Thursday, July 31, 2014

Iced Tea Throw Down at TranquiliTea

Tea lovers can not visit downtown Plymouth, MI without stopping by TranquiliTea.  It's just a short jaunt across the street from Sweet Afton tea room.  I blogged about attending their 2nd Annual Harney & Sons Tea Affair in April 2013.  You can read that post here.

We were delighted to participate in their "Iced Tea Throw Down" when we stopped in last Saturday [7/26].   A tea throw down was a first for me.

Below is a view of the shop.  They carry everything pertaining to tea - teapots, china, books, cards, linens, you name it, they carry it!  And, of course, lots of tea - loose and in sachets.

It was a pleasure to be able to talk with owner, Colleen Cannon [pictured below], on this visit. She shared that she had a job in the corporate world, but because of the instability in her career field she wanted a change.  Growing up in a tea drinking family where pots and pots of tea were consumed, she was very familiar with the pleasures of tea.  Cancer was a high risk in her family, so she began researching the benefits of green tea, which eventually led to the opening of TranqualiTea, that will celebrate its 9th anniversary in February 2015.

The white canisters behind Colleen is where all the loose tea is kept, but across the isle are small jars of tea samples for patrons to see and smell.  Colleen is very knowledgeable about tea, and she shared interesting tidbits about some of the teas she carries.  

The tea stations for the Iced Tea Throw Down were located at the back of the shop.  There were five teas to sample.  We were given a poker chip to place in a blue box positioned next to the iced tea dispenser containing our favorite tea. 

In the photo below I was sampling Iced Cherry black tea.  

Barb Gulley and me sampling teas.

Colleen announced the winner on their Facebook Page on Monday.  Yay!  The tea that I voted for won - Wild Blueberry White tea.  It was very good.  

What a fun day!  If you're ever in Plymouth, MI be sure to visit TranquiliTea.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another Visit to Sweet Afton Tea Room

Amidst the turmoil of my mother's unexpected hospitalization, I took a couple of hours last Saturday [7/26] to meet a friend in Plymouth, MI for tea.  The date had been previously set, and reservations had been made at Sweet Afton Tea Room, so I kept the commitment knowing tea and good company would be a great source of inspiration and rejuvenation.

My second post when I first started blogging [January 25, 2012], was about having tea at Sweet Afton Tea Room.  A subsequent post about the tea room was written when my hubby and I visited in January 2013.  

Last Saturday was a beautiful, sunny, summer day.  Our reservations were for 11:00 a.m. when the tea room opened for business.  I arrived in quaint downtown Plymouth at 10:45, and found the public parking lots were already filled with cars, and the streets bustling with people. I inquired if a special activity was going on, and was told "No, it's just a typical summer Saturday in downtown Plymouth."

I waited on a park bench near Sweet Afton and 'people watched' until the tea room opened its doors.  Lovely flower boxes line the downtown streets, and Sweet Afton sponsored a box of hydrangeas and other small flowers.

Two ladies with two little girls were anxiously waiting for the tea room to open too.  I took advantage of the empty tea room to take some photos, because I knew it would be bustling with patrons in just a matter of minutes.

A photo of Robert Burns, the Scottish poet who wrote the lyrical poem, Sweet Afton, describing the Afton waters in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1791, and Flow Gently Sweet Afton sheet music, the title given the poem when Jonathan E. Spilman set it to music in 1837, hangs in the foyer/gift area of the tea room.

~ A inside view of the tea room. ~

~ The chandeliers are made with teacups. ~

~ This was our table for two. ~

Pictured below is my friend, Barb Gulley.  She writes for the online Examiner publication keeping people in the Detroit Metro area informed of tea happenings.  She also has a blog, Barb's Tea Shop and website for her tea education business.  Barb is an avid Jane Austen fan.

[L-R:  Barb and Me]

Barb ordered the Sweet Afton High Tea, and I ordered the Robert Burns - Broccoli Cheddar homemade soup, Quiche Lorraine, and a Cheddar Muffin.  It was very good.

My tea selection was Wild Cherry Amaretto, and Barb ordered Earl Grey.

Our efficient server was Elizabeth, but she was camera shy so alas, no photo to share of her. Barb and I had a great time getting caught up on each other's news. She and her daughter, Rachel, had just returned from the 7th annual Jane Austen festival sponsored by the Louisville, KY chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America.  She said it was the best one yet.

No visit to Sweet Afton would be complete without checking out their retail area, where I purchased the Tea Party game for children ages 5 years and up - perfect for having fun with my younger granddaughters while teaching them about the components of a tea party.

