Thursday, November 25, 2010

Heartwarming Light of Day Tea featured in USA Weekend

BTS is happy to report more good news on tea friends in the news. The latest issue of USA Weekend Magazine featured Light of Day teas in their topical "Season's Eatings" article. The Sunday magazine highlighted the Traverse City tea company's "Heartwarming Cinnamon" tea. A favorite here at BTS, you'll get in the holiday spirit instantly by simply opening the lid of this tea tin's container and taking in its hearty sweet and spicy aroma.

A year ago this month, BTS participated in Light of Day's marathon tea tasting at the Dennos Museum in northern Michigan. Here, owner of LOD teas, Angela Macke, a registered nurse and horticulturist, set a record that day for the number of teas brewed and served to delighted guests. We sampled a variety of LOD's black, green and white tea blends as well as delicious gluten-free chocolate mint cupcakes (made, of course, with Cacao Mint tea). It was this event where Angela displayed her homegrown Camellia sinensis plant which became the inspiration for our own tea garden at Pemberly Pines this past summer.

The last time we met up with Angela this year, she was out riding on the tractor of the working tea farm. We took the opportunity to stock up on our favorite Light of Day teas in the newly constructed tea room on the grounds . We're looking forward to our next visit, but in the meantime, we're excited to start the holidays with family, friends and lots of freshly brewed teas.

Wishing all our Tea Friends a "heartwarming" and happy Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tea Friend Elizabeth Knight on CBS News

Hello Tea Friends,

This past weekend, CBS Morning Show, aired a segment on tea, Timeless Traditions of Tea Time, featuring Elizabeth Knight, tea educator, author, and subject of Barb's TEA Shop very first blog story back in 2007. In June of that year, I went to New York City to take a one-on-one tea tour with the former tea sommelier at the St. Regis Hotel.

As I recounted in that very first blog article, "Celebri-Teas Spring 2007", we spent an intense day of shopping, sipping, and tasting throughout Manhattan: from sampling tea-infused chocolates at a Pierre Marcolini (now Borne Confections) to visiting New York's premier sources for antique and museum-quality reproductions of European tableware. Our tea tour culminated in a relaxing and delightful afternoon tea at Cafe Opaline, a wonderful tea room above the Dahesh museum overlooking Madison Avenue. (My review of the experience can still be viewed on Elizabeth Knight's Tea with Friends Tour page.)

With all the tea we sampled and the tea artifacts we examined, the most important lesson I learned from Elizabeth Knight was echoed in her piece on the CBS Morning Show last Sunday: that tea is about taking a "time out". It's an opportunity for us to slow down, take a break and treat ourselves to the comforts of tea with friends.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Third Annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville was too good

The Third Annual Jane Austen festival in Louisville, Kentucky, was too good, but, to borrow from Jane's own words in Mansfield Park, "nobody minds having what is too good for them" and indeed, my daughter Rachel, and I did not mind at all.

Held July 10th and 11th at the Historic Locust Grove, and sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North American, Greater Louisville Region, it exceeded all our expectations as attendees of last year's festival.

We took part in many of the activities we enjoyed last year including shopping in Meryton, the Regency fashion show and, of course, Afternoon tea. This year, however, we took in a few new presentations. From the sidelines, we caught Ed Maeder's discussion on period hats. (Maeder is the creator of bonnets for the PBS documentary on Dolly Madison.)

And, if that weren't enough to satisfy all hardcore Janeites, the other presenter, Kim Wilson, author of "Tea with Jane Austen" and "In the Garden with Jane Austen" was, by any standard, much, much too good. As a longtime devotee of "Tea with Jane Austen", it was a real treat to be sitting front row center to hear Kim Wilson discuss the importance of tea in Jane's life and literature. Among her many insightful and amusing observations was Ms. Wilson's commentary on a passage from Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy's preference for coffee over tea had nothing to do with the beverage, but who was serving it. At a large party held at Longbourn, when Darcy returns to the parlor after the requisite separation of the sexes after dinner, he chooses to be served the inferior tasting coffee, instead of a more flavorful cup of tea, because Elizabeth Bennett had been assigned the charge of the less desirable hot drink. This sacrifice only proved how unquestionably fond he had to be of her.

We also met up with the superb hostess and organizer, Bonnie Weiss, and many familiar faces from last year's event. At Afternoon tea, we had a great time with new friends: another mother and daughter team from Mississippi. At the Jane Austen Festival, there are no strangers, just friends yet to be introduced.

The only change Rachel requested for next year's festival is that I do not schedule our Afternoon tea at the same time as the "Dressing Mr. Darcy" event, which I have done for the past two years. Yes, I do agree, next year, we will try to work in every event, including being in the audience for the donning of attire on the most popular of Jane Austen's Prince Charmings. Can it get any better than that? Well, we already know it will be too good, and surely, there's no one who will mind that at all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wanderer's Teahouse from Guest Blogger Rachel Gulley

Amid head shops, burritos joints, and chain coffee places, lies the Wanderer's Teahouse in downtown East Lansing. Tucked right in on the edge of America’s eighth largest campus by enrollment, on the prime location of Grand River Ave, literally right across the street from campus, is the new home of an actual Mom and Pop teahouse; one where that Mom and Pop really know their stuff. Michigan State University alumni-run, the husband and wife team of Elizabeth Marazita and Michael Spano have lived in China and both have degrees in Chinese medicine.

All tea served at the Wanderer's is organically grown, and the coffee is all Fair Trade. Spano also mixes his own blends for particular maladies such as allergies or a hangover (perhaps catering to their college-town demographic a bit?). After years of travel, Marazita, a Lansing native, decided along with Spano, to put down roots in a town they knew and where their daughter could have some stability.

The tea house atmosphere is cozy and adventurous. Pictures of famous “wanderers” line the walls, as well as road signs pointing you to different countries with mile calculations, and an international book exchange make one feel as though they could run off to wherever their heart desires… as soon as they finish their tea and sandwich.

Just a couple weeks after opening, the Wanderer's is frequented by studying students and I, myself, have run into MSU professors there. It’s a wonderful place to meet a friend for lunch and catch up over a couple pots of hot tea, or to tune out all distractions and hit the books.

The owners are never too busy to introduce themselves, or help you decide on your tea for the day. (I personally recommend the English breakfast, as it is earthy and not a bit bitter.) Their friendly staff takes care of you and is also knowledgeable on tea, so don’t feel overwhelmed when you see the many, many available choices. You can smell a sample of each and read a description, or just ask away!

So wander into The Wanderer’s today, since as their slogan professes, “...all who wander are not lost.”