Thursday, June 30, 2016


While I write about tea here at Steeped in Tradition, I am more known for my mystery writing which appears on my cozy mystery blog, Cozy Up With Kathy. I was recently waiting for two books to arrive that I needed to review and I didn't want to start reading another full length mystery. I prefer to only read one book at a time, at least only one work of fiction at a time, and at least one of the books would arrive before I could finish a new one. However, I can't NOT be reading. I needed something, so I began to browse through my kindle checking out past purchases. I found THE BOOK OF TEA already downloaded and waiting. Surely that was a sign.

THE BOOK OF TEA by Okakura Kakuzo is delightful little book published in 1906 that talks about the history and philosophy of the beverage developing into Teaism. The book is divided into seven sections: The Cup of Humanity, The Schools of Tea, Taoism and Zennism, The Tea-Room, Art Appreciation, Flowers, and Tea-Masters. Okakura (his surname) imparts such vast knowledge, but does so in an utterly charming and witty way. He had me laughing out loud several times He also has me second guessing the choice to ever cut flowers again!

Okakura describes how tea use has developed, how it has changed in "modern" times; although his "modern" was well over 100 years ago. It's interesting to note how religion has altered tea and tea use as well. Well versed in art (Okakura was a primary founder of the Tokyo Fine Arts School and was later curator of the Oriental art division of the Boston Museum of Fine Art) he also addresses the art of Teaism and art appreciation in general. The addition of lore not only adds interest, the ancient stories highlight different aspects Okakura is teaching...and forces you to see connections and think, as any philosophy is wont to do.

Okakura discusses tea as an art form and a religion. What's interesting to note is that he wrote this book in English for a Western audience. While you can certainly purchase this book (I'd love a hard copy of my own) you can find several pdf and e-versions available for free. If you're at all interested in tea, culture, and philosophy this is a book that should not be missed!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Twinings of London's 90th Anniversary Blend

Karen here, as I write this post I am finishing the last of my second pot of Twinings 90th anniversary celebration loose leave black tea. This beautiful blend combines tea from three Commonwealth countries, Assam, India, Kenyan and Sri Lankan tea blend together for the most delightful velvety afternoon tea.
This is a rich, bold and yet delicate tasting tea that would pair so beautifully with savory tea time delights as much as it would sweet.
My sister in law found this royal purple collectible tea tin at her local grocery store, though I have not seen it at my own I know that I will try to locate it and stock up on this 100 gram blend.
You can find it on the Twinings of London Website by clicking here.
and on Amazon by clicking here.
I love following the Royal family and I have since I was a young girl, my maternal grandfather was from England and he taught me all about the Royal family. I recently framed a photo of the queen I love it is her laughing, as she passes a guard who happens to be her husband Prince Phillip, it is my most favorite photo of the two of them, I wish them both a happy 90th and 95th birthday !

Thank you for joining me for a cup of tea and a tea review today I would love to have you join me for tea daily at

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cold Brewing Tea

You know about iced tea and must be pretty familiar with it. In fact as the mercury heads north, you must be guzzling gallons of it. But have you heard of cold brew tea, and have you tried to make some? Some kinds of tea will take you close to heaven on a cold brew.

The tradition of cold brewing tea is old. It is believed to have originated in Japan, where people poured cold water over tea in a pitcher that was left to sit for hours in the coolest part of the house. The resultant brew was cool, smooth, full of flavor with very little bitterness.

We have found out that Darjeeling first flush teas - the ones harvested during spring and which are slightly oxidized, with a crisp, grassy-floral character in the cup - make for some of the best cold brew teas. Because of its delicate character Darjeeling is hard to make iced tea out of - the ice greatly dilutes the tea, leaving very little flavor in the glass.

However, cold-brew Darjeeling is stunning. The taste and the aroma of the tea are exquisite, flowing over the palate with perfect clarity, every note clear and precise. The floral sweetness of a first flush perfectly complements the taste of a cold brew. The freshness of the tea also enhances the flavors.

The difference between a hot brew and cold brew tea can be pretty stark in case of say a Japanese green tea like Sencha. But what we like about cold brew Darjeeling is that the complexity of the flavor and aroma is retained. In that respect it is not a “lighter” brew than a hot cup of tea.

