Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Hour--Tea Mock cocktails

What better way to unwind after a long day's work than with a tea cocktail?  Tonight I'm sharing a fun, quick, and easy nonalcoholic tea cocktail.

I started with a bottle of grenadine, a can of Diet Sierra Mist and already brewed unsweetened tea that has been cooled.  There is plenty of sugar in the grenadine syrup.  I used an Orange Blossom Oolong that I bought from Uncle Sam's Niece this past weekend.  You could use any mild tea to your liking, though I would suggest an oolong, herbal, or white.  Maybe even a fruit flavored green tea.
Pour a little grenadine in the bottom of glass.  A little bit definitely goes a long way:

Top with cold brewed tea of your choice:
Fill the remainder of the class with lemon-lime soda:
And now you have a tea cocktail that tastes like cherries and tea.    I plopped a maraschino cherry in the bottom for fun.
I think these would be cute to serve as guests arrive and you are waiting for the stragglers.  Especially for  a bridal tea--although I think I would skip the lemon lime soda and use sparkling wine instead :).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New Fun Finds from Uncle Sam's Niece

Today I wanted to share the fun things I bought at Uncle Sam's Niece's open house.   While I was entranced by the tea, my mom had found all sorts of cool things--she is often much better than me at finding stuff.  In addition to 3 different tea blends for myself and one as a gift for my sister, I bought these little pretty crystal teacups:

They didn't have saucers, but I think they will make really cute dessert cups.  They were very reasonably priced!  Here is a close up of the shell pattern on the front:

My mom also found this picture of ladies having tea that I bought:

The last thing was a baggy full of these cute little tea themed foam cutouts for just 50 cents:

Won't these be neat on  placecards, or maybe as a part of some craft or a favor down the road?

These pictures were taken with my new camera that I had to go buy yesterday because my old camera stopped working and how else can I do blog entries??!!  There was a real moment of panic.  The batteries of my old camera would randomly pop out and it finally got to the point that I couldn't close the door that held the batteries in, so the camera wouldn't turn on.  The new one I got is supposed to be a better quality camera so here's hoping it takes better pictures!  I got it for a really great deal because it had been returned; I just hope it doesn't have any problems.  So far so good, though.  Unfortunately, I had a horrible shopping experience at Best Buy and the camera I ended up with was like number 7 of the ones I looked at.  It shouldn't be that difficult to spend money!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tea Shopping Day with Uncle Sam's Niece

Today I went to a fun open house hosted by Uncle Sam's Niece.  The proprietor, Kathy Hamilton, had a wonderful shop in Gainesville, VA.  Uncle Sam's Niece had a tea bar in the front as you walked in, with all sorts of different blends, and a couple of rooms in the back displaying antiques and gifts (especially tea related!) for sale. 

I loved the shop and was very sad when I visited this past December and learned they were closing at the end of the month.  Luckily, a couple of weeks ago I received an email that Kathy was having an open house this weekend at her home!   I jumped at the chance to see  her new teas and merchandise.

As I walked into Kathy's home, off to the side was this room:

The colorful basket to my right caught my attention.  Here's a closer look:

Sue Panky, Kathy's friend who I had met originally in the shop, made this adorable basket.  This is the perfect Easter gift for a tea lover!  Each egg has a different tea (one of those in the list under the bow) that was wrapped in a baggy and then placed the egg with a description of the tea. What a terrific idea!  It's a complete surprise what tea is in the egg until it is opened.  Wouldn't this make a cute favor idea for an Easter tea? 
The other front room also had assorted gifts on display and Kathy's own tea stuff.
These lollipops are teapot and teacup shaped, another cute favor idea:

