Sunday, December 1, 2013

Barb's TEA Shop Wishlist 2013

December is here!

On the heels of a late Thanksgiving weekend, Barb's TEA Shop is taking a tea break to share our annual Holiday Wishlist to assist with gift ideas for the tea enthusiast you're shopping for this season (be it friend, family or even yourself!).

Once again, we found inspiration in our travels throughout the year as well as some favorite pastimes. This year, BTS traveled south to North Carolina, Florida and Georgia and west to Colorado - not to mention our favorite Michigan haunts: Traverse City and Mackinac Island. Combine those destinations with our favorite fictional Edwardian family, the Crawley's of Downton Abbey, and we have amassed a full-range of items sure to delight any tea devotee on your list.

For the Lords and Ladies on your list.

With Downton Abbey Season 4 starting January 5th, there's not much time left to get ready for your Lord and Lady afternoon tea celebration party. Here is our top pick for how to accessorize your lovely party dress.

Accessories for your afternoon tea dress
Jewelry inspired by DA Season 1

These come from the Signals website. This lovely pear drop necklace and matching earrings were inspired by a set Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, wore to a dinner party in Season 1. The necklace sells for $35 and same price for the earrings.

Highclere Castle tickets for Summer 2014 go on sale in February

If you are looking for something on a more grand scale, you can also purchase tickets for the tour of the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, located in Hampshire, England. Keep in mind, Easter and May, 2014 openings to the public are already SOLD OUT! For you tenacious, generous souls who remain vigilant for you DA devotee, tickets for Summer, 2014 will be available at the Highclere website in FEBRUARY!  Have Carson take note to remind you, or for those of you who live in this century, set an alarm on your smart phone.

Tea Rooms we love and what you can get there:

Denver Tea Room has its own scone mix for sale

Denver Tea Room:  Great tea room that offers a delicious afternoon tea menu and can accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions. We recommend their scone mix - easy to fix and sweet tasting. (Note: keep watching their website, they'll be moving to a new location soon!)

The Grand Hotel China. One tea cup needs another. . . 

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island:  Always a special treat to have an elegant afternoon tea with a million dollar view of the straits of Mackinac while listening to the harpist in the background.  We purchased Mackinac-inspired loose tea when we were there in May along with a tea cup in the hotel's signature china pattern. This cup could use some company.  (Cyber Monday has some great gift card bonuses, too!)

A souvenir from the Carolina Inn - great for hot chocolate!

Carolina Inn:  Located in Chapel Hill, this is a beautiful place to have afternoon tea. My trip to North Carolina in October was way too short. A memento from the gift shop would help me maintain Carolina Inn my mind. Lovely blue mug could house some Whittard hot chocolate*.

The Townsend Hotel afternoon tea is a great luxury - anytime!

Townsend Hotel:  In the heart of downtown Birmingham, an upscale community in southeastern Michigan, this hotel has Afternoon Tea going on. Served seven days a week in an elegant setting with a exquisite menu, this is treat anytime of the year. But, you'll want to watch their calendar as they have special tea events every month. A gift certificate to the Townsend will have your tea enthusiast feeling like Royalty. Speaking of which. . .

Books that cover personal anecdotes from knowing the Royals as well as amazing recipes:

Eating Royally by Royal Chef, Darren McGrady is a great tome filled with personal stories of interacting with the Royals, including Queen Elizabeth and Princess Di, and indulgent recipes that include chocolate biscuit cake and royal tea scones. There's a whole chapter devoted to Winter Balls and Summer Teas. Filled with pictures that will delight as well as inspire, you can order directly from The Royal Chef website for a personalized copy. It can also be purchased on Amazon.

Tea on the Titanic by Penelope Carlevato. Born in England and now current resident of a Denver suburb, the author taps into her British roots and love of tea, to deliver an interesting take on the ill-fated cruise ship. She also includes a number of tasty recipes to inspire your next tea time. Available for purchase on the Tea on Titanic website.

Teas near and far:
This sampler includes Relaxation Blend. Ahhhh, yes!

How about a sampler gift bag from Light of Day teas in Traverse City? Four different variety of teas wrapped up together makes a great presentation as well as present. Our latest favorite LOD tea is "Relaxation Blend" made of chamomile, raspberry leaf and spearmint. A delightful cup to unwind with at the end of your day. Available at their store in TC or their website, under Light of Day gift ideas.

Some of Whittard's tea can be purchased in these pretty and practical.

Whittard of Chelsea in London: We sampled a few delightful teas, specifically English Breakfast and Royal Blend - both hearty black teas that work well with the addition of milk. We especially like the tins that the loose tea can be purchased in as they are both practical and pretty.

*The also carry a line of hot chocolate which I think would be a delightful treat to try! All teas, coffees and hot chocolates can be purchased on-line at Whittard.

And now for something comple-TEA-ly different:

Silly tea accessories:  For those who want to add a little fun and irreverence to tea time, how about a Mr. Tea infuser? We demonstrated this in a video earlier this year and it comes from Fred. There's a wonderful companion, the Manatea. I have both of these and find the novelty has not yet wore off. Available at Amazon and Sur La Table. (Fred also makes a Titanic tea infuser, but I'm not quite sure I'm ready for that one.)

Mr. Tea taking a hot bath while making a delightful cup of tea

An aquatic companion for Mr. Tea

Not to be confused with Snooty, a real Manatee we met in Florida

Dog tea! While we're talking animals, don't forget the canine tea lover on your list. Dushanbe Tea Room a uniquely beautiful tea room in Boulder, CO, has a wonderful afternoon tea menu. It also sells tea and logo tea ware. But, a first for us - they also offered a line of tea designed to help the health of your dogs. When we were there we bought some dog tea to take home to our pups. (Also, any of their own branded tea for humans would make a fantastic gift!)

A line of dog tea as well as delicious tea for humans

Satisfy your hunger game with dessert

Hunger Games movie tour followed by dessert:  The Swan Coach House in Atlanta is a tony restaurant that serves tea sandwiches served with tea anytime - and special themed teas throughout the year.  Located on the grounds of the Atlantic History Center, where  part of "Hunger Games, Catching Fire", was filmed. Take part in their "Capitol Tour", running now through January 1st, and stop by the Swan Coach for their Mocking Jay dessert, created in honor of the movie setting.

Chocolate and Tea Pairing from Barb's TEA Shop: And, what better way to end, but with chocolate. A new offering from Barb's TEA Shop, comes via  "Chocolate and Tea Pairings". Food pairings are the rage with "foodies" and putting together an event that combines the variety of teas with the the decadence of rich chocolate spells fun and yum! for your next party. Contact us at or message us on facebook for more details.

Chocolate and Tea Pairings from BTS - schedule yours today!

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays to all!