Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tea Book Giveaway! Win "Tea in the City: New York": It's easy and fun!

Barb’s TEA Shop is giving away one "Tea in the City: New York" book (authored by  Elizabeth Knight and photographs by Bruce Richardson) to one of our lucky followers. All you need to do is send us your name and tell us what your favorite tea is.

We’ll conduct a random drawing in one week and announce the winner September 7th!!

You can email us at

In 2007, I had the great opportunity to have a one-one-one tea tour of New York City with Elizabeth Knight. The former tea sommelier for the St. Regis Hotel and author of several tea books, Elizabeth Knight also hosts a number of tea tours. They are offered in scheduled times for groups, but she also will work with individual requests. Since I was going at a specific time with my brother and sister-in-law to see my niece’s high school choir group sing at Carnegie Hall (another highlight!), I contacted Elizabeth to see if she would be available so I could take advantage of the time I would be in the Big Apple.

Lucky for me, Elizabeth could work with my schedule and, once I arrived, she met me at my hotel lobby and we started our walking tea tour of the city in “smart casual attire” and “comfortable shoes”. It was a wonderful trip from the exclusive fine china retailer on Park Avenue to an unpretentious, wood-floored tea room in Greenwich Village.

This month, I caught up with Elizabeth and interviewed her for The Detroit Tea Examiner. Although, Elizabeth has put her tours on hold due to a move closer to the City, she will be at the World Tea Expo East this fall. I’m hoping once she posts her new schedule, my daughter and I can sign up and take another exciting tea tour of New York.

Good luck everyone!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tea sets for little girls: an investment for the future?

Spoiler alert! If you invited me to a pink baby shower this month and you want to be surprised by what’s in store for your little girl, look away now.

For everyone else, I have to share my latest tea shopping indulgence – tea sets for little girls! Since my “baby” is almost 23, it’s been awhile since I have been fully immersed in tea accessories for the younger set. However, after receiving two pink baby shower invitations for this month, I was given the excuse – I mean the opportunity - to check out what’s new in tea fashions for children.

Tea Set times two for baby showers in August
Now, I know some may think baby showers are a little early to start bringing on the tea sets, but I can go you one better. Before I was married – in fact, I don’t even think I was seriously dating anyone at the time – my Mom and I were browsing through stores at our favorite mall. We happened upon a boutique toy store’s window display which featured a creamed-colored china teapot trimmed in pink, complete with matching creamer and sugar bowl. It was so adorable, we stood there just staring at it for several minutes. My Mom, never one to second-guess or hesitate, said, “I’m buying that for you for when you have a daughter. It’s too pretty to pass up.”

Elegant, yet adorable, tea set purchased for the future
Of course, my Mom never doubted it wasn’t the right thing to buy, even when it sat in my bedroom closet for a few years, unopened, but never forgotten.

Interestingly enough, my Mom was not a heavy tea drinker or frivolous at all. She was generous to a fault, but far more practical than I could ever aspire to be. So, that  tea set purchase surprised me,  but as you come to learn the older you get, more often than not, your Mom knows things you best not question.

That tea set sat in Rachel’s room when she was a baby, put away when she could potentially break it, and brought back out when she was in elementary school for real use. Along the way from preschool to junior high, we had tea sets for Barbie’s, Muffy VandeBears and, the ultimate in tea sophistication, Samantha, American Girl’s Victorian doll.

And after all that, one day, you’re making pink “tea” to serve in a multi-colored plastic tea set and the next day, your little girl is standing next to you, (taller, she’ll have you know), and expertly preparing tea for a twenty-five person tea tasting. Your little girl is now your tea business partner. (I swear, there was no ulterior motive in all this.)

So, really, is it ever too young to start with the tea sets?

Which brings me back to my shopping excuse . . .I mean excursion. I found a fun tea set from Fisher-Price for this month's baby showers. It talks and sings songs and repeats “please and thank you” to reinforce proper etiquette. I think I could play with this one for a long time, so imagine the good times a baby could have with it.

Adorable tea cart: is there room in Rachel's closet?
But, while I was toddler tea set shopping on-line, I found a real treasure at Pottery Barn Kids. They not only have tea sets and kettles for little ones, but - (oh my) – a tea cart, too. A sassy, white, wood tea cart for $129.00. It’s adorable. I love it! I’m suppressing the urge, but, well. . . I’m just thinking. . . is there room for a tiny tea cart in  Rachel’s closet?