Monday, February 29, 2016

Little Girls' First Tea Party

Team Darjeeling

Little Girls' First Tea Party

Years ago when my youngest granddaughter was 3 (she's now 19yo), I started sharing teatime with her- a pot of Earl Grey tea, her favorite, making her cup with a little tea and a lot of milk and sugar. As she got older, we'd go to Afternoon Tea at tearooms around the Bay Area and discuss the food, the tea- what was good and not so good.  We'd talk about school, friends, family and it all created a very special bond between us.  She's now away at college and I miss her and those times. 

Earlier this week I hosted a small tea luncheon party for my dearest neighbor girls and their mothers. Holly is 5yo and Caitlin is 3yo and they are cute as can be, full of curiosity and energy and very friendly.  Neither of them had "gone to tea" before so they were very excited, and I certainly thought it's time to introduce them to this wonderful experience.  Neither of their moms had "gone to tea" either, so it was new for everyone.  They were welcomed at the door by Godzilla and a special teapot sign.

For the table I mixed  the themes of blue TARDIS with Valentines and my Rose chintz dishes, which were a gift from my husband many years ago.

We started the meal with Eve Hill's Kensington Palace scones served with whipped butter and homemade Strawberry and Lime jam (a gift from Holly's mother, jam-maker extraordinaire!).  The girls were drinking a tisane served in the traveling TARDIS teapot, Roasted Almond Fruit, from my friend Roberta's shop Experience Tea.  (These mothers would never have approved of caffeine tea and milk and sugar!) This tea is so delicious hot or iced- it's now my take-to-work cold drink. We grownups drank a lovely Kenya Hand Rolled black tea from Robertson Tea- light but complex in flavor, somewhat reminding me of Yunnan Golden Bud.  

I'd worried about savories, sandwiches- what to fix for little girls still in picky-eater ages?  Martha helped by suggesting sandwiches with sprinkles, and I thought- everyone likes bacon and eggs, so the menu developed from there.  

Our savory course included teapot-shaped peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles sandwiches, egg and bacon tarts and turkey roll-ups with cheddar cheese and apricot jam.  The teapot sandwiches were of course a big hit (chocolate sprinkles!), but the others, while appreciated by the moms, were only nibbled by the girls.  Oh well, thankfully none of us had high expectations around them eating.

The sweeties included Salted Caramel chocolate cupcakes (my favorite Farmer's Market baker), Jammie Rodgers cookies, a gift from Martha, and homemade lemon bars.  As expected, these were a much bigger hit with the girls and their moms all around.

The girls were by then antsy in their seats, so left the table to play with toys in the toy chest and run around in the living room.  They did have to be reminded on manners a few times, "please", "may I leave the table" (they are little girls after all), but they and their moms were wonderful guests and we had a great time.  We all enjoyed sitting at the special table, eating special food- as I heard one of the moms say to her daughter.

Now I'm planning to invite them over for tea and books.  I completely forgot to read one of my children's tea books!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Celebrating Tea in San Diego

Team Darjeeling

Celebrating Tea in San Diego

Before going to Martha's to do our Gentlemen's Tea, I visited a dear friend in San Diego.  She was my mother's best friend for fifty years and I continue to visit her every 1-2years, though my mother's been gone ten years.  We have a delightful time- talking about life, old memories and my mom, politics, family and our dear animals.  She is 92year old and starting to have memory problems sometimes, so I want to visit more frequently now.

I've taken her to tea a couple of times before and we always have fun, so this visit I called Aubrey Rose Tea Room spur-of-the-moment on Saturday afternoon and, amazingly, they had one table left!  We quickly dressed and drove over for Afternoon Tea.  It was a beautiful day, with blue, blue sky and bright sunshine streaming through the windows.

They were happy to prepare my tea in the Traveling TARDIS and I chose Assam black tea.  Fern had English Breakfast.  They put each pot on a warming stand.

We ordered the Lady Anne Afternoon Tea for two.  Our waiter was charming and attentive, refreshing our cups as she walked by, despite being very busy on this day before Valentine's Day, and the food was beautifully presented on the tiered tray, and oh so yummy.

The Savories Plate had sandwiches of egg salad on wheat, and cucumber and cream cheese on white, crostini with artichoke heart, garlic and cheese, a small cheddar and herb scone and sun-dried tomato palmerie.  The scone was cranberry with orange glaze, served with lemon curd and homemade cream and fresh fruit.  On the Sweeties Plate on top were chocolate shortbread cookies topped with chocolate mousse, red velvet cupcakes and bread pudding with a whiskey sauce and whipped cream.  Everything was delicious, we were stuffed, saying we couldn't eat another bite yet we both managed to eat everything and drink our teapots dry.

