Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tea History at Troy Historic Village: Sharing tea with old and new friends

Sharing a cup of tea with Stephanie Suszek, Adult Programs Director

This past Thursday, Barb's Tea Service presented "Tea History and Etiquette" inside the Old Troy Church at the Troy Historic Village to a wonderful group of attendees.  We were delighted to meet new friends as well as see so many familiar faces.

A variety of teas served with style
Guests enjoyed a wide selection of teas, displayed beautifully and served with style.

Tasty treats with a Valentine Day theme
In addition to tea, a variety of tasty treats were presented with a Valentine Day theme.

Stephanie Suszek introduces  the program
A special thanks to Stephanie Suszek, Adult Programs Director, for extending the invitation to speak last Fall. This is Barb's Tea Service's third time presenting at Troy Historic Village and it's always an honor and pleasure to be part of this special venue. A true treasure in our neighborhood.

Mary Ann and co. recognize the Althorpe tea caddy

The ladies in the front row, including Mary Ann H., immediately recognized my reproduction tea caddy from the Althorpe collection, home decor inspired by furnishings of the Spencer estate. Mary Ann and company also attended the afternoon tea at Scott Shuptrine two years ago when Lord Spencer paid a visit to Royal Oak. I interviewed Lord Spencer and also Mary Ann for the Examiner. (See also . . . Tea with Lord Spencer).  Great to reconnect with these lovely ladies as well as Kathy B. who was in attendance and had invited me to speak at one of her church's Tranquil Teas back in 2010.

Guests share a bit of tea currency from her own collection
At the end of the program, one guest brought a reproduction of tea currency to show. It was a very interesting piece from her own collection. Thanks for sharing!

We also raffled off two of our "Michigan Tea Rooms" books and  were thrilled to sell and autograph several more to the event attendees.

Thanks to all who came out last week for the Troy Historic Village's Thursday Teas at Two!

We have a very busy February, March and April coming up. Please check out our upcoming events page on our website,  Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

First Downton Abbey-inspired tea of 2016 at Southfield Public Library: Great fun and coverage by Southfield Sun newspaper!

Rachel-Rose serving up tea (Southfield Sun/Donna Dalziel)
Last Sunday, Barb's Tea Service presented a Downton Abbey-inspired Afternoon Tea at the Southfield Public Library. A lovely turnout (despite the chilly temps and snowy weather conditions), the great support and passion of the librarians, and the tasty Republic of Tea Downton Abbey blends served up with delcious scones, savories, and sweets from Victoria's Tea Salon made for a wonderful afternoon for Downton Abbey devotees.

The Southfield Sun newspaper had a fabulous write up of the event in last Wednesday's edition: End of an era:  Fans celebrate last season of 'Downton Abbey'.

With City Librarian David Ewick (aka "Carson") (Southfield Sun/Donna Dalziel)
City Librarian, David Ewick, was dressed in formal wear and clarified for guests that he was the butler, warmly welcoming all attendees as they entered the impressive events room. Jim Krueger, Adult Services intern, dressed in equally fitting tie and vest, introduced the program as well as announced winners to the raffle at the conclusion of the program.

BTS setting up with assistance from Adult Services intern, Jim Krueger 
Before the presentation guests were served Downton-Abbey blend teas with scones and sandwiches.

Pam and Rachel ready with freshly brewed tea

Delicious scones, sweets and savories from Victoria's Tea Salon
China cups,silver teaspoons & sugar tongs, fitting of  tea with the Crawleys 
If all the tea served in the room had any influence, outside weather conditions warmed considerably by the end of the program. Some lucky attendees went home with one of the many items raffled off by the Southfield Public Library, including a beautiful china teapot, and in a separate BTS giveaway our recently published "Michigan Tea Rooms" book.

All these Downton-Abbey-and tea-themed items were raffled by the library
A wonderful afternoon devoted to Downton Abbey, made even better knowing another installment of the Masterpiece period drama was scheduled for that evening!

For more information about BTS' future Downton Abbey-inspired teas and other tea events, check out our Upcoming Events page on

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nomination for best performance by a tea cup goes to Colclough in 'Brooklyn'

Colclough cup from "Brooklyn" on the red carpet
 It's a red carpet night at the Golden Globes where actors and actresses from critically acclaimed movies (and television) are nominated for outstanding performances. We'd like to propose a new category: best tea cup showing. As you might have guessed, we already have a winner in mind.

