Relationships and connections are important to me. I think that's one reason that I enjoy the practice of taking tea. Afternoon tea with a friend provides opportunity to connect, communicate, and share. Research shows that relationships are extremely important in health and longevity. I'm glad for teatime moments with friends. These times are a special blessing.
And how fun is it to help connect your friends from different parts of your life! The story goes like this. My friend, Hazel, has been my buddy since we met in a religion class when we were freshmen in college. The class met at 7:30 am and our professor was a New Testament theologian. Somehow Hazel and I became friends in those early-daytime hours of deep thought. That friendship has remained over many years. She is one of those forever friends. The kind that you know will love you until the day you die. Recently she told me that she was going on a humanitarian mission to the Solomon Islands. On the way home, she was going to visit Australia and New Zealand.
This reminded me of my friend, Susanna.
Susanna is a more recent friend. We met online through a group interested in educating kids. She is super friendly and most interesting to visit with. And, Susanna lives in Australia! So, I thought it would be fun to hook Hazel and Susanna up. Hazel contacted Susanna, saying she was a friend of mine. And things took off from there. In the end, Susanna and her family hosted Hazel and her travel companions for four adventurous days! Susanna is a tour hostess of excellence! From her heart, and because of friendship, she provided beds, breakfasts (and lunches and dinners), and tours of Sydney and surrounding areas. Train travel, ferry rides, foot travel, museums, aquariums, China town, gardens, and so much more were crammed into a few short days. Amazing energy, instant friendship (Hazel and Susanna), and fun times were had. Too soon (for them), the journey ended and Hazel's group returned home.
Yesterday Hazel and I met for a four-hour lunch and tea, because we had a lot to talk about and catch up on!
Hazel is my friend who does not like tea. Susanna made it her mission to get Hazel to try some while in Sydney. So, over lunch in China town, she made sure to provide Hazel with a cup of Jasmine Green Tea. She documented it with photo and sent it out by Facebook immediately! Hazel is such a good sport!
We met for lunch at a restaurant whose theme centers around farm and western decor and food. I was quite sure they wouldn't offer Jasmine Green tea, so I brought my own! Stash Jasmine Blossom Green Tea in convenient tea bags were produced from my purse; the waitress kindly brought us mugs and hot water. Instructions were given to Hazel to steep it "only one minute" because I thought she might actually enjoy it if it was gentle and weak. And she did! We visited. I listened to stories of Hazel's travel adventures. We talked about Susanna (who is coming to American next year, so we have some planning to do!). The hours flew by quickly!
And Hazel brought gifts from Australia. Beautifully wrapped, she presented me with a lovely tea kit from Susanna. It's paired with an Australian tea towel from Hazel. The tea is by Tea Tonic and is named Australiana Tea. The tin says that it is cool, dry, vast and a whole lot of soul. It contains lemon myrtle, sage, and eucalyptus leaf.
This morning, tea was taken on the porch. I paired my Australiana Tea from Susanna with the tea towel from Hazel. In my cupboard was a mug of Australian Roadsigns (featuring Australian animals like wombats, crocodiles, koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, emus and camels) that was brought home to me by Dad and Alma on a trip they took to Australia in the past. The tea was delicious! The sage, very evident, giving it a surprisingly nutty taste. With notes of eucalyptus in the background, the cup is accented by lemon myrtle. This was a wonderful way to wake up and take on the day!
Thank you for the lovely gifts, Hazel and Susanna!
What's in your teacup today? I'd love to know. Is it something you enjoy on an everyday basis? Or did you have something in your teacup that was unique and special to the day?
My teacup this morning is a Crown Kensington called Teal Chintz. It's fine bone china from Staffordshire, England. It was a gift from a sweet friend and is one of my favorite cup and saucer sets. The cheerful colors help start my day on a positive note! Today it contains a classic Ceylon tea from the Kenilworth Estate. Called Sonata, it is a fresh with citrusy tones. A bit of milk and stevia accompany this tea to create a cup of perfection.
"Peasant and King are equals over the teacups...".
"Tea is much more than a mere drink in Britain. It is a solace, a mystique, an art, a way of life, almost a religion. It is more deeply traditional than the roast beef of old England....This khaki-colored concoction, brewed through an accident of history from an exotic plant grown thousands of miles from fog, cricket and left-handed driving, has become the life-blood of the nation."
Many years ago, there was an old peasant who loved his tea. After a long, hard day's work, he would come into his humble cottage, heat up the water in his beat-up samovar that had definitely seen better days when his grandma was still alive, carefully measured out the tea, brewed it in his teapot that was in worse shape than the samovar, and pour it into his chipped cup.
Then, he would sit down in his old wooden chair. He would lift the cup to his nose, sniff the tea deeply, take a sip, smile, lay back in his chair, and deeply sigh, "Ah! Good!"
He liked to talk about drinking his tea to his friends. He would often say, "I enjoy my tea just like the czar!"
Well....the czar got wind of this. And the czar, being the czar, was, you might say, just a bit angry. How dare a mere peasant say he was anything like a czar!
So, he had the peasant hauled up before him.
The czar said: "I heard that you think that you enjoy your tea just like me. Now, before I punish you for your nerve, I will give you a chance to prove it!"
He made the peasant sit beside him in a comfortable, carved chair lined with the finest silk. "Is your chair like this one?" asked the czar?
"Um...no...." said the peasant.
The czar clapped his hands. Several servants appeared. One brought out a beautiful samovar made of gold and decorated with all kinds of jewels. "Is your samovar like mine?" asked the czar.
"No," gasped the peasant in awe.
Another servant measured out the tea from a caddy made from the finest imported wood and brewed the tea in a teapot that outshone the samovar.
