Tea is a Beautiful Thing
We are often asked why we host teas. ‘It must be a lot of work to make tiny sandwiches with tiny garnishes and tiny pastries with sprinkles on top. And all the china cups need to be washed by hand and the napkins have to be ironed!’ It is time consuming, yes, but isn’t it also beautiful? And couldn’t we all use a bit more beauty in our lives?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “...beauty is God’s handwriting.” I believe that. Girls in dresses are beautiful. So are sunsets and smiles; bare feet and babies. Beauty is all around us but it must be sought after and absorbed. More than that, it needs to be created by you and me for others to discover and enjoy. It is so easy to settle for the utilitarian when the world appears to be falling apart all around us and beauty seems trivial, unimportant. But I wonder, why did WW II prisoners still play music while confined in concentration camps? Why do artists continue to paint even though they starve? Or poets write though they face poverty? Because a work of beauty shows us the way the world should be. It is hope for our children to dwell in a world that is good.
In our culture today, beauty is being misaligned, distorted and this distortion is being offered up as worthy. Don’t give in to the lie. We all need to see God’s handwriting in a jug of wild flowers, in the flicker of candle light, in the change of seasons, in the warm embrace of a friend.
Don’t abandon beauty in the face of crises - create it. Show compassion, benevolence, hospitality. Greet your neighbors and strangers alike.
Be the beauty in someone’s day.
So, I guess that’s why we host teas - because we think they are beautiful.
The Good and the Beautiful
The times, they are a-changing. All you have to do is read the headlines to verify this statement. I find myself repeating oft-heard phrases from my childhood, those I vowed never to repeat as an adult - “It wasn’t like that when I was a kid” or “What is this world coming to?” I really do wonder that sometimes, especially as I raise my children to be upstanding men and tenderhearted women and see them step out into that changing world. How will they manage? A mother worries about such things, especially when living in a culture that calls evil good and rejects the beautiful. So much has changed since we all were kids, indeed! But in my heart, in my family, in my tearoom, we reject such change. We will remain steadfast to the good and turn away from pop culture. We will seek out the beautiful, strive to find what is real, wholesome, of value and embrace that.
Things like face to face conversations, a handwritten letter, courtesy, meaningful relationships, a community of kindred spirits, encouraging words, feminine women, manly men, strong marriages, babies. These are good things, godly things, and must be impressed upon our hearts and upon our children’s.
We need to talk about them at home and along the way, making them our soul’s desire in place of the offerings of the world. So if you, too, are alarmed at the rate of change in our world right now and need a moment to steep in that which is edifying, join us at Three Sisters Tearoom where the virtuous is uplifted and a steaming cup of tea is waiting just for you.
Tea is for Human Beings...
...however, for years I’ve been called a human doing. Always sounded like a compliment to me. Constant activity, productivity, ticking off to-do lists were all good things. The daily tasks, stillness, quietude were a waste of... well, perfectly usable moments! Recurring duties, like laundry or vacuuming, just gobbled up time from something really important I could be doing. Washing dishes held me back from accomplishing something great with my time!
In the midst of all this intense doing, Barefoot Girl was born. Perfect and beautiful, possessing an air of profound contentment from her very beginning. She was a human being. As she grew, she taught me so much about being. Being still, being quiet, being content with the dailiness of life. While doing dishes, she does not strive to accomplish something great but often sings or smiles as she thinks deeply about beautiful things important to her. She is fond of saying life is in the dailies and she lives this out by celebrating the routine tasks of setting meal tables, making beds, or mending clothes. She encourages me to be still and inhale the scent of flowers from her garden or stargaze on frosty nights or linger by the fire. It’s good to take some moments and simply be. She is teaching, I am learning.
At times our temperaments have clashed as my drive to do collides with her quest to be. Yet, after two dozen years together, she has reformed me. Now, when grown, or growing, children return home from work or for a weekend visit, I’m the one saying, Sit with me, rest, refresh yourself and together we be.
