Thursday, January 31, 2013

Victorian Rose Tea Room, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada

Last Saturday, January 26th,  fellow blogger and tea friend, Angela, wrote a post at Tea With Friends, about a cookbook she ordered from Rose and Thistle Tea Room in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada.  When she mentioned the tea room's name was changed to Victorian Rose under new ownership, it sounded familiar.  I went to my tea photos and sure enough, my girlfriend, Sandy, and I visited the tea room on September 26, 2002.  I usually record what I order at a tea room along with a review, and I happily found the information from our visit.

It was a beautiful fall day for a ride.  The tea room is located at 64 Main Street, in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada, about 66 miles from where I live - a little over an hour's drive [providing there are no delays at the U.S./Canadian Ambassador Bridge].  The city is located near the shores of Lake Erie.

We had reservations for 11:00 a.m.

An artist's sketch of the tea room that was printed on a card I purchased.

We were seated on the porch area, with cheery white lace curtains, blue linen tablecloths, and wrought-iron patio type furniture.  Fresh flowers were on each table.

They served loose tea, but didn't decant the tea or provide strainers, so we got tea leaves in our cup and strong tea after the first cup.   The tea was kept hot with a knitted tea cozy.

Their scones were huge - big enough to share with another person, but since we didn't know that beforehand, we each ordered our own.  They were served with strawberry jam and real clotted cream.

I ordered their seafood quiche with a tossed salad.  It was very good. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the food.   I wrote that tea for two was $3.95, and the scones were $5.95, but I didn't record the price of my entree.   I must have been too busy chatting!

View of the enclosed porch area from our table.

I must not have seen the cookbook that Angela referred to, because  I would have bought one.  I wonder if the seafood quiche recipe is in the cookbook?  I'm happy to know the Victorian Rose tea room is still in business over ten years later.

We had 5:00 p.m. reservations at Debra's in Ridgetown, Ontario [about an hour and 40 minutes away], so we had time to stop at gift shops in quaint little towns along the way.  At one shop I purchased a copy of Sandra Kuck's 1998 painting called Innocence Shared, which currently hangs in my office.

Below is Debra's Dining and Tea Room.  It was a memorable experience, but not a good one! A lady gave us reservations over the phone, but when we arrived at 5:00 o'clock they weren't expecting us.  There were no customers in the dining room, and the tables had been set for a large dinner party later that evening.  The owner said they couldn't accommodate us. Needless to say, I wasn't a happy camper after driving 67 miles to get there, but Sandy and I had a great day together in spite of the unpleasant experience. 

I'd like to make a return visit to Canada soon to stop at Devonshire Mall in Windsor [just over the Canadian border] to shop at the Bombay store, and then travel on to Kingsville to visit Annabelle's Tea Room.  We'll see what the year brings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Surprise Gift

A dear friend and I met at Macy's Lakeshore Grill for lunch today.  She's from England, but  her husband's career brought them to the United States to live.  

Her mum, who I've had the pleasure of meeting when she's been here visiting, sent a gift for me from England.  I eagerly unwrapped the bubble packaging to find this lovely teapot, by Rington's [tea merchants], in the Blue Willow pattern.  What a thoughtful surprise!  

Close-up photo of the teapot which holds 12 ounces.

The tiny print on the backstamp says:  "Produced by Wade Ceramics.  Based upon an original "mailing" teapot produced for Rington's in the 1930's."  The teapot is dated 1996.

I wrote a post about Rington's on August 7th, 2012 showing the Rington's plate and tea chest that I have .

I'm so happy to add the lovely teapot to my Rington's collection.  The  company that offers home delivery, has been a family business since 1907.  One of their mottos is, "You're never far away from a Rington's van."   

Thanks, Elizabeth!  I love the teapot!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blueberry/Peach Pound Cake on Yellow and Blue Chintz

My family really likes blueberry/peach cobbler, so when I saw a photo and recipe for blueberry/peach pound cake at this website recently, I immediately printed it and bought the ingredients to make it.

I was also eager to set a tablescape using the yellow and blue/gray chintz dishes I received for Christmas.

What could be better than a slice of delicious pound cake, a cup of comforting peach/apricot tea, and cheery chintz dishes to remind me spring is on the way?   

