Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Acts of Love, Acts of Tea

Alexander McCall Smith, www.mccallsmith.com, author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels, is one of my favorite authors. His character, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only female private detective, loves bush tea, not to be confused with Camellia sinensis. Her philosophy about the power of tea, Rooibos or otherwise, will be very familiar to tea lovers:

"The world, Mma Ramotswe believed, was composed of big things and small things. The big things were written large, and one could not but be aware of them -- wars, oppression, the familiar theft by the rich and the strong of those simple things that the poor needed, those scraps which would make their life more bearable; this happened, and could make even the reading of a newspaper an exercise in sorrow. There were all those unkindnesses, palpable, daily, so easily avoidable; but one could not think just of those, thought Mma Ramotswe, or one would spend one’s time in tears -- and the unkindnesses would continue. So the small things came into their own: small acts of helping others, if one could; small ways of making one's own life better: acts of love, acts of tea, acts of laughter. Clever people might laugh at such simplicity, but, she asked herself, what was their own solution?" From "The Good Husband of Zebra Drive"

If you'd like to read the rest of my Sept. newsletter, pls. visit www.teawithfriends.com

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What they're saying about Celtic Teas With Friends

What They're Saying:


Jenny Wells
Tea Party Girl
Teaching You the Beautiful and Simple Afternoon Tea

“…A 10 – Charms with beauty, information, and warmth.” — A.W.


“ … Celtic Teas With Friends is written in a style that keeps you NOT wanting to put it down! Hugh Harrison's illustrations throughout the book are delightful and such a visual pleasure. The recipes for each month's theme have already produced a grocery shopping list in my home tonight and my head is dancing with new tea party ideas from her pages.” — M.E.

“It is a gorgeous book, I love the colors, the artistry, the inner cover collage, and of course the content. There is so much valuable information in Elizabeth's book, that it will take a while to digest it all. For now, I'm content with picking it up, reading another chapter, and gleaning new ideas.” — N. R.

“The inside is filled with "where do I start first" goodies, including a foreword by Norwood, bless 'im. The first tea party Elizabeth writes about is one that I have used to celebrate my own birthday, which is on the day she mentions. The book is one anyone will use often, with recipes from Nancy Reppert and Bruce Richardson, among others. . . I can recommend this book to one and all.” — E. H.

“… such an attractive and intelligent book.”
— M.C.

“The new Celtic book is lovely – illustrations well done and enhance the text- anyone interested in Celts – tea - or entertaining will surely buy the book once they see it and hold it- the size is perfect, too . . . you have found a niche and worked so hard to fill it, ‘tis grand!” — L.G.

“It was a real joy reading on our long trip back home. So many neat and informative things, with menu ideas and recipes and music.” — C.

“I am really enjoying Elizabeth Knight's new book, "Celtic Teas with Friends"!! I like everything about it -- from the way the cover art and dust cover match (I've always liked that in books!), to the pretty endpapers with their illustrations of clover, thistle, a kitty, a crow (made me think of Holly!) and daffodils; to the intriguing monthly tea party ideas with lots of history and recipes, to . . . well, I just like all KINDS of stuff about this book! I'm charmed by it, and plan to order a couple of autographed copies to send to tea friends. Thank you, Elizabeth, for creating such a wonderful new creation — I hope that you have more interesting, tea-themed new books bubbling up (I always think of creativity as something that bubbles) to publish in the future!” — C.W.

“The book is absolutely lovely, and so educational. It must have been a real labor of love. Just fascinating!” — D. LeC.

Just a quick note to let you know that your books arrived in Alberta, Canada promptly and in great shape. On a quick perusal, I see that they are exactly what I had expected, but also much, much more. The wealth of information is amazing. I am very excited to make good use of them. Please keep up the research; I look forward to more great tea books from you.
— S. H.

We are enjoying every page and suggestion. It is a wonderful tea book but then we have learned to expect only the best from you.
— A.L.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Peninsual Hotel Mother-Daughter Tea

Mother-Daughter Tea Featuring Elizabeth Knight
Fives is hosting a special Mother-Daughter Afternoon Tea, hosted by Tea Master Elizabeth Knight. Ms Knight will educate guests about the art of "Taking Tea", with topics including English tea time traditions, etiquette and history. Afternoon tea includes warm scones and a selection of finger sandwiches, breads and tea cakes presented on a silver three-tier server, with a choice of Peninsula Signature Tea or Harney & Sons Tea.

