Saturday, January 12, 2019

A novel way to spend National Hot Tea Day: Sip and shop at Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble Magazine section includes TeaTime and current issue features BTS

Although every day here at BTS is hot tea day, January 12th is the perfect day, on a chilly Michigan afternoon, to honor our favorite drink and we found a most  delightful way to celebrate  by sipping a cup of Earl Grey while scouting some favorite reads at Barnes & Noble.

The Barnes & Noble in Rochester is an amazing bookstore, filled with an enormous selection of magazines and books for every taste and a cafĂ© with tasty treats for every palate. Since today was Hot Tea Day, I ordered up a tall Earl Grey and began my traditional route through the bookstore: magazine section, cookbooks, world history, biographies and a certain amount of time  allotted to the gift section.

Michigan magazines at Barnes & Noble with another BTS feature

Tea in hand, as I started perusing the periodicals, I was happily and excitedly reminded that two magazines which currently grace the shelves at Barnes & Noble have BTS connections! Our article on the Venice tea room, Caffe Florian, is featured in the January/February issue of Tea Time Magazine, and our interview with writer Julie Ford is included in Michigan Home and Lifestyle's Winter issue, (So, if you haven't picked up your copy of either, you know where to go 😉)

Aside from the food and Michigan mags, there's a wide and deep selection of journals devoted to a variety of interests including those for writers, crafters, motorcyclists and travelers. The latter category is another favorite of mine and I just had to pick up the latest edition of "Britain", because not only is it their "Castles Special" featuring "fairytale turrets and medieval moats", but it also boasts a free 32-page Cotswold guide. Too much to resist, for sure.

Barnes & Noble booty for Hot Tea Day 

Next stop, cookbooks and did I get a find: a new printing of Pride and Prejudice accompanied by recipes for "modern teatime" from -wait for it - Martha Stewart!! (A review of which is coming soon to BTS' Tuesday Tea and Tomes, so stay tuned). Another entry into today's shopping cart.

In the world history and biography sections, I jotted down three more books for my wish list (there's an April birthday coming up!) or next visit to Barnes & Noble:  Daughters of the Winter Queen, Inside Victorian Homes and Royal Pains.  Talk about tasty treats!

Finally, as my son, Matt, who accompanied me on this treasure trove of tomes trip, found me in the gift section with his arms full of his own "catches" of the day, I scooped up one last find which was a perfect accompaniment to my new book - a Jane Austen mug.  But not any Jane Austen mug (as I do have a few). This one sports a tea bag that exclaims: "I would rather have nothing but tea".

And, that my friends, is how one celebrates Hot Tea Day!

*tea bag drop*

Happy National Hot Tea Day to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Barb's Tea Service In/Out List for 2019! Gilded, Sequels, Kilts and More (is More!)

Dining room at Chatsworth embraces the 2019 "Ins" of ornamentation and dark, moody colors

This year was one for the books for BTS: Royal Weddings, transatlantic cruise, road trip from Edinburgh to London (including stops at fancy estates, Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace), a spot on Fox news and, well, a book! Although it was an exciting year, like it's said of all good things, it has come to an end along with other fads and fashions of the last twelve months. As is our annual tradition at BTS, we have culled a variety of sources which have opined on upcoming trends for the new year to report on and, of course, add a few of our own.

Rachel and Barb Gulley of BTS excited to don their Gilded Age clothing again this year!

According to The Detroit News' On Trend in 2019, minimalism and "gray everywhere" is being replaced with ornamentation and dark, moody paint colors.  This plays well into what is sure to be an opulent-themed year, influenced by Julian Fellowes two new offerings:  The Gilded Age television show (expecting its debut in April) and the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie to premier in September. 

BTS is ready for both, our first Gilded Age afternoon tea will be at Birmingham's Townsend Hotel, Sunday, February 24th.  We'd love to see you there!

Outside Blenheim Palace this past May

The Gilded Age saga centers much on the crazy rich Americans in the late 1800's who sought to buy status by marrying off their daughters to European aristocracy. One of the most famous of the "cash-for-class" arrangements was between Consuelo Vanderbilt and Lord Churchill, which brought the former and all her father's money to Blenheim Palace. We were fortunate to visit said estate in May and, yes, minimalism, was not on trend at that time either.