*  *  *
Today I'm joining Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea
Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday

Monday, January 28, 2013

Marshalls/Home Goods Tea Purchases

A visit to Marshalls/Home Goods almost always means a tea-related purchase, even if it's just a small item. 

I couldn't pass up this tea tray for $6.99 

I don't typically purchase ready-to-drink teas, but there was a display of assorted Tao of Tea bottled teas for $1.99, so I purchased an Organic Osmanthus Green Oolong.  I liked the fact that no sugar or sweeteners were added.   

[Tao of Tea is located in Portland, Oregon.]   

Osmanthus tea is produced by combining dried, sweet osmanthus blossoms with black or green tea leaves in much the same way as jasmine blossoms are used to produce Jasmine tea. The small white blossoms appear in short, stalked clusters in late summer and autumn, and bear an intense, sweet fragrance.   Osmanthus is native to Asia, from the Himalays east through southern China, and to Taiwan and to southern Japan.  The green oolong tea is from Hunan, China.

My first sampling of the tea was at room temperature, straight from the bottle.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't lip-smacking good either, so I put it in the refrigerator to chill, while I headed to the Tao of Tea website, to see what they had to say about their tea.  I wasn't surprised to read, "Best served cold."

My taste buds may still be skewed from a recent cold, because I didn't pick up an apple or apricot taste [as the website suggested].  I tasted a more floral, sweet flavor, with the fruitiness  in the aroma, instead of the taste. 

It would be interesting to steep loose-leaf osmanthus oolong tea, and compare the hot tea to the bottled tea.   

Anyone else tried this tea?  If so, please share your tasting experience.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter-time Reading with Tea

When the temperatures are frigid outside, don't you love staying indoors with a good book and a cup of hot tea? 

One of my Christmas presents was a Barnes & Noble gift card.  I could spend hours [and lots of money] in that book store!  The [Unofficial] Downton Abbey Cookbook is one of the items I got with my gift card. 

There are twelve chapters, but I couldn't resist jumping ahead to chapter 8, Tea at Downton Abbey, when I saw it listed in the Table of Contents.  Hosting a Downton Abbey tea is definitely on my "to do" list!  Some of the recipes in the tea chapter are:  
Mrs. Isobel Crawley's Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
Mrs. Patmore's Madeira Pound Cake
O'Brien's Crumpets
Sybil's Ginger Nut Biscuits
Anna Bate's Chocolate Crumpets 

[Internet Photo of Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham]

The book contains both upstairs and downstairs recipes, and the author states while the elite upstairs residents may seem like miles - rather than feet - away from the downstairs inhabitants,  both share an appreciation for good food.  I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this cookbook! 

A special thanks to my friend, Angela, at Tea With Friends blog for writing a post about English Tea & Cakes.  I got it with my gift card too.  I think one could gain weight just looking at the scrumptious photographs!   

Lastly, I purchased the January/February 2013 issue of Victoria when I noticed the cover said, "An Invitation to Tea."  

Pages 77-81 are about "Winter's Warming Cup" which, of course, is tea.  The issue also features an article about tea caddies, titled The Allure of Antique Boxes.  

Right next door to Barnes & Noble is a Marshall's/Home Goods Superstore, so you know I couldn't leave without checking to see what merchandise they had pertaining to tea.   Come back on Monday and I'll show you!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

1st Blogging Anniversary and Giveaway

One year ago today I published my first blog post.   256 posts, 41,744 pageviews, and 50 followers later, I'm celebrating my 1st Blogging Anniversary.  How quickly the time has passed.  Heartfelt thanks to all my readers, followers, and those who've  left comments all year long. 

It's amazing how the Internet has made the world so small.  I enjoy viewing my stats from time to time, and my greatest audience [understandably] is the United States, followed by  France, then Canada and the United Kingdom [tied], and six other countries with smaller numbers of viewers.

I'm especially grateful for the time-honored tea leaf.  Without it, my blog would never have come into being.