On the opposite wall was another table full of additional goodies for any tea lover, including these clever spoons:
If you look closely, you can see that different sayings have been etched into the bowls of each of these silverplate teaspoons.  For example, the spoon on the bottom left says "bees prefer you use sugar in your tea," the middle spoon says "a good cup of tea warms the heart," and the one on the right says "tea is liquid happiness."
I loved this little crocheted teapot.  It almost made me want to try crocheting again, even though I never got beyond rather badly made scarves.
In the back of the home in the family room there was more merchandise but my attention was drawn to the kitchen table, which had some sale bags of tea and the little gift for a friend below:
   Isn't this little teabag holder cute!  You could slip it into a card and mail it to a friend.
But then I turned and my attention was caught by the same tea display that had been in the Uncle Sam's Niece shop.
(Picture borrowed from Uncle Sam's Niece)
I was so distracted, I didn't even manage to take a picture of it!  All 4 of the shelves were full to the brim with canisters full of different loose leaf tea blends.  Around the corner Kathy had a tasting bar set up with 5 different blends, including Pomegranate San Francisco (black tea with hints of vanilla and dashes of pomegranate); Crime of Passion (green tea of papaya and passion fruit); Monk’s Blend (black tea with a mixture of vanilla and grenadine); and a Rooibos tea with vanilla.  They were all delicious, but I actually didn't buy any of them...instead I bought 3 different blends for myself and 2 for my sister (which I'm sure will show up on the blog one day). 
In the kitchen across from the tea bar (once I managed to tear my eyes away) were scones for sale as well as these rosewater chocolates:
Another terrific idea for a tea favor! 
It was a wonderful day :).  More on my fun finds tomorrow. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chrsanthemum Tea Scented Mandarin Orange Parfaits

The last part of the Sunshine tea I will share with you is my recipe for the tea scented mandarin orange parfaits.

The night before the tea, I prepared the mandarin oranges. 

First, I made about two and a half cups worth of extra strong chrysanthemum tea, using about three teabags.  I think chrysanthemum tea tastes a lot like chamomile, if you would prefer to use chamomile tea---maybe even a lemon chamomile to match my color scheme :). 

I then drained two medium cans of mandarin oranges. 

After the tea steeped and was very strong, I put 2 tablespoons of honey in the tea and about one packet of sweetener (I used Splenda).

Pour mixture over the oranges and refrigerate overnight.

The morning of the tea, I drained the oranges of the tea mixture. 

Put enough oranges in the bottom of  glass you are using that they would be visible once yogurt is added. 

Cover with flavored lowfat or nonfat Greek yogurt until about 2/3 full.  I lucked out and found orange cream flavored Chobani Greek yogurt, though vanilla or honey would also work well.  I used about half of one of the normal 6 oz containers of yogurt for each glass.

Sprinkle chopped pecans on the yogurt. 

Cover pecans with oranges.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wild Orange Tea Review

At my sunshine tea I served Teavana's Wild Orange Wulong Oolong tea. 

 Teavana's website describes the tea as follows:  "Be transported to the wild orange groves off the coast of South America in a cup of this bright citrusy and exotic floral blend. Brimming with a symphony of melodic succulent flavors including juicy oranges, soft marigolds, hibiscus and rose petals, this deliciously sweet green oolong tea ends with a lovely lyrical floral note."

The tea definitely smells tea-riffic (sorry couldn't resist).  When I was in the store and the clerk opened the tin, it smelled wonderful--like dried oranges in a potpourri.  When steeped it is a lovely pinky/peach color.  I would recommend steeping the leaves a full 4-5 minutes to get the maximum flavor.  Once used, the tea is too weak to use the leaves again, so make the most of the first cup.


This tea is pretty good, it is not one of my favorites and I probably would not get it again, but then I am not always a fan of hibiscus teas.  You can definitely taste oranges, quickly followed by a floral aftertaste.  It is definitely one of the more unexpected combinations I have had!  I enjoy it with a little sweetener and a large drop of honey.

In this picture you can see the pretty border inside the Aynsley Chelsea gold teacup.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Sunshine Menu

I figured now was a good time to share the recipes from my sunshine tea since this is what it looks like outside right now:

Yes, snow again.  All day.  Sigh.  At least it didn't stick to the roads!
I'll start going through the menu with the classics--sausage balls with sharp cheddar cheese!