"Do servants serve you your tea?" asked the czar.
"Oh, no," said the peasant. "Definitely not."
A third servant poured the tea in tea cups made of the finest bone china, and handed the czar and the peasant their cups.
"Does your cup look like mine?" asked the czar.
"No," said the peasant.
Then they both lifted their cups to their noses, both took a deep, appreciative sniff, both took a sip, both laid back in their chairs, and both sighed deeply, "Ah! Good!"
The czar stared at the peasant in amazement. "Wow!" he said. "You certainly do enjoy your tea just like I do!"
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 Tbs. Florida Crystals (unbleached sugar) 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup papaya concentrate (juice) 1 Tbs. oil a pinch or salt 1/4 cup golden raisins 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add water, papaya concentrate and oil; stir. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork only until batter is moistened. Add golden raisins and walnuts and mix in gently. Drop in tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes.
TEA, by Susan Branch, is a very small book that contains lots of tea wisdom. Each page is a small, tag-board unit with two holes punched on the side. Pages are stacked and placed in a folded cover, then tied with a pretty blue ribbon. The theme is tea and friendship, but the contents are otherwise eclectic. The font is Susan's beautiful script. Tiny hearts dot the pages. And drawings of teacups, polka dots, laces, and food fill the space between the covers. There's even a recipe for Lavender Tea Cookies! On one page, Susan advises the reader to invite your girlfriends over for tea --- make it cozy in front of a fire, eat treats, and talk, talk, talk. Isn't that wonderful advice? I love it! This book was published by Cedco Publishing with date not given.
I don't know if I like this book best for its artistic illustrations of food and drink, or for the wealth of recipes it contains. A Little English Book of Teas presents an exquisite array of afternoon tea fare. From crumpets, to watercress sandwiches, Florentines, Bramble jelly, scones, and more, each recipe is accompanied by a delightful full-color illustration. This darling little book was first published in 1989 by Chronicle Books. It's authored by Rosa Mashiter with illustrations by Milanda Lopez. If you enjoy the art of afternoon tea, I think you will like this book.
Photo: Teapot, St. Petersburg, Russia; a gift from my youngest son
The art of Sandy Lynam Clough draws richly upon scenes that include teacups, teapots, linens, and lace. If those are things you enjoy, you will not be disappointed with this little book. "With a Cup of Tea" is a small book that features the art of Sandy Lynam Clough. Interspersed between Sandy's paintings are quotes related to tea and a genteel lifestyle. I appreciate how thoughts from Emilie Barnes are liberally sprinkled among the quotes. This book was published in 1997 by Harvest House Publishers. If you are interested in discovering what it is about tea that warms and comforts us, I think you'll enjoy being drawn into the pages of this book. It beautifully shares the ritual of taking a cup of tea for any occasion.
Do you enjoy the art of Sandy Lynam Clough? Do you have any hanging on your walls or in your bookcase?
This chintz patterned teapot was a gift from my friend, Tari. It is Royal Patrician, England.
Do you have a passion for tea? Hattie Ellis does, and she writes all about it in this delightful little book called "A Passion for Tea". Published by Ryland Peters & Small, this book contains a wealth of information about preparing a perfect cup of tea. Artistic photography by Debi Treloar accompanies each page. Ms. Ellis starts by explaining the origins of tea and of the different tastes of tea from around the world. Then she explains how to make this versatile beverage, including buying, storing, and using the best equipment for the task of tea making. The finer points of tea service are shared, beginning with adding citrus, milk, and sugar. Then she discusses pairing tea with food. The author doe not forget to talk about tea's health benefits. Before she's done, she shares some of the main points of specific types of tea service and gives some delightful recipes for tea, the beverage. Although this is a small book, it's packed full of information. As the description on the back cover states, this book has "Enough facts and flavors to refresh any tea lover. Perfect with a slice of cake!" Teacup is D & C - France.
I enjoyed hosting the traveling teapot, a project where like-minded women host a teapot for a month and share of its adventures.
The little plum teapot went to Sassy Quilters guild meeting at the Grange Hall today. It was a busy sewing day, and the teapot did a good job as ambassador of tea.
The guild makes dozens of quilts for charity and gives them away to people in the community who are facing illness or who've experienced loss by fire. The guild recently gave four quilts to members of a family whose house burned down. Realizing that the quilt reserves were low, it was decided that we'd concentrate on building up the stash again. Someone had donated batik fabric to the guild, so it was decided to use it to make charity quilts.
The process is interesting, as these are truly scrappy quilts. Complementary prints were paired and stitched into 4-squares. Then, they were laid out on the floor and the ladies designed on the fly! Two queen-size quilt tops were completed in this fashion today.
Someone had also donated Sunbonnet Sue quilt blocks to the guild and Louise took them home last month. She brought them back today, stitched into two pretty baby quilts. They will go into the donor stash for charity.
And the Quilt of the Month blocks are steadily increasing as well. This month fifteen were added to the stash. So far we have enough for six charity quilts and we are only half-way through the year. By the end of December we are hoping for enough blocks to make a dozen or more charity quilts. Each month guild members are given a pattern for that months block. It is always fun and interesting to see what color and pattern combinations they create. Each seems to express the personality of each individual so well.
Lunchtime is always potluck. Today's theme was salads and the traveling teapot's story was told around the luncheon table. The tea today was Darjeeling.
I captured Beulah going through line. She is the gracious hostess of each month's business meeting where she always has snacks for the group. She also makes delicious cinnamon chip scones for each month's sewing day and potluck luncheon. Everyone loves her tradition!
Today they went so well with tea!
The little plum teapot today served a group of ladies who have inculcated altruism and exhibit it so well. They have learned that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. I'm so glad the teapot was able to serve them today.