Thursday, April 29, 2010

Austen-tacious Tea at Troy Museum & Historic Village

Hello TEA Friends!

"My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."

"You are mistaken," said he gently, "that is not good company, that is the best. . . . " (Anne Elliot and her cousin, Persuasion)

It certainly was the best of company that Barb's TEA Shop met during our presentation of "An Austen-tacious Tea"at the Troy Museum and Historic Village today. The sold-out event wrapped up the 2010 Winter/Spring series of "Teas at Two" which are held on the last Thursday of each month.

As we imagined a shared tea time with Jane using tea from Twinings in a Wedgwood cup, BTS spoke about the Regency Period influences on the author's lifestyle, novels and, of course, our favorite hot beverage. Protocol, dress, politics and marriage were among the topics covered. In addition, pictures were shown of the celebrated Pump Room in Bath and the Palace at Versailles. "There's a connection between Jane Austen and Marie Antoinette?", one might ask. Mais oui, and we have the tea cup to prove it.

This was BTS' second visit to the Troy Museum and we want to thank Anne Nagrant, director of Public Programs, for inviting us back to be part of one of these special afternoon tea events.

Guests bring their own special tea cup and upon arrival, are offered an appealing selection of teas and small desserts to choose from to enjoy during the program.

After the presentation, those in attendance had a lot of great questions, comments and stories to share. A wonderful, "austen-tacious" tea with the best of company, indeed! We hope to see all of you again.

Yours in TEA and friendship,


Thinking about something fun and different for your next gathering, book club or upcoming event? Consider a Jane Austen tea talk, tea etiquette presentation or a tea tasting. Call us at 248-840-4356 or email for more information.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Putting on the Tea Time Ritz in Toronto

Hello TEA Friends!

When you walk into your hotel room and find a tea caddy next to the mini bar, you just know your vacation is going to be good. Such was my experience two weeks ago in Toronto and helping myself to the contents of the tea caddy was just the beginning of a wonderful tea trip across the border.

There were a number of reasons for the trip: my brother, Glenn, had given us theatre ticket vouchers last Christmas which we could use in Toronto; I had my sights set on the Tea Emporium, a must-see on on my "tea room visit wish list"; and it was my birthday. It was my husband, Chris', idea to package them all together so, on the Saturday before my birthday, we packed up and headed across the Blue Water Bridge to Canada. Another four hours east and we were at our destination city.

Our hotel was in Yorkville, a trendy, upscale part of Toronto with a slew of designer stores, quaint pubs and fine restaurants all within walking distance of our marble-tiled lobby. After a quick unpacking, a tour about the room, an inspection of the fancy shampoo and hand lotion bottles and, of course, a relaxing cup of tea, we headed out to Bloor Street for a short jaunt to dinner. Our concierge recommended a charming, romantic Italian restaurant, Vaticano's, and called in our reservation. Like our hotel room, once inside, we knew immediately, this was the right choice.

Tucked in a cozy corner table that took in the picture window views of the street scene, we dined on pasta, salad and just baked bread. But, the biggest treat was the after dinner drinks - my husband chose a brandy, but I could think of nothing else but investigating the blueberry tea listed on the menu. Our waiter explained the hot tea was served with Grand Marnier. Although, he had me at "blueberry tea. . . ", I was pleased to hear more. It was, in fact, delicious - a bit like drinking hot blueberry syrup, but more refined than it sounds.

After that, we continued our high-brow themed evening at the Princess of Wales Theatre to see "Young Frankenstein, the Musical". Absurdly funny, the highlight of the play, as in the movie, is the singing and dancing duet of scientist and monster, both in tuxedos and top hats, and bellowing "Putting on the Ritz!!". It was "Super Duper".

The next day, we headed north from our hotel to visit The Tea Emporium, on Eglinton Avenue, one of four locations for this tea franchise in Toronto. This particular location, however, is home to the Tea School, which is also on my wish list to attend. The Tea Emporium (more in next blog story) has a great variety of teas to choose from and sample and the staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. We spent a good portion of our visit learning about their teas from our young, enthusiastic tea rep as he discussed in detail each tea's story while opening its respective canister. We inspected, sniffed and became acquainted with several of the teas before even taking in a cup.

Loaded with a Tea Emporium bag full of teas for more sampling at home, we headed back to the the car for our trip home. Here, my husband surprised me with a silver chain with a sapphire pendant for my birthday. It was a tea trip blended with luxury accommodations, chic dining, top shelf liqueur, silver jewelry and Mel Brooks. Yes, indeed, that tea caddy was a good sign - this "ritzy" vacation WAS great!

Yours in TEA and Friendship,


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Barb's TEA Shop's In-home Tea Tastings - So Easy, So Fun - You Should Have One, Too!

Hello TEA Friends,

Barb's TEA Shop put on another afternoon tea tasting this weekend at a wonderful home in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Our hostess' tablescapes were beautifully set with fine china, silverware, crystal and fresh cut daffodils on top of muted green-on-green patterned linen - refined elegance that would make the Duchess of Bedford proud, to be sure.

Tea tastings are fun and educational. BTS supplies the tea, professional wait staff, all tea brewing essentials and a tea seminar which covers tea basics including: different types of teas, tea brewing tips and tea etiquette 101. All you need to provide is the venue and the scones and savories. BTS offers complimentary menu consultation for any booked party. We can also provide linens, crystal, teapots, tea warmers and tea cups.

