“And I want a tea cozy. I don’t know what a tea cozy is, but I want one!”

Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I dont think Buffy is alone, I find many tea drinkers who visit our Carriagehouse Tea Room at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens do not know what a tea cozy is, or they may have heard about them but never seen or used one!  They are a very simple yet amazing invention to keep your tea warm in the POT.

It would seem their popularity has waned since the invention of the tea bag which in turn meant less people used a teapot. So, let’s try and get back on track, get the teapots back out, add some good loose tea and bring back the popularity of tea cozy!

The history of the tea cozy is not too well documented, though It seems unlikely to me that they were used when teapots first originated as the pots were small and tea was very expensive.  When William Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister in 1783 at the tender age of 24, he passed the Commutation Act which lowered the tax on tea, making tea more affordable and no doubt, the teapots bigger!

Anna Duchess of Bedford, who is credited with inventing afternoon tea, would have needed a tea cozy to keep her tea warm while exchanging news and gossip of the day.  A cold pot of tea would have cut the party short.  There are many antique tea cozys from this era with elaborate brocade, silk fabrics and intricate embroidery skills.

The tea cozy was used in North America in the same period. The Philadelphia Inquirer noted in October of 1892 that the tea cozy enjoyed a ‘sudden and unexpected rise in public favor’ among women who hosted tea parties.

The cozy flourished during the late 19th century appearing in many households but became less elaborate in time. There is an old tea tale which tells of a farmer who inadvertanly threw his wollen hat over the teapot returning much later to find his tea was still warm. Thus creating the first knitted tea cozy!

During my childhood in Yorkshire, we always had a tea cozy on our pot (even though many times the teapot sat on the hearth in front of the fire). We had an assortment of different designs as my mum was good at needlework and knitting but the ones with bobbles were always the most memorable, especially when many colors of wool were incorporated as shown in this picture. 

At Local Coffee + Tea, we have our very own tea cozy maker.  Janie Childers is a ‘Local’ and makes a variety of tea cozy with beautiful insulated fabrics to keep your tea nice and warm. Jane’s tea cozy is also wipe-able in case of spills. We have lovely spring designs which coordinate with many different teapots and 2 sizes to fit most teapots.

I have one that Janie made and also a knitted one that my Aunty Dinah made and wouldn’t be without them, they are truly part and parcel of having a good pot of tea. If you haven’t yet discovered the tea cozy, waste no more time, you will wonder how on earth you managed without one!

Also, we are now on Pinterest and have created a board for Tea Cozies.  Please pin your favorite Tea Cozy pictures or ‘like’ or comment on the tea cozy pictures we have pinned on our board.

Cheers,

The TeaLady

I am very excited to introduce the latest creation from Local Coffee + Tea, and a very special tea we created for the Junior League of Sarasota called ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’.  With this tea we celebrate the 2nd Annual Simply Sarasota Kitchen and Garden Festival April 13th through 15th.  The Kitchen and Garden Festival offers a variety of events including a Kitchen Tour, a Marketplace, a Celebrity Luncheon with the Royal Chef Darren McGrady, a Gourmet Beer Dinner and a Garden Tea Party featuring ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’.  Also part of the festivities is a tea class I will be teaching on both Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.  More details can be found from the Junior League of Sarasota web site.

The Junior League of Sarasota does so many wonderful projects for our community and at least $2 of every packet sold will go to the Junior League, so I thank you in advance for your support.

Simply Sarasota Tea

Now let me tell you a bit more about ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’, a caffeine free and sugar free blend of fruits and herbs such as strawberry, orange peel, apple, hibiscus petals and calendula.  Simply Sarasota Tea’ is excellent both hot or iced, and as we like to say about many of the teas from Local Coffee + Tea, puts a little bit of Sarasota in your cuppa.

This is the perfect time of year for this tisane, as one of the main flavors is Strawberry!  The abundance of this very Florida berry (Fragaria ananassa) is such a joy to see at the Sarasota Farmers Market where the tables are laden with punnets and the fragrance tantalizes us!  We celebrate the great strawberry flavor in this tea along with our very popular green tea, Strawberry Smile.

Another Florida favorite and a prodominant feature in ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’ is the flavor of Citrus limon or lemon. The lemon is world famous for its culinary uses and certainly adds character to this tea.

Apple (Malus domestica) is found in many of our fruit teas but we make no excuse as the fruit adds such great flavor and benefits. Containing anti-oxidants, flavonoids and pectin, a natural fiber of which apples are the richest source, and has recently been shown to act against bad cholesterol, decrease the chances of colon cancer and reduce high blood pressure. Quercetin, is also found in apples (and Black tea!), and belongs to a group of plant pigment flavonoids that help fight disease.