I think tea is the perfect accompaniment to human beings. The routine, the stillness, the quiet of steeping tea leaves takes slow minutes to accomplish. Minutes that could be spent doing more important things, perhaps, but maybe, choosing to complete this quotidian task for loved ones is... heroic.
I firmly agree with Barefoot Girl, Life is in the dailies! (although I still don’t sing while washing dishes!) May tea always be a part of your daily routine.
Love is in the...Teabag!
When I was a young newly wed, smitten and starry eyed, I’d fashion anything I made into the shape of hearts. This included foods such as pizza crusts, hamburgers, even chocolate chip cookies were patted into the iconic symbol for love. As the years past and our family grow, this habit fell to only one day a year, when, on St. Valentine’s Day, I’d make heart-shaped pizzas for the whole family.
Having just celebrated 32 years of wedded bliss, I wanted to re-institute the heart-habit and since I love tea almost as much as my husband, I came up with this idea to share with my family and friends any day of the year but especially on St. Valentine’s Day. Best of all, it can utilizes any homegrown herbs, berries or wild foraged ingredients you might have.
• loose leaf tea or dried herbs of choice
• coffee filters
• embroidery floss
• blunt needle
• card stock
• felt-tip markers
• small spoon
• tape or glue
Many of us dry herbs, edible flowers, and berries that can be used in these teabags. You may even grow real tea plants. However, if you don't, you can use purchased tea and herbs just as well.
•Fold coffee filter in half
•Draw desired shape smooth, center portion of filter
•Draw out shape on folder coffee filter
•Using a bold red embroidery floss, start in center of heart and stitch 2/3 of the way around shape using a basic running stitch.
•Fill the bag with about one teaspoon of tea leaves or two teaspoons of herbs using a small spoon.
•Finish stitching bag until closed, leaving a tail of floss, about two inches long.
A few of these special teabags make a lovely gift for your valentine. Of course, you can make them in any shape you like but why not choose hearts and spread a little love around?
You can purchase loose leaf tea at any tea shop, even some grocery stores now carry it, or order online. For St. Valentine's Day teabags, we like to use a black tea mixed with pink rose petals because it looks extra-special and it tastes delightful. Perhaps you would like an herbal blend for your heart-shaped teabag, try one of the recipes below using commonly found herbs:
• 1 part* dried mint
• 1/2 part dried tulsi
• 1/8 part unsprayed, dried rose petals
• 1 part dried chamomile
• 1 part dried mint
• pinch of dried lavender buds
• 1 part rooibos
• 1/8 part dried lemon rind
• 1/8 part dried rose hips
*A “part” can be as large or small as you would like. Adjust the fractions accordingly.
The Wrong Dolores
For some time, we have collected "tea stories" told to us by lovely people we have met through the years. Below is the first on we ever recorded as told to us by sweet Dolores.
“He came to the wrong house,” she laughed with a twinkle in her eyes as she told me the story … again. Dolores, a forgetful sweetheart, now widowed and living in a nursing home, has a favorite tale to tell anyone who’ll pause a moment and listen. Perpetually recalling that beautiful moment some 70 years ago when she met her true love in New Orleans during the Second World War, she begins, “His ship was only in port for six hours and he was to meet up with a girl he’d met the month before. He had a first name and a street name but the streets of New Orleans are so twisted, he got turned around. He asked my neighbor where “Dolores” lived and was directed to my house.
My mother told him I was at work but due home soon and invited him in to wait. She fixed him a pot of tea and a sandwich, sailors were always hungry in those days, and he visited with my family while waiting for me. He told them all about meeting "Dolores" the month before at the USO club and how he’d been looking forward to seeing "Dolores" again.