We had a lovely memorable afternoon enjoying the beautiful day, the charming tearoom and delicious tea and food, and ambling along the street, going in and out of antique shops.  Fern told several people back at the condo about our "glorious afternoon" of tea and goodies. We were so full from our tea meal that we never ate dinner that evening!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Books on tea, books on time travel...

Team Darjeeling 

Books on tea, books on time travel...

Continuing the discussion of the wonder of books, I wanted to share a bit about the time travel books in our Gentlemen's Tea tablescape.

The books were on a "best time travel books" list I found. I had read a couple, and especially loved A Wrinkle in Time, part of a children's series The Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle, which I'd read with my son as a boy and we both loved the series. But I knew little about the others so did some research. After several hours on the Internet, reading and wading through histories and commentaries, I thought I'd share some time travel tidbits. I'm sipping Irish Breakfast tea from the Traveling Tardis as I write.

First let me say that the concept of time travel fascinates me, even though I'm not a science fiction fan. But the idea of moving about in time, possibly influencing your own future is pretty intriguing, and that is a premise of several of the books. On the other hand, some stories on time travel insist that the travelers must NOT influence events. This is, in fact, often a dilemma with Doctor Who and his companions. While some time travel books are considered hard science fiction, others are classified as romance or spiritual, or even just popular literature.

It's fascinating that the earliest written books on the list are from the 1880s and 1890s! Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee and HG Wells' The Time Machine were critical of the contemporary society and popular ideas- Twain of romanticized chivalry, especially during the Civil War, and Wells of class structure in Victorian England. The other book from 1887, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, is about a young Bostonian who goes into a hypnotic sleep and awakens in the year 2000 in a socialist utopia of no war, crime or personal want.  All three books were widely popular in their day and very influential to the genre of time travel literature, especially HG Wells. I'm sure there must have been a Dr Who episode with HGWells!

How people travel through time in these books varies a lot. Some go into hypnotic states, some travel through portals of space and time, like in The Outlander by Diane Gabaldon, 11/22/63 by Stephen King and Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.  And others travel in time machines- first described by Wells but also used in The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Time and Again by Jack Finney, The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov and The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein. A new twist on time travel is in The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger- he had a genetic affliction called Chrono- Impairment, causing him to travel involuntarily through his own past and future! This actually is similar to Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, where the hero becomes 'unstuck' in time and simultaneously lives through phases of his life.

Some of the books are classics with great influence on the genre of science fiction and time travel.  Some have been widely popular beyond science fiction readers and many have been made into movies or television series- Outlander, The Time Machine, Time Traveler's Wife,  Connecticcut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Slaughterhouse Five, Time After Time and the latest is 11/22/63 on Cable TV.

Learning about these books was an unintentional side benefit of our Gentlemen's Tea, but I was enthralled by the differences, commonalities, politics and technologies used in these time travel books written over the last 150 years. A few are now on my To-Read list. I hope you enjoyed this very brief lesson on Time Travel literature. It is only the tip of the iceberg in the fascinating variances of time travel imaginings.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Orient Express - Istanbul to Paris - Farewell

Team Oolong

Orient Express  - Istanbul to Paris - Farewell

<<When investigating the deaths occurring aboard the Orient Express in space, the Twelfth Doctor approached Professor Moorhouse regarding the myth of the Foretold and exchanged information with him. During their conversation, he took out a cigarette case full of jelly babies from his coat, offering one to the professor. (TV:Mummy on the Orient Express)>>

I’ve always wanted to travel on the Orient Express so after reminding the doctor of the above episode we took off!  We boarded in Istanbul – destination, Paris!  

We were seated in the luxurious section of the 1920’s dining car.

The anticipation of afternoon tea was heightened as we saw “The Tardis” on our reserved Orient Express table card.  The Turkish “Rose Petals & Black Tea” that had just been purchased in Istanbul was being steeped for us.  Its wonderful aroma wafted through the air from the spout of The Tardis. 

Jelly Babies waited to be offered….   

As the train pulled into Paris Gare de l’ Est my heart was filled with gratitude to The Tardis for bringing such fun to the imaginary and the real journeys and tea times we’ve shared these past six weeks.

Fond Farewell……..

Cheers and Happy Sipping!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

“Books! The Best Weapons in the World” & Favorite Tea Books

Team Oolong

“Books! The Best Weapons in the World” & Favorite Tea Books

“You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”
— The Doctor, Season 2, Episode 2

Books are so empowering…in so many ways and in ways that sometimes surprise me.  Books about tea are quite varied in concept and  in content.  I have learned so much about tea from books and have been blessed to have been gifted many unusual ones from friends and family.
I decided to gather some of them to look through today so I put them on the antique Georgian revolving Jefferson tea table. 