Based on your needs, you can select what you want based upon the size and budget of your event. Make it elegant, make it casual - it's up to you!

So, call today for more information on planning an afternoon tea tasting party.

For more information on tea tasting parties, contact BTS at or 248-840-4356.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tea Time Travels with "Hands On" Businesses in Northern Michigan

Hello TEA Friends,

We're taking some time off this week at Pemberly Pines, our humble northern Michigan retreat. Sitting next to the warming logs of the fireplace, looking out at the picture-window views of the the pond which reflect rows of towering pines trees and a seamless white-grey sky, I'm sipping a cup of Creamy Earl Grey and enjoying the alarming quiet of the woods. The biggest challenges of the day are the uneven internet connection and locating my pink snuggie. Ah, the comforts of northern living.

Yesterday, however, we took a road trip tea adventure from the cabin and headed west to Traverse City to visit our good friends at Light of Day Tea. We finally got to see the "new", green barn and tea room and, even in the midst of painting and rearranging, it is warm and inviting, just like Bob and Angela. Angela Macke, the literally hands-on owner of LOD, was on the tractor when we arrived, taking advantage of the warmer weather (mind you, this was yesterday - today we have snow flurries) to start cultivating the grounds. Bob Webster, our favorite sales manager, was there to greet us and give us updates on the farm's latest happenings.

We stocked up on Coffee Convert, Formosa Oolong, White Cherry Mint, Sencha, and, of course, everyone's favorite, Creamy Earl Grey. You know you are getting fresh ingredients when you can walk the grounds and see the herbs growing right in front of you.

Many upcoming events are planned for the Light of Day farm and tea room and we'll keep you posted.

While there, we also sampled tea-infused chocolate truffles from Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, another northern Michigan-based company. Our box, with its label that proudly proclaims products are "Handmade in Empire, MI", included chocolates made with Light of Day tea blends: Hummingbird, Mitten-Time Mint and Sunday Morning. Scandalously delicious, these chocolate confections are densely packed with flavor and creamy sweetness. Tea and chocolate - does it get any better than this?

Well, it can, if you want to indulge yourself in glassware worthy of such delights! On another serendipitous stop on M72, we paid a first-time visit to the Stained Glass Cabinet Company, just past East Bay in Traverse City.

Another hands-on owner and artisan, Richard Bruening, gave us a personal tour of the store and an educational demonstration of how the glass is cut. Richard apprenticed with M
aster Engraver, Al Tavernnier, in Fostoria, Ohio, the well-known home of Fostoria Glass. Richard continues the art of stone wheel engraving on Travernnier's grandfather's century-old engraving machine.

The Staine
d Glass Cabinet Company offers a variety of glass products including lamps, sun-catchers, chandeliers, and drinking glasses. Inventory changes all the time and much of the work is custom ordered. We've already put in an order for this season's Pemberly Pines wildflowers to be incorporated into one of Richard's beautiful sun-catchers. And, of course, we need to come back for some personalized Barb's TEA Shop tea mugs.

Now, back at Pemberly, I need to get my "hands on" another cup of Creamy Earl Grey and manage the rest of my day. On the agenda: locate snuggie, eat chocolate, tea-infused bon-bons, think of designs for my glass tea cups and pick up on page 245 of Mansfield Park. Tea time in the northern woods is much improved with the help of homegrown Michigan products.

Yours in TEA and friendship,


Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring into Tea Time Tablescapes

Happy Spring TEA Friends,

With record-breaking high temperatures in Michigan and welcomed sunshine, we can take inspiration from those blooming daffodils and forsythia bushes in the yard and invite them to the tea table. And, that's just what Barb's TEA Shop found at its latest tea tasting in a truly beautiful home in Brighton.

The homeowner was hostess to twenty-five guests for afternoon tea last month. Her tablescapes featured flower-accented china with bundles of yellow and white mums gathered into flowerpots and teacups like miniature topiaries for centerpieces. Accented by sage-colored tablecloths and framed by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the just-budding trees and scenic lake, the tea tables looked as though they had been freshly picked from the greening landscape outside.

They decor quite literally brought a "spring" to Barb's TEA Shop's step as we brewed and served over seven types of tea. The formal afternoon tea tasting included white, sencha, herbal mint and creamy earl grey. Afterwards, guests sampled roibois, oolong and yunan black, primarily sourced from Light of Day teas.

BTS also presented a tea talk which included tea history, tea etiquette and a Tea 101 on the different types of tea.

Thanks to our gracious hostess for inviting us to spend afternoon tea time in her lovely home. And, keep in mind, you can host a tea tasting in your home, too! Barb's TEA Shop has programs and tea tastings to suit all sizes and budgets. E-mail us at or call anytime at 248-840-4356.

If you are looking for more inspiration for your tea table, you must visit the Antiques Depot, in Lewiston, Michigan. Just three hours north of Oakland County, you will find teapots and teacups for every taste and pocketbook. For more information, check out The Detroit Tea Examiner's latest article which features this enchanting store.

Of course, with all this talk of Spring and welcoming the green, a tea toast to our own MSU Spartans in tonight's Final Four playoffs. : )

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Go Green - to all my TEA Friends!


Tablescape at the Antiques Depot