My parents smiled and nodded but my sister thought something was fishy because she knew I had not been to the USO the month before and went to get my graduation portrait to show this Navy man. He fell dumb when he looked at it. It was a picture of me, but I was the wrong Dolores. I walked in the door at just about that moment and came over to meet our guest. He said, 'Dolores?' 'Yes,' I smiled back. After a few minutes of awkward stuttering we learned he was looking for a girl named Dolores who lived on the other end of our street! We all had a good laugh and since he was cute, a real charmer, I offered to make him another pot of tea (and more sandwiches) and we had a grand conversation which led him to ask me out for a coke before his ship set sail.
While we were walking back to my house we decided to write letters and I gave him my last name and address printed very clearly so his letters would not get lost, like he had. Six months later he got a weekend pass and we got married. I guess the wrong Dolores turned out to be the right Dolores after all!”
At times, fact can be stranger than fiction and this story is case in point. Following a tea history presentation, an older gentleman approached me with humor in his eyes. He wanted to share a memory of his uncle, Sergeant Powers, a World War II soldier attached to a British Supply Unit in the days and weeks following D-Day. Their orders were to resupply troops along the North Sea Coast toward Rhine and, while they were not a combat unit, they got awfully close to the fighting and often had enemy aircraft overhead. His uncle was a young man at the time, a strapping American GI of 21 who did not have much in common with his British counterparts but still, they worked together to get the job done.
At one moment each day the cultural clash reached its apex — 5pm, teatime to the British, even the British delivering supplies to Allied troops! Yes, the entire convoy of trucks pulled off the road at 5pm. One man would go find water, another would set up the cookstove on rocks, or logs, anything available, as a third man, filled the stove with fuel from a geri can. In about 15 minutes all the Brits were standing around opening up field rations and pulling out packets of tea, sugar, and powdered milk. The cook went around filling tin cups with boiling water as the Americans looked on in frustration.
“We could not believe it and still don’t understand how they could sip tea with planes overhead and gunfire not too far away. It seemed, incomprehensible, frivolous, dangerous! But they could not be rushed. Cigarettes were in our field rations so we smoked them and waited for tea time to pass.” Sergeant Powers said during his attachment to the British unit, they never skipped a tea time.
While preparing for overseas travel, my daughter packed a tiny gaiwan travel set into her luggage along with several packets of loose leaf tea. Lapsang — her favorite, Jasmine pearls for hot days, Assam to share with the new friends she’d make and Oolong because we share that together at home. Tea is more than a beverage. It is home, comfort, peace, security. Even when all around you is new and unfamiliar, just the aroma of tea brings home to you.
While tea has a handful of scientifically proven health properties, it is its connection to family rhythms and familiar rituals that give it the power to heal, to soothe and to revivify one on a soul level.
As a young military wife, I once found myself overwhelmed by the unfamiliar surroundings of a foreign country. The smell of open air fish markets, the taste of unidentifiable food and the sound of an unfamiliar language brought on a tremendous amount of stress and upset stomach! I longed for something familiar.
Inside a tiny shop I looked at shelves full of unknown brands covered with black characters I knew someone could read, but I could not. Unable to distinguish a box of cookies from a box of cereal, my eyes jumped from one item to the next. Suddenly amidst the confusion, a small yellow box shone out like sunshine. Red letters spelled out the only word in the entire shop that I could read: LIPTON. Perhaps not my
go-to brand when stateside, it became my lifeline while overseas. I bought the box and returned to my tiny apartment. Removing the plastic wrapping allowed the first scents to escape. Oh, it smelled good. Then the first sip. Ahh, it tasted good too! Something familiar washed over me - Home.
Yes, that’s it. Tea is home.
Seasons of Life
There is a season for everything and for us, this season has been about change. We ushered in year 80 for Mum and prepare to move her “down south” while the Sisters are ready to fledge the nest, my nest, the nest I have created for my family over many years. Bittersweet is this season….feelings of joy tinged with a touch of sadness. I am in need of a cup of tea.