Please click here for more details .

Date: Saturday, May 10, 2008
Seatings: 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Price: $50 per guest
Reservations: (212) 903 3873 or diningpny@peninsula.com

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

Mother's Day Buffet Brunch
Treat Mom to a special meal at the popular Mother's Day Buffet Brunch in Fives, offering a variety of culinary delights and live piano music. Featuring a delicious selection of appetizers, carved meats, baked goods, sushi, main courses and desserts, the buffet brunch makes a great outing for everyone!

Please click here for more details.

Date: Sunday, May 11, 2008
Seatings: 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm
Price: $125 per guest (including Champagne)
$85 per guest from 13 to 20 years of age
$45 per child under 12 years of age
Reservations: (212) 903 3918 or email diningpny@peninsula.com

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. The Peninsula Hotels

Hong Kong | New York | Chicago | Beverly Hills
Tokyo | Bangkok | Beijing | Manila | Shanghai 2009

Monday, April 28, 2008

The art of tea at Suzette's Creperie


Author Elizabeth Knight sets a perfect table for tea.

The art of tea at Suzette's Creperie

Elizabeth Macik/ Triblocal.com staff reporter 04/22/08 09:54 AM

Elizabeth Knight has mastered the art of the tea party. After years of studying, hosting, writing about and drinking tea, Knight will visit Suzette’s Creperie, 211 West Front St., Wheaton on Sunday, May 4 to impart her hospitality wisdom while sharing her new book, “Celtic Teas with Friends.”

“I am excited to share how special Celtic hospitality is, as early as 300 B.C. there were laws established to offer hospitality to travelers. It was a sacred duty. We are all here to make the world a little warmer for each other,” Knight said.

And Suzette’s is thrilled to have her.

“We have hosted events like this before and we tend to look for opportunities to feature tea service and invite people to an event that is exciting for tea enthusiasts, “ said Christine Kenny-Sheputis, private party and catering manager and day manager.

Diners can expect a meal with samplings of recipes from the book, and a chance to ask the author questions. Knight will discuss tips on creating the perfect tea setting, including appropriate music selection, and ways of injecting fun into a tea event with favors or activities. She will also be available to sign books.

“The proprietor, Donna Hesik, is very tuned into events and celebrations and is always looking for something interesting to do. This is also an alternative Mother’s Day experience,” Kenny-Sheputis said.

Something for everyone
“Tea is both a drink and a meal. It is a ritual and sacrament. It is part of a whole ritual to realign you with nature and connect with people you are sharing with. I don’t know of any other drink that is all those things,” Knight said.

Reservations are filling up fast for this event. Afternoon tea is $35 per person plus tax and gratuity and High Tea is $50 per person plus tax and gratuity. There will be two seatings from 2 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday May 4. Afternoon tea is a light fancy snack, and high tea is more of a meal.

“I think it always enhances the event when ladies come in hats and gloves, it makes it more fun and festive. Hats will be really fun to enhance the experience.” Kenny-Sheputis said.

For reservations, call 630-462-0898 or vist www.suzettescreperie.com. Suzette’s Creperie is located at 211 West Front St. in Wheaton. For more information on Elizabeth Knight, visit www.teawithfriends.com.

By Elizabeth Macik

Triblocal.com staff reporter

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweet Sakura Tea

A friend in Tokyo sent me a surprise care package today in thanks for taping the Academy Awards for her. Among other things it included two kinds of Sweet Sakura Tea. One is a green tea, looks/tastes like Sencha, with “Cherry Blossom Essence and Leaves,” the other is actual cherry blossoms which tasted a bit “pickled.”

She told me that there are over 400 types of cherry trees and that the Japanese avidly follow the “cherry blossom front” on TV from subtropical Okinawa to Hokkaido which has weather similar to New England. Because it is Japan’s national flower, cherry blossom viewing parties have been held in public and private gardens for centuries. People often arrive early in the morning to spread a cloth to reserve their picnic space with the prettiest view.



Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness

One of the pleasures of working for oneself is the commute is short. My office is a few steps from my bedroom and I tend to turn the computer on while I’m boiling water in the kitchen for tea. That’s very convenient, but it’s way too tempting to check emails before the work day officially begins. Sometimes, if there’s a message from a colleague in another time zone, that needs to be addressed, I might sit down to problem solve in my pajamas and still be wearing them when it’s time to break for lunch. I refuse to eat lunch underdressed, unless I’ve got the flu, so I pull on a shirt and jeans appropriate sartorial splendor for a tuna melt.

Yesterday was a bad day, however. Problems with the printer in Hong Kong, so I didn’t get dressed until it was time to head off to a Meet-up with other people who worked for themselves. The only person I knew was the woman who designed my book and is my web master. But over a glass of wine, everyone 'fessed up to jammin’ the phone line in their jammies. Several of the others were writers, but there was also a kitchen and bath designer, a photographer, a textile designer/face painter and financial industry expert. It was such a pleasure to talk to men and women who understood the struggle between working alone and balancing life and work. As I walked home, in the soft evening rain, there was just enough light to see the pale lavender blossoms on a bush nodding in the breeze. This morning the ornamental pear tree in front of the dry cleaner’s has budded out. Spring is here. As Apollinaire said, “Now and then it’s good to pause in the pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” And get out of your pajamas.



Friday, March 14, 2008


Not that anyone is counting, but did you know that there are only 77 days until the 2008 World Tea Expo? The weather in Las Vegas is starting to warm up and Spring is definitely in the air - May 30th will be here before we know it!


1. Tea Purchasing

2. Pricing, Selling, and Tracking for Profit

3. 2008 World Tea Expo: Annual State-of-the-Industry Report

4. Tea & Chocolate Pairing

5. How to Conduct a Successful Tea Tasting

6. Health Benefits of Tea 2008

7. Selling Outside the Box

8. Tea as a Culinary Ingredient

9. Merchandising - Your Silent Salesperson & Secret Weapon, taught by Elizabeth Knight

10. The Profound World of Pu-erh

Our new Skill Building Workshops are selling exceptionally well. The Blending Workshop on Saturday was the first session to SELL OUT at 64 attendees. We added a second Blending Workshop for Sunday afternoon. Both the Cupping Workshop and Brewing/Serving Workshop are proving to be extremely popular as well.


The first-ever World Tea Championship™ (WTC) will take place at the 2008 World Tea Expo. The WTC is separated into two classes: Hot Tea and Iced Tea.

The WTC is open to all exhibitors. Don't miss this excellent opportunity to showcase your teas! Click here for information on how to enter. http://www.worldteaexpo.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=113&Itemid=184

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How English tea could help fight terrorism

How English tea could help fight terrorism

From an article in The Telegraph [UK]:

English breakfast tea could be the latest bioterror countermeasure to protect the public against an anthrax attack, according to a study published today.

As well as protective suits and anthrax injections, a humble cup of black tea could well be added to national defences against the bacterium Bacillus anthracis - more commonly know as anthrax.

A joint American/British study has concluded that a cup of tea has more to offer than coffee as an antidote. The team led by Prof Les Baillie of the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University and Dr Theresa Gallagher, Biodefense Institute, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Baltimore, reports in the journal Microbiologist that English Breakfast tea has the potential to inhibit the activity of anthrax, so long as it is taken black.

The research sought to determine if English Breakfast tea was more effective than a commercially available American medium roast coffee at killing anthrax.

"Tea works", said Prof Baillie, who bought his antibioterror materials from the local supermarket. "You can drink enough to have an effect."

A serious and rapidly progressing form of the disease occurs when the bacterial spores are inhaled making anthrax a potent threat when used as a biological warfare agent.

"The tea works against the bug when it is has germinated and is causing an infection," he says.

"We found that special components in tea such as polyphenols have the ability to inhibit the activity of anthrax quite considerably.

Other work shows that tea inhibits Botulinum toxin, the most potent natural occurring toxin. The team is now testing the effects of tea on antibiotic resistant superbugs too.

The research shows that the addition of whole milk to a standard cup of tea inhibited its activity against anthrax.

Prof Baillie continues: "I would suggest that in the event that we are faced with a potential bio-terror attack, individuals may want to forgo their dash of milk at least until the situation is under control.

"What's more, given the ability of tea to bring solace and steady the mind, and to inactivate Bacillus anthracis and its toxin, perhaps the Boston Tea Party was not such a good idea after all," adds Prof Baillie, who is also a Director of the Biodefence Initiative, Medical Biotechnology Centre, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore, and has worked for the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Navy.

