Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Have a Winner (!) and Best Wishes for a Safe, Wonderful, COZY Holiday!

Greetings TEA Friends!

We have a winner for our tea cozy contest: Cathy E. of Michigan. She will be receiving the yellow and white tea cozy in the mail!

Thanks to all who submitted entries and keep a watch out as we will be having more contests in 2010!

We, here at Barb's TEA Shop, want to wish everyone a safe, happy, joyous, relaxing and yes, cozy holiday season. Our Christmas present to all our tea friends is a delicious ice cream recipe made with Devonshire cream (see below).

We hosted a delightful afternoon tea in a beautiful home in downtown Birmingham last month. Our amazing hostess, Pam, found a great use for some of the leftover Devonshire cream and shared this recipe with us. A big BTS thank you to Pam for sending this along. Bring in the new year with some tea (or tea toddy's!) and Devonshire (Ice) Cream!

3 egg yolks, 2 cups Devonshire cream

Whisk together the egg yolks. Set aside.
Bring the cream to a boil. Whisk it into the yolks.
Pour into a glass pyrex dish. Put into the freezer to set (minimum 2 hours).

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy, Happy New Year!

Yours in tea and friendship,


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Enter to Win a One-of-Kind Tea Cozy from Barb's TEA Shop

Hello TEA Friends!

Just in time for the holidays - Barb's TEA Shop is "raffling" off one of our exclusive, hand-crafted tea cozies and YOU get to pick from one of two of our unique designs.

For more traditional tastes, we have a yellow and white cozy, accented at the top with a coordinating vintage button.

If you prefer a more contemporary look, choose the multi-color, V-design, velour-textured cozy with a black loop tie on top.

AND IT IS SO EASY TO ENTER!! Just e-mail with your name, address and tea cozy choice. We will pick the winner on Wednesday, December 16th.
And, for those of you still working on your holiday list, we still have a number of beautiful cozies available. You can get these only at Barb's TEA Shop. Each is hand-crafted and all come with a separate lining that pulls out for easy wash and care.
Email or call 248-840-4356 and order yours today!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Tea Tree Grows in Michigan

Imagine a Camillia sinensis plant growing in Michigan! Light of Day Tea has made it happen - and this company truly works its magic in many other ways to delight tea drinkers everywhere.

On November 22, BTS participated in Light of Day's Tea Tasting at the Dennos Museum in Traverse City. On a beautiful sunny day on the bay, we sampled 16 different teas in rapid succession as Angela Macke, owner and educator extraordinaire, guided us through a variety of blacks, greens, oolongs, whites and tisanes. Many of the ingredients come from LOD's farm, on the outer limits of the Cherry Capital.

As we slurped (yes, slurping's encouraged, it actually improves your tasting sensibilities) our delicious hot liquids, Angela provided narrative on how best to brew each tea and what occasions they might be optimally utilized. Joined by Bob's - self-professed "Matcha-Matcha Man" - entertaining commentary, Angela kept us on track serving tea after delicious tea.

In our last blog entry featuring LOD, we noted that Angela procures Fair Trade tea only. Ingredients from her farm are organic, packaging is made in the USA and labels created locally. With all this combined, you can taste the quality and care that goes into these products. We're feeling the "love" that LOD puts in every container.

At the most recent tea tasting that BTS held for a private home in Birmingham, Creamy Earl Grey was an instant success as it is in my home. But, now I have some new favorites. Coffee Convert is a treat for those of us who sway to the "dark side" now and then, but, now we can leave the bitterness of the java behind. For those who love mint - and I do - the Mitten-time Mint is another delight. And, LOD's Green teas are not laden with that heavy grassy taste - all smooth, mild and ever so satisfying.