I just use the recipe here at Allrecipes and it has always worked well.  Sometimes I use two different types of sausage (for example, Sage and Mild, etc.).  The most important thing that the recipe doesn't tell you is that you really have to work it with your hands to get the ingredients to combine.  The only problem with serving these at a brunch tea is that they do taste best hot and will get hard fairly quickly.  I've found that they melt deliciously if you pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.

The vanilla bean scones I shared the recipe for last week here.

The mini bacon and cheese quiches are very easy.

Mini bacon & cheese quiches
15 ounce box refrigerated pie crust
Ready made crumbled bacon pieces
8 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Use a 4" round cookie cutter  to measure 12 circles on the pie crust (6 circles on each crust).
Press the circles into the muffin pan, and prick the dough on the bottom of the cups with a fork. a couple of times. 
Place crusts in oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven. 
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper and set aside. Add about 1 tablespoon of the bacon to each muffin cup.  
Carefully pour the egg mixture into the cups until almost full. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of each cup and bake pies for about 30 minutes or until the eggs are set and the crust is golden. Let pies cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes and serve warm.
I cook both the quiches and the sausage balls in the oven together at the same time, with the sausage balls on the lower level, a half an hour or so before the guests are due to arrive to make sure they are warm.
More about the parfait and tea tomorrow and Thursday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunshine tea

It's gonna be a bright, sunshiny tea day! 

 This morning's tea makes yesterday distant. ~Author Unknown
Today I'm sharing a breakfast tea inspired by the beautiful day we had on Saturday and my pretty newest set of china.  I invited my parents over for a small tea on Sunday morning, which turned out to be cold and overcast--so it was the perfect day for a cheery sunshine tea!

I set the table in my breakfast nook for three in oranges and yellows, including a golden yellow glass two tiered tray and yellow and orange stemmed dessert glasses.  The three piece set on this side of the table is one I've shown on the blog before by Elizabethan.  It has no name.

The set on this side is Queen's Fine Bone China, Rosina China Co. Ltd., and is from the Special Flowers collection, Daffodil, which I featured on the blog last week.  Which brings us to the middle set and the inspiration for the tea...

My new, first, and only set of Aynsley china!  This set is in the Chelsea gold pattern and the flowers are peachy/ orange azaleas.  I haven't seen many sets (or any others really) with azaleas and thought they were different and the gold border pretty.  I also thought the price was wonderful...just $11.40 for the three piece set!

I really liked the way these yellow and orange tulips in an orange Harney and Sons tin looked with the new china.

The last pieces of the tablescape are below all the china and are the yellow blossom placemats that I  bought a couple of years ago on sale, and have never really used until now and a brass pineapple trivet:

 Now on to the food!

 I served Teavana's Orange Oolong tea in my Gracie China lacy pot below:

In the little dish near the flowers are some of the  sausage balls on the menu.
In the bottom of the tiered tray are mini bacon and cheese quiches.   The top level has vanilla bean scones...served with a selection of lemon curd, clotted cream, or marmalade (to match the yellow and orange theme).

And for the breakfast "dessert" we have chrysanthemum tea scented mandarin orange parfaits with pecans:

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my sunshine tea!  Later this week I will share recipes from the tea and tell you more about the tea served.

I am sharing this tea on:

Tea Time Today @
Tuesday Cuppa Tea @

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thrift store fun

(Updated 3/25/14 with better pictures)

I went to a local thrift store yesterday that I hadn't been to since probably last summer.  It's way on the other side of town, but I happened to be driving by it yesterday after catching a matinee movie, so I decided to stop in.  I saw this plate:

I thought it might be depression glass, and with a $3 price tag, I thought it would be a good buy even if it turned out not to be.  After scoring a couple of other finds, I stopped by my parents house all excited that I might have found a depression glass plate of my own. mom held it for about 2 seconds and said it didn't feel like depression glass to her, it was too heavy and sharp.  :( 

My mom has a book on depression glass, and I looked through the book as my mom looked on the internet trying to figure out what the pattern was.  We finally found a plate that looked identical--the Federal Glass company's Madrid pattern in amber.  Here is a close up of the pattern:

I found it in the depression glass book, but also learned that the Federal Glass Company made replicas of this pattern in 1976, and these reproductions had a 76 worked into the design somewhere.  I immediately started searching the plate for the dreaded 76.  And...