Seasons in life should cause us to pause and take stock, milestones are designed to be observed, rights of passage, commemorated. Through all the celebrations we’ve had recently, one constant companion has been present - tea. We toasted Mum’s birthday with a delightful hibiscus/blueberry tisane (she loves purple in case you hadn’t noticed!) and my Dancing Girl and I have vowed to share a pot of Assam each afternoon at 3:30 to count down the days until she leaves for college. Well, not really counting them down in order to see them past, but more to count them as precious last moments together with her still under my wings. Tea is sustaining us through this season.
But tea is not reserved just for the changeable times. It perfectly accompanies the quotidian moments in life. It is for sharing joy and accomplishments with others and for bracing us up when we falter. Tea brings back happy memories, and it helps us forget the sorrows we’ve seen. It is the first thing the Sisters seek when returning home after a long day out, because tea soothes and revivifies all at the same time. It feels like home, like a hug, like family. This humble beverage, ubiquitous yet reverent, truly is for every season in life. Whatever season you find yourself in right now, remember tea and drink abundantly!
Easter Morning Repast
For many years our Easter breakfast was grand, a fitting meal to celebrate the risen Lord. But as our family size grew, our pre-church meal became rushed until we stopped it all together and planned something later in the day.
Fast forward a decade, now the toddlers are teens and so I thought maybe, just maybe, we could try an early morning Easter breakfast again.
Instead of a full meal of eggs and bacon, toast and fruit, perhaps simpler fare would do? Maybe just a cream tea? A pot of Assam, a plate of hot cross scones with jam and cream? Would it be enough? Would it befit the occasion?
The crumbs and dribbles unanimously answer in the affirmative and we were blessed for the moments together 'round the table.
Whatever your Easter menu may be, a full brunch or just a biscuit with tea, may sweet Hosannas ring!
Matcha Breath Mints
I’ve always kept a tin of breath mints in my purse but recently, when a friend gave me a tin of green tea mints, I began to wonder…can I combine the ubiquitous breath mint with my beloved green tea? I had to give it a try and now I have to share with fellow tea lovers the wonderful news that yes, you can combine the two very easily!
Gum paste is the key ingredient to this recipe and is found in the cake decorating section of a grocery stores or hobby store. Gum paste is used for making elaborate flowers on festive cakes. Once it is shaped and left to dry, the paste turns very hard which is just what you want for the mints. When considering the tea component I wanted to use matcha because it is so good for us and studies have shown it has oral health benefits. According to a 2011 Harvard health study, green tea fights tooth decay, reduces gum disease, minimizes bad breath, supports detoxification, may reverse thrush and may reduce risk of oral cancer. *1 Additionally, for a bit of sweetness, in place of powdered sugar I thought of birch xylitol because of its oral health benefits. For many years xylitol has been known to reduce harmful mouth bacteria which in turn reduces plaque buildup and tooth decay. This can help prevent cavities and gum diseases.*2 Of course for the flavor, a nice organic pure peppermint extract was needed. You could use a lemon or vanilla extract in place of, or in addition to, the mint. A few drops of any will only add to the the yummy flavor.
1. The recipe is basic and forgiving and a small amount of gum paste will make a great deal of tiny mints so start off with a small ball about the size of a radish. Work it in your hands until it is warm and pliable.
2. Create a small depression in the center and add about 3-4 tsp of good quality matcha and continue to kneed until matcha is well-incorporated.
3. Flatten and place on a cutting board. Add a few drops of your choice of pure extract flavorings and fold in half. With a rolling pin, flatten and fold the paste several times to continue mixing ingredients together.
4. When you feel all is thoroughly mixed, roll out paste 1/4 “ thick and cut into mints. You can use mini cutters, which often come in darling little shapes or we found a bubble tea straw was just the right size!
5. Drop the shaped matcha mints into a small bowl of xylitol, toss to coat, and let them sit there until dry, several hours or better yet, overnight.