With so many to choose from, it will be difficult to decide which teas to put in my Christmas stocking this year. With teas like "Bun in the Oven" and "In the Mood?" you will surely find just the right blend for the tea enthusiasts on your holiday list.
Barb's TEA Shop gives another two "green thumbs" up to Light of Day Organics Tea Company.
Yours in tea and friendship,
ps - don't forget, BTS can bring a tea tasting to your home, office, church, library, museum or other fun venues. Email us at or call us at 248-840-4356 and schedule yours today!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let Russell Hobbs Warm Your Holidays and Your Tea

Hello TEA Friends,

Russell Hobbs became my new best friend last spring when my husband, Chris, bought me the "tea tray" set for my birthday. Chris, who is always on the lookout for a new tea gadget saw this as being my new necessity - and he was so right. (It's wonderful when you are married to your own R & D Department).

Now, in my extensive research (i.e., Wikipedia), I found that Russell Hobbs, was, in fact, comprised of two different people: William Russell and Peter Hobbs. Both natives of England, they combined their talents to bring us the first electric percolator in 1952.

Previously working for the same small appliance company, they launched their own business which subsequently made other innovative products including electric kettles, food processors and microwaves. Reportedly, Russel's unorthodox method of safety testing for any new product was to pour half a pint of boiling gravy on it. (I find this bit of information both alarms me and makes me hungry.)

But, back to our purpose here. The Russell Hobbs kettle/carafe set is a convenient way to brew your loose tea. For those of you who already own an electric tea kettle, you know the speed is a "perk" you enjoy. But, this set also features a tea pot with a removable tea infuser. Just put your tea leaves in the elongated mesh basket, pour your quickly-heated hot water into the carafe and you are ready to brew. After you've steeped the leaves according to taste, remove the infuser and then flip the small button below. This sets of the warming plate below the carafe so your tea stays warm until you're ready to pour the next round.

There are a few minor negatives, however. The tea infuser's plastic handle is a bit flimsy and falls off occasionally. And, unlike a tea cozy, which is more aesthetically pleasing, and offers you warming capabilities wherever you are, with the Russell Hobbs you're confined to the kitchen counter and as far as your plug will reach.

Otherwise, this is a 2009 must have. I see they are going on sale at Macy's this week. Purchase now and you'll be ready to serve tea to your Thanksgiving guests. . . but, I recommend leaving the gravy in the serving dish.

Yours in tea and friendship,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tea Merchandise in time for the Holidays!

Just in time for the holidays, Elmwood Inn teas and books have arrived at Barb's TEA Shop! Start (or complete!) all your shopping with BTS' great selection of fine tea gifts.

We now carry Elmwood Inn fine teas (loose and bags). How about the delightful "Christmas in a Cup" tea, warm and inviting with a touch of cinnamon to "spice" up your holidays! Nicely packaged in a red label, why not pair up with Serenity Green tea, to add a bit of traditional color to your table!
We also have a full-line of beautifully photographed books by Bruce and Shelley Richardson (see "Celebri-Teas blog entry). The pages are filled with original and tasty recipes from their years of running their successful tea room at the Inn. The Elmwood Inn book series are autographed by the Richardson's. Buy one or all three. What a special gift that would make.

For those who love to travel, consider one of Bruce Richardson's "Great Tea Rooms" books. We have "The Great Tea Rooms of America" and "The Great Tea Rooms of Britain". We also have the "Tea in the City" series which feature London, Paris and New York. The tea-lover on your list will enjoy charting their next tea excursion with these fun guides.

In addition, BTS is the exclusive carrier in the local area for "Civiltea" - a delightful black tea made specifically by Harney Tea for Tea Etiquette Consultants of the Protocol School of Washington.
BTS also offers tea steepers in fun shapes and sizes and convenient T-sacs for loose tea in-the-pot brewing.

Finally, don't forget we offer another exclusive line of unique, hand-crafted tea cozies in traditional and contemporary designs that will fit small, medium and large teapots.

While our e-store is under new construction, please contact Barb's TEA shop at or call us at 248-840-4356 for ordering and pricing. Our mission is to provide you with quality products and great prices!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ginger's Tea Room: Add a Little "Spice" to Tea Time

Ginger's Cafe and Gourmet Shoppe is full of surprises, not the least is its location. On a busy section of Grand River, in Farmington, a charming yellow-sided Victorian home, framed in brown trim, stands proud, if not somewhat out of place, between a mini strip mall and a construction zone. But, once you climb the steps of the wrap-around porch and enter the main lobby, you can feel the third millennium peeling away.