Moms and daughters off to see Brooklyn
This weekend, a girl's night out for dinner and a movie, brought us to see "Brooklyn". Moms and daughters agreed the movie was great. A touching story set in the 1950's centers on a young woman from Ireland who seeks a new life in Brooklyn and meets a sweet and adoring young man from a close-knit Italian family. A story that produced the perfect mixture of tears and laughter, we're rooting for Saorise Ronan who has been nominated for best actress in this sweet, coming-of-age tale.

Getting ready to buy a Colclough tea cup at Antique Depot in Lewiston
But what about the silent, understated role of the china tea cup? We would like to honor the Colclough cup with tiny floral buds set against a pastel blue background with stately gold trim.

I have to admit, it was Rachel who first noticed the cup in an early scene where a mother and her daughters are sitting together at the dining room table of their family home in Ireland. My daughter leaned over and whispered, "there's your teacup". And the scene was over.

Fortunately for me, it showed up two more times.

Colclough cups purchased at Kristeas before they moved to CO
Coincidentally enough, I just purchased the identical tea cup last month at our favorite vintage store up north, Antique Depot.  It caught my eye on our last shopping trip as it matched a set I had purchased at Kristeas in Berkley last January (just before it closed and moved to Colorado).

Colclough tea cup, beautiful no matter what its wearing
I love my Colclough tea cups and the member of this lovely family that appeared in "Brooklyn" deserves our applause.  Bravo, little tea cup. Your performance was brilliant. And you look good no matter what you're wearing!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Downton Abbey Season 6 premieres tonight! (also available in 3-D!)

We welcome you to Downton Abbey 3-D
During our holiday break, we did two geeky-family movie outings: the first was to see Star Wars, the second was to see Star Wars 3-D, because, as we Gulleys believe, you can never get enough of a good thing.

Which brings me to Downton Abbey. . .

As many of you already know, Downton Abbey, Season 6, premiers tonight on PBS' Masterpiece. It's a bittersweet occasion as this is the final season and we will bid adieu to the Crawley family and their downstairs staff. The authenticity of dialogue and scenery is due to Julian Fellowes' smart writing as well as the fact that some of the period drama is based on real people and real places. And, we at BTS were able to visit Highclere Castle, better known as "The Real Downton Abbey",  back in September where we saw the manor home and quaint village in 3-D!

Rachel outside St. Mary's/St. Michael's church in Bampton
Our first stop was Bampton where all the Downton Abbey village scenes are filmed. We toured the church where Crawley daughters marry (or, most dreadfully, get jilted at the alter), Isobel's charming home, the library (aka, county hospital) and the village green, the latter being surprisingly small.

Waiting for the next wedding at St. Michael's.
The library is the Downton Abbey hospital

The village green is surprisingly small. The compact cars are from the future!
After our visit to Bampton concluded, we drove on to Highclere Castle where we toured the interior of the home as well as the grounds and wrapped up our visit with a cup of tea (in our souvenir Highclere Castle mugs, naturally).

Tea time at Highclere with Highclere mugs.
We'll be sharing more of this visit in our upcoming Downton-Abbey teas over the next four months. (Check our website for more information on upcoming events and news page.)

Until then, we have tonight and the rest of our Sunday evenings booked for the next few months. May the force of Downton Abbey be with you!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

One for the Book(s) - BTS year in review

Our visit to Highclere in Jan/Feb issue of Tea Time
Our new book is out and available for purchase!

 *Feeling Thankful* This has been a record year of events for Barb's Tea Service as well as a banner time for being published. We also traveled to New York, England and Ohio to visit, among other amazing venues, the St. Regis Hotel, Highclere Castle and, on everyone's must-see list, the childhood home of President Taft.

First DA tea of 2015 at White Lake Library with librarian Denise Harris-Fiems
We kicked off the year at the White Lake Township Public Library for our first Downton Abbey-inspired tea of 2015. Despite the very chilly evening temps, the event room was filled and librarian Denise Harris-Fiems served up tea that warmed our hearts as well as our fingers and toes.

Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea at Baldwin Library

The first full weekend in February, we presented a Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham to a "sold out" crowd, attendance maxed out to the number of seats available. Rachel-Rose served Republic of Tea herbals and black tea blends to a crowd of over 60. We were also featured in the next edition of the Birmingham Eccentric along with librarian Kathryn Bergeron. 

Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea covered in Birmingham Eccentric

Valentine's Day Tea Etiquette corporate event at the Townsend Hotel
Valentine's Day we presented a tea etiquette program for a private corporate event at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. Our favorite luxury tea room, the tea lobby was set to perfection and ready for us once again. The guests were a fantastic group and we were honored to share the holiday with them. Back home, we had some additional treats waiting from us from the "home team".

