for your hospitality, West Milford Township Library!   I hope to work with you guys again 🙂   And thanks to all the wonderful parents and the darling children that came out to the talk to partake in a fun afternoon.

 

Another Great Tea Love Talk, Another On The Way, And Dying Easter Eggs With Tea

First and foremost, I want to thank the Fairfield Free Public Library for hosting  me this past Thursday!   It was another wonderful group with some insightful guests.   Unfortunately, I did arrive a little late but everyone was very gracious, gave me ample time to set up, and I think we had a lovely conversation.   I got to hear from people who brewed tea in an Indian fashion – strong with milk – people who had Kombucha tea (which they said was delicious), and others who absolutely hated tea but was willing to give it a try (he said he would always be a coffee drinker at heart, but I am glad he at least gave it a shot!).   We talked about the affect that the staple and glue has on a cuppa (while I found no evidence swaying either way, try and use loose tea anyway) and how green tea can assist with weight loss.

Second, I have another Tea Love talk coming up!

Tea Love Hosting Children's Event at West Milford Township Library

Tea Love Hosting Children’s Event at West Milford Township Library

Yes, West Milford Township Library asked me to return, but this time, for a children’s talk.   I will be hosting an afternoon tea with all the boys and girls (fancy dress is required!), teaching them about the afternoon tea history, having a relay race, a mini fashion show where they can show off their tea cups, and breaking for lunch and a book.   Come on out, it’s bound to be a lot of fun!   And Tea Love will be giving out prizes at the event 🙂

Finally, onto a fun topic that I wrote about for the Riverdale, New Jersey newsletter – dying Easter eggs using tea.

Everyone knows that tea stains.  Teeth whitening commercials always address those pesky coffee and tea stains on your teeth that will be magically removed with one application of their fine product.  Clothing commercials feature red wine, coffee, and split tea mugs dashed across lily-white table clothes, only to be removed with the power of baking soda, peroxide, and awesome stain-fighting power.  But, with Easter just around the corner, children and adults alike can use the staining power of tea to make their own tea-infused eggs.

You can dye the eggs with one of two methods – the standard dip method where, rather than use food coloring tablets, you would use tea, or a method where you can give the eggs a marbled look.

To use the standard sip method which will produce an egg similar to your other Easter eggs, take your eggs and put them in a mixture of a tablespoon of vinegar, a cup of water, and a very strong-colored tea such as a raspberry herbal.  Allow it to soak refrigerated for a minimum of two hours, though the longer you leave the egg in the tea, the stronger the color will be.  When you take the eggs out and start eating them, you should get a slight taste of tea with each bite.

For a different look, you can also try the tea egg method.

Marbled Tea Eggs

Marbled Tea Eggs

According to blogger Ellen Easton, writer of Tea Travels, the tea eggs, also called marbled eggs due to the marbled look they get when they are shelled, are sold in Asia as tasty snacks or appetizers.  One can often find them on the streets being sold by vendors, though you can also find it in the restaurants and even convenience stores as well.

According to blog Appetite for China, to create these, hard boil the eggs prior to dying.  When the eggs are cool enough to handle, gently crack the eggs either by rolling them in a paper towel or by tapping them all over the shell with a spoon.  You want to be careful not to break any of the shell off the egg so that you get the cracks and lines but not a huge splotch of color.  Put the eggs back into the water and add two tea bags of black tea, ½ cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, 2 pieces of star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper, and 2 to 3 strips of dried mandarin peel.   Cover the eggs by an inch, then bring the water to a boil.  Lower the heat then to a bare simmer, and allow the eggs to stay for at least one to two hours or until you reach the desired flavor and color.

When you are ready to serve, get the camera and watch the pleasant surprised faces as people get to see your lovely creations.

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?

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: Destination Britain

History:

Tea and Chinese porcelain came as a set to Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the Dutch East India Company brought them over.   At first, the drink was not even recognized.   Thomas Garraway, coffeehouse owner, had to actually explain what this exotic beverage even was through pamphlets and advertisements.   By 1659, tea was found on every street corner, gaining popularity quickly amongst the British populace.