My daughter and fellow tea-enthusiast, Rachel, and I were seated in the back dining room. Our table, situated next to the french doors, had a wonderful view of the beautifully landscaped yard with a quaint gazebo, center stage. Our waitress, Laura, was immediately at our service with tea suggestions to start us out. We were given the option of hearing the list of teas or having her bring out samples of loose tea to get personally acquainted with. After hearing a few of the offerings, we were quick to ask for the one-on-one introduction.

Laura brought a tray with about a dozen teas in small, palm-sized containers and after inspecting and sniffing, we decided to start with an afternoon tea favorite, earl grey and, then, perhaps, work our way to one of the tempting flavored teas.

After combing through the menu, and without much deliberation, we opted for the afternoon tea. All the tasty treats and sandwiches are made on-site and all were delicious. Presentation is not overlooked and everything was served on Lenox's butterfly meadow china - as dainty and whimsical as the restaurant itself.

We started with the scones and cream and homemade marmalade, the latter of which Rachel found to be her new favorite condiment. We had a variety of small sandwiches and then the meal was topped off with four miniature pastries. We sipped and chatted for an hour plus. Laura was always nearby to answer any questions or provide commentary on the food, the tea and even the restaurant itself.

As we were wrapping up our afternoon tea, Laura offered to give us a tour of the house, including a walk on the grounds. The tearoom has a number of dining areas with interesting views of not only the side yard, but brightly colored and enchanting murals (the back wall features a peacock with emerald green feathers!).

With a parlor and an upstairs, Ginger's Cafe has many different sized-rooms for groups large or small. There is a place to accommodate any need, be it meeting, book club, or red-hat group.

Barb's TEA Shop gives Ginger's an enthusiastic, two gloved thumbs up!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We Have a WINNER!

Thank you to all who responded to our First Ever Barb's TEA Shop Blog Contest. Our winner is Dawn A. from Michigan! Congrats to Dawn!

Our unscientific poll of favorite tea revealed Earl Grey was the overwhelming tea of choice. Interesting. . . just like the Queen of England!

We had so much fun with our contest, we're going to run another very soon. Keep "tuning in" for details.

And, to reward all who sent their name in for this drawing, and didn't win, we're going to keep your name in for the second drawing and you can still enter again! You will increase your odds at winning the next contest.

Dawn, we hope you enjoy your new Elmwood Inn tea book!

And, as you know, all tea drinkers are winners. . . an Earl Grey tea toast to all.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barb's TEA Shop Contest - EASY and FUN!

Barb's TEA Shop is sponsoring its first ever CONTEST and it's so SIMPLE!! Send an email to with your name and your favorite tea. BTS will select one winner at random to receive a new, autographed copy of Bruce Richardson's, "A Year of Teas at the Elmwood Inn", a retail value of $19.95. (Remember we sell the whole Elmwood Inn series here - watch for some super deals coming soon, just in time for the holidays!)

All entries must be emailed before noon EST on October 1, 2009. BTS will identify and notify the winner on the evening of October 1, 2009. (One entry per person, please).

We'll post the winner and tally up the favorite teas, too.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Julie & Julia & Barb. . .and Joni, Annabelle and Rachel

Contest Details in Bold (at the bottom of the page)

Watching the movie “Julie and Julia” last weekend with my gal pals, I was more than just a spectator in the movie theatre with a torn ticket in my pocket and a box of thin mints on my lap; I was right there with Julie, seeing her as my inspirational guide and friend, cheering her on as she high-fived a co-worker when her blog reached record hits. I clutched the cupholder arms of my seat as a surrogate, reassuring hug to Julie as she sunk to depths of disappointment when a meeting with a reporter was literally rained out. Our connection was real – a fellow writer finding her way in life. As she felt a sisterhood with Julia
Child, I felt the same with Julie.