The Tardis is pouring “Bohea” a lightly smoked black tea from The Jefferson Monticello gift shop, a gift from friend Mary Jane.  The English tea trio is the oldest one in my collection dating to the early 1800’s near the year of Jefferson’s death.

Our tea treat today are little Tortilla book tea sandwiches .

Won’t you join me with a cup of tea and pause to tell us what your favorite tea book is?

Cheers and Happy Sipping!
Martha  (look in comments for one of my favorites where you can add yours too)

Books, Weapons, Favorite Tea books, Tortilla sandwich books, Bohea tea, Jefferson revolving tea table, Monticello tea, First Edition Book, French Book

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Gentlemen’s Tea with the Doctors

Teams Darjeeling and Oolong

Gentlemen’s Tea with the Doctors

The Tardis Twin Teapots and their hostesses invited favorite Doctors today for a Gentlemen’s Tea. 
When Colleen and I learned we would both be hosting Tardis teapots in February she suggested that we host a tea party together with both teapots.  A couple years ago we had enjoyed chatting and researching ideas about doing a Gentlemen’s Tea Party- so we decided it would be great fun to do that with the Doctors.  And thanks to Holly’s helpful inspirations, today we were able to do just that!

Colleen: My favorite Doctors are the fourth, Tom Baker, and the tenth, David Tennant, so we invited them especially to our Gentlemen’s Tea.  Martha kindly extended the invitations and we welcomed them to the tea table. 

Monday we worked on a time travel tablescape and had such fun pulling it together with things we both had.  We had chatted about general menu ideas and finalized that as well and started cooking.

Tardis I poured Fancy Golden Tippy Hao Ya, a black tea from Yunnan Province, China.

We started with a Kensington Palace Scone and a Red Bow Tie yeast roll, accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream, lemon curd and apricot jam, both homemade. (Colleen: You must know that all homemade and fresh baked foods throughout our meal are made by Martha and are quite wonderful!)

Then a fun roasted shrimp pipette on a block of ice….as you take a bite of shrimp you squeeze a taste of the cocktail sauce at the same time into your mouth…what fun!  I think this might have been a favorite of the doctors!

The next course of sandwiches and savories included Roast Beef on Seeduction Bread with onion jam and a Sweetie Drop Pepper, Cucumber with butter and Dill on white bread,  Prosciutto with fennel pollen cream cheese rolled in a Swedish pancake, topped with fennel frond and flower, Scottish Egg Canape (recipe from newest Tea Time Magazine) and mini Shepherd’s Pie with a crown of mashed potato. We continued with the same black tea, which was a sweet, mildly malty complement to the savory flavors.

Everyone was a bit full after all this, so we took a little break, shared a pot of Anji Bai Cha, a very light and refreshing green tea from Tao Tea Leaf in Canada poured from the Tardis II .  We discussed the varied books written over the last century on Time Travel scattered throughout the centerpiece.  The Doctors had very interesting views on some of these novels!

Desserts included French Lemon Tart, a Strawberry, Black Powder Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Truffles rolled in Bourbon Sugar and the Doctors’ favorite Jammie Dodger cookie. Packages of Jammie Dodgers wrapped with a red bow were favors for the guests to take home.  We enjoyed the sweets with the Anji Bai Cha. 
By now it was evening so we closed our meal and time together with a nightcap of Basil Hayden’s Artisan Bourbon from Kentucky- so smooth.  

We sipped and savored this very lovely special time we shared together before saying goodnight and farewell.

Cheers and happy sipping,
Martha & Colleen

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Oods and Zocci for Breakfast? Blue Tea that turns Purple?

Team Darjeeling and Team Oolong

Oods and Zocci for Breakfast?  Blue Tea that turns Purple?

Tea Darjeeling Team hostess arrived last night for a short visit and since she is a big Dr. Who fan, I wanted to surprise her with a fun breakfast today!

The homemade yogurt is ready, with just a bit of passion fruit pulp.
Homemade orange nut bread came out of the freezer to be toasted in the waffle iron. 
Some cheese from the frig to enjoy with…
WHAT????  How did ZOCCI get on my plate???  And WHAT is this egg?  Oh, no!  An OOD!!!!

It’s a beautiful sunny morning with wonderful views of Martha’s garden out the windows, very serene, thankfully a balance to what’s on the breakfast plate, and the homemade yogurt is creamy soft and flavored- yummm, delicious.

Well, at least tea is tea, no surprises there.  The Tardis starts pouring the tea…..
OH MY, it’s BLUE!! 

I suggest she add some lemon and now it is PURPLE!!!!   

