The Gracious Tea Party Guest

When I host an event, I’m inevitably asked by one or more of my guests, “Is there anything I can bring?” Often, these are the very guests who did not RSVP in a timely manner and we’re holding this conversation only a few days or hours before the event.

I understand that for many in our culture, especially here in California, gatherings are casual, last-minute, and free-flowing. I believe everyone needs close friends and family where this is true. However, as a general rule, there are a few very basic courtesies that Tea Party Girl dreams of all guests understanding. It simplifies the invitation process for the hostess and the guest.

The Top Three Actions of the Gracious Guest According to Tea Party Girl*

  1. RSVP ASAP. When the gracious guest receives an invitation, she lets the hostess know as soon as she is able whether or not she will attend.
  2. She brings a hostess gift, she doesn’t ask what she can bring. If it is a potluck/group effort, the hostess will communicate this.
  3. She, the guest, arrives and departs in a timely manner.

Ignoring any of the above three simple courtesies communicates to the hostess that the guest does not know or appreciate the heart and work that has gone into preparing for said guest.

The goal of etiquette is not to promote stuffiness but to know the simple and beautiful ways to communicate honor of one another through our actions. Do you agree?

*I used feminine pronouns for simplicity’s sake.

June 26, 2007 at 6:41 pm 3 comments

Two Packages of Tea Party Supplies!

In one day!

As I ran off to beautiful Sierra County last Friday, I received not one, but TWO packages filled with surprises for Tea Party Girl.

The first came as a result of participating in my first swap through The Partea Planner. My new blogging friend, Robin of Pensieve, was my partner. She sent me a box filled with treats, each individually wrapped. The presents were based on the swap’s theme in honor of our hostess: P.A.R.T.E.A. She sent me a description of the box contents on a beautiful hand-stamped card. I took a picture of it, though it came out blurry (Sigh-I’ll learn, I’ll learn…)

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Pretty Lemon Tea Cookies and Mint Julip Tea

Assorted Hand-stamped Note-cards (thank you for the tea-themed ones, Robin!)

Robin’s Handmade Butter Mints and Raspberry Tea (the butter mints were a hit with the children, as you can imagine!)

Tea Time Magnetic List Pad

Emilie Barnes Gift of “Canned Questions”

A Mary Englebreit “Christmas Ideas” craft book (with a reference to page 9-a teapot ornament)

Saucers and teacups times two (she sent two! And I don’t think ‘S’ was part of the theme. So I received a double-portion!)

As Tea Party Girl, it touches me to connect with a new friend this way. It reminds me of the thrill of the old-fashioned pen-pals of childhood. Unfortunately, we can’t connect over a pot of tea in real life. But despite the distance (she lives in Tennessee) we shared a piece of our hearts with one another through gifts (and tea-themed gifts at that!). I treasured it! Thank you, Robin. (To see the package she received from me, be sure to visit her blog’s post on the swap. We both sent something related to Mary Englebreit to each other~very fun!)

As well, Mom graciously included me in the World Tea Expo as much as possible. I received a package from her as well! We read a ton in our family and she filled the package with tea reads. (The ribboned box you see in both of the following pictures is the scone mix Mom received as a gift during the tea with Jane Pettigrew. I look forward to trying it!)

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This package of tea reads included a copy of the Tea House Times, Tea Time Magazine, Tea and Coffee Magazine, the World Tea Expo main publication and an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Tracy Stern’s new book, “Tea Party”, which I’ve added to my Tea Reads Amazon Store.

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Tracy exhorts us to enjoy life, drink tea, and celebrate often. I found her book user-friendly with simple, modern ideas to include tea (properly chosen and brewed, I want to add) in celebrations and parties. The Summer Picnic Tea Party inspired me enough to plan a tea party gathering for my friends with birthdays in July and August.

Thank you again, Robin and Mom, for a lovely Tea Party Package Day.