However, unlike the famed author who never met Julia, I did meet Julie Powell in person back in July of this year. Forget the fact that there were a hundred or so people with us at the bookstore. Julie was talking directly to me, her fellow blogger, as she discussed her adventures with her husband, Eric, and the excitement of meeting actor, Stanley Tucci. Ever engaging, she personally signed my books: one for me and one for my friend, Joni. I cherish what she wrote on the title page of my mini-tome: “To Barb – many successes in the tea business!” (While you ignore the hundred or so people that were around me, please also disregard the fact that Julie was willing to sign the book with any inscription you requested.)

So, seeing the movie on Sunday was a bit of reunion for Julie and me as I introduced her to Joni, an award-winning writer in her own right, (who Julie – with the help of a prewritten post-a-note tagged to her title page - described as an “entertainer extraordinaire”) and our college sophomore daughters: Annabelle and Rachel. It was another sisterhood connection at its finest.

It was a fitting occasion for “all” of us to get together. Rachel and Annabelle were starting their second week of their second year at Michigan State University and Joni and I were going up for a mother/daughter(/ethereal mentor) afternoon.

After sharing two hours of tears and laughter with Julie and Julia, we drove to the nearby Claddagh Pub, an Irish restaurant with outdoor seating, for our late afternoon repast and rehash. Sipping Irish Breakfast tea and supping on soup and salad, we talked about Julie and Julia as though they were right there at our table, extending one of their forks into our shared bread pudding dessert.

Back at home, I'm once again faced with that empty house feeling, now that the kids are all gone and it's just Chris and me and the dogs, but this afternoon it felt a little more occupied. As I sat at my computer and fired up the blogspot, Julie was there with me, urging me on, like Julia did to her when she created the 500th recipe. You can do it, she says to me, and you are not alone!

And, like Julie, I am thrilled with "my readers". I, too, think of them as friends and hope not to disappoint. Even though it's me tapping at the keyboard, I always view a blog as a dialogue. (By the way, you're a very good listener.)

So, in the spirit of thanking not only those that inspire, but those who hear you out, share a comment, send an email, follow a tweet or make a call, Barb's TEA Shop is sponsoring a CONTEST. Send an email to with your name and your favorite tea. BTS will select one winner at random to receive a new, autographed copy of Bruce Richardson's, "A Year of Teas at the Elmwood Inn", a retail value of $19.95. (Remember we sell the whole Elmwood Inn series here - watch for some super deals coming soon, just in time for the holidays!)

All entries must be emailed before noon EST on October 1, 2009. BTS will identify and notify the winner on the evening of October 1, 2009. (One entry per person, please).

We'll post the winner and tally up the favorite teas, too.

Note to readers: this copy is already autographed by Bruce Richardson. No additional post-a-notes with this book. : )

And so, to all my fellow tea enthusiasts, an Irish Breakfast tea toast to mentors, autographed books, and good friends. Look forward to hearing from you soon. . .


Friday, September 4, 2009

Victorian Tea Parlor - An Unruffled Tea Time with all the Ruffles

Entering the small brick building with the bright yellow door, in downtown Berkley, one is met with an explosion of chintz, lace and bric-a-brac. Every shelf and table surface is filled with an assortment of tea cups, teddy bears, candles and other tea-related curiosities. There’s so much to take in, you’ll use your leisurely afternoon tea time to absorb it all. Such was our entry into the Victorian Tea Room last week.

To say there’s a feminine side to this tea room is a bit of an understatement. But, it shouldn't deter males from partaking in the fun. The food and service is quality and gender-neutral and worth the absence of a big-screen TV or moose head on the wall.

My tea companions were my son, Matt, and daughter, Rachel. Matt and I had been there a few years ago, when, even as a teenager, Matt was willing to cross the line into ruffled curtains and pink tablecloths to take his mother out to tea for Mother’s Day. What struck us back then, as it did last week, was the friendly service and inviting home-brewed tea.

We started our afternoon, after some highly-spirited and good-natured chiding directed at Matt from our hostess, with two pots of tea: black current black tea and tropical green. After waiting for the leaves to steep, we poured the tea into our cups with the help of those charming silver tea strainers that catch the loose tea from the teapot. It’s just another lovely detail that adds to the ultimate afternoon tea experience.

