Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New York Botanic Garden

We typically schedule two bus trips to unique destinations each year.  This past fall, The Traveling Herb Seminar to the Bronx Beauties, took us first to the New York Botanical Garden.  This 250 acre garden features over 50 diverse gardens including the rose garden, perennial garden, and children's adventure garden. 
The herb garden photographed here has the gorgeous conservatory as its backdrop.

 The Victorian conservatory was built in 1902 and features 11 gardens including the rainforest, orchid, and cactus gardens. 

After our intrepid travelers meandered through the grounds of the New York Botanic Garden, they stopped by the pavillion to gather their basket lunch prepared by Sweet Remembrances. The menu featured French Style Cheese Spread and Crackers, a Marinated Beef and Sun Dried Tomato Salad, Parmesan Tortellini Salad, Flavortop Muffins and Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

and from Harney & Sons...

Another quick purchase, a sampler pack of four assorted black teas, was made while the majority of the group was heading out the door towards the next destination. Each tin holds about an ounce of tea, and features samples from Africa, Ceylon, India, and China.The descriptive information on each tin captures your imagination and entices you to sit down and sample each tea to discover whether you can discern the toasty flavors of the black tea from the Northern Fujian Province or whether you can detect the honey notes in the light bodied Temi Sikkim tea, processed in Darjeeling style or the hint of minty spice in the high grown Ceylon Pekoe from the Uva Highlands. There are many natural flavors to discover in the abundance of black teas being produced in the tea growing region, and this sampler pack is only a mere speck of the world of black tea. 

One of the notations that I appreciate on the Harney tins is their scale of Briskness, Body, and Aroma that they have designated to the teas. On a scale of 0 - 5, they rate the tea by these categories so that the consumer is aware of the particular characteristics of that tea. For example, Livingstonia GFOP, the full leaf black tea from Tanzania has a briskness of 3, body of 2, and aroma of 2; compared to the high grown Ceylon Pekoe from the Uva Highlands which has a rating of 4 in all three categories. It's just another little guideline to help you begin your tea tasting journey and discover the different types and varieties of teas, all within the group labeled, black teas.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Souvenir Shopping

Somewhere in the planning stages for our New York weekend excursion, we apparently forgot to mention that we might enjoy some shopping. So, alas, souvenirs were limited to what we might discover during any stop before we headed out on our trek through the city.  Thankful to have discovered a tea shop, I knew there was something I might purchase quickly without holding up the group!
This little collection of bookmarks was spotted in the Ten Ren Tea shop we visited. Probably one of the best bargains in NYC at only 3 for $1.00, I now wish I had purchased more to share with friends! The front of each bookmark depicts a different  tea type, Long gin, tung ting oolong, pouchong, white, and Pu-Erh along with a relevant photo. The reverse side of the bookmark features some information pertaining to the tea type, and brewing instructions or additional little hints and tips.
These are simply fun!  Perfect to tuck into a book to discover and enjoy over and over again!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tea Cup Thursday

Time for another Tea Cup Thursday ~ still another treasure from this past Christmas! This delicate floral tea cup is hand painted and marked Lefton China on the bottom of the cup.
Almost too pretty to use!  Almost!

Please do visit Miss Spenser and others today to discover the wide variety of beautiful tea cups they are featuring on this Tea Cup Thursday.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tea Tasting - Darjeeling

Inspired by the use of the Tea Taster's Set while in Harney's Tasting Room, when I returned home I decided to break out my set and use it to sample a lovely First Flush Darjeeling from Glenburn Estate, hand carried from India by Steph of Steph's Cup of Tea and offered as a prize for participating in a writing prompt on her blog.

The tea is placed in the larger cup, filled with water at the appropriate temperature and brewed as recommended (Steph suggested 200 degrees, 3 minutes), and covered with the lid.  When the brewing time is complete, the lid is held tightly while the tea is poured out through the little riveted edge so the tea leaves remain in the steeping vessel.  Smell the wet leaves, savor the beautiful color of the brew, and sip (slurp) the sample from the cup.

Shown here are the wet leaves (left) and the dry leaves (right) for comparison.The dry leaf of the First Flush Darjeeling from Glenburn Tea Estate had a very fresh, very green fragrance to it. Darjeeling teas are considered the "champagne of Indian teas".  Personally, I noted a very light flavor to the tea with a touch of astringency accompanied with a floral note, almost an orchid-like sweetness to it.  There are many factors involved in brewing a tea, from the type of water used, the amount of leaf, and length of brewing time, that the next time I brew this tea, there might be subtle differences noted, and if you were to brew this sample, your tasting notes might differ.  That's okay! It's pretty subjective.  It is a very pleasant tea, and exciting to know that it was hand carried from the source.  Thank you so much for sharing your tea, Steph!  Stephanie has been sharing her travel journeys on her blog, and just recently shared her initial impressions of India.  Please visit Steph's blog and tell her Rosemary sent you!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Harney & Sons Tasting Room

In addition to the Flight of Teas sampling being offered, while at the Tasting Room, you are able to select one tea of your choice to sample.  Tough choice!  The two young foreign exchange students traveling with our group were eager to make a selection.  Eero (from Finland) selected Sally's Secret, an aromatic blend of Earl Grey combined with rose petals while Adam (from the Czech Republic) opted for a Ceylon from Kenilworth Garden north of the Dimbula area. 

