Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tea Time with Jane Austen

 Tea with Jane Austen

"You must drink tea with us tonight."
from Sense & Sensibility

If I could take afternoon tea with anyone from the past or present,
it would have to be Jane Austen.

Jane was a tea drinker.  Tea was an important part of Jane's daily life in the Regency era.  Did you know that Jane was even the keeper of the keys to the tea cabinet in her Chawton home?  Her mother and sister Cassandra were key keepers,too.  Back in Jane's day, tea was precious and stored in a locked tea caddy or cabinet.

If I could invite Jane to tea, I would open my tea cabinet and introduce her to Earl Grey.  Earl Grey is one of my favorite teas and it was not a tea blend until well after Jane Austen's (1775-1817) life.  I think Jane would like Earl Grey tea or better yet...Lady Grey!

 Jane Austen at Home

Now this is a shop that Jane herself would love...not just because of it's name but because of it's merchandise.  Just look at its wonderful display of blue and white china under lock and key in a creative exterior display.

On a recent trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea I discovered a tiny and quaint antique shop called Jane Austen at Home.  It's a charming shop filled with lots of tea cups and china.  I had a lovely chat with the owner of the shop.  She lived in London for many years and has a great sense of British style which shows throughout her tiny shop.

 Tea Time China

Jane Austen at Home is filled to the brim with china and other fine English antiques.  On my trip there I noticed some lovely lusterware, Emma Bridgewater, Cath Kidston and antique British pottery.  It's hard to find Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston china on this side of the Pond so, of course, I had to treat myself to a tea cup purchase.  I'm sure Jane Austen would approve. 

Taking Tea with Jane

Wouldn't it be lovely to go on a Jane Austen tea tour in England? 

Well, last week I was at Crown & Crumpet in San Francisco and got the inside scoop from owner Amy Dean about Crown & Crumpet's Springtime Tea and Toast Tour next May in England.   Amy was like a tea kettle boiling over with all her enthusiasm about the tour. 

According to Amy the tea tour will have a real Jane Austen feel to it. Amy is putting the finishing touches on the tour and potential Jane Austen stops are Hampshire and  Bath where Jane Austen lived.  Amongst many other fabulous tea events, Amy has a very special Pret-a-Portea tea for fashionistas at London's Berkeley Hotel planned and the Chelsea Flower Show wraps up the tour.

Amy lived and worked in England and met her British husband Christopher there.  She certainly has fabulous British connections (Amy even worked for Emma Bridgewater and is friends with Cath Kidston).   I'm sure her tea tour will be as delightful as her tea room. 

Now I just have to find a way to go on the tour and then I can really have tea with Jane Austen.

***For information about the Crown & Crumpet Tea Tour visit their website and sign up on their mailing list.

(In the photos:  Antique Spode Queen's Bird tea cup and vintage British 1940's Jane Austen book collection by The Novel Library.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tea Cup Bangles

 Tea Cup Bangle

What will you be wearing to your next tea party?

How about a Tea Cup Bangle?

China Cabinet Bracelets

Leave it to Anthropolgie to discover this clever tea cup idea! 

I was in the city yesterday for afternoon tea at my favorite San Francisco tea room Crown & Crumpet.  After tea my friends and I headed over to Union Square for some holiday shopping. 

I always love "popping" in Athropologie stores.  They are always filled with fabulous inspiration.  I was excited to see their China Cabinet Bracelets in person since they had caught my eye online

I love this clever tea cup design but after trying one on, I passed on purchasing it.  The bangle seemed a bit heavy to wear.  I think I would also be afraid of chipping it, too.  Hmmm...it could be cute just to wear to special tea parties though.

If you want a Tea Cup Bangle...you better hurry down to your nearest Anthro store because they are already sold out online.

I'll probably regret that I didn't buy one!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010



Sencha is the most popular green tea in Japan. 

When I'm in the mood for green tea, I generally reach for my Sencha tea.

Maeda-en Sencha Green Tea

I first started buying Sencha tea in Paris at a fancy tea purveyor.  A few years later while visiting Oto's, a Sacramento Japanese grocery store, I decided to buy green tea there.  Overwhelmed with all their green tea choices in the market, I selected the package of Sencha tea from Maeda-en.  I've been buying their Sencha tea ever since. 

Maeda-en's Sencha makes a splendid cup.  In the winter I drink it hot.  In the summer I drink it iced.

Japanese Green Teas

My friends often wonder how I know so much about tea.  I'm certainly not a tea expert but a tea drinker who is always ready to try different teas.  Trying different teas from all over the world is a wonderful way to learn about tea and develop a tea palette.

There is a lot more for me to explore and learn in the world of Japanese teas.  I'm ready for the tea journey!

(In the photos:  Vintage 1982 House of Katayama,  Tea Pot from Japan.) 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tea Leaves

Tea Leaf Cookies

Blend fine black tea with oil of bergamot and you have one of my favorite tea blends...Earl Grey.  I've never met a "cuppa" Earl Grey that I didn't like.

Earl Grey is an old tea blend that has been around since the 1830's.  There's a new twist on Earl Grey today...it's popping up in chocolates, macarons, cakes and cookies. 

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

Recently I was tea shopping at The Pasta Shop in Berkeley and I spotted these cute little Earl Grey tea leaf shape cookies.  These gourmet short bread cookies are made by Tea Aura.  They actually have Earl Grey tea leaves and bergamot oil in them. 

To be honest, the tea leaf cookies disappointed me.  The cookies lacked that distinctive Earl Grey flavor and seemed a bit chalky to me. 

My remedy is to try my hand at making my own Earl Grey Tea Cookies. 

Here's a link for a recipe I found from Real Simple Magazine for Earl Grey Tea Cookies and another for Martha Stewart's Earl Grey Tea Cookies.  I think I'll try Martha's recipe first since you add orange zest for more bergamot citrus flavor!

I hope to make a batch soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tea Parfume

Miller Harris Tea

British perfumer Lyn Harris, founder of Miller Harris, has a nose for fragrance and a nose for fragrant tea.  

Lyn grew up in Northern England with a love of tea and tea rooms.  It's no wonder she has turned her extraordinary nose to her own collection of teas.  She has created her teas with the same depth and bouquet as her fine fragrances. 

Recently I treated myself to a beautiful caddy of Miller Harris tea.  Since I've always wanted to try Violette tea, I selected her The' Violette.  I am pleased to report that the violet flavor is quite subtle,  not overpowering or too perfumey!  It's a lovely blend.

The' Violette

The Miller Harris tea caddy says it best:

"Drinking rare and beautiful teas has always been an essential luxury for perfumer Lyn Harris.  Inspired by the delicate art of balancing flavour and aroma, Lyn has combined the world's finest teas with pure, natural extracts to create a collection of blends with top, heart and base notes."

"Thé  Violette is a delicate fusion of fruits and flowers. The sweet muscatel notes of second flush Darjeeling from the Jungpana Estate combine with accents of violet, blackcurrant bud and green mulberry leaf."

Since I couldn't hop on a jet to London to pick up my tea, I was happy to find it available here in the States at Dean and Deluca

It's a lovely tea drinkable anytime of the day.  I am enjoying it in the afternoon.  Miller Harris says it's best drunk without milk and sugar.  

The next time I'm in London, I hope to visit the Miller Harris Mayfair store for a spot of tea in the
Miller Harris Fragrant Tea Room!

(In the photos:  Wedgwood Edme Teapot, B & B Plate, Tea Cup & Saucer. Miller Harris The' Violette and  Laduree Violette Macarons.)