Instruction for cold brewing Darjeeling:

  •         Use a level teaspoon of tea per cup.
  •         Pour room temperature water over the tea.
  •         Stir gently to make sure all the leaves are wet.
  •         Leave it in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
  •         Strain the leaves.
  •         Your super delicious cold brew Darjeeling is now ready to be enjoyed!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chatting About Tea...

This afternoon I had a dear friend and fellow knitter over for knitting time and tea - a Sunday afternoon practice we have enjoyed for several years.  Despite the extreme heat and humidity here in western New York State, we chose to have hot tea while savoring the joys of central air-conditioning.

I suggested Eastern Shore High Energy Tea, which she had never tried.  She liked it as much as I do, and we agreed to try it iced next time.  As we shared our knitting projects, discussed the latest issue of Vogue Knitting Magazine, and sipped tea, I asked her if she drank coffee.  "I always drink coffee in the morning because I love the smell of brewing coffee.  After breakfast I switch to tea for the rest of the day."  How many times have I heard people talk about the marvelous aroma of coffee in the air first thing in the morning?  And I have many friends who do not drink coffee but love to smell it brewing.

And then she shared how her love of tea developed.  Years ago she met a woman from England who had introduced her to tea.  The woman always brewed loose tea using her lovely tea pots and fine china.  We have been friends for years and shared many cups of tea on our Sunday afternoons, but I had never thought to ask this question.

Perhaps as we grow older, we think more about the simple pleasures of life.  We used to be a trio for tea and knitting on Sunday, but a few months ago our mutual friend died in a car accident.  No chance to say good bye.  I know that particular death has had a profound effect on both of us.  We discuss knitting, our lives, books we are reading, politics, but we remain positive.  Her friendship is one I treasure, and today she shared a loving friendship from her past.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dancing Water

One mistake a lot of novice tea drinkers make is that they don't use the proper temperature water. Not all teas should be made with boiling water. While black teas enjoy that rolling boil, greens and whites certainly do not. The more delicate green and white teas prefer their water to be between 170-180 F.Oolongs are generally a bit higher at 180-190 F while black and most herbal teas can take the 208-212 of a full boil.

When I learned about these facts about water temperature my first though was, "Thank goodness I love black teas-no need to worry about temperature". My next thought was "How the heck do you figure out what the exact water temperature is?"

One way to make certain that you're heating your water to the correct temperature is to use a tea kettle with a digital temperature display. Set the machine for the temperature you want and it will click let you know when that temperature is reached.

However, you don't need a fancy machine-you can use a clear tea kettle and the water itself will tell you when it's ready. Watch the kettle. When little bubbles start to form you're ready for green teas. When the bubbles start bouncing a bit more, it's time for your oolongs. When the water hits that rolling boil the whistle will probably start to chirp announcing that it's time for black tea.

Honestly I use my inexpensive clear kettle more than my digital one. Waiting for the water to come to the proper temperature is a meditative process and it's fun to watch the water dance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mad Hatter Tea From The White Heather Tea Room In Victoria BC

Karen here and today I am sharing a tea review of a blend of black tea from The White Heather Tea room in Victoria BC. My friend Daniela brought this tea back for me from her trip to Victoria. Victoria is located on picturesque Vancouver Island and is a 90 min ferry ride from my home.
This blend is their Mad Hatter Tea. A black tea scented with vanilla, grenadine, passion fruit and papaya. This is one of their most popular blends and is a lovely smooth and even flavored black tea.
This was light and slightly fruity, good for a summer afternoon tea party for sure.
For a complete list of the teas offered by the White Heather Tea Room In Victoria BC please click here. 
If you happen to be traveling to Vancouver Island on the West Coast of Canada and would like to learn more about visiting the White Heather Tea Room Please click here. 
I would love to have you for tea daily over at 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June Is National Iced Tea Month

June is National Iced Tea Month.
Legend has it that a tea vendor at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis popularized the drink.
When visitors to the sweltering event turned down free hot tea, he ran it through iced pipes to chill the beverage.
The resulting cool, refreshing beverage was a hit and the iced drink became popular throughout the United States.

Iced tea is traditionally served with lemon slice used as a garnish, which is often placed on the rim of the glass.
In the Southwest United States (or at least in restaurants with a Southwest theme), lime is also very popular (especially in Mexican restaurants).
It is proper to always call it iced tea rather than ice tea. Tea with ice in it is an iced beverage.I
In the South, the word iced is often eliminated, and is simply known as sweet tea.

