" Come sit by my side and over a cup of tea, speak to me of the goodness of life."
Lady Evelyn Fitzgerald Dodson

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twining's 100% Organic Breakfast Blend

Drinking tea makes one feel very cosy and soothed. Drinking 100% organic and fair trade certified tea makes one feel cosy and soothed, and we'll admit, a tad smugly virtuous.

Twining's 100% Organic and Fair Trade Certified Breakfast Blend Tea will make you feel cosy emotionally and intellectually. It's a blend of Kenyan and Assam and black teas, stringent enough to wake the sipper up, but smooth enough to take the edge off the early morning hours. Of course, it can be enjoyed any time of the day, and certainly will reappear in the parlor. And it makes the tea drinkers in the parlor feel good to know we are supporting fair trade practices in such an easy, delicious way.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tea Quote of the Day

""The warmth of the tea soothed and comforted, as always."

 Murder Past Due by Miranda James, p. 79. BerkeleyPrime Crime, New York.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twinings English Afternoon Tea

Twinings English Afternoon Tea is a very smooth, very mild blend that is perfect for a soothing cup of tea after a harried day of holiday shopping amidst the bustling crowds. Although officially described as "brisk and refreshing," the tea is so mild as to verge on bland when compared with stronger teas. However, that mildness and smoothness is part of its appeal. This might be the perfect tea to introduce novice tea drinkers and younger children to the delights of afternoon tea.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Round of Applause in the Parlor

Last night three friends and I dined out, and when one asked for more hot water, she was also brought a second tea bag. Hooray! Most restaurants will charge for a second tea bag, but this one did not. As if coffee lovers would sit meekly by when offered a second cup made with used grinds...

A Parlor Round of Applause to Amber Restaurant!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Twinings Cold Brew Iced Tea

Even though dreary and cold winter days are fast approaching, we in the parlor drink iced tea year round. It's perfect for luncheon and dinner, or for sipping while reading an interesting novel. Twinings Cold Brewed Iced Tea English Classic was sampled last week, and we enjoyed it very much. The tea was more full bodied and flavorful than many bagged teas, and it did indeed brew in cold water, as promised, in just minutes. The individual tea bag means individual glasses can easily made on the spur of the moment, rather than the large, pitcher-sized tea bags we've used before to make a cold brew and which inevitably delay the tea pleasure. We haven't seen this tea available in stores, but the next time we make a tea purchase online, Twining's Cold Brewed Iced Tea may well find it's way into our basket.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Breakfast and Dinner Menu

A breakfast casserole that straddles a quiche and a casserole is being served this week in the parlor. Italian white bread provides the pseudo-quiche structure, while crumbled tofu bacon and sharp cheddar cheese provide the chewy tang of the casserole.

For dinner, an herb-roasted chicken; any number of teas would make a great accompaniment--chose your favorite.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apple Pudding

The onset of autumn always makes us, here in the parlor, crave comfort food. Today we are serving apple pudding, from a recipe found at the back of The Tale of Oat Cake Crag by Susan Wittig Albert. The novels are set in the 1910s, and Mrs. Beeton has been mentioned in this or the last book in the series, so it's likely that the recipe is a traditional dessert or, least, a modified version of one. Either way, we think it's scrumptious, with the apples so soft they are almost melting, the layer of thick, delicious syrup on the bottom, and the brown sugary goodness of the cake. We are serving Yorkshire Gold, of course, to accompany this Lake District dessert.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tea Garden by Vera Bradley

Tea Garden is the latest design to benefit breast cancer research from Vera Bradley. It's a lovely pattern of exuberant flowers on a sophisticated soft gray background. We may to splurge on a new Hipster or Kindle cover in this beautiful pattern.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teapot Cottage

We are currently knee deep in a cosy fest here in the parlor, reading Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter mysteries. The Tale of Applebeck Orchard features Teapot Cottage, "the tiniest dwelling in the village." "The cottage was called Teapot because its tiny sitting room had once served as a tiny tearoom, operated by a very tiny and very old lady who always wore a mobcap and a black dress with a lace fichu."

Well, given the summer of shawls that has been ongoing over at the Mossy Nest, and our crazy, curly, turning white hair, we may fit the description of the tea mistress quite well.

