Saturday, March 28, 2020

Red Thunder Ruby - TeaGardenia

Having recently treated myself to a selection of teas shipped directly from TeaGardenia in India, I've been enjoying an assortment of fresh flavorful tea and am quite happy to have this variety of teas to sip and savor while quietly waiting out the storm. The three large packets were the teas I ordered, while the two smaller packets were samples that Praveen tucked into the box. They boast 'creating tea moments for you', and 'Bringing exotic teas from the mountains to your doorstep'.

Each packet of tea includes the name of the tea, describes the aroma and the palate, plus recommended instructions per cup. According to the package, the Red Thunder Ruby, an oolong tea from the Gopaldhara tea estate features an aroma that is woody, with a hint of spices while the palate is described as having notes of wood and a hint of earthy and spices. A 4 minute steep at 85 Celsius with 2.5 grams of leaf in 180 ml water is recommended. Well - I did my best with those instructions, and brewed a tastefully smooth mug of tea. This Red Thunder Ruby tea has become my 'go to' tea in the morning, and easily adapts to a second steeping using the same leaves.

Service from India was very personalized and prompt. Praveen kept me informed of the package location almost daily. Check out their Facebook page or visit their Website.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Tea & Honey: An Evening Tea & Tasting

Lori Stahl. owner of BeeBees All Naturals joined us for a special event earlier this month. Lori maintains several apiaries in Lancaster and southeastern York County, and is an enthusiastic advocate about ways to help the bees, both for the general public and beekeepers. In addition, she is a vendor at the PA Tea Festival. We were pleased to welcome her to the tea room for an Evening Tea that featured honey and tea pairing.

The tea began with a salad of Spring Greens topped with sliced red onion, fresh strawberries, feta cheese and a
Creamy Poppyseed Dressing .
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 c. olive oil
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Add the first 4 ingredients to a food processor. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil to create a thick and creamy dressing. Add the mayo and poppy seeds and pulse a few times to blend. Store in fridge.
The sandwich medley included Loaded Egg Salad with Honey Mustard, Pepper Ham with Gruyere Honey Muffin, Honey Chicken Salad Sandwich, Pistachio Mascarpone Crostini with Basil and Honey Drizzle, and Apricot Pecan Sandwich on Whole Wheat. (Can you spot the little bee shaped cutout on this sandwich?)
The next course featured an Apple Scone served with Cinnamon Honey Butter and a bowl of Orange Blossom Honeyed Grapes. Both the cinnamon honey and the orange blossom honey were from Lori's wide range of delicious natural honey.                                                                   Orange Blossom Honeyed Grapes To prepare the grapes: Mix 2 lbs. grapes, washed & pulled from stems with 2 Tbsp. Orange Blossom honey, 1 tsp. brandy and 1 - 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped mint. Toss together and allow to blend several hours or overnight.                  
Dessert included a medley of treats: Wildflower Honey Pecan Bar, Bee Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Apple Pecan Baklava. Follow the links for two of the desserts, recipes from the National Honey Board.

Following the tea, there was a sampling of a variety of teas paired with flavorful honeys. Our guests sampled Chunmee Green Tea paired with Vanilla Honey. The Lemon Herbal Tea was paired with a Lavender Vanilla Honey. Eight Treasures (black and green tea blend with strawberry and pineapple flavor) was paired with Orange Blossom Honey while the Blue Lady (black tea with strawberry, kiwi, and coconut) was paired with Raw Honey, and finally, the Peaches and Ginger was paired with a Cinnamon Honey. Special thanks to Lori for supplying the honeys to be paired with this variety of teas from The Rosemary House. In general, the addition of the honey sweetened the tea and highlighted a more pronounced flavor to the teas.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Afternoon Tea at Olivia's Tea Room, Camp Hill, PA

Earlier this month, while Angelica was home for Spring Break, we ventured to Olivia's Tea Room on Market Street in Camp Hill, PA. Olivia's originally opened as a children's party place with birthday teas as their specialty. Growing up, Angelica attended two different birthday events here, one included an ice cream sundae bar and the other featured a 'create your own pizza' station. Now, in addition to the children's party, Olivia will provide a 5-course afternoon tea, by reservation, to groups (small or large) throughout the week. We were excited to have a private seating on a beautiful spring afternoon.

