“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

TeaLady at Edison Ford Winter Estates

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

In 18th century England Tea was an expensive commodity, heavily taxed and a luxury for the rich. At that time coffehouses were popular meeting places for social interaction where news and views were exchanged, though women were banned!  Because of escalating drunkenness of the working classes (gin and ale being their drinking options) it was decided to start serving tea to ‘persons of inferior rank’. Many new cafes and coffee houses opened as alternatives to pubs and inns leading to the Temperance movement.

The Preston Temperance Society of 1823 was started in the north of England by Joseph Livesey to promote abstinence from alcoholic beverages.  The movement quickly spread throughout England and to the States. In the village where I was raised in Yorkshire, there was a  hotel called the Temperance Hotel.  The picture above depicts Christian women in the New York promoting the movement .

It is not clear where the term ‘Teetotaler” originated and why someone who never drinks alcohol is referred to as such, but it has nothing to do with tea.  However, the movement laid the foundation to something that would change the world.

In 1864 the Aerated Bread Company opened what would become known as the ABC Teashop. The manageress of this London based company had been serving tea and snacks gratis to customers of all classes, and received permission to open a commercial tea room on the premises.  This created a place where women of the Victorian era could take a meal ‘unescorted’ without sullying her reputation!

Soon other companies followed and from the 1880’s onwards, fine hotels began to offer tea service. Going out to tea became a fashion reaching its heyday in the Edwardian era (1901-1914).  By 1913, tea was an elaborate and stylish affair served in palm courts with string quartets playing, leading to the even more fashionable tea dances.  How I would have loved to have been part of the era!

Changes in social patterns and lifestyle came about and fashions change.  Cocktails once again became popular, though tea continued as the choice of drink at home and the workplace.

Thankfully there is a new surge of interest in tea drinking and going out for tea.  I have enjoyed some recent outings myself as you can see in previous posts.  Tea dances are enjoying a revival and tea parties are becoming a popular option to celebrate weddings, family events and gatherings as our sister company, Local Catering offers.

Whether you are a Teetotaler or totally into to tea, please join Local Coffee + Tea in this fascinating journey of TEA through the centuries.  Maybe the best is yet to come!

Cheers, the TeaLady

Lovely morning at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  We are very comfortable in our new spot in front of the Java Dawg Coffee Bus, sort of their hood ornament.  We will not be at the market this Sat (10/15), but back the following Saturday (10/22)

We offered three superb teas for sampling including our best selling Selby Select Rooibos, our Assam black tea and white tea we call Pear Mu Tan. (link to earlier post on Pear Mu Tan)  We created Selby Select to celebrate Marie Selby Gardens and the GartenFest Music Series that kicked off on Sunday.  Each Sunday Selby presents a performance under the majestic banyan trees.  Our sister company, Local Catering serves OktoberFest inspired foods and beers, along with lots of Selby Select tea.

This week’s picture is of a few ladies basking in the glow of our teas.  See the entire album at our Facebook page, Local Coffee + Tea – Tea Journey.

Basking in the glow of our tea

We offer these 3 teas at a discount from our online shop and as always all orders over $40 ship at no charge.

Sip Locally

md

Whenever we sample Selby Select at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market it is a good day.  Selby Select is our best selling tea and was created to celebrate Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  Orange peel and trace yogurt blended with rooibos, Selby Select is a bit of sunshine in your cup.  Caffeine free sunshine!

We also sampled iced Earl Grey and a green tea from Kenya, Kosabei Plantation FAIR TRADE.  We posted Who is Earl Grey? earlier this week and here is a link to a earlier post about rooibos.   This week we will offer $1 off packet of all three teas; Selby Select, Earl Grey and Kosabei Plantation FAIR TRADE green tea for online purchases.  And all orders over $40 ship at no charge.

Picture of the day is Papa Peperonata, Adrian with his son Nico.  See our Facebook page for the entire album.

Papa Peperonata and Nico

We are off next Saturday so see you in September.  Sip Locally.

md

Most tea lovers are familiar with Earl Grey.  One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup.  This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.

What about the man behind the tea?

Earl Grey

Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.  He became the 2nd Earl Grey, was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats) and he became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22!  His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France, to which he was very opposed.  He was involved in four years of political reform, the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons) and had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.

The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,

‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’

Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed the life!  He was said to be tall, slim and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife and fathered at least one illegitimate child!  Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.

There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure!  According to the most popular legend a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men, first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803.  This legend seems to have little basis as the Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China.  Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.

While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world.  Many people who I chat with in the Carriage House Tea Room at Selby Gardens do not care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey. I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea and the quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount! Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.

Loose Leaf Earl Grey

Contrary to my British tea drinking habits, I have become a fan of Iced Earl (Me thinks the Earl would not approve!)  Delicious, so be sure to try for yourself.  When brewing Earl Grey hot, I actually infuse for only 2 minutes and then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves.  It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too.  ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy.

Try our premium blend of Earl Grey from Local Coffee + Tea.  You may be surprised to find you like the Earl, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.

Cheers,

the TeaLady