Albert, Susan Wittig. The Tale of Applebeck Orchard. 2010 (paperback), Berkeley Prime Crime, New York. Quotations from pages 135 and 136

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tea in India

Today's daily photo on bing.com is an aerial view of a tea plantation in India. Gorgeous and green, and really gives a tea lover the idea of what a tea plantation looks like.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Teavana Youthberry and Wild Orange Blossom blend

An iced tea made from a blend of Teavana Youthberry and Wild Orange Blossom teas was served at the parlor's Labor Day picnic. Light, fruity,the blend made a nice tea to accompany the frogmore stew. In fact, it was so good, the party attendants drank it all before supper was even done. A nice, cool summer tea perfect for Indian summer.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barry's Tea Gold Blend

Today in the parlor we sampled Barry's Tea, a hearty, strong blend from Ireland. It's full bodied, with a slight tannin aftertaste. It's a perfect way to start the day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Choice English Breakfast

Choice Tea is organic and free trade, which is reason enough to drink it. It's also delicious--full bodied, smooth, just enough tannin and caffeine. And if that doesn't make you feel good, that whole roganica nd free trade thing will.

We served Choice English Breakfast with mini cheese souffles and turkey bacon this weekend. Last week's offering was the vegetable quiche pictured here with Tazo Awake.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blackberry Cobbler

Today in the cubicle, we were delighted by Homer's homemade blackberry cobbler. Redolent of sweet lushness, swinging our legs over the side of the porch, and firefly hunting on dusky summer nights, it was perfectly paired with Tazo Awake.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tea and Caffeine

Straight from the mouth of the Tea Maestro himself:

"The major modifier for tea drinkers is the presence of L-theanine. This amazing amino acid has a relaxing effect brought about by increased alpha-brain-wave frequency, long associated with a relaxed but alert state of consciousness. That's why tea has been used for centuries in meditation."

Bruce Richardson, 2011 "The Buzz: About Tea and Caffeine." Tea Time 8(4):16.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blueberry Buckle

Today we are serving a blueberry buckle in the parlor, a recipe courtesy of the July/August 2011 issue of Tea Time magazine. The treat buckled upon transfer to a plate (we were a little too eager for blueberry delight in the parlor this morning), and did not look nearly as picturesque as in the photo displayed in the magazine. However, it tasted delicious, so no one was concerned with photo worthiness. Yorkshire tea in a blueberry mug from Maine was the perfect accompaniment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Today we are serving Twining's Lady Grey tea and raspberry rugala in the cubicle. We love bite-sized nibbles as tasty indulgences. While the rugala came from Costco and was not homemade, our Jewish officemate in the cubicle next door gave it her authentic seal of approval.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blueberry Coffee Cake

This week we are serving a homemade, multigrain, blueberry coffee cake. Tea accompanying it served in a blueberry mug, of course.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cats Love Tea Time

Miss Stripey Cat enjoys lounging in the parlor on a very old pillow given by our older sister years ago. That pillow has been slept on, chewed on, sat on, and still is well loved.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Red Rose Tea

June is such a lovely, but hot, month out here. The early morning, however, is perfect, and sitting on the patio is one of my most favorite things in the world. Add tea and a book and the parlor is in heaven.

This week, we've been serving blueberry waffles, turkey bacon, and good, old fashioned Red Rose tea. It takes me back to being a little girl, at my grandmother's with my mother and her sisters, when they drank Red Rose tea and sat at the lace-covered table, gossiping and chatting and having a wonderful time together. It's homey and comforting and surprisingly delicious. Now we are looking for a lace tablecloth for the parlor.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Danish Pancakes and Tea

Sunday we served Danish pancakes, turkey bacon, and Ausperitea Silk Road Bazaar Kandy Mid-grown Organic Ceylon on the patio. The Danish pancakes are just slightly sweet, so a sprinkling of powdered sugar is all they need. The smooth Ceylon is a wonderful accompaniment. This tea grows even more on one with each tasting.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bungalow