I found it.

   My mother was right (as usual).  But it was a really fun looking into depression glass and trying to figure out what the pattern was.  Definitely a learning experience worth $3!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fun tea related finds

As I mentioned in a previous post here I have some of those plug in warmers that melt different scented wax cubes.  Well, I was in Walmart again a couple of weeks ago, and I found another Tea scented one!

Tea Thyme!  I thought it was a cute name.  When I got home I immediately tried it out in two of my warmers this time (because the chai scented one wasn't very strong last time).

I could definitely smell it this time!  The warmer mostly smelled like Thyme and I'm not sure if I smelled anything that reminded me of a tea (but if it is  really a "thyme tea" then I guess that is what thyme tea smells like!).

It reminded me of a very pretty scented soap.  It worked nicely as a warmer scent and was pretty strong (especially since I had two going at the same time).

I found another sort of tea find when I was perusing the internet yesterday.  I saw this pretty new figurine from Royal Doulton named Tallulah.

(picture from Royal Doulton website)

She is holding a pretty blue tea cup and saucer!  I love her hat with the flower too.  Unfortunately, she is a bit too expensive for my blood (check out the link under the picture), and is blond.  I'm brunet, so I tend to be a bit biased towards brunet figurines, but for her, I might make an exception.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring & scones!

...The thick froth...
Lustrous like freshly fallen snow,
And resplendent like the spring's blossom.
~Du YĆ¼, "Ode to Tea"

This week in Northern Virginia embodies that beautiful picture of tea as we transition from snow on Monday to me seeing tiny spring flowers in some of my neighbors' yards during a walk this evening.

Today I'm sharing a recipe for vanilla bean scones starring a new ingredient I bought to play with while my sister was visiting from college:

Vanilla Bean Paste is a substitute for vanilla bean that is way cheaper.  I bought this nice sized bottle for the same price of 3 vanilla beans in the same store.  You can even see the little black seeds throughout the scones:

I started with a Paula Deen recipe found here.  I made some changes, especially since the recipe called for a real vanilla bean, so  I'll copy it below.

Vanilla Bean Scones

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1  1/2 tbs vanilla bean paste
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream, divided

    Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and next 3 ingredients until combined.
    2. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter and cream cheese until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
    3. Combine beaten egg, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla bean paste.
    4.  Take heaping spoonfuls of the batter.  Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon heavy cream added to residue in the bowl used to combine wet ingredients.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.
    5. Bake for 12 minutes or until light brown. Let cool briefly on a wire rack.
    These scones were great by themselves or with jam, but I also think this would be a delicious base scone recipe with fruit added, or maybe even chocolate!

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Tea Review--Sunset on Winter

    Today is the last official day of winter...hopefully the weather gets the memo!  To celebrate, I'm having a cup of one of my favorite teas  Hot Cinnamon Sunset, by my favorite blender, Harney and Sons, as I watch the sun set on the last day of winter.

    This tea reminds me of Christmas and sitting by a blazing fire, so it definitely is an appropriate way to say goodbye as winter "sunsets." 

    Harney & Sons' website describes the tea as follows:  "China black is the base of this tea so the leaves are dark brown.  There are pieces of cinnamon bark and orange peel covered with cinnamon dust.  The liquor of this tea is a medium brown with orange hues."