Sweet tea dates back to the late 19th century when the following recipe was published in Housekeeping in Old Virginia.
 After scalding the teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time, strain, without stirring, through a tea strainer into a pitcher. Let it stand till tea time and pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will correct the astringent tendency.

A LITTLE HISTORY Because 19th-century general stores stocked mostly green tea from China or Japan, many early recipes called for green tea. But, after World War II, when green tea was scarce, black tea from India became the basis for this popular brew.

It is not uncommon for a Southerner to drink  iced tea ( sweet tea) all throughout the day ...for breakfast , lunch , dinner and with a snack! 

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems
" a celebration of the south and things southern
"Meet Mississippi Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word"

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Connotations of Serving Tea...

 This weekend I’ve been binge reading some wonderful books written for middle school age children.  Blue Balliett has a gift for writing clever mysteries that integrate language, art, and math with a bit of history and science.  I have read some of them but not all; the first two are Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3.  This month I decided to read them in chronological order.  Because I am now contributing to this blog, I noticed the use of tea in a different way during this reading.

This is not a book review, but one of the main characters is Mrs. Sharpe, a senior citizen who challenges the sixth grade detectives to use their own minds to find the answers.  Whenever they are invited to her home, she serves tea.  I started thinking about the message the use of tea sends to the reader.

Mrs. Sharpe never offers milk and cookies but rather, tea and cookies.  It may be hot; it may be iced but always tea.  Why is it acceptable for an adult to serve tea to children but not coffee?  For this reader the connotation of serving tea is a sense of propriety reflecting Western Culture.  In Chasing Vermeer, the children marvel at the delicate porcelain cups and saucers.  It is a representation of White privilege.  I do not see it as a negative, but I also do not see it as typical for entertaining children in the 21st Century United States.  The tea is perhaps a stereotypical expectation for a senior citizen with an upper class background.

Exploring the world of tea takes on new meaning when stopping to consider its appearance and description in everyday reading.  And by the way, if you enjoy mysteries, I highly recommend those of Blue Balliett, and now I’m going to read The Calder Game as soon as I make myself another cup of tea.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

My New Tea Set

Last night I went to a card making class which was held at a nearby Goodwill store. I was early so I started to browse while waiting for the teacher to arrive. Imagine my surprise when I found this Chinese tea set!

The set came in a red box.

I wish I could read the writing on the inside of the lid!

This is the teapot.

And there are 6 cups and saucers. The saucers are completely plain.

There's a marking on the bottom. Hopefully it can tell me more about the set. But for now, I'm fairly clueless.

Here is some detail from the lid of the teapot.

I believe this tea set is made of clay and may be a Yixing. I need to do some research! Whatever its story, it's a beautiful little set and I'm happy to add it to my collection!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trader Joe's Earl Grey, A Wonderful Tea, A Great Price and Worth The Journey!

Karen here, recently I ran out of my Trader Joe's Earl Grey Tea. I had second and third thoughts about using my very last tea bag, knowing that I live three hours from Trader Joe's, require a passport, a tank of gas, a different kind of money (that is worth currently worth more then the currency in my own country of Canada) but sometimes you just need that really amazing cup of tea.
I posted my woes on Instagram and Facebook (as one does) and was amazed at how many questions, comments and offers to get the tea to me I had. I have some truly wonderful friends.

The first question I got and I got it a few times was. "Earl Grey is Earl Grey, is the Trader Joe's one that much better?"  my answer is this Yes, it is that good. It is a bagged tea that has a consistent, rich, full bodied and beautifully balanced flavor.  Next question I got is "I thought you only drank loose leaf tea, why do you bother with bagged tea?" Truthfully, yes I do drink mostly loose leaf tea, however the convenience in this individually wrapped tea bag makes it my go to for travel (I even keep it in my purse) and I often make a large mug, travel or otherwise to enjoy on the go. It also looks great in my tea cup, if you don't believe me check out the photo above as I patiently awaited it to steep.
I also got asked how I found out about this tea in the first place, Years ago I got my first two bags sent to me in a mail tea swap I did, from there I picked some up on my trips down to Washington State and last year I brought back a box or two from Colorado where we went on a family vacation.  Another question I got asked was if I could get it on  As I live in Canada not everything that you can get in the USA ships to Canada, at the time of this post it is not available to ship.  I had so many wonderful friends offer to shop for and ship this tea to me here in Canada. Can you believe that shipping this light weight tea would cost about $10 US and the tea is less then $3 a box when I last purchased it. Shipping costs really do make it difficult to justify for sure! I did not want to ask my friends to incur such a cost. However.....
I was so very thankful when my Mother In Law (I am truly blessed with the most amazing mother in law in the world) offered to get me some as she wanted to head south for a day of shopping and she drove a little further then she had planned but returned with two boxes of tea for me! I am so very thankful to her for this wonderful gift!  This tea also pairs beautifully with Snicker Doodles by the way!
As a tea enthusiast and not a tea snob I can recommend this lovely Earl Grey, check out Trader Joe's in your area and see for yourself how lovely this inexpensive tea really can be.
I would love to have you join me for tea daily over at