To celebrate this milestone I'm sponsoring my third giveaway, which  is not restricted to US followers.  The only qualification is that you are a follower.  If you're not, you can be eligible to enter the drawing by becoming one.  Below are the giveaway items:

A gold colored metal and rhinestone teacup brooch, measuring 1 1/4 inch high by 1 1/2 inch wide. When I attended the 2004 "Weekend of Tea and Roses" in Sandestin, Florida [sponsored by Southern Lady Magazine], I purchased an identical brooch in their boutique. Imagine my surprise when I recently spotted the same brooch while browsing in my favorite antique store.  I purchased it immediately for this giveaway.   There are no markings, so I have no idea who made it, but it's very pretty.    

The second item is the book [never used] that I mentioned in a post last week.

A new lace decorative wall hanging with the phrase former first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Nancy Reagan made popular.

And lastly, two new Garden Party Tea Towels by Sandy Clough.

To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment by Thursday, January 31st.  I will announce the winner in my Friday, February 1st post.   You have one week to enter.  Good luck to everyone!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ice Festival and Hot Tea

The City of Plymouth, Michigan, about 38 miles west of where I live, hosts an Ice Festival every January.  This was its thirty-first year, held January 18-20th.

I didn't attend the actual festival, but I read about it in the Detroit Free Press newspaper, which stated the sculptures would remain in Kellogg Park [city square] as long as weather permitted.   There were over 100 sculptures.  Below is the Statue of Liberty sculpture.

[Photo courtesy of Plymouth Ice]

Since our temperatures have been frigid the past three days I asked my hubby if he'd like to  drive over to Plymouth to see the sculptures, and he agreed.  What I didn't consider was that last Saturday's temps rose to the mid-40's, which, of course, is ice melting weather.  And what didn't melt on Saturday, blew over with Sunday's high winds.  What remained by the time we arrived looked liked like a field of vandalized sculptures - and the vandal was Mother Nature!

All was not lost though, as the Sweet Afton Tea Room is also located downtown Plymouth.  The tea room was my second post when I first started blogging in January 2012.  Even though we were dressed for warmth - not dining - we headed over to the tea room.  It was only 11:00 a.m., so we were their first guests of the day [which was perfect for photographs]. Others arrived shortly thereafter.  While it's not distinct in the photo [unless you click on it to enlarge], the chandeliers are made with teacups.

Our server's name was MaryAnn, and she was delightful.   I ordered the Cream Tea and my tea of choice was Wild Cherry Amaretto.

The two scones that came with the offering [along with Lemon Curd and whipped Devonshire Cream] were Honey Pecan and Apple Cinnamon.  My favorite was the Honey Pecan.

Jerry ordered their Chicken Pot Pie with a Cheddar Muffin and Cinnamon Orange Spice tea. Their teas are by Ashbys of London.

Even though we missed seeing the ice sculptures, we enjoyed the tea room together.

The owners have opened another tea room in Adrian, Michigan, called Governor Croswell Tea Room [named after a former Michigan Governor].  Adrian is 69 miles from my house, but the tea room is on my list to visit in 2013 - and there's an antique mall not too far away!

On our drive back home I thought how fun it would be if a group of tea rooms in southeastern Michigan sponsored a giant teapot sculpture some year.  Wouldn't that be fun to see?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nesting and watching "Gone With the Wind"

It's cold [20 degrees] in Michigan today - a good day for 'nesting' with a movie and lots of hot tea.  Gone With the Wind's 3 hours 52 minutes run time, is the perfect choice.

The movie, based on Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel, premiered in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, and it's still enjoyed by movie watchers today.   I love the quote written on the sundial at Twelve Oaks Plantation:  "Do not squander time.  That is the stuff life is made of."

When I attended Magnolia & Ivy in March 2002, the conference opened with a Gone With the Wind tea.  [That's me sitting at the head of the table].  Off to the left you can see the life-size cardboard standup figures of Rhett Butler [Clark Gable] and Scarlett O'Hara [Vivien Leigh].  The movie makes a great theme for a tea party.

The two hot teas served were Peaches & Cream and Magnolia Blossom.  The tea began with a cup of Tomato Dill Bisque and a miniature quiche.  The three tiered server had two kinds of scones and fresh fruit on the bottom plate.  The middle plate was sandwiches and roll-ups. Regrettably I only wrote down two - Scarlett's Radish Tea Sandwich [open face], and Country Ham on Sweet Potato Biscuits.  One of the desserts was Bourbon Balls but I didn't record the rest.  