6. Store in a small tin in your purse and indulge often. After all these mints are good for you!
*1. Narotzki, B., Reznick, A. Z., Aizenbud, D., & Levy, Y. (2012). Green tea: a promising natural product in oral health. Archives of oral biology, 57(5), 429-435. Kushiyama, M., Shimazaki, Y., Murakami, M., & Yamashita, Y. (2009). Relationship between intake of green tea and periodontal disease. Journal of periodontology, 80(3), 372-377.
*2 . American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Policy on the use of xylitol in caries prevention. Pediatr Dent. 2010;32(Special issue):36–38.
As seen in T CHING
Tea Ware Oddities
Tea ware has a long and at times amusing history; and tucked in amongst the tea accoutrements are a few oddities worth mentioning. Such items are sure to make you chuckle.
This cute little cup is delicate, colorful, and very feminine; but wait…It has TWO handles! Have you ever seen a teacup like that? Chances are no, because it’s not a teacup. This is a bouillon cup, and the two handles are held when sipping consommé or other clear broth soups. So, not a teacup at all. Looks can be deceiving.
How about this one? Still looks like a teacup, it has one handle—just as it should—but what’s the bat wing doing in there? This is a mustache cup. Yes, you read that right. During Victorian times and into the Edwardian era, these were offered to men with facial hair in an attempt to keep the mustache dry and their mustache wax from melting. As improvements in razors were made and beards fell out of fashion, so too did the mustache cup. It is amusing to note the overly floral and pastel motifs often found on such cups. Not at all what one might expect a man to use per today’s sensibilities and gender norms.
Next – coasters, perhaps? That would be an excellent guess. These are called cup plates and were used for a short period of time by hot tea drinkers in early 19th-century America. When tea was too hot to drink directly from the cup, a small amount was poured into the saucer, given a moment to cool, then drunk. But the teacup could not be replaced back into the saucer or it would get all wet and it was unthinkably poor manners to set a cup directly on a table! So the cup plate was created. The cup was placed on the cup plate while one sipped from the saucer. Made in early American glass factories, these plates are quite collectable today and often feature some kind of local historic or commemorative motif.
This next one is easy. A circa 1950-60s luncheon plate with matching punch/teacup, right? Well yes, but… What’s that small, square compartment next to the saucer space all about? It looks like an… Ashtray! Yep, your very own, personal, built-into-your-luncheon-plate ashtray. Now that truly is an oddity!
As seen in T Ching
In Tennessee, 2021 arrived by way of a stunning, 68° day brimming, from start to finish, with golden sunshine. Every moment possible was spent outside that first day of the new year. Funny to think we’d take such a day for granted if it fell in May after a week of similar days. But here in January, seemingly out of place, our focus was keenly on the sparkling rays of light and the warm, earth-scented breeze. My father would have proclaimed it a “good-to-be-alive day”. I would agree and ardently wish he still was. He spent most of his life out-of-doors, working in all kinds of weather, so he knew what he was talking about.
Yes, this sublime day came upon us unexpectedly, after a week of frosts and fires, and fluttered by us just as suddenly, but left our hearts full of happiness, full of joy, which has lingered there well into January.
It is true we don’t know what the new year will bring. We learned that lesson this past year. Man may make his plans but the Lord directs his steps. So, in light of the unknown, let’s seek to make the true, the lovely, and the praiseworthy in life our focus for the new year before us.
Like a butterfly in the winter woods or a 68° day in January, in 2021 may we all find splendor in the commonplace… and of course, drink tea, lots of tea!
Being a registered nurse and an herbalist, health and nutrition have always been important to me. When first learning about the healthful properties of tea, I was thrilled to discover my favorite beverage was also good for me! So when Marlyse from The Wellness Tea asked me to try her new herbal blend, I was happy to give it a taste.
The Wellness Tea arrived in a package with 30 pyramid bags full of 100% organic herbs, roots, and botanicals such as ashwagandha, chamomile, cinnamon, elderberry and more. Instructions were to steep for 5 minutes in boiling water for maximum health benefits. This concerned me. When dealing with herbs, steeping times vary greatly between a leaf, a root, a seed and a powered spice. 5 minutes is probably not enough time to extract full properties from 6 of the herbs included. Predominate flavors are chamomile and turmeric with a strong earthy flavor, unfamiliar to many, and attributed to the ashwagandha and astragalus.