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer? Yes, please.

I live in the northeast US. We see snow. Lots of snow. We are legendary for snow. So when warm weather finally arrives, we make the most of it.

As much as I love hot tea of all kinds, I’m not exactly enthusiastic about a steaming cup of Constant Comment on a 90-degree day. Call me picky; I don’t mind.

Fortunately, there is a lovely concoction called sun tea. 

Plain tea will always be my favorite. Look at that deep, rich color. Nothing beats the tinkling of ice cubes in a tall glass as tea is poured over them. Add a sprig of mint or a lemon slice and you have heaven. Okay, half of heaven. For the other half, I recommend cookies. Or pie. Or Ice cream. 

Ice cream and summer. Mmm.

Where was I? *looks up at masthead* Oh, yes. Tea.

Now sometimes I want a drink with more substance than regular iced tea. Hello, blender! Because I’m all about the cooking, here are a few of my go-to tea smoothies.

First, brew a cup of tea the night before: black, green, peppermint, whatever you like, and let it cool in the fridge.

When you’re ready to kick back on the porch or deck or lawn, assemble your ingredients. I use vanilla ice cream because I don’t touch yogurt no way no how. But if you’re a yogurt fan, substitute it for the ice cream below and add a few ice cubes for heft.  

Morning tea smoothie:
Black tea
Vanilla ice cream
Peach or banana
A dash of ginger
1/3 cup milk
Sugar to taste

Anytime tea smoothie:
Green or black tea
Vanilla ice cream
Strawberries, raspberries, a peach, a mango, a plum—use blueberries for the healthiest choice!
1/3 cup milk
Sugar to taste

The Marriage of Tea and Orange Julius for the Sophisticated Palate:
Constant Comment tea
Vanilla ice cream
Orange sherbet
1/3 cup milk
Sugar to taste

Mojito tea smoothie for hot summer nights:
White tea
Vanilla ice cream
Fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp lime juice plus a bit of grated peel
1/2 oz of rum (or to taste)

Bonus tea anecdote: People often ask me how much my ex-nun sleuth is like me, her creator. I can tell you one way she is definitely not like me: Now that she’s pregnant and her coffee intake is limited, she’s trying herbal tea as a substitute. She hates every flavor she’s tried. I don’t understand that woman.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Revisiting a previously reviewed tea...

So yours truly, the Red Rose addict, looked in her tea canister the other day and realized she had fewer than thirty tea bags left.  Usually there is at least one more box of the highly favored plain old tea in the pantry.  OH MY GOODNESS!  NO RED ROSE!  As pay day is June 17, the panic of how many tea bags did that leave per day began to set in.  Rather than become any more agitated, the Red Rose addict decided a slow withdrawal may be better - try another tea this time.

She knew that caffeine was needed and quickly glanced at labels...peppermint,no...herbal, no...caffeine, YES.  The tea was:

In her need for caffeine state of mind, she had no memory of whether or not she liked this tea; although remembered reviewing it along with other chocolate teas.  Water boiled, tea steeped five minutes, skim milk splashed in automatically as done with the highly favored Red Rose, and carried into the living room to be enjoyed with a good book.  "Wow!" She said to herself. "This is good.  What kind was this again?  There is a chocolate taste.  The other spices are lovely.  And the aroma is to die for."  Yes, she decided this could do in a pinch.  She would not want to drink this with a meal, but when only drinking a cup of tea, this one is quite nice.

Imagine my surprise when I looked back today at my chocolate tea reviews and discovered this was my favorite.  I can honestly say I had not indulged (pun intended) in this tea since the review was written.  I had no idea what I would think of that cup of desperation.  I was quite pleased to agree with my earlier review: this tea wonderful.

