Saturday, January 30, 2016

Downton Abbey Tea - Stegmaier Mansion

Table settings in the various dining rooms at the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion in Wilkes-Barre, PA were dripping in regal elegance. A Downton Abbey themed tea to a sold out crowd was hosted in this opulent mansion on a Sunday afternoon in January. Held mid-afternoon, there was plenty of time to return home to settle in with another pot of tea and watch an episode of the final season of this popular show.

We were seated in the Library (photo, left). The little boxes located at each end of the table held an eclectic assortment of tea bags including an abundance of herbal blends. Pots of hot water were brought to each table to pour your own tea. More hot water was added to the pot upon request.
We were seated with several women that were from the Jim Thorpe/Frackville area of PA. They were familiar with Rosemary Remembrances II, our sister's gift shop and guest lodging located in Jim Thorpe. As they also enjoy visiting various tea rooms, we were happy to discuss tea room adventures with them.

The first course included florette shaped Lemon Poppyseed Scones served with a dollop of Devon cream, lemon curd, and a large cup of whipped cream. In addition a petite cranberry muffin rounded out the plate.

Fresh green salad topped with olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and a house vinaigrette was served next.

The hearty entree included an egg salad sandwich on a croissant, cucumber with watercress on pumpernickel bread, turkey and gherkin sandwich, and a beef sirloin shepard's pie.

The vegetarian option included a butternut squash and carrot bisque, egg salad on the croissant and two cucumber sandwiches on pumpernickel.

The final course featured a raspberry, peach, and ice cream compote, chocolate eclair, miniature Madeleine and a Lemon cake topped with a Daisy or Rose embellishment.
And special kudos to our apprentice driver for getting us safely to our destination and back home again. Four hours of expressway driving under her belt in one day.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion, Wilkes Barre, PA

A recent Sunday afternoon adventure took us to The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion in Wilkes-Barre, PA. A two-hour journey north, it was a perfect day for a drive. This stately mansion is a Bed & Breakfast, a wedding venue, and a destination for special events. We were excited to be attending their sold-out Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea. We were originally on the 'wait-list' but fortunately for us, a large group dropped out!

Many guests dressed for the event in their most elegant attire. It was fun to turn the corner just as these lovely ladies were arriving. They were most happy to pose for a photo.

It truly is a step back in time as you enter the master foyer. The tea was scheduled to begin at 2:00, but the doors opened at 1:30 allowing some extra time to meander throughout the first floor of the mansion which is dripping with grandeur and opulence.

The ceiling in the Library
Lady Angelica 

The mansion seats 60 guests throughout the many rooms with seating in the dining room, the library, the ladies parlor, and the gentlemen's parlor. Each room more beautiful than the previous one.

Be sure to look up, down and all around as there was no detail overlooked by the interior designer.

An article about this event and additional photographs recently appeared in the local Times Leader publication.

If you are in the area, upcoming events held at the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion are announced on their Facebook page.

It was a girls day out, and we were eager and ready to enjoy the Downton Abbey themed tea in the Library. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Girl Scout Cookie Time!

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time again and today begins the kick off day to order your favorite cookies from your favorite Girl Scout. March 2015 saw the introduction of these two unique Bigelow teas inspired by two favorite Girl Scout cookies, Caramel & Coconut, a black tea and Thin Mints, a herbal tea! The publicity surrounding these teas say they are available for a limited time only, so I'm not sure if they are still available in your area, but we recently had the opportunity to sample them. They capture the basic flavors associated with the cookies, and none of the calories! It's a good way to indulge without actually eating the entire box of thin mints (please tell me I'm not the only one that has ever done that). If you want to order Girl Scout Cookies, information and details can be found on the GS website beginning with helping you locate a cookie booth by entering your zip code, or featuring instructions for ordering off the Internet from a Girl Scout you know, or downloading their App. Scouting has certainly come a long way since my day.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Traveling Teapot - 2009

The Traveling Teapot that we shared in the previous two posts featured a Doctor Who theme. We did not participate in the actual exchange of the teapot this go round. We did however, participate in the original Traveling Teapot escapade in 2009. The teapot was a traditional blue teapot which we hosted in August. Since the first day of school was pending, we held a last day of summer tea party at the picnic table. It was a fun time, enjoyed by all. Check out the blog post here. That was then...
and this is now.... #Blizzard2016. Can you find the picnic table? It's right in the center of the photo, under a mound of snow. Every time I check the weather report, they bump up the snow prediction amounts. Originally predicted to be 6" - 12", now it stands at 24" - 30". Officially: 36.9".