"It has caused a few chuckles among my American friends, who have a $5 billion programme of research on medical countermeasures and I just like the idea that all we Brits have to do is drink a cup of tea."

As a nation, Brits currently drink some 165 million cups of tea, and the healing benefits of the nation's favourite beverage have long been acknowledged.

The active constituents of tea, called polyphenols, are recognized antioxidants - chemicals that mop up damaging free radicals - and studies have claimed effects in countering cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and in boosting the activity of the immune system.

All varieties of tea come from the leaves of a single evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis. With the additional process of allowing the leaves to dry and oxidize, black tea is produced, the kind drunk in the UK.

Link to article:

Indian Tea and the Ganges River

When I’m writing I work best with classical music. Can’t seem to focus when others sing or talk, so I’m often tuned to WQXR, the classical music station of the New York Times. This morning there was a glorious program - “Sunshine in Music.” Discovered that Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) composed an aria about the sun rising over the Ganges River:

Already, from over the Ganges, the sun

More clearly sparkles

And dries every drop

Of the dawn, which weeps.

With the gilded ray

It adorns each blade of grass;

And the stars of the sky

Paint in the field.

As I listened to the Russian singer and the English orchestra, I remembered my trip to India as a guest of the Indian Tea Board. On one plane flight I happened to glance out the window and saw the most enormous river (1,569 miles), I had ever seen, glowing molten in the sun. It was so big that there was nothing to see, on either side of the plane, but sky and swirling water. I asked the stewardess to identify the body of water; she smiled and said with great pride, almost as if it were a member of her family, “That is the Ganja (Ganges).”

Hindus believe that those who bathe in the sacred river are absolved of their sins ; the dead who are cremated on the banks and have their ashes scattered in the river achieve salvation. The memory of standing waist-deep in tea bushes, on top of a mountain plantation, drunk on the scent of tea leaves warmed by the sun, is as close to heaven as I'm likely to get. If you ever get an opportunity to visit India, any part, for any reason, go!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tea & 19th Century English Health

Quoted in "The Shorter Mrs. Beeton- New concise Edition"

Our great nurse Miss Nightingale remarks that “a great deal too much against tea is said by wise people, and a great deal too much of tea is given to the sick by foolish people. When you see the natural and almost universal craving in English sick for their ‘tea,’ you cannot but feel that Nature knows what she is about. But a little tea or coffee restores them quite as much as a great deal; and especially of coffee, impairs the little power of digestion they have. There is nothing yet discovered which is a substitute to the English patient for his cup of tea; he can take it when he can take nothing else, and he often can’t take anything else if he has it not.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Afternoon tea is back at the newly reopened Plaza Hotel


Afternoon tea is back at the newly reopened Plaza Hotel

  • Story Highlights
  • Bland flavors of the original tea menu have been replaced with bold ingredients
  • The selection of teas has more than doubled to about two dozen
  • At $60 a person, it's one of the city's more expensive afternoon teas

NEW YORK (AP) -- Going to The Plaza Hotel for afternoon tea was never just about the food. It was about palm trees, harp music, what the ladies at the next table were wearing, and the spirit of Eloise -- that naughty little girl who lives at The Plaza in a famous fictional children's book.

But after a $400 million, three-year renovation to restore the hotel's grandeur, tea at The Plaza is now all about the food.

Sure, the harpist is back, alternating with a classical guitarist. And palm trees still decorate the Palm Court -- the lobby dining room where tea has been served since the hotel opened in 1907.

But the bland flavors of the original tea menu have been replaced with sophisticated, bold ingredients from the hotel's new French chef, Didier Virot. You'll still find cucumber on buttered white bread among the bite-size sandwiches -- but now with fresh mint. You'll also find prosciutto and tomato confit on olive bread, a tender pink morsel of lamb on a tiny grilled pita, and a piquant puree of eggplant, goat cheese and basil, with a sliver of olive, in a tart.

At $60 a person, it's one of the city's more expensive afternoon teas -- the St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton hotels charge $45. An alternate tea menu at The Plaza that includes lobster, black truffle, caviar and a chocolate pot de creme is even more, at $100.

But whether or not you can afford The Plaza's $1,000-a-night room rates, the $60 tea is "an attainable luxury," said The Plaza's tea consultant, Ellen Easton.