And having consumed 12 ounces of it, made in my favorite mug (see May 30) while writing this entry, I am going to hit save/publish and put the kettle on for another mug of Numi Organic Indulgent Tea - Chocolate Spice.

PS - I have enough Red Rose left to enjoy at least five mugs per day until payday.  Now where is that $1.00 off coupon when purchasing two boxes...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tea Talk: An Interview with Lynn Cahoon

I'm pleased to welcome author Lynn Cahoon to the blog today. Her latest Tourist Trap Mystery is entitled Tea Cups and Carnage.

Kathy: Tea Cups and Carnage was released June 7th. What made you decide on a tea focus for this book?

Karen Owen, blogger at A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery, and I started chatting after she started reading my books. She told me I so needed a tea shop in South Cove. Now, Jill, my main character, didn't like the idea of competition, so we adjusted Kathi's plan for Tea Hee during the writing stages.

Kathy: I love the name of the new specialty shop in South Cove. Is Tea Hee based on a real shop, or is it purely fictional?

There is a Tea Hee shop in the UK, (I just googled it) but Kathi's shop in the book is totally fictional. I love the play on humor. I was leaning toward something around the Mad Hatter's tea party since with all the tables and different sets in the shop. I love referencing my favorite fairy tales in the series. You'll see Cinderella in a few too.

Kathy: How does tea play a part in your writing?

I have to admit, I'm a big iced tea drinker in the summer. Winter, I love having a cup of tea sitting by me at night while I'm crafting a story.

Kathy: I'm partial to unsweetened iced tea and lapsang souchong. What about you? How do you like your tea?

Me too. At least the first one. I ordered an iced tea in NC last summer and about spit it out all over my son's car when I took a big drink. It was sweet tea. I learned to be more specific that week. LOL

Kathy: Do you have a favorite type of tea? Any you don't particularly care for?

My favorite hot tea is either an apple cinnamon blend or oolong. I always order tea when we're eating Asian. It's just part of the experience. And I think that's the point, tea probably more than coffee is the experience. When it's raining and cold outside, a cup of tea will warm you and your soul. Enjoying a cup of tea is different than just drinking a soda or a glass of water. It feeds a different part of your being.

Kathy: In addition to drinking tea many people collect tea cups, tea pots, and other tea things. Do you collect any tea accouterments?

I don't. I'm trying really hard not to be a collector. I did find some miniature tea sets a few years ago during one of my trips. I wish I still had them.

Kathy: Do you consider yourself a tea connoisseur, a tea neophyte, or simply a person who enjoys tea?

I'm a simple girl. I just like tea. I drink beer when I'm out, I like cotton rather than satin and lace, and I like a good cup of tea.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite tearoom, or place to enjoy tea?

I never heard of tea rooms before I moved to the St. Louis area. I have one in my new home town that I've been looking for an excuse to spend some time at. Tea Cups release just may be that excuse. :)

Kathy: What does tea mean to you?

I think I hit on this earlier. It's a different expression of life. Food is a big theme in my books, some would say too big of theme, but they are usually men and don't get it. Tea is like a good soup. It doesn't just hydrate your body, it feeds your soul. In today's fast paced world, we don't have a lot of experiences that we take time to enjoy. I'm always rushing here or there. But give me a cup of tea and my body and mind relaxes, at least for that few minutes. It's the warmth, and the smell, and the taste, they all work together to focus you.

And we all need a little time for tea.

Here are links - Amazon -

Nook -

Goodreads -

Twitter -

Facebook -

website -

Amazon author page -

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wedding Shower (or Baby Shower) Umbrella Themed Silicone Tea Strainers

Karen here, it is wedding season and with that comes my favorite pre wedding activity the wedding shower. Today I am sharing these fun tea favors that would make excellent take home gifts for your guests at your wedding tea shower. I recently purchased a dozen of these little silicone umbrellas from Ebay and they are so easy to use and whimsical, they are just plain fun!
These are really easy to use and I love that the little hook handles actually hook on the side of your mug, tea pot or tea cup.
The round disk comes out of the umbrella for you to place your tea leaves and they are super easy to empty and clean. I think little umbrellas which were under $1.50 each, paired with a loose leaf blend of your choosing would make an excellent take home gift!  To find these for yourself on Ebay click here. 
Looking to get into the Wedding season spirit? Check out Alice Loweecey's book Changing Habits, you will be so glad you did! A lovely cozy mystery short story you can find from Amazon by clicking here.
I would love to have you over for tea daily at 

Monday, June 6, 2016

"There is nothing new to say about tea."

