Saturday, May 25, 2019

Adagio Masters Tea: Exciting, limited edition, premium loose tea with a story!

Enjoying one of Adagio's new Master teas as recommended by the tea harvester who brought it to us.

Adagio's new Masters Tea series brings us not only fresh, premium loose teas to savor, but also the  back stories of those who harvest the tea in the regions where they're grown. As Adagio notes on their website, you don't have to be a tea connoisseur to enjoy. These teas come "fresh from the fields" and are offered in limited editions only. 

There are a variety of Masters teas available. We're sampling the five shown here.

Last week, I received a sample of five Masters teas and have brewed up two so far:  jin kong que from Yunnan, China and formosa fancy bai hao from Wen Shen, Taiwan. Both were excellent in taste (more details on that shortly!), but the experience didn't end after the steeping and sipping. One can actually "meet" the tea farmers, who add their expertise to every cup we enjoy, by simply going to the Adagio Masters tea pages on the tea company's website.

The loose leaves of Jin kong que, one of the delicious Masters teas from Yunan.

For the tea from Yunnan, you can find Zhao Ji Lin's story and discover what he loves about the tea harvesting process (the smell) and the challenges he faces (his knees are not "so well" from all the mountain climbing). There are also tips to enhance your tea experience and, in this case, I took Zhao Ji Lin's advice on how best to serve. I switched from sipping this tea in an English bone china tea cup to a tiny Chinese cup to better enjoy the tea smell and taste. (It's also an incentive to bring out my gai wan for future steeping!). 

Originally served jin kong que in an English bone china tea cup -  delicious in every (and any!) way

The jin kong que was delicious and I loved everything about this tea from my first good sniff after opening the packet to several small slurps after its brewing. At first, I detected fruity notes, but after steeping, I could taste the roasted sweet potato as described on the tea's label. 

Formosa oolong from Taiwan, smooth and sweet

The other Masters tea I sampled to date was the Formosa fancy bai hao, a smooth, light oolong from Taiwan. Here again, I took in fruity notes and  was in agreement with the label's claim of hints of honey and peach.

This tea can be served hot, or as recommended by one of the tea farmers, as a cold brew, chilled for eight hours.

Yu Kui Weng is a tea harvester of this tea. She loves the craft of rolling the tea, but, like Zhao Ji Lin, finds her job more of a challenge as she gets older. Her tip for this particular tea is to also enjoy it as a cold brew. She recommends cooling it in the refrigerator for eight hours, which will make the tea "more sweet and smooth".

We've really enjoyed the Masters  experience and look forward to trying out more of these limited edition teas and "meeting" more of the folks who bring it to us!

 Product review disclaimer:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free or discounted price. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Happy Anniversary to Harry and Meghan: Rembering our celebration on Fox News and The Townsend Hotel!

Tea toast to the newly married royal couple after presenting at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham

May 18, 2018 was a very special day for both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and for BTS as well. Today marks not only the one year anniversary of the Royal Wedding, but Barb's Tea Service's debut on Fox 2 News followed by a presentation and afternoon tea at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

As part of The Townsend Hotel's afternoon tea team, Chris and I were interviewed by Charlie L. and Maurielle L.

There are not many occasions where I relish getting up at 4:00 AM, but last year, at this time, I didn't even need an alarm. As part of the Afternoon tea family at The Townsend, I was asked to appear with Assistant Tea Director, Chris Coscia, on a Fox 2 News segment in celebration of Harry and Meghan's big day. That was followed by an Afternoon Tea Talk at the Townsend where we not only discussed tea etiquette, but our royal connections, including our recent trip to England where London was abuzz with excitement and our up-close-and-personal interview  a few years back with Harry's uncle, Lord Charles Spencer.  We also showed off all our fine wedding souvenirs we brought back.

Interviewing Harry's famous uncle, Lord Spencer in 2014

Here's the link to the Fox 2 News Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea Segment:

Fox 2 News Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea

Knowing we'd need to purchase a new hat for the occasion, while in London the week before the wedding, I stopped in Harrods with my husband, Chris, and good friends, Pam and Quint. As unexpected, and somewhat willing consultants, they assisted me in finding the perfect fascinator that met both traveling and budget constraints.

Shopping hats at Harrods a week before the wedding

 Part of the many, many hats and fascinators to purchase at Harrods

After Harrods, we had twenty-four hours left in London before heading to Southampton to board the Queen Mary II for the ride back home. Even the crew of the cruise ship got caught up in the royal event, posing for a group shot salutation to the soon-to-be bride and groom.

Crew on our cruise ship, the QMII, got caught up in the event, posing for well wishes for the royal couple

Back home, I had one evening in Michigan before the early morning meeting with my Kelsey Marie Claire, MUA and then off to the studio.

Excited (and a little nervous) before going on air.

We taped the segment to be inserted later as part of the Royal Wedding coverage. Then, off with Rachel to The Townsend for more celebrating.

It was an awesome day filled with excitement, nervousness, family, luxury and fascinators . . . for BTS.  I hope the same for Harry and Meghan!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

BTS in Florida: Wonderful Mother's Day Afternoon Tea at Water's Edge

Three generations took part in Water's Edge Mother's Day Afternoon Tea

Mother's Day weekend, Barb's Tea Service presented  "Tea and Etiquette" at the beautiful senior living community, Water's Edge in Bradenton, Florida.  Invited to bring our program down to the new residence of my in-laws Bob and Barb G.,  by Water's Edge Sales Manager, Tami Erickson -  who also doubles as an amazing pastry chef -  we were excited to be part of this special event. It was not only a lovely venue with fantastic guests, but a delightful family affair as well. 

Over forty ladies came to tea, many with pretty hats or fascinators.

Over forty ladies came to tea, many attired in pretty hats or fascinators. Guests were served tea sandwiches, mini quiches, petit fours and the crème du la crème, delicious macarons in rainbow colors baked to perfection by Tami E.!

Introduction to Afternoon Tea

Beautiful macarons courtesy Tami E.

Along with afternoon tea etiquette and a brief history of tea, we also presented a mini slideshow of tea rooms we have visited in Europe, including England, Ireland, France and Scotland. This well-traveled audience had been to many and offered recommendations for other tea venues for BTS to visit. We were also given a number suggestions for tea rooms in Florida. (We'll be busy checking those out in our upcoming visits to the sunshine state).

Rachel provides technical assistance and set up.

This was an extra special time for us as we were spending Mother's Day with three generations:  the two Barb Gulley's and my daughter, Rachel.  

Afternoon Tea invites, illustrations courtesy Barbara R. Gulley

A lot of family took part in this event: we gave away two "Twelve Etiquette Essentials:  Formal Dining and Tea Time" books written by Barbara J. Gulley and illustrated by Barbara R. Gulley. My mother-in-law also created the artwork for the afternoon tea invitations. Rachel provided technical and tea assistance and my sister-in-law, Cara, sent us personalized BTS carry totes for the occasion (Honeywood Embroidery). 

Personalized tote from Honeywood Embroidery
Twelve Etiquette Essentials by the Barb Gulleys
It was a wonderful Mother's Day Afternoon Tea at Water's Edge. We hope to be back soon (and we've got a lot of Florida tea rooms to visit as well!)

View from balcony at Water's Edge,

Thanks to Tami, Nicole and the Water's Edge Community for hosting this special event!