    I don't know about the tea having orange hues, but you can definitely taste cinnamon and orange peel and cloves, another spice in the tea.  Cinnamon dust ends up in the tea itself which makes it even better.  The orange is another strong flavor and goes brilliantly with the cinnamon and clove, which also leads to memories of past Christmases' wassail.  The webpage says numerous times that the tea is not sweetened, which I think it stresses because the tea is sweet all by itself.  It is even sweet enough for me!

       Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the tea bag before I used it, but this way you can see the orange peel better (I totally did it on purpose!).  This is the sachet tea bag which is my favorite, because I think the quality of tea in these sachets is pretty close to loose leaf, but in a ready made bag, perfect for travel or work! 

    I recently discovered that my local Target sells some of the "classic" Harney and Sons teas in tins, so I've been enjoying trying the different teas and have plans for the multi-colored tea tins that I'm accumulating since I'm now completely obsessed with putting flowers in tea tins  (see :).

    The cup I'm drinking from today is Queen's Fine Bone China, Rosina China Co. Ltd., and is from the Special Flowers collection, Daffodil.  Daffodils are the March flower and are definitely a sign of Spring...I saw a few of mine in the front starting to pop up even day soon hopefully I'll have flowers!    

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Tea Finds--tiered tray

    So I really should stay out of Homegoods.  Really.  I told myself that I would not get any more two tiered trays but then I saw this:

    It's a glass tidbit tray made in Turkey.  I love the intricate design--it is very different from my other trays.

    I'm still osculating back an forth on whether to keep it, though.  It was only $14.99 and I had a gift certificate from my birthday.  The bottom plate is pretty large and can hold quite a few sandwiches (or whatever) and the top plate is also good sized.  The only problem is that although the design looks gold in this picture, sometimes it looks more green.  Decisions are very difficult :(.

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    It's March 17, happy St. Patrick's Day!  Join me in celebrating Irish heritage whether you are of Irish descent (I am!) or, if not, to just have a good time :). 

    It's snowing again today, so it's a perfect day for tea. I set my tea cart to share with you.

    In the front is my Belleek set.  It is not a matching set; the plate is in the classic basketweave pattern but the cup has the harp shaped handle with the matching saucer.   I like that the plate is slightly different.  I also really like the harp shaped handle--perfect for my Irish set!  Here is a closer look at the cup:

    Belleek is very light and delicate.  The inside of the cup is iridescent, similar to a shell. 

    This figurine is Irish Dresden.  Her name is Caroline (same as my full name).  I love her green and white ruffles with roses intermittently placed on the dress.  Irish Dresden is made of real cotton lace impregnated with porcelain clay, which is then used to dress the figurine.

    This vase with the green and white flowers is a new find from an antique mall, a little Belleek vase.  I loved the shape and the shamrocks in the front with Celtic looking symbols embossed on the side. 
    Below is a teapot I found at Homegoods last year.  Also in this picture is a little creamer that I found this year that matches.

    In some of the other pictures I've posted, you can see the little feet holding up the teapot and creamer.  I couldn't find a sugar bowl, but I think one of my grandmother's green glass bowls works perfectly to hold the sugar cubes.

    Now let me prepare the tea.  I saved a tea bag from the hotel I stayed at in Dublin last year.  I might have traveled the UK and Ireland picking up tea in each of the hotels I stayed at :). 

    Robert Roberts is an Irish tea company located in Dublin.  This is a strong black tea (very like an Irish breakfast blend).  I usually like mine with cream and sugar, but for today, how about an "Irish tea"? 

    Maybe some of the soda bread scones I shared the recipe for yesterday?

    I really enjoy posting on the various Tuesday tea parties and this week Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage suggested a tea party celebrating Spring with a Bird Lover's Tea or a green tea for St. Patrick's Day, or a combo of the two.  So I have a special guest for tea today:

    She's even wearing a  hat, all ready to join us for a Spring tea (even though it is snowing outside right now, but here's hoping!).  I think her peach plumage is a nice contract to all the different greens on the cart.

    And I'll leave you with a bit of an Irish song, because how can you talk about Ireland without music:  "So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all."

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