Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hand painted Royal Albert with Snow Leopard Tea

Welcome to Teacup Tales!

As the season of Autumn begins and the weather cools (hopefully here), I'm drawn to the hues of orange and brown and the scents of cinnamon and pumpkin spices. I've been leafing through my magazines and cookbooks looking for new recipes. Probably my go to fall favorite is pumpkin bread which I will feature later this month.
In two weeks my town will hold an Antique Fair downtown with one hundred booths selling vintage items. Last year I bought a beautiful citrine sterling silver ring at the fair. Hopefully there will be much more tea ware this year. There are very few antique and thrift stores in my area so I look to ebay and etsy for my shopping needs/wants.

Today's featured teacup is one I found on ebay.

"Autumn stars shine through gaps in the walls...He ...brews midnight tea by the stove's ruddy light."
~From a Taoist song, quoted in The Chinese Art of Tea by John Eaton Bloefeld

This is the oldest Royal Albert in my collection.
I was drawn to the cup's unusual shape.

 Royal Albert is very teacup collector friendly. Most of their teacups feature the name of the pattern on the cup's bottom. With this teacup being older on the older side, the pattern name is missing.  I went to a Royal Albert patterns website to look for information about this particular teacup.

It is a slooow site, but I learned this pattern is titled 
The pattern is described as Hollyhocks or Foxglove. You can see the other teacups in this pattern.

Backstamp indicates the cup was produced from 1935-1945.

I really appreciate the artistry in this teacup. I have very few hand painted teacups.

"Tea is a divine herb."
~Xu Guangqi

Our fine teacups deserve a fine tea!
My coffee friends enjoy going to Peet's Coffee and since I'm not a coffee drinker, I've had to find a tea that I would enjoy there. 
Snow Leopard is a wonderful white tea whose flavor bridges the seasons from summer to autumn.

Snow Leopard is a Bai Mu Dan white tea which is described as having smooth flavors of hints of herbs, fresh grass and flowers and white grape sweetness.

Its liquid color is pale yellow and has almost an oolong taste.
This is the second loose tea I purchased from Peets and I've been pleased with both.
Come by next week and find out who gave me my cute new purple feathered friend!

Happy Tea Time,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Moon Festival Evening Tea

"May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are a hundred miles apart."
~ Unknown poet


On September 27 many people around the world will be celebrating the Moon Festival also known as the Harvest Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

Traditional celebrations take place on this date in China and other neighboring Asian countries. The Chinese have celebrated the harvest during the autumn full moon since the Shang Dynasty (16th to 10th century B.C.)

Moon Cakes are eaten on this night and given as gifts to family members and hosts. They are cut into wedges and served with tea. 

Typically moon cakes are sold in tin squares and are individually wrapped.

The fat content is epic! Many cakes are filled with lotus bean paste and an egg yolk. It doesn't take many wedges to fill your appetite.

Not a great photo...but this is a photo I took in 2003 in the Sichuan area of China during the week of the Moon Festival. From train stations to malls, moon cakes were sold everywhere. Here is a typical display-so many varieties!

Please join me outside as we celebrate the Moon Festival with a traditional evening tea. The sunlight is slowly leaving and we can light lanterns to illuminate our tea.

Lanterns in Hong Kong I admired.

Tea will be served on Aynsley placemats which were a wedding present. The pattern is Pembroke.

Chrysanthemum tea will be served in my new Blue Willow patterned Sadler teapot. I bought this without giving much thought to the dimensions. When I read that it was a two cup pot, I assumed as a tea lover it would be much larger. :)

The detail is beautiful.

Embossed and signed bottom

Please help yourself to a double happiness cup

and a moon cake.

"The moon is at her full, and riding high
Floods the calm fields with light
The airs that hovers in the summer sky
are all asleep to-night."

~William Cullen Bryant

Enjoy the beauty of the upcoming autumn moon!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tea Festivals

Hello Tea Friends,

Hope you are enjoying the beginnings of autumn-like weather or surviving 106 degree temperatures as we had last week. I'm so looking forward to cooler days and nights.

Saturday morning I woke up early, walked my dog and sat down with the latest Tea Time Magazine (I've been saving it) and became quite excited to learn about all of the upcoming Tea Festivals. What a great combination: travel and tea! 
I've never been to a tea festival before and would love to hear from any of you that have.

Are you planning to attend any of these festivals? 

Have you attended any of these festivals in the past?

How fun would it be for a group to meet at one of these festivals!


Here are some upcoming scheduled Tea Festivals and their links:

SF Tea Festival ~ September 27
Ferry Building -San Francisco, California

Northwest Tea Festival ~ October 3 & 4
Fisher Pavilion - Seattle, Washington

Coffee and Tea Festival Philly ~ November 7 & 8
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center - Green Oaks, Pennsylvania

Vancouver Tea Festival ~ November 21 & 22
Croatian Cultural Centre - Vancouver, British Columbia

Los Angeles international Tea Festival ~ December 19 & 20
Japanese American National Museum ~ Los Angeles, California

I was hoping to attend the NW Tea Festival in Seattle but I have a training to attend for work. The National Shelley China Club is having their national conference in Seattle on the same weekend.
I would love to attend the Vancouver Tea Festival...Vancouver is one of my favorite cities.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Anchors Aweigh! Tea on the Queen Mary

Ahoy Tea Friends and Happy September,
As summer winds down, I have been thinking about some of the tea related travels I experienced this summer. Probably the most wonderfully unique place I've had afternoon tea was on the Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach, California.
We were taking a short cruise to Ensenada, Mexico and the port was a block away from the Queen Mary. I couldn't pass up the chance to have tea at this historic site so I made a reservation for their first seating at 11:30.

I was happily surprised when I realized this table was reserved for us. (Sorry, it was tricky to get decent photos with the window light.)
The room was clean, modern and spacious.

I didn't want to eat a traditional British afternoon tea course because I was boarding the cruise in just over an hour. Didn't want to start the trip on too full of a stomach. I opted for half a shrimp salad with hearts of palm, avocado and hard boiled eggs along with the Gravlax (Alaskan salmon) sandwich. It was fresh and flavorful.

I have to say I was a bit surprised the tea room didn't serve loose tea. They serve Tea Forte teas and I choose a white tea called White Ginger Pear. It's described as a Pa Mu Tan white tea with sweet pear and a zing of ginger. The tea was a nice choice for a summer day and it paired well with my lunch-not overpowering.

We had the chance to explore the ship before and after tea. I exercised self control in the gift shops for there were Harney & Sons Historic Royal Palaces teas and this beautiful tea set which is copied after the pattern of the original teaware served during Queen Mary's Atlantic crossings.

I loved reading all about the  history of the ship, its famous passengers and how it was used as a transportation vessel for thousands of service men and women during WWII. 

I wish I had time to see this exhibit.

World's longest replica of a ship made out of Legos.

For more on the history of the Queen Mary and its other dining rooms and accommodations, click here.

Happy Tea Time this week,