Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All The Tea in China

The Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is once again in ship-shape! 

Queen Elizabeth II officially re-opened the historic Cutty Sark today,
five years after the 19th century British tea clipper was ravaged by fire
during it's restoration project. 

Whenever we travel to England,
I'm always wanting to learn more about tea.
 So on our 2004 vacation,  we took a day trip to Greenwich in south London
 to see the last surviving British tea clipper ship, the Cutty Sark
and hit a few antique markets, too.

On the momentous occasion of her reopening  
I thought it would be neat to share my photos
and a few of my memories of
our visit to the Cutty Sark.

 All the Tea in China

The Cutty Sark was a working cargo ship from 1869 until 1922.
She was a great tea clipper ship during, what is called,
The China Tea Years from 1870 to 1878.

In 1870 she made her first voyage from London to Shanghai
(an 8 month round trip)
and returned with 1450 tons of tea on board!
She made a total of eight journeys on the high seas to China
as part of the tea trade 
until clipper ships were replaced by steam ships. 

Chinese Black Tea  

From my travel journal entry on May 9, 2004:

"Next stop in Greenwich is aboard The Cutty Sark.
  Built in 1869, she is the last of the great tea clipper ships. 
She  traveled to China to bring both black and green tea to England.  
Once the tea made the journey from China to England
 it was already 18 to 24 months old."

"There is an effort now to save the Cutty Sark due it's demise 
mostly from the London rain.
We enjoyed touring the ship and were most amazed at how small the merchant sailors 
bed and bunks were."

The Cutty Sark in 2004

What a wonderful day in the Cutty Sark's glorious history 
to be returned to all her former glory!

 She  re-opens to the public tomorrow and even has a cafe on board now.
If we ever travel back to Greenwich, 
I would like to visit her again
and have a tea break in the new cafe.

And leave it to Twinings...
they have a Chinese black and a green gunpowder
commemorative tea blend named  Cutty Sark 
to celebrate the re-launch of the Cutty Sark.  ...
the last of the great tea clipper ships!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Good Earth


Today is Earth Day.

I believe we should all do our best to live "green" 
and be kind to the good Earth!

As a crafter, I'm always thinking of how to be creative and up-cycle.  
Recently, I ran across some Emma Bridgewater catalogs that I had saved. 
 They are filled with such beautiful photographs on nice quality paper 
that I just can't seem to throw them away.


So now, I'm recycling Emma's catalog pages and turning them into cards,
 tags and decorations for my tea and recipe albums.

Emma's darling mug photographs with "mum" hand-painted on them,
recently inspired me to make my mother 
her birthday and Mother's Day cards this year. 

We're not British but quite proud of our family ancestry in England 
so my mom loved her "Best Mum" birthday card!

Up-cycled with Love

I even decorated the card envelopes and back of the cards 
with cut-outs (from the catalog)
and rubber-stamped hearts.

And, of course, moms save everything you make them 
so these cards will stay out of the landfill for a long time!


Being a tea lover and concerned about the land fill, 
I just can't seem to throw out pretty tea caddies either.
I'm always thinking of ways to re-use them like holding
pens & pencils and even straight knitting needles.

Another clever idea...
is to reuse your tea caddies as flower vases
at your tea and garden parties!

Good Earth Tea

And since it's Earth Day,
I'm drinking Good Earth tea.

Growing up a California "Bay Area" girl,
I loved the Good Earth's
"sweet and spicy" iced tea 
served at Good Earth restaurants back in the late 1970's.
Thankfully today, I can buy the tea at my local grocery store.  

So lets all be good to the earth everyday 
and think of creative ways we can all 
live "green" by following the Three R's:
reduce, reuse and recycle. 

we can make a difference!

(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Hearts Tea Cup & Saucer and
French Glass Tea Mug.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth!

Her Royal Majesty

Great Britain's Royal Navy fired a 21-gun salute today marking
Queen Elizabeth's II 86th birthday today.

So my afternoon tea break today has a "royal-tea" theme
honoring the Queen's birthday!
I've been saving my
Highgrove Afternoon Tea 
that I purchased at The Prince of Wale's, Highgrove Shop
 last year in Tetbury in the Cotswolds
for a special occasion.
Today is that special occasion.

I'm sure Her Royal Highness would approve of
my afternoon tea blend choice...
it is after all blended, packed and imported
by R. Twining and Co. for Highgrove.
Twinings holds a Royal Warrant for tea
and I believe is the Queen's favorite tea purveyor.
I wonder which Twining blend she had for
her birthday "cuppa" today?

Happy Birthday your
Royal Majesty!