Another Florida fruit included in ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’ is Orange Citrus Peel. The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw, though adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. Citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and powerful antioxidants that belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids, which have the potential to lower LDLcholesterol levels.

Hibiscus Flowers (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a member of the mallow family and it brings a sweet mellow taste, harmony and wonderful color from the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body and is high in Vitamin C also having some calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron. In Folklore medicine Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic. We know Dr Oz is a big fan of Hibiscus, so it has to be good. Right?  We offer hibiscus petals and love to blend them with our ginger root, but that is another post.

We have another amazing fruit, the Rosehip peel (Rosa canina) from the Wild Dog Rose which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs. Rosehips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection and for this reason they are often called “false fruits”. The nutrient value is as rich as their color and they enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

2nd Annual Simply Sarasota Kitchen & Garden Festival

Lastly we have the flower Calendula officinalis or pot marigold included in ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’. The petals of ‘Pot Marigold’ will raise your spirit and cheer your heart adding splendid golden color to this caffeine free fruit blend.

I suspect the most popular way to serve this tea will be iced, and while I am not a fan of adding sugar to any teas, I must tell you a pinch certainly boosts the exotic flavor!  Like our Tea Wiz and Mote Beach Tea, ‘Simply Sarasota Tea’ will certainly raise your spirit but most importantly cool you and quench your thirst before, during and long after the 2nd Annual Kitchen and Garden Festival presented by the Junior League of Sarasota.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

You may have seen my earlier post about the newest tea from Local Coffee + Tea,  the Edison Ford Fruit Tea created to celebrate the beautiful winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford at the Edison Ford Winter Estates.  Recently I had relatives visiting from Yorkshire and decided to take a day trip south to the Edison Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.  If you read my blogs you know I like to share my tea experiences with you (England , Northern Michigan, South Carolina Tea Plantation) and as this one is on my own doorstep, I just have to share.  A ‘one tank trip’ not to be missed!

Bougainvillea

We had a simply beautiful day, blue skies and a nice breeze blowing from the Caloosahatchee river.  The grounds were spectacular with a riot of Bougainvillea, fruit trees starting to blossom and many variety of palm trees.  We stood in awe of an immense banyan tree, certainly one of the largest I have ever seen, even larger than the ones at Selby Gardens.

 My favorite place in the garden was an area by the swimming pool called ‘The Tearoom’ where Mrs. Mina Edison used to entertain guests.  I could so imagine them all seated in this tiled area with the breeze from the river, sipping  Edison Ford Fruit Tea which is a delicious blend of citrus, pineapple, mango and calendula [pot marigold petals] and is evocative of the ‘fruit teas’ often served to family and guests.
Both the Edison and Ford houses have large covered patios surrounding them where you are shaded from the sun, and the breeze from the river keeps you cool as you enjoy the furnished rooms on display.  I especially enjoyed the dining area of the Edison house where there is evidence of a love of tea, a collection of teacups belonging to the family.  Delightful!
In the museum there are so many wonderful pictures of the family and guests enjoying these two magnificent winter homes and surroundings. You can really linger over the many displays and presentations and we all found ourselves captivated in a journey back in time.
Our visit was a great success and  if you are from this area of paradise, then you should visit soon.  For those of you who are more than ‘one tank’ away (especially in colder climes!) and cannot visit I hope you will take the opportunity of picking up some tea online.
As always, my wish is that you will take some time for tea and enjoy Edison Ford Fruit Tea.  Let the tea take you back in time, you will not be disappointed!
Cheers,
the Tealady

What is the most wonderful thing for people like myself who follow the Way of Tea? The “oneness” of host and guest created through meeting heart to heart and sharing a bowl of tea.

Soshitsu Sen, Japanese of Tea

What is the most wonderful thing for a tea enthisiast like myself? Gathering a group of like-minded people who share the same enthusiasm and passion for continued learning of all subjects relating to TEA!

Our first Tea Class of 2012 showcased 6 teas from Local Coffee + Tea, in the serene setting of Selby Gardens.  The group explored each tea using all our senses; sight, scent, touch and taste, examining both the dry leaves as well as the tea leaves after steeping.

Dry leaves - Pear Mu Tan white tea

Dry leaves - Pear Mu Tan white tea

Each tea came from a different growing region of the world, and after a discussion about the origin and processing, we covered the correct way to brew a proper cuppa.  We end with a review of the many health benefits for each tea.

Here are the teas that we ‘sniffed’ and ‘sipped’ from Local Coffee + TeaPear Mu Tan, Festivi-Tea, Strawbango Black, Cochin Masala Chai, Chocolate Honeybush and Selby Select Rooibos.