For our lunch entrĂ©e, we all decided on the open-faced chicken salad sandwich with melted cheese. As our hostess proclaimed from the onset, “this is not fast food” and so, while waiting for our meal, we sipped our tea and discussed everything from college schedules to health coverage to the cute little stuffed animals that pop out from various glassware around the tearoom. When served, our sandwiches were tasty and light, which saved room for this restaurant’s "home baked" desserts.

Matt and Rachel chose the chocolate raspberry cake while I broke from the pack and ordered the lemon curd tart with Devonshire cream. The chocolate cake was deliciously rich while the lemon curd tart was a burst of citrus-y decadence tempered most appropriately with the silky-smooth cream topping.

It was an afternoon of tea, food, and conversation. Keep in mind, this is not a place of drive through service or economy pricing, but that’s why one comes to visit, to be sure.

BTS gives this a pearl-buttoned, lace-crocheted, white-gloved thumbs up.

Yours in TEA and


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove

It was a fortnight ago that BTS, including Mrs. and Miss Gulley, attended the Jane Austen festival at the historic Locust Grove, in Louisville, Kentucky. We experienced such felicity, it is our hope that our account of the event will meet with our Dear Readers approbation.

On the weekend of July 18 - 19th of this year, Locust Grove held its second annual JA festival, full of all things Jane and Regency period. Bonnie Wise, president of the Louisville chapter of the Jane Austen Society, is the coordinator of the festival and the perfect hostess in manner and dress. Attired with the requisite bonnet and empire-waist gown, she greeted guests with alacrity and charm.

The site of the festivities, was once the home of William and Lucy Clark Croghan and, later to George Clark, Revolutionary war hero, brother-in-law to William Croghan and older brother of William Clark, of the famous "Lewis and Clark". Built in 1790, it approximates the time when our favorite author was spending her days in England (more than likely never conceiving she'd have a fan club more than 200 years later - and across the pond, at that) . Locust Grove's handsome buildings dot the rolling grounds of eastern Louisville and if you check your ipod and your cell phone at the door, you will swear you are back at Netherfield, seeing Mr. Darcy approaching from the manicured path. Do not think we are aggrandizing - it is the truth!

Our first event of the day was a book talk, by another of our favorite authors, Margaret Sullivan, editrix of and writer of "The Jane Austen Handbook". Loaded with multifarious facts about Jane and the Regency period, enhanced by teasing tidbits ("a lady" did not wear * ahem* panties) and delivered with sassy wit, Ms. Sullivan delighted her audience and gave us much to ruminate upon. Thanks to her "Five Things a Janeite Heroine (or Hero) Needs to Know", under the topic of servants, I now know why it was quite acceptable for Elizabeth Bennett and her aunt and uncle to tour Pemberley without Mr. Darcy being present. It also explains why Mrs. Rushworth, after some study, was almost as knowledgeable as the housekeeper "to shew the house" to her guests. The Handbook is a must have for all JA devotees as well as those curious as to Regency customs. It's a reference guide that is as interesting as it is entertaining.

After the talk, we strolled the grounds before our afternoon tea time. We toured the Croghan home, climbing the narrow stairs to the second floor, to see period fashions displayed throughout. After a turn about the room, we noted a lovely table set for tea in one of the period bedrooms. How civil!

From there, we hit "Meryton" and shopped for bonnets, feather adornments for one's evening attire and the latest in shoe and boot wear. We talked personally with the Shoe Maker, who showed us how some shoes were constructed so they could fit either foot - thus making it possible to have to replace only one, should the other be lost or ruined. Dear Readers, I dare say, you won't find any Jimmy Choo, but, thankfully, you won't see any crocks, either.