Friday, January 22, 2016

Traveling Teapot Blog Party

A surprise package arrived earlier this week with an invitation to join the Traveling Teapot Blog Party featured on the Afternoon Tea Across America blog. A Tardis shaped teapot has been crisscrossing the United States in search of new adventures. It has recently landed in CA, and the hostess for this month, Martha, coordinated this unique blog party across America. 

Martha provided tea from Adagio called The Tardis BluesThis loose leaf tea is a combination of oolong and black teas with colorful additions of cornflowers and safflowers. A touch of rosehips and a hint of hibiscus add a third dimension of flavor to this lovely brew. Almond, passion fruit, and blueberry round out the flavors. The tea was placed in a Tardis shaped strainer and brewed at 212 degrees for 5 minutes.

The tea party in a box also contained some little nibbles to enjoy during the party. The Doctor's favorite Jammie Dodger, a popular English shortbread cookie with a flavored jam filling, was tucked in the box. Such a special treat to sample a traditional English biscuit. Yum! The Jammie Dodger is the round cookie shown in the photo below. An assortment of freshly baked scones were added to our tea party since our Whovian always comes home from school with a hungry appetite. The other little goodie tucked in the box were Jelly Babies, another favorite of the Doctor.
What a delightful afternoon we had! Sharing about the traveling teapot, enjoying a calming pot of tea, and watching the first snowflakes fall as we hunker down for what looks to be The Blizzard of 2016.

Time Travel Today! Who?

Join me today as we travel thru time and space, encountering friendship and camaraderie along the way. There is a group of friends on an Internet Yahoo and Facebook group called Afternoon Tea Across America. This group consists of fellow tea enthusiasts that enjoy everything pertaining to tea. There is a lot of sharing about tea, discussing tea rooms across the country, posting photos, and more. At the moment, there is a Travelling Tea Pot in the shape of a TARDIS that has been magically flying across the country and experiencing this friendship first hand. Check out the blog that documents this adventure.  
In tribute to this adventure, this morning's cup of tea features the TARDIS, which translates to 'Time and Relative Dimensions in Space'. The Tardis is a time travelling spacecraft used by the Time Lords in the Doctor Who television series. Did you know that tea is featured prominently in the series? For example, the 2nd Doctor once requested a pattycake with his tea while the 4th Doctor explained that the proper use of tea was to relax the studious. Time to pour the tea....

Notice how the mug begins to change as the hot water is poured into the cup, totally leaving the location and travelling thru space to another dimension, much the same way the Traveling Teapot is doing with the friends of Afternoon Tea Across America. In trying to decide what tea to have in your cup, consider that the 7th Doctor enjoyed Lapsang souchong, Earl Grey, and Arcturan tea. Peppermint, not so much.

The 8th Doctor, who enjoys tea with lemon,  suggests you 'never turn down tea if it's offered. It's impolite, and that's how wars start'.

Who is your favorite Doctor?

Please come back later today, we'll enjoy a special Afternoon Tea Across America tea time blog party as coordinated by the newest Travelling Teapot hostess.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dark Rose Tea - TeaSource

The tea selected from the overflowing basket of assorted tea samples is a Dark Rose Tea that has been compressed into dainty little hearts containing dark tea and rose petals.

White, Green, Oolong, Black, and Dark tea are some of the unique tea categories that are all processed from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. It is the tea processing methods that produce the wide range of tea categories. Basically, a Dark Tea is a tea that has gone through an aging process and a unique second fermentation.

This dark tea is sourced from the Hunan province in China whereas a Puerh (a subcategory of dark teas) is from Yunnan.
Packaged in a resealable bag, brewing instructions are clearly marked on the back of the package. TeaSource is a very reputable company, voted Best Tea Company in 2015 and the owner, Bill Waddington is a knowledgeable and well known expert in the tea community.