The Palm Court is also now home to one of the most talked-about features of the hotel restoration -- a stained-glass ceiling called a laylight.

The laylight was replaced in the 1940s by a plaster ceiling, so "it hasn't been seen in most people's lifetimes," said Sarah Carroll, director of preservation for the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, which worked on the restoration with the hotel's new owners, Elad Properties.

Glass shards and old photos were all researchers had to go on to recreate the laylight. Carroll called the result -- a backlit yellow-and-green geometric design trimmed with roses -- "a perfect crown" for the Palm Court.

Another change: The Palm Court's armless dining chairs were replaced with high-backed blue velvet upholstered chairs. The chairs are so tall that when you're seated, you feel like you're in a private room. The downside to the privacy: It's harder to gape at the other guests' shoes and handbags. The blue of the upholstery is echoed in the colors of the ornate Limoges china.

The old three-tiered tray with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets served simultaneously is gone; now the meal is presented in separate courses. This allows scones to be delivered warm -- with de rigeur pots of clotted cream and jam -- once you're finished with the sandwiches.

Sweets, designed by pastry chef Nicole Kaplan, come on their own three-tiered tray: Pink-frosted eclairs decorated with edible gold on top, along with linzer cookies; lemon poppy seed cake and a variable chef's surprise in the middle; opera cake and tangy passion fruit tartlets on the bottom, with fresh berries on the side.

The selection of teas has more than doubled to about two dozen, including herbal peppermint, chamomile and apple spice; white and green teas; and teas from Kenya, Japan, China, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

The loose-leaf tea is now decanted, meaning the water is steeped with tea leaves strained into a pot before being brought to the table. Lime slices are served alongside lemon in a nod to Caribbean tea traditions.

Elizabeth Knight, who leads Tea In the City guided tours -- http://www.teawithfriends.com -- to tea rooms and shops around Manhattan, said afternoon tea at a grand hotel remains an appealing ritual. "It allows people to reconnect to a time of romance and grandeur. Most of us don't live in places like that. It's almost like you get to be an aristocrat for a day -- you peek through the keyhole and enjoy yourself for two hours."

Hundreds of people stopped by the hotel March 1, the day it reopened, just to take a look. Among them were Lou Ann Graham of Pepper Pike, Ohio, and her daughter, Emily, 7.

"It's her favorite hotel," Graham said. "For her, it's about Eloise. We stayed here the last week of the month it closed. We even made a scrapbook about it." Then she turned to her daughter and said: "Maybe you and I can come back here for tea."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wa and the "bud of hope"

Dear Tea Friends,

Last Thursday morning I put my usual day’s work aside and took the subway into New York to attend the first Buddhist ceremony to be held in an American Catholic Church. The event was officiated by Shinso Ito, the spiritual head of the Japanese Shinnyo-en Buddhist order (www.shinnyo-en.org).

Ms. Ito was visiting the United States when the Twin Towers were attacked; the following year she met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, where they mutually pledged to promote world peace. The interfaith Service for Peace and Harmony was hosted at the Church of St. Peter (www.americancatholic.org). The Greek Revival Church, founded in 1785, serves the oldest Catholic parish in New York State.

The first floor was packed by the time I arrived, but when I saw a man climb the stairs at the back of the church, I followed him, stepping carefully over a tangle of electric cables. The loft bristled with photographers, both still and film, as well as engineers monitoring sound and recording equipment. I promised to be quiet and not use my camera, so I was allowed to stay.

The gentleman I followed turned out to be the mayor of White Plains, N.Y., where the Japanese organization founded a Buddhist temple. The mayor had been brought up Catholic and we were both pleased and proud that the church of our childhood was hosting this historic event.

We had front row seats for the pageant spread out below. The white marble altar was dressed with bright, bittersweet-colored flowers and the lacquered-wood Buddhist altar held candles, bells and pedestals mounded with oranges and violets.

The service began with traditional Japanese Buddhist music, played on recreations of ancient Silk Road instruments, to accompany a 1,200-year-old chant sung by four turquoise-robed Buddhists. One of the instruments looked like a hand-held chimney, but sounded something like a bassoon. A hammer-wielding percussionist played a hensho, graduated metal “bells” hung on a wooden frame, and what looked like metal “tags” tied to another frame. The instruments are said to represent prayers for all life – past and present.