So I was having a difficult time deciding what to write about this week.  I decided to Google, "There is nothing new to say about tea" and refute what I found.  To my surprise, Google found nothing.  Perhaps I have coined a phrase?  It is quite exciting to discover you may have said something that has never been said before.  For now, I am claiming it as mine:
"There is nothing new to say about tea."
Kate Stiffler

Having found no reference to this phrase through Google, I must accept that it is not true.  There is something new to say about tea.  Unfortunately, It is not rumbling through my brain today.  But I do have a few thoughts on tea that I will share.  The statements are undocumented opinion.

  • Ten different people may say they enjoy the same brand and type of tea, but each person will have a different description/explanation of why.
  • People who have no preference of tea or coffee are a minority.
  • No caffeine or low caffeine teas are more satisfying than decaffeinated coffee.
  • Flavored teas are more enjoyable than flavored coffee.
When I listen to or read what others say about tea, the explanations for liking or not liking a particular tea, while finding the right words, appears to be a challenge.  Some people have a more discerning sense of taste and are able to single out flavors or spices.  Others settle for less description.

I am equally happy with tea or coffee, but I tend to drink tea at home.  In my experience there are few people who feel this way.  Most adults have a clear preference for one over the other, and many of my friends prefer a caffeinated soda when they need caffeine.

There are so many herbal teas, which are not really tea but called tea as a simplification.  These teas are naturally caffeine free.  Coffee must be processed to remove the caffeine and still has trace amounts of caffeine.  When I drink coffee, I am drinking it because I want the buzz.  I do not enjoy drinking decaf coffee.

I prefer unflavored coffee.  Fruit flavored coffee?  No.  I do enjoy some flavors such as chocolate, caramel, or pumpkin when they are created by adding syrup to the coffee.  However, I find the preflavored coffee beans to have an artificial aftertaste that I do not notice with flavored teas.

And those are my personal beliefs; I wish I had some research to back up these opinions.

Here's to another week of happy tea drinking.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tea Talk : An interview and Giveaway with Krista Davis

I'm delighted to welcome author Krista Davis to the blog today. Krista's newest book in her Domestic Diva series in entitled The Diva Serves High Tea. How perfect that we talk tea today, the book will be released Tuesday, June 7th.

Kathy: As followers of this blog know, I generally drink unsweetened iced tea or hot tea made gong fu style. What about you? How do you like your tea?

KD: I like unsweetened iced tea on hot days. However, my go-to tea is hot black tea with sugar and two percent milk.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite type of tea? Any you don't particularly care for?

KD: I wish I could find a green tea that I like. The last one was so awful that I gave it away to someone who likes green tea. I just can’t make friends with it. My favorite tea is Newman’s Own Organic Black Tea.

If any readers have a green tea to recommend, please leave a comment with the name and brand!

Years and years ago, one of my dear friends vacationed in England and brought me a tea by Twinings that is called Cutty Sark in honor of the British clipper ship. It was fantastic. I loved that tea and told her so. Over the years, both of us had hunted for it, but it just wasn’t available anywhere. Last Christmas, she was brimming with happiness when she handed me my Christmas gift. She remembered how much I had loved the Cutty Sark tea, and she found it online, available at Twinings in England and ordered it! It’s as delicious as I remembered!

It says it’s “a unique blend of the finest Yunnan and smooth Keemun black teas from China.”

Kathy: In addition to drinking tea many people collect tea cups, tea pots, and other tea things. Do you collect any tea accouterments?

KD: I have a bit of a piggy issue with china and crystal in general. I could be easily be one of those people who has special china for every occasion, including Halloween. I don’t collect tea items per se, but I have managed to collect a few interesting infusers and pretty tea cups.

Kathy: Do you consider yourself a tea connoisseur, a tea neophyte, or simply a person who enjoys tea?

KD: I don’t think I’m a connoisseur, but I’m certainly not a neophyte. How’s that for an evasive answer? I am a big tea drinker. I love hot hibiscus tea on a cold winter night. My favorite iced tea is black currant. That subtle fruity taste in the cold tea is delicious. I’m enough of a tea nut to make myself a relaxing cup of black tea when I can’t sleep! Yes, it’s true!