Aren't Sweet Afton's gift bags pretty?

Sweet Afton has the honor of being featured in the upcoming Sept./Oct. issue of Tea Time Magazine, and Barb will also have an article in the Tea Diaries section, so be sure to read both of them.

It was a great time of destressing over tea and friendship, and I'm glad I didn't cancel the appointment. 

When we finished at Sweet Afton, we walked across the street to TranquiliTea shop.  I'll write about our visit there in a separate post.

To those of you who have written words of encouragement during my mom's hospitalization on my blog or privately, or have phoned, thank you so much.  I know God will provide strength and guidance in the days ahead.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Reflection...

The events of this past week have been challenging.  My 92 year old mother has been hospitalized with a stroke.  While at her assisted living apartment this week, I found a quote she clipped from the newspaper, and I'm sharing it today.

I'll be absent from my blog for the next few days until things return to normal and I have time for blogging.

"How far you go in life
depends on you being
tender with the young,
compassionate with the 
aged, sympathetic with
the striving, and
tolerant of the weak
and the strong.  Because
someday you will have
been all of these."

~ George Washington Carver

May God bless your week!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fortnum & Mason and Prince George's 1st Birthday

The luxury department store, Fortnum & Mason, is said to be the Queen's favorite store, and is referred to as her grocer.  I signed up for F & M's e-mail newsletters, and a recent one featured their "Butterfly Collection" teaware.

[Photos courtesy of Fortnum & Mason's Website]

In honor of Prince George's one year old birthday yesterday, his parents released photos of him taken at the Sensational Butterfly Exhibition at London's Natural History Museum.

[Internet Photo]

News sources said his birthday celebration would be a small affair at Kensington Palace with tea, lots of cake, and sentimental gifts.  Wonder if Fortnum and Mason sent over a few Butterfly Collection teacups for the royal birthday party?  

Guests include Great-Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, six month old 2nd cousin, Mia Tindall [daughter of Zara Phillips], Uncle Harry, Middleton grandparents and relatives, and god parents.

I loved Darren McGrady's cookie portrait of the little Prince.  McGrady was a Buckingham Palace chef before he became Princess Diana's chef at Kensington Palace.

[Photos courtesy of Darren McGrady]

[Internet Photo]

 Happy 1st Birthday Prince George!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blue & White China from Bombay Company

I love dishes of all colors and patterns, but my all-time favorite is blue and white.  On August 9, 2012 I blogged about a five-piece tea set I purchased from Bombay Company, and I'm featuring it again today.  I was gifted with the matching tea strainer later.

Just before the store closed, I purchased a jar in the same pattern to use as a tea canister.

The reason I'm repeating a post about the tea set is because I recently acquired two teacups and saucers on E-bay to match it.  They were reasonably priced [$15.99 for the two plus shipping], and I'm happy to have them.

The set continues to grow.  If I find two luncheon plates I'll consider the set complete.

I'm hoping my hubby will build me a wall of shelves [floor to ceiling] in our living room to display my blue and white china.  I gave him photos of my vision on Sunday [thank you, Pinterest!].  I'll keep you posted on the project!

*  *  *

Today I'm joining  Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Monday, July 21, 2014

Twinings in the News

A recent Detroit Free Press article featured the 10 oldest company logos in the world.  Guess what the oldest was?

The article stated most major companies have changed their logos dramatically over time, but some have had 'staying power' for hundreds of years.  Many companies use their longevity as a selling point to consumers emphasizing that they remain connected to their founding principles, with key management related to the company's founder. Twinings Tea has ten generation descendants of Thomas Twining leading their company.

Twinings' 1787 logo - a capatalized font beneath a lion crest - has been used continuously for 227 years, making it the world's oldest unaltered logo.

Even more remarkable, the company still sells tea at the same London location, 216 Strand, since its founding by Thomas Twining in 1706. Twinings is a Royal Warrant holder, appointed by HM The Queen.  If I ever return to London it's at the top of my list of places to visit.

In 1717, Twinings was the first beverage shop that opened to women because coffeehouses wee for men only.  Women could sit and drink a cup of tea at the shop, or take their self-selected blend home with them.

18th Century English novelist, Jane Austen, bought her tea from Twinings.

A few years ago I found a replica Twinings Delivery Truck and bought it.  The roof is hinged, and opens for use as a tea caddy.

Kudos on 308 years of business in the tea industry, Twining Family!  U.S. statistics show that fewer than 1/3 of family-owned businesses survive to the second generation, 13% to the third, and 3% to the fourth.  Twinings is definitely doing something right!