Pretty cloth rose napkins graced the table when we arrived. The owner proudly demonstrated how to fold the napkins to create this fun rose. Once we were seated, Olivia poured the house tea. The colorful brown betty teapots were hand painted by a local artist.

 After tea was poured, a cup of warm Pumpkin Spice soup was served. Very thick, very tasty, We all admired the double handled bowl and matching plate that held the soup.

A generous fresh salad with spring greens, sliced red berries, and feta cheese dressed with a yummy house dressing was the next course.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A plate of warm white chocolate pumpkin scones was offered as the following course. It was served with a fluffy cream and apple butter. The apple butter was a lovely complement to the pumpkin scone. In addition, a second tea flavor was offered in yet another colorful hand painted tea pot. 

The tiered tray was laden with a variety of sandwiches from a miniature quiche, to a cranberry bread with cream cheese and marmalade. The round sandwich with the heart cutout was a creamy olive egg salad. The top tier held sliced cucumber sandwiches topped with tomato pieces, and warm goat cheese balls.

Dessert included a miniature pineapple upside down cake, petite muffin, chocolate brownie, and a chocolate dipped strawberry.

 As decor in the tea room, there is a shelf full of dollies in various styles of dress, a collection that belonged to her niece. They cheerfully watch over the tea party. Olivia's also sells 18" doll clothing and accessories on the second floor.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Tea - 2020

Looking for a bit of normalcy in a topsy turvy world right now, we held our annual St. Patrick's Day tea before shuttering the tea room due to the state wide mandate. Essentially we're non-essential unless you consider the mental health aspect! The tea began with 'May the Luck of the Irish Be With You' Green Salad that included blueberries, kiwi fruit, Parmesan cheese and a fresh homemade lemon dressing. 

A plate laden with sandwiches included A Shamrock topped Sliced Turkey Sandwich with parsley shallot mayonnaise. Pecan Edged Major Grey Chutney Cheese Sandwich, Reuben Rolls with Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut and Corned Beef, a toasted Reuben on Rye Bread and O'Kelley's Oven Baked Creamy Chicken Pie.

The scone course included a Shamrock shaped Traditional Cream Scone and an Irish Soda Bread Scone accompanied with sweet cream and orange marmalade and fresh fruit. The Irish Soda Bread Scone is from Shelley and Bruce Richardson's book A Year of Teas at the Elmwood Inn. They graciously granted permission to share the recipe, follow this link.

And the little trio of desserts included an Emerald Isle Mint Frosted Brownie, Lucky Leprechaun Green Velvet Cupcake and a Chocolate Almond Truffle.

Today and everyday, our wish for you:
'May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go."

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Jawa Oolong from Indonesia - Teh 63

These tightly rolled oolong tea leaves from Indonesia produce a very fragrant and flavorful cup of tea. As the leaves steep, they unfurl into long beautiful leaves, releasing all the hidden flavors and healthful components found within the leaves. The process of the leaves unfurling during steeping is referred to as 'the agony of the leaf'.

Loose leaf tea triples in size during the steeping process. That magic is evident in this photo! Compare the dry tightly rolled leaves to the wet leaf after steeping. Amazing! It is best to steep this tea loose in the pot so that the leaves may properly unfurl, unrestricted in any way.

Also notable, these leaves may be steeped a second (even third) time to brew another pot. This premium tea, a gift from a family member that travels frequently and hand carried it back from Indonesia, produced a very flavorful cup with a sublime aroma. The typical 'nutty' flavor associated with an oolong is present in the cup.