The tea specialist quickly went about brewing the selections in pristine white taster's cups, using the proper temperature and allowing the tea to steep for the required time.  It's probably a good thing I don't live close by, or I'd be selecting a different tea to sample each day.  Wonder how long it would take to go through their wide assortment of teas?  Oh, but think of the fun!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Harney & Sons Fine Teas

When Harney & Sons announced that they were opening a tasting bar in Manhattan in November of last year, I knew that this would be an attainable destination.  We accomplished that goal this past weekend! This tony establishment located in the trendy district of SoHo is a must-see for any tea enthusiast.  Situated at 433 Broome Street, we welcomed the opportunity to step inside out of the wicked cold and poke around this specialty location.

From the rows and rows of tea tins that require a ladder to reach, to the artsy TEA sign, there was no doubt what was available to sample and/or purchase here. On this day, the Flight of Teas that were featured included a lovely variety of green teas, including Anji Baicha (a Chinese green with a light herbal honey flavor), Snow Dragon (light and sweet), and Bi Lo Chun (a light bodied green with woodsy and fruit notes).

The tea specialists, anxious to please and share their knowledge, were happy to pour a sampling of the green teas.  The three assorted flavors were lined up behind the clear glass jars that displayed a sampling of the dry leaf.  If you look closely, you can observe the difference in the leaf and also in the various shades of the brewed tea.  It truly is a study!  Snow Dragon was my tea of choice, a delicately sweet brew with a light floral note. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ginseng at TenRen's Tea Shop

Ten Ren's Tea Shop is an Asian Company so it came as no surprise to me to see pounds of Ginseng roots available for purchase. Ginseng is a famous Chinese herb and they had several varieties (both Chinese and American) and grades of roots.   It is a very slow growing perennial.  In fact is is so slow growing United Plant Savers encourages planting and restoring the American Ginseng in our country.  Ginseng has many amazing uses.  It can decrease stress, increase performance, increase energy, enhance memory, and stimulate the immune system.  It has been studied for diabetes and heart disease.  It is credited with restoring youth.  Use it by slicing a piece of root and eating it raw.  Add a slice of root to soup and simmer for hours, or add it to stir fry.  As a tea, the root is reused for 2 to 3 Cups. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ten Ren's Tea

It was exciting to accidentally discover Ten Ren's Tea while we were walking along the streets of New York.  Ten Ren Tea Company was founded half a century ago.  They are now one of the largest growers and manufacturers of tea in Eastern Asia.  Originally started in Taiwan, they soon expanded to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, amassing 120 chain stores around the world.
Beautiful golden tins of assorted teas line the back wall.  They have a modern tea bar which provides a wide variety of hot or cold teas served in new and exciting ways.  I was happy to be able to order a warming cup of Tung Ting Oolong.  A popular Oriental tea, it is cultivated in the high mountains of Taiwan and is semi-fermented.  Considered a green oolong, it brews into a golden green tea with sweet aroma, a floral taste, and a lingering aftertaste.  
Bubble Tea was one of the options we selected during our visit to Ten Ren Tea.  A high quality tea is mixed with fruit juices and delicious tapioca pearls.  The pearls, with their 'gummy bear' consistency add a sweetness and texture unique to this beverage.  Served with an extra large straw, each sip is a surprise!  We are happy to be able to say we have tried Bubble Tea!  Have you had the opportunity yet?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The African Burial Ground

 It seemed fitting that during the Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend we should come across the African Burial Grounds.  What first caught my eye were the burial mounds with Bird-of-Paradise, Antheriums, and shells.  From 1626 through the late 1700's Africans gathered to bury their families as best they could according to their traditions.  For most of the Colonial Era this was the only cemetery for some 15,000 Africans and African Descendants.
As New York City expanded Northward the burial ground was encroached upon.  Officially closed in 1794, the land was divided into lots and sold.  Over the next two centuries it was covered with layer upon layer of fill and buildings, which protected the human remains. In 1991, the skeletal remains were discovered when the excavation began for a Federal Office Building.   Considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century, you can read more about the Rediscovery, Reinternment and Remembrance here.
"For all those who are lost, For all those who were stolen, For all those who were left behind, For all those who were not forgotten."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

9/11 Memorial

Our Visitors Pass for the National September 11th Memorial fell on a very cold Saturday Morning. The Memorial is a tribute of respect and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 2001 not only at the World Trade Center site, but also near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. Although very crowded on this early January morning, there was a peaceful quiet that prevailed. We visited the memorial as a family and placed sprigs of fresh Rosemary for Remembrance and Bay, symbolic of valor, courage, and strength at the two reflecting pools. 
This Callery pear tree became known as the “Survivor Tree” after sustaining extensive damage yet enduring through the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. In October 2001, the tree with burned branches, snapped roots and a blackened trunk was discovered and removed from the piles of smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center. It recovered in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx under the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The tree was returned to the Memorial site in 2010.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New York! New York!