Rev. Kevin Madigan, pastor of St. Peter’s, told the story of a Jewish physician walking to a meeting at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th. After planes struck the towers he helped carry the wounded to this church, located one block north of Ground Zero. There were no medical supplies so the doctor snatched up altar cloths and tore them into strips for bandages. Later, when he apologized to the priest, Rev. Madigan reassured the doctor that he had used the worship fabric appropriately “to care for others.”

Madigan said that the church, damaged in the terrorist attacks, was grateful for the opportunity to host the historic ceremony during Lent, when the faithful focus on the life of Jesus and his message of peace, hope and love. He ended his remarks reciting the venerable prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…”

When Father Madigan sat down, four emerald-green robed Buddhists carrying golden plates bowed to the altar, chanted and tossed decorated paper to the altar and into the congregation. Then Her Holiness Shinso Ito bowed to Father Madigan and the congregation, mounted the steps, handed her fan to a purple-robed attendant, and seated herself on a stool facing the high altar.

I don’t know enough about Buddhism to explain Shinso Ito’s actions, but she seemed to use a long wand to stir something in a series of bowls, then tapped the edges to make them reverberate. She “blessed” the air with the wand, rang bells, bowed, and clapped her hands as she chanted sutras. The program stated, “This is a ceremony where Buddha’s teachings and merits are praised. It is believed that ceremonial rites lead to the manifestation of Buddha and the gods’ protective power throughout the world … participants are encouraged to awaken their innate Buddha nature which brings genuine compassion to others.”

Following the prayers the tiny woman stood tall and faced the congregation. Through a translator Ms. Shinso Ito said that she had prayed for “all souls connected to this place.” Buddha, she explained, means the “Enlightened One” and that if each of us looked into our own hearts, we would find a “bud of hope.” No matter how small, our good actions create ripples of hope in the world. “May our efforts today plant seeds of hope and harmony as we work together for peace in the world.”

The service concluded with the choir singing “Amazing Grace.” And it was amazing to hear a shaven-headed, African-American Buddhist nun rock the church with her soaring gospel solo of that old hymn about the reformation of a man who had captained slave ships.

And what does this have to do with tea? As we gathered our coats, I asked the mayor if he knew what the Buddhists had tossed to the congregation. “They looked like leaves,” I said. “Here,” he said, handing me a leaf-shaped piece of paper printed with an image of a seated Buddha on one side and calligraphy by Shinso Ito on the back.

She had written the symbol for "Wa" which stands for harmony, unity and peace and is one of the key concepts of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The Maryknoll Japanese Catholic Center adopted the ancient symbol to honor “the history, achievements and aspirations of Saint Francis Xavier Japanese Mission … dates back to 1912, when Bishop Berlioz of Hakodate promised … that he would send a Japanese-speaking priest to tend to the spiritual needs of the Japanese Catholics in California.”

“Wa” came full circle when I arrived home and opened an e-mail from a friend in California that ended with this beautiful quote: There is so much coldness in the world because we do not dare to be as cordial as we really are.” – Albert Schweitzer. Perhaps we might all touch our own “bud of hope,” and warm the world by offering a stranger a cup of tea.



Friday, February 15, 2008

Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea Pennsylvania Horticultural

Noticed this on the Philadelphia Flower Show site:

Thursday, June 12, 2008
5:45pm - 7:45pm
Book Club: Stories From the Garden
Open to the public and members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

In this book discussion group, which meets in the McLean Library, we read
and discuss works of fiction or non-fiction having to do with gardens,
plants, or the land. Participants need to obtain books and read each monthly
selection prior to the discussion.

June selection: Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea Pennsylvania Horticultural
Society McLean Library 100 North 20th Street, 1st Floor Philadelphia, PA

Members: Free
Non Members: Free

For more information, contact:

Priscilla Becroft


No connection with the organization, just found the tea-garden connection interesting.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine Tea Tale

A coffee-drinking friend sent me this Valentine Tea Tale from a tea-drinking friend of his:

“One day my mother was out and my dad was in charge of me. I was maybe 2 ½ years old and had just recovered from an accident. Someone had given me a little “tea set” as a get-well gift and it was one of my favorite toys. Daddy was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when I brought Daddy a little cup of “tea” that was just water. After several cups of tea and lots of praise for such yummy tea, my Mom came home. My Dad made her wait in the living room to watch me bring him a cup of tea, because it was ‘just the cutest thing!’ My Mom waited, and sure enough, here I come down the hall with a cup of tea for Daddy and she watches him drink it up. Then she says, ‘Did it ever occur to you that the only place that baby can reach to get water is the toilet?’ (Notice she didn't say that until AFTER he drank that last cup...)”

