Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Amethyst Teatime

This week I'm sharing the next tea party in my gemstones of the month series--February's amethyst!

Of course what else would share the table with lovely amethysts then my violet dishes?

A violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the eye!-
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
~William Wordsworth

And to add a touch more elegance, I've placed Lady Caroline at the Opera by Coalport on the table.

Grand rooms and sparkling chandeliers
glimpsed in flickering candlelight
Gold and glitter thin veneers,
over silks of malachite,
amethyst, lapis lazuli, and jade
bright notes amidst their promenade.
~Caroline at the Opera, Carrie
I can just see the ladies at the turn of the century in their finery in the gorgeous Opera in Paris.

I had to work a bit over the weekend, but I had plans to go visit my aunt and uncle in Winchester.  Luckily for my mental state, they were nice enough to come out and see me, which saved me the driving time (and they brought me lunch/dinner for later!).  I still had the table set for my "amethyst" tea, so I just added one more place setting (one of the ones I just got from my sister),

baked some scones and set out some leftover chocolates from Valentine's Day and a couple shortbread cookies from a tin,

and instant tea luncheon!  I served two scones:  lavender and peaches and cream.  They were some of my freezer stock--I like to keep a few scone logs in my freezer so I have them for impromptu get-togethers.

 Aunt Becky also brought out two new teas for us to try that she bought at Everything Tea in Bedford, PA.  She said she had opened her cabinet and they fell out and she realized she hadn't tried them yet!  Very lucky for me ;).  This tea is Raspberry Truffle, and was a lovely red tinted color.

The tea was predominately raspberry with just a hint of chocolate flavor.  Delicious!  She ended up giving it to me so I'll be able to enjoy even more cups!
Thanks for joining me!  I'm linking too:

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Valentine's Tea

For my birthday, my parents took me to Sweet City Desserts in Vienna, Virginia, for a special Valentine's Day tea.

Sweet City Desserts is first a bakery and a window display shows some of their lovely cakes.

This was my first time visiting Sweet City Desserts, and I wasn't sure what the seating would look like inside, but there were three café areas set up for tea with a mixture of different seating options, including couches.

(we sat in this first room at the couches along the back wall, so we had a great view of the artwork by Pilipino-American artists that filled the walls)

Each table had different place settings--here is a glimpse of ours.

Tea began with scones and homemade clotted cream.

 We had a choice of different Mighty Leaf teas, with Earl Grey as the recommended choice for the Valentine's tea menu, which sounded good to me.

We each had two scones, which were delicious, and then the very full tiered tray arrived.

Starting with the savories: cucumber dill, roast beef with cheddar and mustard on a croissant, curried chicken with apples on raisin bread (my favorite), and ham with a pineapple cream cheese spread on a potato roll.

I've always thought that the mark of an extra special tea is variety in how the tea sandwiches are served and this definitely hit the mark.  You can also see in the picture above the chocolate heart favor next to my teacup.

After the savories it was of course time for dessert, and, since we were at a bakery, I knew it would be extra special.

We were not disappointed as there were opera cakes (a bit like tiramisu with a coffee syrup), cinnamon shortbread cookies, and raspberry macarons with chocolate ganache.  In the picture below you can see the last dessert--a chocolate covered strawberry garnished with chocolate shavings.  In other words, lots of chocolate!

Even though we were definitely very full at this point, we had seen a British flag at a shop just up the little alley, so we went up to check it out.  When we walked inside, we found that it sold pasties!  We figured this was the perfect ending of our British inspired day, so we left with a couple of sausage rolls and meat pies.  Let's just say I set my diet aside this past weekend.  It was my birthday after all!

I also wanted to share a couple of my birthday gifts.  My parents gave me a teapot I'll share for another time, but my sister gave me these TWO Royal Albert tea trios. 

She definitely knows me well picking these lovely two sets out.


Royal Albert's Ivy Lea.  I think ivy is so pretty, and this set has a bowl cup with pretty interior designs.

The other set is Royal Albert's Inspiration.

This different colors of blue and green roses in this pattern are so pretty!

Thanks so much for visiting!  I'm joining these link parties:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day (and a teacup winner)

Happy Valentine's Day! 

I had a lovely day with various period films (including Sense and Sensibility...sigh, Colonel Brandon) and lots of chocolate!
Here is the table of goodies my father put together for his girls (my sister, mother and I).  I had to snap a picture it was so cute.