If I were going to host a Gone With the Wind tea party, I'd want one savory to be barbecue, since early on in the movie there's a barbeque at Twelve Oaks.  What would you include in your tea party menu? 

A few years later, a tea room where I worked did a Gone With the Wind theme tea for St. Patrick's Day since Scarlett was Irish.

L-R: Cheryl [owner]; and Carrie, special guest who impersonated Scarlett [and the handsome Rhett Butler in the middle].

Scone Course

The scones were followed by Chicken and Dumpling soup.  Three savories pictured below were:  An open-faced tomato/bacon sandwich [upper left]; a "Potato Poundie" - baked round of mashed potatoes with cheese, topped with a dollop of sour cream, garnished with parsley and pimento [upper right]; a mini open-faced Reuben sandwich on scalloped rye bread topped with a dollop of coleslaw [bottom right]; and a custard tart [bottom left], surrounded a pasta salad.

Dessert was a Lemon Tart with a Shamrock [Oxalis] garnish.

I purchased the tea scene photo of Scarlett.

Gone With the Wind "tea trivia":  In the scene when Rhett hands Mammy a glass of whisky, you can see her sniff it before drinking.  When it was originally filmed, tea was supposed to have been in the glass, but Clark Gable [Rhett] substituted real whisky as a joke.  The actress playing Mammy downed the glass not realizing what was in it.  The scene had to be redone with tea, and the actress didn't trust Gable after the first incident.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jasmine Tea Syrup and Jasmine Sorbet

I sipped my first cup of Jasmine tea at the 2002 American Tea Society Conference in Denver, Colorado.  It was one of two offerings served at the Afternoon Tea the conference provided. While I wouldn't refer to it as my "go to" tea, I do enjoy it occasionally when the jasmine is subtle and not overpowering.

I have two jasmine tea recipes that are quite good, that I'd like to share today.  I became familiar with them thanks to a lady who recommended them on a tea-themed E-group that I belong to - Afternoon Tea Across America [ATAA].

The first recipe is for Green Fruits in Jasmine Tea Syrup.  It's found in Tea Cuisine by Joanna Pruess with John Harney, and was created by Jane Pettigrew, the well-known tea specialist, author, consultant, and historian from London, England.   The recipe is worth the price of the book!  New and used copies are available at

The syrup is made from Jasmine tea, fresh lime juice and sugar.  The floral/citrus flavor infuses the fruits when refrigerated for a few hours, and is refreshing and delicious.  

Because of its green color, I have served it at more than one St. Patrick's Tea party, but it's good anytime!

The second recipe is Jasmine Tea Sorbet.   It makes a great palate cleanser between food courses or at the conclusion of a meal.   It too is very refreshing, and makes up quick and easy in my Cuisinart Sorbet maker [I just have to remember to freeze the bowl a head of time].  The recipe can be found at [search Green Tea Sorbet].

Jasmine tea is honored as the most fragrant and popular scented tea in China - if not the world, and has been produced for hundreds of years.

The tea absorbs its aroma and sweet, natural flavors from Jasmine petals.  Typically, Jasmine tea is made with green tea, but white, oolong and black teas are also used.  

The Jasmine plant is grown at high elevations in the mountains, and the Chinese province of Fujian is said to produce some of the best Jasmine tea.

The preparation is very fascinating and time consuming.  Tea leaves are harvested in the early spring and stored until late summer when fresh Jasmine flowers are in bloom.  The flowers are picked in the late afternoon when the petals are tightly closed.  They are kept cool until evening when they they are layered with the tea and stored for several hours as the flowers open and release their fragrance into the tea.   The process can be repeated as many as seven times using different Jasmine blossoms each time.

The best Jasmine tea is made using real Jasmine petals combined with quality loose leaf teas.   The tea pairs well with chicken and curry dishes.

Jasmine tea is available at Chinese markets and restaurants.  My favorite Chinese restaurant serves Jasmine oolong tea.   

The next Jasmine recipe I want to try is Ginger and Jasmine Tea Poached Pears - courtesy of Whole Foods website. Doesn't that sound good?