Then, back to the "Regency Emporium", the main market place where we bought some Pemberley soap and browsed through dress patterns and specialty books. This was also home to the "main dining room" where we were shown our table for afternoon tea time. We sampled various Harney teas and were treated to a three-tier tray filled with scrumptious sweet and savory favorites. The meal's finale was quite literally the icing on the cake and we had our choice of several to pick from - I had the carrot cake with its creamy white frosting and Miss Gulley the spice, with its golden, caramel topping.
But, those were not the only riches being served. We saved room for the fashion show, which was was a living display of Regency attire for men and women, hosted and created by Betsy Bashore. It was an early 19th Century Project Runway, with the latest styles that would make Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn demand an encore. Squires and Ladies and young misses walked the aisle way to an admiring crowd. (Perhaps, Mrs. Gulley will need to acquire a new gown and reticule for the next JA Festival!)

After a day in merry old Louisville, it was time to locate our Chevy four-wheeled phaeton in the parking lot and drive back home to 2009 on the interstate highway. We recharged our cell phones and Miss Gulley plugged in her ipod with not a single country dance on the shuffle. Bidding adieu to our Jane Austen world for the moment, we had much to cogitate on our way home for it is most certain that we will be back again.

Yours, Dear Readers, in TEA and Friendship,


Note: Barb's TEA Shop will be presenting "An Austen-tacious Tea and Tea Manners" program at the Blair Public Library, Clawson, Michigan, October 5th. Contact BTS or the Blair Public Library for more details.

And, for those of you who visit the Regency Period on your own from time-to-time, check out BTS past blog, dated March 30, 2008. It's true - you don't have to go far, to go back in JA time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Light of Day - "Green" Tea in Northern Michigan

Hello TEA Friends,

Another adventure in "serendipi-tea" brought us to Light of Day, a true "green" tea business that is dedicated to providing organic products that are high quality, healthy and, I'll readily add, simply delicious.

Two weeks ago, BTS took a trip to Traverse City for the annual Cherry Festival. This area has long been known for its scenic bay views, resort living and, of course, cherries. In recent years, however, entrepreneurs have embraced this region's natural resources and the northwest sector of the lower peninsula has seen the proliferation of wineries and gourmet restaurants. This little city, where years ago we brought our kids every summer for putt-putt, water slides and parasailing, is now attracting the nobility of the haute cuisine, including celebrity chef Mario Batali, who has a summer home just northwest of this cherry capital.

So, we started our adventure at Trattoria Stella, a charming, brick-walled and arched ceiling restaurant whose menu, filled with dishes prepared with ingredients supplied by local farms, will meet any epicurean's expectations. Their daily lunch menu offerings include local cheeses and fruits, salads and tramezzinis (sandwiches) on crunchy homemade bread and, something new to us, "Light of Day" teas. Sampling one of their exciting black teas, we knew we needed to know more about them. Who knew it be in less than an hour?

From Trattoria Stella, we made our way through wine country and stopped at what have become some of our favorites: L.Mawby, Chateau Chantal and Blackstar Farms. At Blackstar, outside their retail store, we were met with quite literally, another sign, that pointed to Light of Day. Was this fate?

I was convinced it had to be at our next and final destination: the Cherry Festival in downtown Traverse City. We had ordered tickets to the first ever "Global Wine Pavilion" at the festival and, while this was supposed to be our reason for being there, we found we were pleasantly sidetracked.

On the way to pick up our tickets at the hospitality tent, we again saw the Light of Day sign inside the Sleeping Bear Gourmet booth! Here we met Bob and he allowed us to sample a variety of Light of Day teas including Honu Chai and Creamy Earl Grey. All of the teas were amazing and, because it was an usually hot day in northern Michigan, he'd alternate serving the teas hot and cold. Tasted great either way.

Bob explained that Light of Day was the creation of Angela Macke who is both a registered nurse and a horticulturist. Her farm practices Biodynamic agriculture and supports Free Trade tea. Everything is quality, right down to the packaging which features polished tin containers (which boast the "Made in USA" stamp) and labels that are designed and printed locally. Imagine drinking a delicious cup of tea and feeling so gosh darned good about it!

So, I'm getting ready to place another order with Light of Day. My newest addiction is Creamy Earl Grey. It really delivers on what it advertises - this is a silky smooth black tea that needs nothing added to it. In my unscientific dining room test market, both my daughter and husband, who ALWAYS add milk to any tea, were happily satisfied drinking this one au natural.