I appreciate the blender's attention to sourcing and using organic ingredients free from artificial colors and the attempt to combine all we need to naturally balance our constitution in one teabag. This herbal is pleasant tasting and contains adaptogenic properties from which we all can benefit. Find Wellness Tea at www.thewellnesstea.com
Iced Tea Dance
For a short time, about a hundred years ago, tea dances were quite a craze in both the UK and the US. Three Sisters Tearoom has even hosted a few during the long winter months and found them splendid.
But it's summer...in the south...still Dancing Girl wants to dance - and so do all the young folks out here. So how about an Iced Tea Dance held outside as the sun goes down and the stars begin to sparkle? Brilliant!
The dance board was filled in and the music started. Gallons of sweet tea freely flowed as the dancers twirled into the twilight.
By 9 pm it was all over. The exhausted, exuberant, ecstatic guests were heading home but they promised to come back in August for our second Mid Summer's Iced Tea Dance!
Now we are six...
Time is elusive and now six years have scuttled by since we first opened our doors.
Seems Three Sisters Tearoom had always been a part of our lives and in our hearts, but...
...we had to wait for the third cherub to appear before pursuing a genuine tearoom right here on the farm.
But, like all good things, it was worth the wait. During those years we learned all we could about tea. Read books and took classes to learn even more. Planted tea seeds and sampled every varietea we could find. We traveled, with teapot and scones in hand, making deliveries to those who were in need of a tea moment. We baked and tasted countless tea cakes, shortbread, and cress sandwiches before establishing a menu of our own: farm-fresh and (we believe) nonpareil.
Those Three Sisters have grown and the tearoom is a-buzz. Our guests are now our closest friends, much more like family, really. We have learned a great deal along the way, more then just how to make tea. Mainly we've found that people need love, hugs, a kindred spirit, a smile. Add a cup of tea to that mix and honestly, you can face the world! Many blessings to you all and thank you for a splendid six years.
To Everything there is a Season...
...and a purpose for every matter under heaven. While we may not know what that purpose is right now, we do know God is in control. During this time of tumult we've decided to suspend our tearoom gatherings throughout March and use that time to beautify our humble space for a refreshed environment upon our reopening.
Dancing Girl is planting a burst of blossoms in our flower beds and pots....
Butterfly Girl is cleaning the doors and washing windows...
Barefoot Girl has swept up the crumbs and cobwebs...
and we have fresh spring menus planned and a plethora of imaginative teas prepared for the upcoming months. So until the time to laugh and dance and embrace returns...
...we are praying and wishing for you to be well and look forward to our sweet reunion once this season of refraining is behind us.
Do you believe in Faeries?
Tea Faeries, that is.
On Tuesday it seems one visited us by way of the afternoon post which contained...
...this charming collection of goodies including a cheerful greeting card with a fabulously sassy quote, warm wishes from a stellar tea comrade hailing from Texas (by way of the U.K.), and two exquisite tea bags.
Exquisite...really? YES! First of all just look at the tea bag. How often do you come across hand-sewn, organic cotton bags in your tea box? If you are like us, not too often. However, what was really exquisite was the tea inside the bag. This fragrant, full-leaf tea is graded as, Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. Note the SFTGFOP on the packaging. In the tea world those letters are jokingly said to mean, So Far Too Good For Ordinary People. It's rare, expensive, and very limited and we've always wanted to try just a cup of it. Are you starting to believe us now? This tea was exquisite and enjoyed to the last drop.
The unassuming blue envelope came as such a beguiling surprise to us, we now unanimously agree... we believe in Faeries! Thank you, Lindsey!
The Elfin Collection
One blustery December day this beauty arrived in the post. The tea set, that is!