Day One: the 9/11 Memorial, African Burial Grounds, shopping in SoHo, Harney and Sons Tasting Room, TenRen Tea Shop, Dirty Water Dogs from a street vendor, walking through Washington Square in Greenwich Village, NYC Circle Line Cruise around the island of Manhattan. Day Two: the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History (with the Hayden Planetarium), dinner at Brasserie Athenee, The Lion King on Broadway, Times Square at Night, Toys R Us on Times Square (complete with a Ferris Wheel inside), Subways, Buses and Trains, Grand Central Terminal, and pretending to spot movie stars!  Eleven of us (family, friends, and foreign exchange students) straggled behind our expert leader, Phil, who swiftly guided us through all of this during two very bitter cold days.  We thank you! And to Carrie, who planned, organized, coordinated, and graciously opened her home to welcome us, We thank you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Warm woolen mittens!

And one final snowman tea for one set to share... this little guy looks toasty warm with his perky red hat, snugly scarf, and warm woolen mittens.  On these extra cold days, a warm cup of tea makes the day perfect.

Special thanks to Christy for the newest addition to the snowman tea pot collection!

Monday, January 16, 2012


This little yard sale find features a snowman family on the teapot and also on the matching plate. Festive and warming on these cold winter days, it's a perfect change from the spring floral teapots that we typically use. The little snowmen on the side are crafted using children's socks! Stuffed with rice, they are then adorned with faces, buttons, and a ribbon scarf. This little cutie was one that Angelica made when she was just younger.  Happy to be crafting with her mother, it's a treasure!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let it Snow!

Are you a fan of tea for one sets? That's the purpose of this little wintry snowman. The tea is brewed in the top section of the duo, allowed to steep, and then poured into the cup in the bottom half. Cheery in winter blues, adorned with cardinals, he's ready for that first winter snow. Are you!?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ready and Waiting!

This charming little snowman teapot, bundled with hat, mittens, and a scarf, is at the ready for that first winter snowfall. He looks like he might just be filled with hot chocolate! Are you ready?

Friday, January 13, 2012

National Hot Tea Month ~ January

January is National Hot Tea Month ~ a steaming pot of tea is a perfect solution for keeping warm during the cold days of January.  Are you enjoying afternoon tea such as these two young ladies, complete with crumpets and sweet treats perhaps?
A "Yamada Originals", crafted in 1996 by Lefton, this precious little hand-painted porcelain treasure is actually a music box.  It plays a perky rendition of  "Tea for Two" as these young ladies enjoy their time together, sharing secrets and creating lovely memories over a pot of tea.   As the quiet days of January slowly pass, we hope you are able to find some special time with a family member or close friend to enjoy your own carefree moments of sharing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tea Cup Thursday

Today we're featuring another gift received during the holiday season. This sweet little tea cup is from a monthly series and is marked
'January ~ Carnation'
on the bottom of the cup. 

A perfect cup to celebrate
National Hot Tea Month!
Join Miss Spenser and others for Tea Cup Thursday today.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Super Scone Sunday

Traditional English Cream Scones
Freshly slice pears, raspberries, blueberries
Mock Clotted Cream

Lemon Pecan Scones
Fresh pineapple, strawberries
Lemon Curd, Raspberry Preserves

White Chocolate Apricot Scones
Orange and Kiwi Fruit Slices
Cinnamon Honey Butter

Various Pots of Properly Brewed Tea

A winter time specialty around here.... held yesterday, Sunday January 8th.  A perfect way to celebrate National Hot Tea month.  A time to sit, relax, chat with friends, while away the day, and savor oven fresh scones. 
Our next Super Scone Sunday is scheduled for February 5th. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Patrina's Earl Grey Cupcakes

The recipe for these delicious little Earl Grey Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting was recently featured on Steph's Cup of Tea Blog.  In her post, Steph credits Patrina of The Jasmine Pearl with crafting this recipe.  The Jasmine Pearl is a specialty tea business located in Portland, OR, and they happened to be celebrating a special event with unique tea infused treats.
Excited to try the recipe, I finally found some extra time.... and let me tell you, they are yummy!  And, personally, although I am not a true fan of Earl Grey Tea, the combination of the infused cupcakes lavishly topped with a whipped cream mascarpone frosting, well, I could become a devout fan of these!  If you would like a copy of the recipe, be sure to visit Steph's blog post here,  and tell her I sent you!  In the meantime, may I offer you a cup of tea and a cupcake?  Earl Grey, of course.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tea Cup Thursday

Sharing a few of my newest treasures today on Tea cup Thursday.  We're joining Miss Spenser and others, sharing the beautiful variety of tea cups to be found. Shown here, displayed on a sweetly embroidered tea towel (a gift from Angelica), are two bone china tea cups (gifts from Marj).

 The plum, is marked Regency, Genuine Bone China, Made in England.  It is always a special delight to find a tea cup with a fruit design.

The other tea cup is marked Regal Heritage, bone china, Made in England.  There is a crown stamped on the bottom of the cup also.  Another pretty addition to the growing collection!
Thank you to Angelica and Marj for discovering these fun tea time treasures!  They have indeed found a happy home!