Something sweet waiting for us from the "home team".
In February, we took a trip down below at Meadow Brook Hall to see how the "other half" lived in the early 1900's as part of the historic home's program, "A Servant's Life". It's an interesting tour of the staff's quarters and a peak into their daily routines. As potential employees, we were tested on how to set a proper place setting. (Not as easy at one might think!)

Meadow Brook's "A Servant's Life" was very informative
 In April we were back presenting at the Townsend, but this time for an elegant Downton Abbey-inspired tea. The tea lobby was set in the fashion of the Crawley dining room and many of the guests complimented the setting by donning period dress.

Downton Abbey elegant tea at the Townsend

Mid-April we headed north to Light of Day in Traverse City and took in a class given by the tea farm's owner, Angela Macke. We brought back some matcha for our next tea event.
Light of Day class presented by owner Angela Macke
That tea event was for the "What's Cooking" series held at the West Bloomfield Library. I was invited by Loretta Harris, my good friend of many years (going as far back as junior high -you creative types can do the math) and a member of one of the library's event committees. It was a Tea 101, covering tea history and etiquette, as well as a tea tasting of four different types of tea. Over 70 guests attended and it was a wonderful evening with old and new friends.
Tea History  Etiquette at WB Library with longtime amigo, Loretta H.
Rachel starts the steeping for the tea tasting at the West Bloomfield Library
In May, we continued our annual Mother's Day tradition of the family gathering at Goldfish Tea in Royal Oak. We were sad to find out just this week, that this  lovely tea venue will be closing its doors permanently the end of January. (But folks in the Detroit area, take advantage of some great sales going on now). After eight years in business, it had a tremendous run and will be greatly missed.

Mother's Day tea at Goldfish a yearly tradition with the family
 End of July/beginning of August, we were on the road and spent four days in New York. This mini-vacation included a stay at the Waldorf-Astoria,  afternoon tea at the St. Regis Hotel and  a trip to Hyde Park to see not only the Roosevelt home and library, but a tour of the Vanderbilt mansion. The latter was the "frugal" sibling - obviously!
Afternoon tea at the St. Regis Hotel
A toast at our hotel, the  Waldorf Astoria

Entrance to the "conservative" Vanderbilt estate
The Roosevelt Home at Hyde Park

In September, we journeyed across the pond for a week in England. Highlights (although, they were all highlights!) were afternoon tea at Claridge's and The Wolseley, Highclere Castle/Bampton Village, and Buckingham Palace.

Afternoon tea at Claridge's
Tea time at Highclere Castle

More tea at The Wolseley

Buckingham Palace

The Friday after our trip to England, I presented a Tea History and Etiquette program at the Clarkston Independence Township Public Library. The librarians turned their event space into a lovely tea room and provided deliciously brewed tea and homemade scones.

Tea presentation at the Clarkston Independence Library. Attendees were a delight.

The end of September, we presented an Eleanor Roosevelt tea at an event co-sponsored by the Townsend Hotel and the Baldwin Library. What a delightful group of guests! One simply can't go wrong with Townsend tea fare served up with a bit of inspirational history.

Eleanor Roosevelt Tea at The Townsend Hotel
October saw us on the road once again - this time a weekend trip in our car to Cincinnati. We combined business with pleasure, meeting up with extended family and partaking in some historical sites, including the aforementioned Taft museum. We also made a stop at Essencha, a charming, tranquil tea house that provided a bit of needed rejuvenation for the car ride back home.

Rejuvenating at Essencha tea house in Cincinnati

Taft museum - who knew it was only a day trip away?

Mid October, we served up tea and an etiquette program for a local charity, hosted in a beautiful home in Bloomfield Hills. Lovely ladies and a special cause - providing college scholarships for young women.

We wrapped our tea event season as a participant of "Michigan Tea Week". We were thrilled to be partnered with Socra Tea, an absolutely awesome tea room in the heart of Detroit's cultural center. We presented "What is Tea" and Socra Tea's co-owner, Meg Provenzino, served up several amazingly delicious teas for guests to sample.

Getting ready for the event at Socra Tea

The end of the year, we were delighted to see our article on Highclere Castle and interview with Lady Carnarvon published in Tea Time Magazine's Jan/Feb issue. In December, we also completed our book, "Michigan Tea Rooms". (For those interested in purchasing a copy of the latter, check the link to Amazon or send us an email for a personalized copy!)

What a year it has been and we are grateful to all those who supported and teamed up with us this year. We have met so many wonderful people and can't think of a a better community than those who come together over a cup of tea!

The new year is already off to a bang with  almost as many events in the first quarter as we had in all of 2015. Check our website's upcoming events and news page at and come join us! We'd love to see you.

Happy New Year to all our Tea Friends!