Incidentally, I wondered why tea is relaxing even though it contains caffeine. Some clever researchers have determined that black tea reduces stress. So your problems won’t go away, but you may be able to handle them better.

Kathy: How does tea play a part in your writing?

KD: This is a little bit embarrassing, but I *must* have my mug of hot tea on my desk to write. It’s as important as the keyboard. Refilling it gives me an excuse to get up and stretch my legs.

Kathy: Your new book is The Diva Serves High Tea. Does she really serve high tea in the book?

KD: I have to admit to being embarrassed when I discovered that we Americans use high tea incorrectly. At least I did. The fancy tea that we think of as high tea with cucumber sandwiches and scones is actually called afternoon tea.

High tea is named after the height of the table! Who’d have thought that? Apparently, on the days when the servants were off, the wealthy called their dinner high tea because it wasn’t the usual evening meal with an elaborate roast and all the trimmings and side dishes. It was eaten at a dinner table, thus the name high tea in comparison to afternoon tea or low tea which was served on a coffee table.

Working folks picked up the term high tea to describe their dinner after they came home from a long day at work.

Naturally, when I learned this, I alerted my editor, who chose to continue with the title The Diva Serves High Tea. In the book, Sophie serves afternoon tea in honor of Francie’s birthday.

Interestingly, some tearooms in England now advertise their afternoon tea as high tea just for the foreigners who don’t know the proper terms!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite tearoom, or place to enjoy tea?

KD: Alas, there aren’t any tearooms where I live.

Kathy: What does tea mean to you?

KD: Lifeline. I pack it when I travel!


You are cordially invited to a tea party!

When: June 7, 2016
Time: 4-6:30 pm EDT
Where: Online

Isn't that picture gorgeous?! It's the grand prize at the party! There will be other prizes as well, so do try to attend.  


Would you like your own copy of The Diva Serves High Tea? Simply enter the rafflecoptor below. If the winner has a US mailing address, the prize will be an autographed paperback. a non-US winner will receive a paperback copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Setting The Tone Of The Day With The Choices In Your Cup And On Your Table

The first cup of tea in the morning sets the tone for my entire day, sometimes I choose the wrong tea or run out of my morning favorites and I find that my day just gets off to the wrong start when this happens. I was reminded of this last Monday the 23rd of May when I ran out of my two favorite morning blends. Both local tea companies but a 20-40 minute drive away through rush hour traffic seemed less appealing at the time and I procrastinated too much, I ran out of both with in a day of each other.

Sometimes it is not only the tea that sets the tone for the day sometimes it is the vessel.
The cup and saucer I choose, I actually go out of my way to select one of my teacups that will I hope enhance the flavor of the tea I have selected. I try to match my cup to what I am reading, how I am feeling, what I am needing that morning. I have a cup I use when I need strength, cups I use when I am thinking of certain people, cups I feel fit the right mood, season and capture the moment I wish to convey.
I have a few tea cup and saucer sets shown above that I use quite a bit, I actually have full sets and place settings of Royal Albert Old Country Roses which I have collected since I was about 13, as well in the last 3 years I have added Royal Albert's Petit Point to my treasured collection which has already out grown my china cabinet. It is a joy to use each and every one of these cups and saucers.
Over the years I have been gifted some beautiful sets which have largely never been used before being added to my collection. This one is a lovely Royal Standard set that photographs as lovely as it appears in person.
In all my treasure hunting and of all my finds, the set I fell in love with many years ago still delights me to no end when I gaze upon it, when I need strength, comfort and a reminder of life's beauty this is the set that makes my heart sing. It is important to use what you love, don't let it sit on the shelf for a special occasion that may never come, use and enjoy what you have for what it is and what it was meant for!

I have to share this particular set I was given over a year ago now from a friend who's mother had passed away and who found this treasure in her cupboard. This Royal Albert (I do love my Royal Albert sets) is a lavender color and a shape completely different from any others I had. It is delicate and beautiful, simple and charming, a favorite for sure.
You may be wondering what is in each tea cup shown here today,  the two favorite teas I should never be with out are the blend by Neverland Tea Salon called Heavenly Tea and Warm Grey an Earl Grey by The Capilano Tea company, both featured prominently in the cups above and below.

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