Kilts may be come more mainstream in 2019, tartan dog scarves optional

Luxury and grandeur may not be the only Great Britain import to trend in 2019.  According to BBC News, lederhosen is making a comeback.  BBC notes that lederhosen and kilts are the most identifiably European attire worldwide. To that we say, let's also bring back the kilt!  BTS jumped on the bandwagon  as an early adopter- our family all received kilts for Christmas, souvenirs from our visit to Scotland  (matching tartan scarves for your family dog are optional).

Twelve Etiquette Essentials, part of the Steeper by the Dozen series

And, while it's true books never go out of style, we see a trend in the book series. BTS added to its "Steeper by the Dozen" collection, with this year's, "Twelve Etiquette Essentials:  Formal Dining and Tea Time" (available on Amazon!) and we're predicting more within 365 days.  Another author staying with this trend, is Ed Engman, who penned "Moby Dick II, the Seek-Whale".  Watch out other classic works (!) - Ed may have you in his scope for 2019 (maybe Brideshead Re-revisited?) and we can't wait!

Moby Dick II, better than Sharknado VI

After our long prologue, we are ready to unveil the Ins and Outs for 2019.  Hang on to your diamond tiara and fasten your bow tie, it's going to be a wild - and well accessorized - ride!


Home dĂ©cor and Gilded Age 

IN:  Ornamentation, dark and moody colors, "more is more"!  The Chatsworth Estate (aka Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie starring Keira Knightley) is on trend with this room: dark red walls and stuffed to the gilded gills with furniture, paintings and shiny bric-a-brac.

Chatsworth parlor spot on with 2019 trend of ornamentation and moody colors

OUT: Minimalism, beige and "everything gray".  This parlor at Chatsworth is not compliant with 2019 fashion. But, with over 120 rooms, one can afford a few mistakes.

Anther Chatsworth parlor appears dated with minimalist décor and lots of beige

IN:  Gilded Age, Downton Abbey - the TV show, the movie, the BTS tea talk at The Townsend, February 24, 2019!  Polish your tiaras and let your hemlines go down! In 2019, we're backtracking a century (and a few scores) to meet up again with the Crawley family and learn a little bit more about Cora and her fellow American heiresses (like Consuelo V!).

BTS Gilded Age Tea coming this February

Book 'em, Danno

IN:  Book Series -  books are always in style, but you can kick it up a notch by adding to a series of books, like BTS' latest addition to its Steeper by the Dozen collection, "Twelve Etiquette Essentials" (available on Amazon, #shamelessplug).

IN: Book Sequels - many of us have been disappointed with sequels to much loved classics:  Death Comes to Pemberley, Little Men, Sharknado VI, but don't let that stop you from overcoming your white whale. We recommend Moby Dick II, the Seek-Whale by Ed Engman. (Call me Airmail). 

Pair a mug with text from 12 Etiquette Essentials
Match your socks with a fav book

IN:  Novel accessories -  We match a scarf to a sweater, a tie to a shirt, but why stop there? How about pairing a mug or, say, a pair of socks with your favorite book? Re-read Pride and Prejudice, but this time while wearing Jane Austen socks to enhance your felicity. Reinforce your protocol knowledge with a Twelve Etiquette Essentials coffee (or tea!) mug which quotes this treasured tiny tome.

Attire - wrap the new year up in a bow (tie) and go!

IN:  Kilts - not just for bagpiping (or Christmas morning) anymore. Like its German cousin, the lederhosen, kilts may become more acceptable for daily wear and family reunions. (Engman/Gulley 2019 Clan Gathering is sure to include "The Opera of Highlander Games". Bring your kilt and a few logs to throw).

Kilts - not just for Christmas morning anymore

OUT:  Cold shoulder tops and dresses - Enough of the passive/aggressive attire. Like Olaf the snowman, we like warm hugs and expect at least as much from our sweaters.

Cruise captains and trendy husbands rock the bow tie
Fascinator from Harrods paired with the Royal Wedding

IN:  Bow ties and fascinators - with the home dĂ©cor trending towards grandeur, shouldn't the same be applied to our Sunday best attire? We say bow ties for the Gents and Fascinators for the Ladies. The former may require a few hours of YouTube tutorials, but the approving nods by fellow diners will make it all worthwhile.  Fascinators, on the other hand (or head), come in a variety of sizes (petit to obnoxious) and sources (Amazon to Harrods).  Wear these to weddings, tea or TV guest appearances.


OUT:  2018

IN:  2019!