How fun is that!  Thanks for enjoying the fun, Colleen!

Zocci is actually Rambutan fruit  -- the eyes on the Ood are Sweetie Drop Peppers -- the tea is really a tisane, Butterfly Pea Flower, and yes it really does turn purple when you squeeze lemon juice into it.  The Butterfly pea Homemade tea is from Sawanbondin farm in Thailand.  It purports to stimulate blood circulation, improve blood flow, nourish the eyes, solve the beriberi and help make hair black (oh, let’s hope not!).  So far neither of us have black hair, but we do feel more invigorated.

Cheers and Happy Sipping!

Monday, February 15, 2016

We're on Our Way Now!

Team Darjeeling

We're on Our Way Now!

Awwww- at last!
It's been a full couple of weeks and I am finally able to post.
The Tardis teapot arrived on my door step in Northern California right on schedule, ready for adventures. I found it there, guarded by Godzilla in his Valentine's ribbon. He is the last of my husband's collection and sits on my front porch, welcoming guests and guarding against bad spirits.

I unpacked it and set it on my table, adding two traveling companions, a Tardis sugar bowl and Dalek creamer, for all its future adventures! The Doctor has always had traveling companions so I figured "why not the Traveling Tardis teapot?"

Unfortunately, then I got sick with a winter cold. I used the Tardis for hot water to make hot lemon, honey and brandy tea but alas, no pictures. Who thinks of pictures when they're sick? The lemon- honey tea helped ease the sore throat and headache, easing me off to slumber for a few days. Meyer lemons are having a robust harvest in my neighborhood this year so I've benefited from my neighbors' abundant oversupply!

Now that I feel better, I'm heading off to Southern California to visit friends for a week or so. We should have some tea adventures with the traveling Tardis in tow.

Until then,

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Valentine Strawberry Rose & Pink Tea

Team Oolong

A Valentine Strawberry Rose & Pink Tea

A Valentine Rose for you made with simple cuts to a strawberry….

And a glass of “Pink Flamingo/Flamant Rose” filled with Valentine Wishes for each of you!
In lieu of a napkin, a valentine handkerchief c. 1940 from my grandmother’s collection.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers and Happy Sipping
Tea is actually a tisane from DAVIDsTEA in Canada.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Poison Lipstick & Ring - East Frisian Tea - Germany

Team  Oolong

Poison Lipstick & Ring - East Frisian Tea - Germany

Do you remember the Dr. Who episode involving the German leader in the 30’s?  The one in which Mels/Riversong wore poison lipstick?  Poison lipstick…..intriguing isn’t it? But then she kissed the doctor while she was wearing it -- and oh dear!

Today The Tardis landed in Germany and is pouring East Frisian Tea from Miss Spenser’s Specialty Teas, a gift from friends Donna and Spenser.   They were kind enough to share the history of it with me as well as some of the large sugar clumps called Kluntjes that are used. 
It is traditionally served in an East Frisian pink rose teacup.  My antique German teacup with pink roses is from my mother’s collection.   It isn’t the East Frisian rose design, but it is very special to me.  The pink “Diamond” sugar cube tray and creamer is from her collection as well.  I’m enjoying my tea time in my room with pink roses.  Pink roses in the glass shade on the lamp and a beautiful pink rose needlepoint picture that Mother made for me from a blank canvas many years ago.

A “Kluntje” is placed in each cup.  Carefully the tea is poured over the sugar while one enjoys the crackling sound of the bursting sugar crystals.  Then using a special Rohmlepel spoon (my antique cream ladle worked just fine) a bit of cream (yes real cream, not milk) is carefully placed on the surface of the tea.  The cream sinks into the tea and then rises again to the surface like a “Wulkje” (a little white cloud).  The tea is not stirred.  It is customary to drink 3 cups.

To enjoy with tea today is an edible raspberry Lipstick.  You just twist the lipstick case to raise the lipstick up to eat it.  I love to serve this fun surprise!  Of course, mine aren’t poison!!   To enjoy with it are delicious Schogetten  chocolates from Germany.

My jewelry today is a vintage poison ring which can conceal either a poison pill or an antidote. A poison ring is a type of ring with a container under the bezel or inside the bezel itself that could be used to hold poison or another substance. They became popular in Europe during the sixteenth century. The poison ring was used either to slip poison into an enemy's food or drink, or to facilitate the suicide of the wearer in order to escape capture or torture.  Mine is certainly not used for either…just part of a collection of fun things. I doubt that it was from the London jeweler whose ring box it is in, but that is how it was presented to me years ago.

I hope you enjoyed our tea time today as much as I did.

Cheers and Happy Sipping!