(In the photos:  Emma Bridgewater Union Jack Pottery
Spode Blue Italian & Blue Room and 
vintage Midwinter Queen Elizabeth II Coronation mug.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cherry Blossom Tea

 Sakura Tea Party

It's Cherry Blossom Festival time!

This year 2012, 
is a special year for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,
as it marks the 100-year anniversary 
of Japan's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to
Washington D.C..

Here in California, 
this weekend and next weekend is the 
in San Francisco, CA.
Our festival is said to be the second largest festival
outside of Washington D.C. to celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms,
a traditional custom in Japan known


To celebrate Hanami,
I'm having a Sakura  (cherry blossom) Tea Party 
with Fleur de Geisha tea, that I purchased last year in Paris, 
along with Sakuramochi treats.

Sakuramochi is a sweet pink mochi (rice cake)
filled with a red bean paste center,
covered with a pickled sakura (cherry) leaf.  
In Japan,
they are a variety of wagashi,
which is traditional Japanese confectionery
which is often served with tea.

I did a bit of research and found out that
Sakuramochi is traditionally served on 
Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day in Japan) 
on March 3rd. 

 Fleur de Geisha

Fleur de Geisha
is one of my favorite green teas to drink in the spring.
It's a blend of Japanese green tea, 
delicately flavored with cherry blossom.  
This lovley blend by Les Palais Des The`s was
inspired by the Japanese Hanami tradition 
of cherry blossom viewing. 

I've purchased this tea
before in Paris
and couldn't wait to buy it again.  
Last year in Paris,
I purchased the boxed Fleur de Geisha tea,
 that comes in a pretty keepsake caddy.
I love that the tin caddy is covered with Washi paper,
decorated with the Sakura motif
traditionally found on the geishas kimonos.

 Le Palais Des The's

I love to shop at Le Palais Des The's 
 in the Le Marais at 
64 rue Vieille du Temple
Paris, France  75003

(In the photos:  Japanese blossom plate by Mino and vintage Spode Chelsea Wicker tea cup.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Greetings

Happy Easter

Mischievous little Peter Rabbit 
squeezed under the garden gate
 and came to 
Easter Brunch.

He wasn't going to miss out on

Wishing you a 
Happy Easter!

(In the photo:  Vintage Beatrix Potter's Beswick Peter Rabbit
and Royal Winton Chintz china.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hot Cross Scones

 Good Friday Treats

I've always wanted to make 

In England, hot cross buns are sweet little buns
 with a cross cut into their tops.
They are traditionally served on Good Friday.

I found a recipe instead for Hot Cross Scones 
in one of my baking books called 

Hot Cross Scones

To make your own Hot Cross Scones,
just use your favorite basic scone recipe and add:

1/2 cup Zante currants
2 T finely chopped candied peel
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and
roll out to 1" thickness. 
Use a 2.75" round cutter to stamp out your scones.
Arrange scones on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat liner.
Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 425 for approx. 10 to 15 minutes until well risen 
and golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Once they are cooled, 
decorate scones with an icing cross,
made of confectioner's sugar and milk.

More lemon curd, please!

Hot Cross Scones are perfect 
paired with lemon curd 
and a nice "cuppa" of  Earl Grey!

(In the photos:  Royal Winton Chintz patterns
and vintage silver tier stand that I purchased in England.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Let's Make Candied Peel

 Candied Peel

When your grocer doesn't have candied peel
what do you do...
make your own!  

  I went to the market yesterday with a grocery list for Easter baking.  
On my list was candied peel.

Naturally most grocers (at least in the States) only carry candied peel 
and candied fruits during the holiday season for fruitcakes, etc.
Instead of driving 30 miles to a specialty grocer,
I decided to make my own.

I researched British, American and French recipes 
and they all virtually use the same method.  
Here's a quick method of how I made my Candied Peel:

Candied Peel

 1)  Wash the citrus fruit.  
Use a sharp vegetable peeler and peel the fruit in long peels 
leaving the white pith on the fruit. 

 2)  Julienne in to strips or leave as whole peels.

 3)  Cook peels until tender in a boiling pot of water. 
This takes about 10 minutes. 

 4)  Transfer peels with a slotted spoon to a wire rack 
to dry for about 15 minutes.

 5)  Bring to boil equal parts water and sugar 
and boil over high heat to dissolve sugar. 
Add peels and simmer until peels turns translucent and 
the syrup thickens.  This takes about 10 minutes. 

6)  Transfer peels with a slotted spoon to a wire rack 
placed on a baking sheet.  Separate the pieces as needed. 
Let peel dry for 1 hour and dust in sugar to coat. 

I made a small batch of candied peel using just one orange and one lemon.  
I used Martha Stewart's recipe for Candied Citrus Peels 
as my recipe guide. 

Now tomorrow, 
 I'm ready to bake some Easter treats!