Children Seem Enraptured By The Idea of Tea Parties

Children Seem Enraptured By The Idea of Tea Parties

As seems to be the norm with tea history, it first began as an elite drink.   At one point, tea actually cost over $100 per pound due to travel and shipping costs.   However, cost soon went down in 1675 and started becoming available in food shops in Holland and France.   Demand immediately went up.   Between 1720 and 1750, The British East India Company’s tea import more than quadrupled.   Fleets dedicated to the delivery of tea developed.

The drink’s ability to warm the imbiber and even help cure the common cold was a huge draw.   On top of that, it was easy to make.   Drinkers would just put the tea leaves in hot water, allow it to steep and then enjoy.   The porcelain tea bowls would sometimes be shipped with the tea so the fashionable could sip in style.   This created a whole new market for tea, as Europe attempted to imitate the intricate porcelain Chinese ware.

When the railway expanded, the tea market surprisingly did not meet the demand.   This caused tea prices to go up.   As tea preparation faced new innovations, the price started going down again.   London was able to boast that they became the center of international tea trade during the first half of the 20th century.

Tea gardens flourished for a bit, where tea would be taken outside with guests.   They would be entertained by orchestras, food and, of course, the beverage of the hour.   Classes were allowed to mix at this time, rather than aristocrats keeping amongst themselves and the middle class in their own area.   However, they have since lost their popularity since World War II.

Conducting a British Tea Party:

The famous tea parties, which children seem to love to imitate with their high-end plastic-ware, are still popular to this day.   Typically, the British drink black teas served with milk and light snacks.   Stronger teas are served with lots of milk, sugar and served in a mug, a style called builder’s tea.   Some people drink six cups of tea a day or more and some employers even allow tea breaks.

There is a difference between afternoon tea and high tea!   First, we will focus on general tea protocol.

–          Tea is normally drunk from a mug.   However, if there is an event that is even slightly formal, porcelain cups and saucers are used.

–          The tea kettle is brought to a boil and the water is transferred into a tea pot.

–          Water is swirled in the tea pot to warm the pot, then thrown out.

–          Usually, black loose tea is used, though sometimes tea bags are substituted.

–          Water is added to the tea and a tea cosy is placed on top in order to keep the tea pot warm.

–          Milk can either be added to the tea cup before the tea is poured or after, depending on the preference of the guest and the host.   It is a matter of debate if this changes the taste or not.

–          A tea strainer is placed on top of the tea cup before the tea is poured in order to catch the tea leaves.

–          Lemon slices (not wedges) can be added to the tea if desired.   However, do not add a lemon to tea with milk already in it.   It will curdle the milk and result in sour-tasting tea.

–          When drinking the tea at a table, it is only proper to lift the tea cup, not the saucer.   The cup is placed back on the saucer between sips.

–          When drinking tea in a chair, hold the saucer in the non-dominate hand and the cup in the dominate hand.   The cup and saucer are held at waist-height or in the lap when not being enjoyed.

–          While holding the tea cup, the thumb should be at the six o’clock position and the index and middle finger at the twelve o’clock position.   The pinky is gently raised for balance.   Never loop your fingers around the handle, nor hold the cup in your hands.

–          When stirring the tea, do not swish the spoon around, nor leave the spoon in when finished.   Place it on the right hand of the saucer.

Afternoon tea is a tea served in lieu of dinner, taking place between 3:00PM and 5:00PM.   Because of social changes and busy work schedules, afternoon tea is more for special occasions rather than a regular event.

Of course, tea is still served during afternoon tea.   It tends to be the black, loose tea served in the tea kettle.   However, the snacks are presented on a three-tier stand.   The first stand holds the scones.   The second one, the savories and tea sandwiches.   Finally, the third stand holds the sweets.   The food is eaten in order of tier.

High tea, also known as “meat tea,” is a heartier meal served typically between 5:00PM and 7:00PM.   Rather than the snacks and finger foods, meat dishes are served.   The meal got its name since the meal was served at a high table.

Photo Credit:

Arlington Mama.   18 April 2011.   kids-tea-party.JPEG, 1 Feb 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Squidoo.   “The Ceremony of Tea: English Style.”   Squidoo.com, 2012.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Victorian Bazaar.   “The Tea Tradition: A History of Tea Time.”   Victorian Bazaar, 2000.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Wikipedia.   “British Tea Culture.”   Wikipedia, 30 Jan 2012.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Wissotzky Tea.   “Ceremonies and Culture.”   Wissotzky Tea, 2007.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.