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vintage textiles

Vintage textiles add color, pattern, texture, warmth, and nostalgic charm to contemporary homes. Everything old is popular again as any fan of the Antiques Road show knows. According to the BBC television show “House Call,” heirloom linens as well as a wide variety of antiques associated with tea drinking are becoming very valuable and increasingly hard to find. Tea connoisseurs can widen their enjoyment of the cup that cheers by searching out a variety of vintage table linens and tea cosies for use on their afternoon or high tea tables.

I began collecting hand-made vintage tea cozies and tea table linens at parish bazaars, jumble sales, charity shops, and antique fairs around the UK, when I lived in London. When they began to mushroom out of the cupboards in our compact rented flat, I reluctantly sold some of my things at tea talks and book signings for my first book, “Tea With Friends.”

One afternoon, a tiny silver-haired woman, dressed in a plain gray coat, circled my display table several times before edging past a pair of shoppers for a closer look at a felt tea cosy. She reverently ran her fingers over the embroidered roses then flipped it inside out to examine the fabric lining. Inspection completed, she looked up at me and demanded, “Do you know what you’ve got here?” “I think so,” I stammered. “I doubt it,” she rejoined. “I used to be in service. When maids had a free moment they were set to darning household linen or crocheting lace for pillowslips. I was good with a needle and know proper work when I see it.” She tenderly stroked one knitted cosy and said, “Nobody bothers with this sort of handwork anymore. They’re too busy watching the telly (television.)”

She began to quiz me about the names of embroidery stitches. When it was clear that I couldn’t identify anything more exotic than the daisy stitch she said that she had a book I should see. At the end of the day, the little woman re-appeared and thrust a copy of “The Art of Needlecraft,” circa 1930, in my hands said, “You need this,” and walked away. “Wait,” I exclaimed, “How will I return it?” “It’s for you,” she insisted and refused my offer to buy the book. Although she didn’t tell me her name the inscription on the flyleaf reads “For Rosemary.” I’ve turned the 639 pages of her treasure many times since that day to determine whether a piece of crotched lace was attached to a tablecloth by overcast or ladder stitch.

My first vintage textile purchase was a well worn felt tea cosy crafted to look like a thatched cottage with mullioned windows and embroidered red roses climbing over the blue front door. The back and sides are just as elaborately decorated with larkspurs, fuchsia and other cottage flowers. There’s even a rain barrel to catch the overflow from the roof’s gutter. The original stained lining attests to many years of faithful service.

Sometimes I read “The Art of Needlecraft” just for fun. The philosophy of that bygone era is charming, “It is said that those who can knit or crochet are never lonely or discontented, and perhaps this is true.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to The World In A Teacup! Although I’ve long published an electronic newsletter through my website, www.teawithfriends.com, I thought it would be fun to have a more informal way to chat about tea and travel. They’re two of my favorite topics.

When I was growing up my father was a career Air Force officer and, like so many military families, we found ourselves on the move nearly every three years. One memorable year our mail was delivered to El Paso, Texas; Dover, Delaware; and Taranto, Italy. The next year we moved to Dayton, Ohio and the year after that someplace else. But, no matter where in the world we found ourselves, my mother’s first act in every new kitchen was to unpack a kettle and brew a pot of tea. Tea and travel stuck with me.

As an adult I moved from Ohio to Florida, on to a 5th floor walk-up in New York, and finally to urban New Jersey. Thought my moving days were over, but 3 months after my husband and I bought a fixer-upper country house, he accepted a job in London and off we went. Every weekend I threw the poor man on a train and we hurtled all over England, Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, exploring the countryside, participating in regional festivals, taking cooking classes and asking countless questions.

Now, back on this side of the Atlantic, I write and speak about tea and conduct tea-themed sipping, shopping and walking tours of New York City when I’m not hot on the tea trail in Paris or Peru, China, India, Japan, or Spain. I hope to share tea hot spots, tips, traditions and travel tales and learn about your tea adventures, too.