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,


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