~ Thomas Twining, 1741 ~

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Reflection...

Life is so uncertain.  Solomon said in Proverbs 27:1  "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."  [NIV]

Life can be cruising along one day, and the next day dangers appear out of nowhere imposing detours down frightening and untraveled roads.

That's what happened on June 30th.  My niece's 13 year old son, Nicholas, who had been playing on his baseball team with full energy, suddenly found himself in the hospital with dangerously low blood counts.  On July 2nd he was diagnosed with the rare blood disorder, aplastic anemia.

~ Nick ~

Nick needs a bone marrow transplant, and we rejoice that his five year old sister is a 10 out of 10 match. The transplant is scheduled for August 4th.  In the meantime, both Nick and his sister will be undergoing numerous tests at the University of Michigan Hospital, and Nick will have a week of chemotherapy to destroy his old bone marrow.

Even though life is uncertain, I'm glad God is not!  I will be grateful if you will pray with family and friends that the transplant will be successful [no rejection], and Nick's immune system is fully restored.   We will praise God for the miracle of healing. 

I'm claiming Jeremiah 32:17  "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you."

May God bless your week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Treasures from LaBelle Antiques

Last week when going to get my hair cut, I stopped at my favorite antique store, La Belle's.   Below are the treasures I bought.

 ~ A Royal Albert "Old English Rose" Teacup ~

The shape of the cup is Avon. Some refer to the gold trim as 'sponged' and other describe it 'brushed.'  Whichever, it's definitely pretty.  The teacup was manufactured between 1927-1935.  

I'm very happy to have gotten it for $15, when the price varies on E-bay and Etsy from $39.99 to $65, plus shipping.  La Belle's prices can't be beaten.  They are constantly moving their inventory rather than sitting on it.  I'm not sure why the pattern wasn't printed on the bottom, but I'm certain it is Old English Rose.

My other purchase was a Johnson Bros., Old Britain Castles, red/pink transferware pitcher. It's 7 1/2 inches tall by 6 1/2 inches wide, and holds 8 cups.  The castle in the photo below is Blarney Castle, and on the other side is Windsor Castle.  I paid $12 for it.   I'm certain it's not vintage, and probably not made in England because the bottom is stamped dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe, but since the going rate for the pitcher is $25 I'm happy with my bargain.  It'll be a nice addition to my dishes in the same pattern.

Have you found any bargains lately?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tea Tasting at The Rendezvous With Tea

Yesterday my girlfriend and I returned to The Rendezvous With Tea for our second tea tasting held at 4:00 p.m.   There were 10 participants.

The tasting area was set up for eight different teas.

Naszreen [the owner, who was born in Sri Lanka] began by sharing highlights of tea history. While it wasn't one of the teas included in this tasting, she informed us that "Magical Motown," a tea that she's had blended in honor of Detroit, MI, will be arriving tomorrow. It's a black tea with apple blossoms [Michigan's State Flower], rose petals, and vanilla.  I'm so anxious to try this tea when it's available.

The first tea we tasted was White Earl Grey, Pai Mu Tan, from China.  The bergamot was very mild.  

Half ounce sake cups are used for the tasting.

The second tea was a black, full-bodied, organic tea, Los Andes, from Guatemala.  Naszreen passed around a small dish of each tea in its dry leaf form, so we could see and smell it.

The third tea was a black tea, Luponde, from Tanzania.
The fourth tea was a 2nd flush Castleton, Darjeeling. 

The fifth tea was Winter Palace Marzipan - a Rooibos from South Africa [not a true tea since it's not from the camellia sinensis plant].  Typically I'm not a big fan of Rooibos, but this one was exceptionally good, flavored with Moroccan Almond and Papaya.

The sixth tea was a premium long leaf Sencha from Hunan, China.  

The seventh tea was another green tea called Lavender Butterfly.  The tea was grown in Hunan, China, and the lavender was grown in Tibet.

The eighth and final tasting was an artisan flowering Oolong tea from the Yunnan Province of China.  All the teas we tasted were very good, but my favorites were the Oolong and the Rooibos.  

Naszreen ended the tasting by sharing a quote from Chin-Nung, the celebrated scholar and philosopher:  "Tea is better than wine, for it leadeth not to intoxication, neither does it cause a man to say foolish things and repent thereof in his somber moments."

Following the tasting, we were served a slice of quiche and a tea-infused cupcake, accompanied by a full-size teacup of our favorite tea of the evening.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting, and made a reservation to return for the next one on September 8th.  Thank you for a wonderful event, Naszreen!