Enjoy the rest of your (Light of) day and this beautiful, summer weekend.

Yours in TEA and Friendship,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Karma Tea and Tonics Will Get You Instantly

Hello TEA Friends!

As soon as you walk in the door, Karma Tea and Tonics will get you. . . . from its sleek, contemporary furnishings to its gleaming wall display of loose tea selections, you'll feel like a superstar - and how right you are!

It's a stretch, I know, but as a life-long Beatles fan, I can't help but think of John Lennon whenever I hear "karma" and, although his "Instant Karma" had nothing really to do with tea rooms, it does seem to have some application to this unique establishment: an uncluttered, yet sophisticated interior that any individual or group will feel comfortable at. It's a place, if you will, where we can all shine on. On the particular day of our visit, we saw an eclectic group of visitors from small families, to students, to office professionals, sipping tea while conversing, reading or looking over laptops.

We met the owner, Terri Heard. who has been running Karma Tea and Tonics since 2008. According to Teri, the tea room was the kind of business she was looking for - a gathering place to serve quality teas and host special events like poetry readings and book signings. In fact, Terri's daughter has written three books of poetry which can be found on the gift shop shelf occupying a portion of the tea room's east wall.

The teas, of course, are the focal point and they come in selections of choice, premium and elite; going up the scale of quality and price, accordingly. I sampled Monkey Gold, which is a hearty black tea. I found it smooth and nutty. My only regret was not trying a tonic. These are liquids comprised of fruit and herbs that add flavor and other benefits to your drink. That will give us something to look forward to at our next visit.

In addition, you will want to check out the display of loose teas - as fun to look as it is to sample. Every tea Karma sells is on exhibit in a clear glass container. You can open any one of them up to inspect and inhale the aroma of the tea inside. Aside from trying out a tonic, next visit I'm certain to ask for a pina colada tea. It had me at first sniff.

We were served tea in paper cups, which works well for some occasions, but not all. However, we were told china is available, so if that's your preference, make it known when you order.

So, when in Ferndale, check out Karma Tea and Tonics and - you knew this was coming - "dine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun".

Karma Tea and Tonics, "Bar-style Tea Lounge", located at 309 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale, MI.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Afternoon Tea Bridal Shower (or May Showers Bring June Wedding Flowers)

Although, May (and April and June) showers did provide us with one beautiful, outdoor setting for a wedding this month, if we had used the Afternoon Tea Bridal Shower as a predictor of things to come, we would have all rested easier the week before the nuptials.

The third week in May we held an Afternoon Tea for my, (now), daughter-in-law, Karyn.

Borrowing off her wedding reception theme of vintage serving pieces, we gathered collections of "heirloom" china plates, bowls and teacups that were longing to be showcased.

Among the china, crystal, teapots and warmers, each place setting had a favor to commemorate the upcoming big event - and it had to be tea, of course. Each guest received a customized blue (the bride's favorite color) and white labeled tea tin, housing white tea bags, with the couples' names and wedding date.

But, perhaps the most important part of the table setting, the tea sandwiches and desserts, arrived right at noon, catered for the event by 2 Unique Catering. Family and friends could sample a variety of "European sandwiches"; vegetarian, salmon and turkey, to name a few. Absolutely delicious and only overshadowed by the grand finale: the dessert tray! Served on glossy black platters and garnished with fresh yellow roses, each plate was filled with miniature pastries and chocolate covered strawberries. There were tiny bumpy-cake confections and flaky-crusted tortes, along with truffles, lemon bars and tiny carrot cake pieces. Each a Lilliputian work of art and each tasting as scrumptious as they looked.

All of this accompanied by assorted black teas and champagne to cap off our "Royal Tea" (remember, an afternoon tea served with champagne or sherry is bestowed the majestic titled, to make any occasion - and especially this one - special). A fitting event for our bride-to-be, who, like our pastries, is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside.

So, May showers can be lovely - just as long as they stay indoors.

Happy Holiday Weekend to All!