The Bunglaow in Mesa, AZ., is a wonderful, turn-of-the-twentieth-century bungalow remodeled into a cafe, yoga studio, and event location. The cafe is fronted by a large patio with ramadas and shaded tables and chairs. Three of us had lunch at the Bungalow yesterday and were enchanted. The Chicken Waldorf Salad had been recommended to me by the woman at the Fiber Factory (which is just steps away from the Bungalow), and it was delicious! The chicken salad was freshly made after I ordered it, not scooped out of a large bowl, and served on a wonderful bed of greens. A raspberry vinaigrette is also available for this salad, and it is also available as a sandwich (on whole wheat), which one of our party tried. A small cup of fresh, seasonal fruit is one of the sides (a bean salad or chips are the other options). The third member of our party had the curry chicken salad, which was nice and spicy, but a little too spicy for her.

The Bungalow serves loose leaf tea (I think it was Sereni-tea, but cannot verify that at this time), and we sampled the Bard's Tea, a brisk, tasty black tea that was perfectly brewed. Three sizes are offered, with loose tea served in paper sachets. We also love that condiments included honey and agave nectar (which is served here in the parlor).

The cafe itself is very low key, with separate dining areas in the various rooms and patio, large couches in front of the fireplace, bookshelves and windowsill brimming with hardcovers, and a reproduction antique map in the original dining room. The patio has been used for several weddings (see the photos on their webpage for some lovely images), but is perfect for just sitting, sipping, and relaxing. And for the other dog lovers out there, they have Leash and Latte Nights.

The Bungalow is worth is worth a visit if you are in Mesa, and makes us wish we had something like it here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tea Stationary

Delightful stationary with a charming tea cup atop is a cry to return to the days of the hand-written note.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Harrisons and Crosfield Scottish Breakfast Tea

We recently had the first breakfast on the patio of the year to celebrate the arrival of spring. The parlor served a mushroom omelet, tofu bacon, and a delicious blueberry scone. The tea served was the Harrisons and Crosfield Scottish Breakfast Tea Sister of Mossy sent. Hearty, satisfying, and smooth, an ideal way to start the day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

McVitie's Hobnobs

I discovered McVitie's Hobnob biscuits when I lived in England. Crunchy, oaty, ever-so-slightly sweet, these are my favorite tea cookies. They are perfect for a quick pick-me-up. The crunch balances the smoothness of tea, the hearty oatiness is filling, and they are not so sweet they overwhelm the tea. I found them a few months ago at our local foreign market, and had to splurge for some. Immediately familiar, immediately delicious.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ausperitea Ceylon

On Saturday morning, we went to a local Farmer's Market, which is populated largely by non-food vendors (I know, go figure, right? It's more a destination market, with a homemade soap vendor, a lotion vendor, and other non-comestibles for sale. How I miss the roadside vegetable stands of my old home!).

Ausperitea, a local tea vendor, was the first booth we came upon. We've sampled their tea in local restaurants, and decided to find a black tea to bring home for afternoon tea on the patio. The gentleman manning the booth began to explain that they focus on black teas in the winter and green teas and herbals in the summer. But when I selected a ceylon tea, he said that ceylon was so bland, he couldn't come up with a description for it. Although somewhat taken aback that he would try to discourage a purchase, I pointed out that ceylon teas were supposed to be mild and smooth as they are an afternoon tea, not a brisk morning tea. T selected a black nepal tea, which I hope she will share with me, and which was the tea he was pushing. None of the black teas are listed on their webpage, so I can't verify the name of the tea T tried.

Ausperitea's ceylon is very mild, much more mild than other ceylons I've tried and enjoyed, but it's perfectly acceptable. Sunday morning we paired it with a mushroom and green onion omelet, turkey bacon, and whole wheat toast with strawberry-rhubarb jam (also locally made by Apple Annie's Orchard). A lovely way to start a Sunday morning.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tea Stuff

We don't usually impulse shop in the Parlor, but who could resist a cute little Mary Engelbreit tea-themed notebook for $1? And our favorite color, blue, too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tea Quote Thursday

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and the rollicking sense of humor the Irish have, some funny tea quotes from a classic-era film screened in the parlor last night:

Mr. Ross:  "I never touch it (tea)--my doctor tells me it's poison."  "I knew a chap once who drank tea until he burst out in a rash." "It was tea. It was green tea. Same constituency, you know, as leather."