The Elfin Collection is a line of luxury Danish tea ware, sleek, elegant and extremely high quality. Nothing short of stunning.
From the first moment you open the well-cushioned, protective packaging, it is clear this box holds something extraordinary.
Look at the stunning visual presentation this set makes. However it is more than just beautiful. So many unique features make using it a pleasure.
While this set truly is aesthetically sophisticated and elegant and you might be tempted to reserve it for only the most celebratory occasions, the best feature it possesses is its usability. It washes up easily and despite its delicate look, it really is quite sturdy. Highly recommended for daily use! What could be finer than that?
Visit www.elfincollection.com to read more about their Tea for Two tea set.
The Boston Tea Party
December 16, 1773 the historic Boston Tea Party took place when a heroic band of brave men raided an English cargo ship and tossed 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. They were protesting British tyranny that day and today we celebrate the 246th anniversary of that event.
Every year, the Boston Tea Party Museum re-enacts this historic moment when Americans again toss tea into the Boston Harbor.
We decided to salute the Sons of Liberty by having a tea toss of our own right here at Three Sisters Tearoom. We found this little Indian getting the job done!
Happy Boston Tea Party Day, America!
Enjoy a cup of tea and celebrate your freedom.
*No tea was injured in this re-enactment.*
A Little Chocolate in your Tea?
From time to time something truly new and different comes across your path and you must take the time to learn more about it. That is exactly what happened with us and organic cacao tea from the Cacao Tea Co.
We did our research and found that this is not something new at all but has very ancient South American roots tied to the Mayans and Aztecs. This chocolate tea is not technically a tea at all and is made from minimally-processed, organic cacao husks which are simply crushed and roasted before brewing. The health benefits are extensive and include high levels of antioxidants, energy boosting and mood enhancing properties and it is calorie free when sipped neat. After several steeping sessions we were prepared to share our new discovery so we laid the tables for a Tea F.E.T.E. (Friday evening tea education) and quickly had a full house coming to this exciting class. Chocolate seems to have that effect on people!
Traditionally, this beverage would not be creamed or sweetened but what fun is there in that? We laid out a variety of creaming options and sweeteners and began our tasting session. First we tried it perfectly plain and those dark chocolate lovers believed they had found their dream drink! Others craved more of a milk chocolate experience and started experimenting with rich cream, condensed milks, liquid and powered sweeteners of all kinds. The results were clear: cacao tea is delicious pure and plain but when you add sweetened condensed coconut milk or cream and coconut sugar this beverage jumps up into the delicious dessert category. For a final twist we slow steeped a pot of classical Indian chai with cacao tea all afternoon then shared it with our guests. This was truly scrumptious and highly recommended by everyone.
So as hot chocolate season is upon us, consider this healthy, lower calorie alternative to the old childhood classic. You'll be glad you did! Learn more about this product at Cacao Tea Co.
Christmas Count Down...
Waiting for Christmas to arrive can bring out the impatient child in all of us. So a count down may be in order. You could make a paper chain or...
...get a Christmas tea count down calendar! This one from Adagio is full of brightly colored tea packets that look like beautifully wrapped presents themselves. There is a tea bag for each day right up to Christmas Eve and the selection is creative, delicious, and varied. You'll find herbals, blacks, greens, even whimsical tisanes such as Gingerbread and Candy Cane.
Just a sampling of what's waiting for you...
Each day open one perforated window and unwrap your present. Now the impatient child in you can settle down with a nice cup of tea and relax - you are one day closer to Christmas!
This merry calendar from Adagio is sure to bring a little joy (and tea!) into your Christmas count down.
Time to Celebrate
I've been married to this Sailor for years now... 30 years to be exact, so it was time to celebrate and what better way to celebrate than with my favorite guy and TEA!
We journeyed north to West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, IN. This place was built in the early 20th century way out in the country and had an authentic "Old World" feel to it. I was smitten the moment I saw the red dome peak through the tree tops.