Beige, bold, 
new or old, 
comfy kilt or shoulder cold, 
Ring in the new year with a book or three,
Just be sure to join us for a cup of tea

You're always in fashion with BTS. Happy New Year one and all!

Fascinators are great to don for teas, weddings and TV appearances.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Enjoy a rich experience at the Pour House! Downtown Lewiston's new coffee, tea (and more!) shop.

Sitting at my favorite spot at The Pour House, near the cheery fire, with a cup of tea.

The Pour House is a great place to meet up over coffee, tea, sandwiches or sweets and its warm and cheery environs will make you want to stay longer for another cup and maybe just another cinnamon roll.

Located in  Lewiston, a small town in northeastern Michigan currently experiencing an exciting  downtown redevelopment, The Pour House's interior is a blend of contemporary and rustic dĂ©cor with its stone and wood embellished walls and its exposed rafter ceiling. It makes for a cozy spot to welcome all its guests. My favorite spot is near the fireplace, seated on the cushy chairs and sofa.

The Pour House, new to downtown Lewiston this year, is located on Kneeland Street and opened all year round.

The menu offers a great variety of soups, quiches, sandwiches and paninis. In my last few visits, I've tried one of each and every one has been a winner.

The coffee is delicious and you can customize it with special flavors. The Pour House also offers a great selection of espresso drinks. We tried the Dirty Chai latte this week and it was fabulous - the perfect drink to sip on near the fire on a chilly December afternoon.

The Pour House currently sells and serves Fraser Tea.

We met up with co-owner, Zac Weaver, on our recent visit and he tells us they are still working on their tea menu. Currently, they serve Fraser teas in three different varieties. Looks like there will be more tea to choose from in the future, so we'll stay tuned!

Contemporary and rustic décor make The Pour House a cozy place to meet up for breakfast or lunch.

In addition to food and drink, The Pour House also sells merchandise (we love the "I'm a Pot Head" shirts and mugs, featuring - of course - a graphic of a coffee pot!).  You can also take  home some of the menu items, including The Pour House brand whole bean coffee and, yes, those great cinnamon rolls!

You bring home The Pour House experience with their signature coffee and cinnamon rolls.

The Pour House is open all year round and is located at 2850 Kneeland Street, Lewiston, Michigan.

For more information, check out their website,  or visit them on facebook, at 

Save me a seat by the fireplace and a cinnamon roll, please! 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Caffe Florian in Venice: Our visit to this magical Venetian venue featured in Tea Time Magazine

January/February issue of Tea Time Magazine features our visit to Caffe Florian in Venice, Italy

A year ago  last October, we visited Caffe Florian, a three-hundred year old coffee and tea shop in the heart of Venice. Caffe Florian, like the city itself, is magical and its history is as delicious as its afternoon tea and you can find the tale of both in the January/February issue of Tea Time Magazine.

Enjoying afternoon tea  with Anna Rita, Corner Shop Manager at Caffe Florian

I first heard of Caffe Florian from my good friend Pam B., fellow tea and travel-enthusiast and member of the BTS team. She highly recommended we take tea in this historic venue in St. Mark's Square when we began planning our trip to Italy early in 2017.

I arranged afternoon tea for three (my husband, Chris, daughter, Rachel, and myself) courtesy Corner Shop Manager, Anna Rita Panebianco. She is warm and bubbly and we became fast friends over Caffe Florian's signature teas and scrumptious sweets and savories. Ann Rita shared the story of Caffe Florian from its humble beginnings in the late eighteenth century to its current lavish accommodations which feature gilded frames and mirrors, plush velvet seating and marble tables - the latter are not only beautiful but, with their swivel design for easy access,  practical as well.

Afternoon tea at Caffe Florian

The footprint of Caffe Florian extends beyond the brick and mortar to an outdoor patio that borders the famous city square. An orchestra stationed between the patio and the square plays throughout the day and evening, adding some musical icing to the exquisite "café cake".

There's so much to take in besides afternoon tea at Caffe Florian. There's a full menu to select from and a great deal to view, including the infinity mirror that allows you to, if positioned correctly, see yourself and the café several times over.

The infinity mirror inside Caffe Florian

Anna Rita demonstrates the practical design of the marble tables.

The personality and ambiance are all part of the charm of this unique tea room.  It's magical  and one-of-a-kind like Venice itself.

The outside of Caffe Florian

For more of the incredible history and account of famous visitors throughout the centuries (including Casanova and Hemingway) be sure to pick up the most recent edition of Tea Time Magazine.