You may be familiar with many of these teas from earlier posts…

Tea Class at Selby Gardens

Tea Class at Selby Gardens

If you missed this class, then do not despair! The next two classes are set for March 16th and April 10th.  Register online and learn more here.

Class starts at 10am and is a wonderful activity for a friend or spouse.  Be ready for  a hands-on experience, and bring your questions.

Hope you will be my guest next time and join me to ‘sip a bowl of tea’ and have a ‘heart to heart’ about this amazing beverage we all love so much- TEA.

Cheers,

The TeaLady

Many of life’s failures are from people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up

 Thomas Edison

Edison and Ford shaking hands

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal

Henry Ford

These two quotes say much about these two incredible men who are remembered in our community at the beautiful Edison Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. If you have not visited yet, I urge you to take time to go as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed, the grounds and homes are lovely and the many exhibits are fascinating.

When you visit you will also find the latest from Local Coffee + Tea, the Edison Ford Fruit Tea.  An exotic blend of fruits growing in the gardens of the Edison Ford Winter Estates, including mango, pineapple and assorted citrus.  A natural fruit tisane with no caffiene, the Edison Ford Fruit Tea was released before the holiday season and has been very popular with visitors.

The tea is now being brewed and sampled most days as part of the tour.  You will find packets of the Edison Ford Fruit Tea available for sale along with a lovely selection of teapots and other tea accessories.

Edison Ford Winter Estates

Local Coffee + Tea is thrilled to celebrate one more of our suncoast local treasures.  As we say, Sip Locally.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

‘The naming of teas is a difficult matter,

It isn’t just one of your everyday games—

Some might think you mad as a hatter

Should you tell them each goes by several names.

For starters each tea in this world must belong

To the families Black or Green or Oolong;

Then look more closely at these family trees—-

Some include Indians along with Chinese.”

T.S. Elliot, The NAMING OF CATS with liberties taken by Local Coffee + Tea :>

The naming of our latest tea was very difficult too and you have every right to think the name was taken straight from a T.S. Elliot book!  We are very excited to announce STRAWBANGO BLACK in time for the Holiday season and we know you will love this blend as much as we do.

STRAWBANGO BLACK is an organically cultivated black tea from the mountains of Sri Lanka.  Not only do we have a splendid tasting black tea, but two of our favorite Florida fruits are added for the perfect amount of exotic sweetness!  Scattered between the juicyness, you will find delicate Calendula blossoms.  A truly beautiful and aromatic tea.

Have you guessed what those fruits might be?  Strawberry and Mango of course, two fruits made for each other.

We are already planning to serve lots of this tea hot and iced both at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market and in the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens.  Also, I will be featuring STRAWBANGO BLACK in my tea class on December 13th.

Join us in celebrating this exceptional tea with a ‘bang’!  Gift yourself, a friend, or a member of your family with some loose leaf tea and celebrate the Holidays in style.

Cheers,

The TeaLady

‘I’m a tidy sort of bloke. I don’t like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy and pot in the pot box’

-George Harrison 1943-2001

I found this quote from my favorite Beatle very amusing. I also share the sentiment, excluding the part about the pot of course!

The tea caddy was a favorite kitchen item from my chilhood and I have memories of opening our caddy and inhaling the rich smell of loose tea when Mum gave me me instruction to “put the kettle on and make a pot of tea”.

A TEA CADDY is a box, jar, canister, or other receptacle used to store tea.  The word is believed to have derived from ‘catty’, the Chinese pound.  The earliest examples that came to Europe were of Chinese porcelain in the shape of a ginger jar.  They had lids or stoppers and were most frequently blue and white.

Tea Caddy from Ming Dynasty

Later designs used a variety of materials with wood becoming  very popular. Tea was very expensive so the caddies were locked and the keys only available to the lady of the house. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century the caddies became even more elaborate often mounted in brass and delicately inlaid, with knobs of ivory, ebony or silver.
As the price of tea decreased toward the end of the nineteenth century the use of lockable caddies declined.  Those precious tea leaves which had held pride of place in ornate boxes on mantles and sideboards in refined drawing rooms were relegated to cheaply produced tins and boxes that were stored in the kitchen.  That was the style of caddy you would find in our kitchen!
We have a few tea tins at Local Coffee + Tea as well as a few decorative cardboard tea caddies.  I still use several caddies in my kitchen today, one which is fashioned from a tin which used to contain a favorite British candy called Licquorice Allsorts. It makes an excellent tea caddy.
Do you have a favorite tea storage container?  Your comments are always welcome.
Cheers,
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