First stop was tea and what a tea it was! Delicious and elegant and so deeply enjoyed by both of us.
The harpist was lovely and had a beautiful smile and we could have lingered all day just to listen to her play but there was more to do on this celebratory get-away...
Next day, next stop was in Danville, KY, home of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas. I had placed an order for the tearoom before our trip and so I thought maybe, just maybe we could stop by and pick it up in person.
We got to sample a few teas I'd been interested in and had time to visit with my first tea mentor, Mr. Bruce Richardson and his lovely wife, Shelley. I was thrilled and could have stayed awhile longer but it was time to head home.
After all, after 30 years of marriage we had this beautiful bunch to get back to. My, it's been a spectacular 3 decades!
Umi Tea Set
We love oolong so when Umi Tea Set asked us to sample one we said, "Yes, please!"
Umi Tea Set sent us a gorgeous box of oolong tea along with a chocolate brown gawain in which to perfectly steep the leaves. The gawain was lovely and warm in the hand and felt like the best brewing vessel for these twisted, large leaves in varying shades of black and green.
Once steeped, each twisted leaf opened up into a single medium-sized green tea leaf which yielded 3 good steepings of pale green/gold liquid that started out floral and moved to fishy by the last steeping. Refreshing and light, this oolong was enjoyed by all our tasters. Thank you, Umiteasets.com. Find Umi Tea Sets on facebook.
A Good "Mail" Day
It's a long walk to our mailbox and sometimes on that walk I can start to dream about just what might be inside waiting for me. Today my dream came true!
Five unassuming black and white packets of premium, limited-quality, single origin, fine, loose-leaf teas were nestled into this little brown envelope. Let's put the kettle on.
Masters Tea from Adagio is a new line from an old favorite tea company. We have enjoyed Adagio Tea for years and even have 3 or 4 original blends for sale on their website. But Masters Tea is something new altogether. Read on to discover more.
Tongmu jin jun mei: This dark amber black tea had fragrance notes of cocoa and caramel. Beautiful to look at and perfect without any additions. The taste was oh, so smooth and velvety with a sweet, cool finish. Hard to beat this one. A very fine, agreeable Chinese tea.
Ali shan special: This oolong from Taiwan is special, indeed! The tight green balls of tea relaxed into 1 stem with 4 leaves once steeped. With an aroma of honeysuckle and fruity jelly beans, this straw colored elixir was delicious and sweet with flavors of peaches and creamy coconut. It felt very cool and clean in the mouth. One sip and you'd agree, truly something special in this cup!
Shincha gyokuro: This tea is in a separate class all its own. One often hears the expression, a bowl of tea or some even refer to tea as soup. Well, after trying this selection, we are learning why. This tea looks vastly different from most, like green/black spiky hair and the dry leaves smelled brothy, like chicken stock. It took a few tries to steep this one properly but we finally ended up with the palest yellow liquid sporting the biggest flavor profile. Very savory, salty, bouillon-like...the word is umami and it means a quality of a full, round, perfectly-complete flavor you cannot quite express. While we did not love this tea, we really wanted to and plan to learn more about it. Hopefully we will acquire a taste for it soon!
All these teas are available for purchase at www.adagio.com
Please DO eat the day lilies?!
At Three Sisters Tearoom we often feature edible flowers on our menu and as a garnish on our tea trays.
Such floral embelishments only add to the enchantment tea time brings.
Sometimes the edible flowers are used as centerpieces....
...but it wasn't until this little sweetie graced our tea table that we actually had a guest EAT the flowers from the vase in the center of the table!
Yep, it was our Birthday Tea and the day lilies really did look good enough to eat. After being told the flowers were edible, our pretty guest in pink plucked one from the vase, plopped it onto her plate, slathered it full of lemon curd, then, like a floral sushi roll, consumed it stamen, pistol, pedals and all!
If not for the smackerel of curd on her lips to give the secret away, one would never have known.
The Tea Exchange
"Drink tea and make friends." Chinese Proverb
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