The tiny heart is shown here before it is brewed, alongside the wet leaf after it was steeped for 6 minutes. It yields a rich color in the cup and a smooth flavor. The rose petals add a delicate sweetness to the flavor. Not as hearty or robust as a puerh, a dark tea still reaps the health benefits associated with this category of teas.

Breakfast and Blogging this morning - a cup of Dark Rose Tea from TeaSource and a Whole Food Plant Based Pumpkin Muffin. Yum - on both accounts!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dollies Tea Room, Clear Spring, MD

Last fall, we enjoyed a road trip to Clear Spring, MD to visit Dollies Tea Room. A pleasant journey, not quite two hours, we were excited to visit a 'new-to-us' tea destination! This lovely well coordinated tea room is owned and operated by Amy, shown in the photo standing alongside her mother. She lovingly named the tea room after her grandmother.

Every place setting has a different starched and embroidered napkin. Such a sweet use for those vintage napkins.

Once we selected our tea flavors, Afternoon tea service began with a flavorful butternut squash soup.
 A very tasty well massaged kale salad, tossed with apples, celery, walnuts galore was served next.
 Following the soup and salad, a three tiered tray was presented which featured a nice variety of sandwiches, two types of scones, and seasonal desserts. Dollies offers several different choices for your Afternoon Tea. We had the top of the line menu offering.

 Little tea themed touches can be found throughout the tea room, including this fun wind chime and the lovely wreath laden with tea cups and assorted tea related trinkets.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Chocolate Puerh

As Hot Tea Month marches along, in an effort to whittle down the odd assortment of teas that typically get tossed into a basket and are later forgotten, I have made an unspoken resolution for the new year to consume the one-of-a-kind tea samples received at tea conferences or special events. As I have a tendency to reach for my 'go-to' black tea in the morning, this could prove to be an interesting month of tea tastings!
Today's tea is a Chocolate Puerh. According to the little paper attached to the sweet heart-shaped sample, it is from Cocoa Camellia, a company representing fine teas & chocolate. An Internet search of their website shows it is no longer active. Wonder where the sample came from, and how long I've had it! Puerh tea (pronounced pooh-air) is from the Yunnan Province in China. It is the most  oxidized black tea, and is aged to allow the flavors to mellow. Because of the aging process, a technique which is a well kept secret, this can be a highly desired and expensive tea. Once the leaves have aged, Puerh is frequently made into a compacted cake of tea. This small sample had loose Puerh leaves which I brewed for 5 minutes at 212 degrees. It yielded a very dark and hearty tea with strong cocoa notes. This aged Puerh has continued to mellow and produced an enjoyable mug of tea. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

National Hot Tea Day!

We hope you celebrated January 12th, the first National Hot Tea Day as declared by The Tea Council of the USA with several steaming cups of tea. While January has always been considered Hot Tea Month, designating a specific day as National Hot Tea Day is something new this year. The myriad health benefits associated with tea, coupled with the rich culture surrounding the growth, harvesting, and production of tea, and the ever growing population that enjoys tea, certainly gives merit to celebrating National Hot Tea Day. We lift our cup to everyone that shares our passion!

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Year, New Tea Cup!

The newest addition to the tea cup collection falls into the 'too pretty to use' category! This was a gift from an older sister, and I acknowledge that I'm so lucky to have sisters that are always on the lookout for beautiful English bone china cups!
 This Royal Adderley cup features Canadian Provincial Flowers, in particular the Ladyslipper Orchid. The markings on the bottom of the cup show that it is Fine Bone China, Made in England. The orchard design is beautiful and appears on both the cup and the saucer, with a bud tucked inside the cup. The golden edging around the top of the cup and the base of the cup along with the edge of the saucer coupled with the golden highlights on the orchid all capture my eye with delight. Special thanks for this pretty treasure!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tiny Tea Treasure

This little sweetie was a treasure tucked under the tree from Angelica. Reminiscent of the thatched roof houses we saw while traveling in England, and a quiet reminder of the many tea rooms we visited this past summer, it will find a special place of honor tucked on one of the shelves in the tea room. Something so small, yet so perfect!