June 25, 2007 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

The Tea Party in the Woods

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Tea Party Girl married Plays with Fire Boy. This means he knows what it is like to be the only man at afternoon tea and I pack life into the woods every now and again. Now that the baby is six-years old, I expect family camping to happen with even more frequency than before. I find myself wrestling through an interesting exercise of letting go of typical comforts as I pack for the weekend.

Now, I packed the loose-leaf tea. But it will brew over the open fire in a cast-off tea kettle. Notice I said, BREW. At home I prepare the filtered water in the tea kettle, brew it in my Elegant Blue Teapot* (with the help of a tea timer), and keep it hot through the morning in a carafe. When I am in the woods, I will brew the tea in the same kettle I boiled the water in with an estimated amount of leaves for an estimated length of time. It is yet to be seen whether I can sneak my carafe past Plays with Fire.

I already decided I can’t sneak past candles, fresh flowers, wine glasses, teacups, or fancy food. As I laid in bed last night on my Englander mattress and French linens I thought through how my senses will be nourished this weekend.

Sight-the beauty of Tahoe National Forest. While I remain a firm believer the Creator’s handiwork paired with our creation produces incredible beauty and goodness, there’s nothing like nature to remind us who bears whose image.

Sound-We only visit non-RV hook-up places. My idea of a new earth includes no automobiles. I relish the sounds of the woods awakening and dead quiet at 2am.

Touch-At 6000 feet elevation, so much remains untouched. Especially the air. Stepping outside a tent in the dawn awakens this sense better than anything else I normally experience.

Taste-It’s really true. Ordinary food tastes better cooked and eaten outdoors. It’s why God gave us summer.

Smell-Pureness. Of air, creation, unpolluted lake and creek waters and Anne Shirley’s Almond Black brewed over the open fire first thing in the morning.

See you Monday, dear readers (and you, my Elegant Blue Teapot)~

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June 22, 2007 at 8:46 am Leave a comment

Know Your Tea Party Experts #1

While some of you may differ on my choices, (and I would love to hear your input!) every industry has it’s pioneers and experts and Afternoon Tea is no different. This list can’t include the many, hardworking tea room owners out there nor those who are not as widely published, but possibly just as knowledgeable. But if you are learning about tea, hosting teas, learning to love tea, going to tea parties and wanting to know more, over the next few weeks I’m planning to unveil Tea Party Girl’s list of the best and the brightest.

Jane Pettigrew–a prolific tea writer, she’s been called the “first lady of tea.” From London, she travels widely to tea cultures around the world. One of her most well-known books, “The New Tea Companion“, co-authored with Bruce Richardson (also in Tea Party Girl’s Top Ten) is often considered the authoritative guide to tea, especially for Western culture. Her experience and writings cover not only tea the beverage, but tea the service and elevates the celebration of afternoon tea.

Ms. Pettigrew also co-wrote two city authoritative guides to taking tea~one for London, and one for Paris*. If ever life presents an opportunity to visit either of these cities, and you are an afternoon tea fan, take these guide books along. Filled with choices, any afternoon tea niche can be found among the pages, along with honest, intelligent reviews.

My mother recently attended an event sponsored by the Southern Association of Tea Businesses where Ms. Pettigrew was the keynote speaker. With a chance to meet her briefly, Mom prepared her question ahead of time. “Why,” Mom asked, “do the English insist on brewing their tea incorrectly?”** Ms. Pettigrew, after all, is from England and works extensively with the British Tea Council, promoting tea as a modern drink needing to compete in the modern market.

You can find out more information about the First Lady of Tea here and here. Again, if you are a reader (which I assume you are since you’re reading this!) and interested in learning more about tea’s traditions, wares, culture, and types, pick up a copy of her authoritative text.

June 21, 2007 at 11:05 am 1 comment

Cheering for Tea Times’ Elegance

Karen over at Sweet-Necessi-Teas started a Conversation about Tea today. She writes of sometimes being questioned about her choice of pursuit~devoting her shop to tea clothing and accoutrements. After all, there aren’t clothing and accessories shops for just for drinking many other beverages. She explains it very well. “Tea is a way to bring elegance into every day life.” A girl after my own heart!