Caffe Florian, like Venice itself, is magical and unique!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Tea-rrific gifts for the tea enthusiast! BTS' Top Ten.

Though the Calendar may have served its purpose, Adagio has a lot of holiday tea gifts to choose from.

With only a week before Christmas eve, there's not much time left to shop, but  BTS is here to assist! Here's our top ten tea-rrific gifts, ranging from $1.99 to "sky's-the-limit".

1. Adagio's Christmas teas. Prices range from $9.00 - $39.00.  Although the Advent Calendar may be obsolete by Christmas, there's still fun to be had trying a different tea every day, be it leading up to Christmas or starting the new year. However, Adagio also has a variety of Christmas tea gifts ranging from $9.00 to $39.00, including seasonal teas and festive mugs.

Twelve Etiquette Essentials: Dining Manners has something for everyone!

2. Twelve Etiquette Essentials. $10.99  Written by Barbara J. Gulley and illustrated by Barbara R. Gulley, this book has something for everyone! Not just about afternoon tea - although that is certainly a part of it - this book includes etiquette for business dinners (think about your recent college grad starting their new career), proper place settings (so your table will always look fantastic!) and proper instruction for difficult-to-eat foods.

Tea tasting at Light of Day, an enjoyable & educational time with friends.

3. Light of Day Teas tea tasting! $10.00 per person. Once you're up in Traverse City, treat your favorite tea enthusiast(s) to a sample of five different teas at Michigan's only tea farm. Teas are outstanding and you'll learn a lot about the variety of teas from the well-informed staff.

Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea, feature's Michigan's own Light of Day!

4. Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea. $75.00.  While at Light of Day,  you can pick up the latest book from tea guru, Jane Pettigrew. This tome covers the global history, geography and culture of tea and includes Michigan's own Light of Day! (Also available at bookstores.)

Afternoon tea at The Wolseley. Now you can experience a bit of it at home.

5. Vintage teapot from The Wolseley. Prices starting at £229, plus shipping.  These are vintage teapots from the early 1900's that have graced the tables at The Wolseley in London. Enjoy a bit of British history and an extra serving of luxury with these exquisite pieces. Even if this doesn't arrive by Christmas, I will  (*ahem*) your recipient will understand!

This issue features our article on our visit to a tea room in Rome.
Tea Time is a MUST!

6.  Tea Time Magazine subscription. Current special is $18.00 for a yearly subscription. This is a MUST have for anyone passionate about tea. Each bi-monthly issue features recipes, tablescapes, events and articles on tea room travels (a few from yours truly!).  The magazine is stuffed with amazing information accompanied by beautiful photographs.

7.  IKEA tea accessories. Prices range $1.99 to 29.99.  IKEA offers a collection of tea accessories that won't break the piggy bank and come with those amusing names we're not quite sure how to pronounce. We were especially fond of the tea canister, Blomning, and the  Vardagen teapot, $1.99 and $9.99 respectively. (And, ya, the mjolk still goes in last.)

An afternoon of luxury in our own backyard. Tea at The Townsend!

8. Afternoon tea at The Townsend Hotel.  Prices start at $19.99 for a cream tea, $45 - $65 for afternoon tea, $99 for Gentlemen's tea.  The Townsend offers teas for little princesses, ladies' groups and even the gents (the latter comes with flights of bourbon or wine).  Take the opportunity to partake in a luxurious tea experience close to home in downtown Birmingham.

                                            At the JA Festival with bags of Bingley's

9. Bingley's Teas.  $12.00 for a 60 gram pouch of loose tea. It's a truth universally acknowledged that many Jane Austen fans are in need of a good tea. Bingley's teas fits the bill! Delicious blends with pretty packaging and clever descriptions.  We're very fond of Mr. Knightly's reserve, with "balance in both flavor and opinion".

10. Michigan Home and Lifestyle Magazine.  $17.00 for a year's subscription (four issues). This is ESSENTIAL reading for Michiganders. This lovely magazine covers a variety of topics and, although not a tea magazine, the latest issue includes an Afternoon Tea article and an interview with the author of Twelve Etiquette Essentials!

Any of these items would be sure to delight the tea enthusiast on your list. But, most assuredly, the gift they would most love would be to share a cup of tea with you! Get the kettle going, throw some Earl Grey in the vintage silver teapot (or the Vardagen) and enjoy the company of friends and family over a hot cup of tea - mjolk in first or last!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from Barb's Tea Service!!!