Character of Mr. Ross in the 1931 movie Smart Woman starring Mary Astor. Mr. Ross was played by the consummate character actor Edward Everett Horton. Afternoon tea is the focus of a dramatic yet comedic scene between the wife, her husband, his girlfriend, and her brother- and sister-in law. Mr. Ross is the brother-in-law, and therefore allowed by the writers of the screenplay to be outrageous--bumbling, on the prowl, insulted, naive, concerned, and caring, all at the same time. Much more fun to play than the staid hero or heroine, I would imagine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tea Quote Wednesday

I just finished reading the first in an old girls series, Patty Fairfield by Carolyn Wells, and tea figured in quite a few scenes. Several comments made us smile in the Parlor, including a scene involving a tea party without the tea, just pretend "real Russian tea" that everyone sipped daintily from their real, but empty, cups.

""Ho, ho," laughed her brother, "a tea! Why they're the most stupid things in the world. Nobody wants to come to a tea."

"Teas are ever so much stylisher than evening entertainments, aren't they, mamma?"

[Quotes from Patty Fairfield, by Carolyn Wells, 1901; Kindle edition, locations 261 and 263.]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Engagement Calendar

For the past two years, we in the Parlor have used a Linda Nelson Stocks engagement calendar to keep track of our engagements (which frankly revolve around visits to various vets). After years of Audubon Society calendars, we decided the Parlor could use a little folkiness in 2010. We enjoyed that calendar so much we decided to revisit an idealized Americana again this year. Well, this week's print of a house and its surrounds includes a wee little table around which are seated three people, and atop of which is a tiny tea set. Too tiny to even attempt to reproduce just this little corner (so as not to break any copyright laws) to share. But it reminds us the joy of tea pops up in unexpected places and is sometimes best enjoyed outside.

We celebrated Fat Tuesday with Numi Chinese Breakfast and a slice of cinnamon pecan coffee cake.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tea Care Package

My older sister sent a tea care package to the parlor. Two types of tea, and cookies, and my favorite oatmeal, and a beautiful gray scarf. I've already worn the scarf to cocktails at The Arizona Inn, and got several compliments on it. But we're saving the tea for a few weeks when we have a leisurely weekend scheduled so it can be truly savored. Than you!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tea Quote

"Tea is not so much a thing as a cupful of effects..."

Sarah Rose, For All the Tea in China (2010, Viking Press), p. 160.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Teapot Exhibit

The following interesting teapot exhibit is currently on display in my old home state:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Book of Tea

"Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence."

Tea "...has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa."

Okakura, Kakuzo  1906 The Book of Tea.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Carrington Tea

While shopping in a grocery store I do not frequent, I came across a new-to-me tea, Carrington Tea. It was very cheap,which may not be a good omen, but Carrington Tea is apparently out of Paramus, NJ, so we thought we'd give their English Breakfast a try in the parlor in the interests of fair tea tasting and supporting my old home state.

And we were pleasantly surprised. The breakfast tea is not as full bodied as pricier brands, but it does taste like English Breakfast, rather than orange pekoe, which may suit newcomers to tea drinking well. The price point, as they say in the business, will certainly attract tea drinkers on a tight budget. We've had two cups of the Carrington Tea English Breakfast, and both have been smooth, undistinguished perhaps, but not bitter and with no aftertaste. A smart choice for someone wanting to try different tea types but worried about buying expensive tea they will not like. And we really like the graphics on the box. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Afternoon Tea

The parlor's new year's resolution is to branch out and try new teas beyond our black tea comfort zone. Inspired by the chocoloate-mint oolong of the other day, we served another peppermint tea for afternoon tea on New Year's Day in the parlor. The selection was Stash White Christmas Tea, a blend of white tea, peppermint, and ginger, served with mini chocolate cream puffs. The peppermint was very overpowering and masked any ginger notes. It was so strong it was decided we won't be serving this one again. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day Tea

We started 2011 in the parlor with the Stash Christmas Morning Tea served with a delicious ham and cheddar quiche (although we cheated and used a store-bought pie crust).

Let's raise our tea cup and hope for lots of delicious teas and peace and health for all in 2011!