Karen, if people question your darling shop~imagine starting a tea party-themed blog, in the middle of summer, no less! Yes, lovers of taking tea passionately desire to bring the tea time elegance to others’ daily lives. This includes myself, Karen, and hopefully the owner of your local tea room.

Tea Party Girl is only three weeks young, and so many of you have stopped by for a visit already. Thank you for your encouraging comments! I especially love to hear that the elegance of the tea time comes through these pages and refreshes you, even just a little bit. I am working hard to build content of value and worth to encourage you in your tea time endeavors. If you have found that to be true, say thanks by choosing to favorite it with Technorati and let others know I’m here.

Meet me for tea at three,

Tea Party Girl

June 20, 2007 at 10:32 am 3 comments

Tuesday’s Simple Tea Tip-A Tea vs. A Tisane

The more you learn about tea, the more products you will find that call themselves a tea. However, all true teas come from the tea plant, the camellia senensis plant. It only grows in one part of the United States at the Charleston Tea Gardens, but almost all tea comes primarily from the five following countries: China, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Sri Lanka. Their climates are conducive to the success of the camellia senensis plant~higher altitudes, high moisture, etc. You can find more information here.

Herb teas are not teas at all, but tisanes, meaning they are another plant brewed in very hot to boiling water to release a characteristic of the plant into the water. Our grocery and health food stores are filled with herb tisanes sold as teas, when they contain no tea in them at all. Black, oolong, green, and white teas are all made from the same plant, but oxidized for a different length of time (or in the case of white tea, not at all).

Many people are still jittery (pun intended) about the caffeine in tea, despite the fact that a cup of black tea holds 1/3 the caffeine of the same cup of coffee. Therefore, when planning a tea party, it’s a good idea to plan to serve two teas, including one tisane. Someone may ask for no caffeine, and you’ll be prepared.

Two other options include serving a rooibos tisane, available in every imaginable flavor, or naturally decaffeinating the tea. Your call. However, it is still primarily the case that those who avoid all caffeine are looking for an herb tisane to drink.

June 19, 2007 at 10:29 am 2 comments

The Tea Party and the Summer Solstice

 

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This week brings the longest day of the year. Where I live, the weather-people predict it will reach the mid-90s. Does this mean it is not the season for the tea party? On the contrary!

 

“Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors,” Alice Walker said. The spirit of the tea party and picnics DO go together. The flavors of summer burst out of our gardens, produce stands, and BBQs. Why place the beauty of afternoon tea on the shelf?

Summer is when we have TIME (or we’re supposed to anyway) to reconnect with ourselves, nature, and others. Planning a tea party picnic-style can become a summer tradition. The children in your life delight in dressing up and taking tea out under the shade tree with lemonade and mud pies. Consider connecting with the wonder of a childhood summer day and plan a tea party summer-style.

 

Simple Tips: Brew some iced tea. Dress in an airy skirt or linen shirt. Fill a vase with fresh flowers (if you’re lucky, you can pick some right from your backyard as it’s the height of flower harvest season). Stop by a produce stand and buy some berries. Visit your local bakery and pick up a little-touch-of-something (let the professionals heat their ovens this summer). Find a tablecloth and spread it on the grass or a little round table. Buy some real cream in the form of creme fraiche or ice cream (for the berries, not the tea). Put a few glass-clear tumblers in the freezer to chill. Last, grab a pen and paper, book, or the phone. Settle under the shade tree and write a letter, connect with a favorite character, or invite a friend over. Savor the summer and don’t leave the teapot on the shelf.

I received this quote from Lady Dawnya today that applies to the summer tea party.

“Perhaps that is the true gift of a teatime celebration: It fills our cups with joy and warmth and friendship. May the echo of the teacups’ message be heard not only at Christmas, not only on special occasions, but anytime friends come together.”–Emilie Barnes

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

June 18, 2007 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

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