Definitely a wonderful birthday weekend!
And, before I sign off for the night, the winner of this teacup is...
Joy!  I'll be in touch :).

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Prosperity fish

My sister brought a dessert I just had to share  after I saw it during a visit to my parents.

This is a prosperity fish dessert sold at a local bakery, Cakes by Happy Eatery.  The original owners of the bakery immigrated from China and their daughters own the bakery today.  They sell special desserts during some of the Chinese festivals, including this fish for New Year's! 

It is so cute I almost felt bad about cutting into it, but...

somehow I overcame the reluctance so I could enjoy a bite!  Although the fish does look forlorn.  It has a sweet fruity filling that was slightly gel-like in consistency.  I'm not sure what type of fruit it was, but it was very good.

Here's to a prosperous new year!  Oh and don't forget my teacup giveaway here!  I'll be drawing a name tomorrow evening. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Teacup giveaway 2016

My blogiversary was a couple of weeks ago on January 26--2 years!  I have a hard time believing it has been so long (and I know I'm nothing compared to many of the tea bloggers out there).  To celebrate that and Valentine's Day (and my birthday, which is also this week), I am doing a teacup giveaway.

I found this teacup and thought it would be perfect for this giveaway with its pretty blue hydrangeas.  There is some debate on what the "official" meaning of the hydrangea flower is, but, since it is one of my favorite flowers (bushes?), I like that it can mean heartfelt emotions, including gratitude.  So this is the perfect teacup to thank all my readers that keep coming back!

The teacup has a smaller hydrangea on the back and comes with this small goldware teaspoon. 

This set is by Truly Tasteful fine china, and is made in China.

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you if you win by February 13.  I will draw a name and post it on Valentine's Day.  Good luck!  (Oh, and please only continental U.S. and Canadian residents, sorry!).

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year!

Welcome to the year of the monkey! 

These decorations (and the others below) are in a local mall celebrating the Lunar New Year in style!  There were huge handing lanterns,


and some lion dogs.

A local community center arranged for all sorts of performances from 12 different countries.

Just in the hour or so (okay maybe an hour and a half) I was there, we saw belly dances, a martial arts demonstration,

and some lovely cultural dances and costumes from all age groups:

This picture shows the crowd on two different levels gathered to watch.

Just around the corner from the performances was one of my favorite stores in the mall:  Teavana!

(Free tea favorite!)

(assorted cast iron teapots)

They were serving Monkey picked oolong, which I just so happened to already have due to my wonderful neighbor--who gave me some as a gift last year.  I instantly knew I had to set out a Chinese New Year themed tea.

I have a few pieces of Asian themed décor in my home, including this chest I use as a buffet in my kitchen nook, which I thought would be perfect for this tea.

Here is a better look at the painted front of the chest.

And here is the tea!

I set out my Spode Shima three piece set

and my Elizabethan yellow and green pagoda set.

Below is the star of these pictures (of course, especially since he has obviously been migrating around the table), a ceramic Chinese dragon.  My mother took ceramics classes while I was growing up and did such a wonderful job since he is gorgeous!  She used a painting technique to make his scales stand out.  I love all the striking gold accents.    

She let me borrow him for the shoot...and now he is on my hall console in the entryway :).  Maybe she won't notice for awhile that he is hanging out with me.

Since this is a New Year's celebration there has to be sweets, so I baked some Chinese almond cookies, which were delicious with tea in my Sadler Asian designed teapot.

Now we've come full circle back to the tea--Teavana's Monkey Picked Oolong.

Teavana describes the tea as follows on its website:  "As legend has it, ancient Buddhist Monks trained monkeys to gather the youngest leaves from the tip-top of wild tea trees for this special Imperial Reserve blend. The legend lives on, now with the deft hand-plucking of the broken, evenly sized leaves that unfurl to create a light, orchid aroma, and the highest grade of oolong in the world."

I figure this tea has to be lucky for the year of the monkey!  The dried leaves are whole and just unroll after steeping.

The steeped tea is a lovely light golden color and tastes vaguely vegetable and maybe even slightly floral, a very good tea with no extra flavors.  I had extra that I put in the fridge last night and enjoyed with dinner today so I can definitely say it was good iced too (or maybe that is not a good thing to share as this is a better quality oolong...but it was true!).


Hóunián jíxiáng
Good luck for this Monkey year!*
*from this website, I do not know Mandarin, so I apologize if this saying/translation is wrong
I'm celebrating at the parties below: