Monday, March 31, 2014

Traveling Tea Friends Meet in Berea, Kentucky

In November 2013 my friend, Linda J. at Friendship Tea blog, contacted a few tea friends saying she was considering hosting a tea gathering in her hometown of Berea, KY, and wanted our thoughts on the idea.  My immediate response was, "Count me in!"

I first met Linda on a 2007 tea tour to London, England and we have maintained a friendship ever since.  We met up again in 2010 at a tea gathering in Massillon, Ohio, and then in 2012 on a tea trip to Asheville, North Carolina [Biltmore Estate].  On the way to and from Asheville, Linda invited my girlfriend and I to spend the night at her house, so I already had a sneak peek of Berea, and knew it would be a fun and educational trip.  That trip is posted here.

Linda was Executive Director of Tourism in Berea, with an office in the historic 1917 L & N train depot [pictured below]. During her career she also owned a tour business called Hospitality Tours, so this gathering was the result of her experienced, skillful planning. Thanks for a wonderful time, and great memories, Linda!  

My girlfriend, Lori, and I departed from Michigan at 9:00 a.m. Monday, March 17th anxiously bound for Berea. We arrived shortly after 4:00 p.m.  Pictured below are exterior markers on Boone Tavern Hotel - Boone as in Appalachian hero, Daniel Boone, and Taven as in public inn for travelers, built in 1909.

Berea is a college town.  Berea College was founded in 1855, and has a current student body of 1,600.  Every student receives a full-tuition scholarship, a campus job, and a high-quality liberal arts education, making it like no other college in the nation.  Time didn't permit touring the campus during our stay.

Nellie Frost [below] was the wife of the college president.   One summer she welcomed 300 guests into their home for lodging and meals, prompting her to  suggest that a guest house be built - Boone Tavern Hotel.  When I was looking at photographs of prominent visitors, I noticed Henry Ford in the gallery [a little touch of Michigan in Berea, Kentucky! ;-)].

I knew we were in for a fun time when we checked in, and the envelope containing our room key was stamped with a teacup!  Our room was #212.  Somehow Linda managed to get us a room with two double beds instead of a room with a king-size bed to share.  A hotel key ring medallion was available for $3.50 upon check-out, so I bought one as a souvenir.  

Linda reserved the second floor Nutting Lounge as our private gathering place during our stay, and temporarily renamed it, "The Tea Parlor."  Lori's and my room was next to the parlor at one end, and Linda's room was at the other end. 

The hotel placed a reserved sign on the parlor door for us.  Made us feel like V.I.P.'s!  ;-)

The inside of the beautiful parlor.

Parlor windows from the exterior of the hotel.

Gift bags from Linda greeted us, containing a tea mug, journal, Berea memorabilia, and two "Berea made" kitchen utensils in cherry wood - a French tasting spoon, and a pair of tongs. Berea is the Folk Arts & Crafts Capital of Kentucky, so lots of unique things are made there.

Below is the "tea station" in the parlor with many tea selections, and all the equipage necessary for a "tea-filled" stay!  [The open door on the left was Lori's and my room.]

Angela M. at Tea with Friends blog, and Maureen R. at Tea and Talk blog arrived from Georgia shortly after us. Later in the evening we all had dinner together in the hotel dining room.  

I ordered "Pork Chops the Tricky Way" - Boneless, Breaded Pork Loin Chops served with Cheese Grits, Braised Greens, and Grain Mustard Cream.  Delicious Boone Tavern "Signature" Spoonbread preceded the entree, along with the recipe from the restaurant.  They sell the mix in the hotel gift shop too.

Following dinner, we went back to the parlor to await the arrival of Nancy R. at Rosemary's Sampler blog.  She was happy to arrive after a delayed flight.  We visited awhile, then all went to our individual rooms for the night, eagerly anticipating day two's activities - tomorrow's blog post!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Reflection...

Last Friday my hubby and I went to the theater to see the current #1 Christian movie in America, God's Not Dead.  

Two passages of scripture lay the foundation for the story line:  

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."  Matthew 10:32-33 [NIV]

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Luke 9:26 [NIV]

The Newsboys, a rock and pop-driven worship band from Queensland Australia, sing their song that was released in 2011, bearing the same name of the movie, God's Not Dead.
Refrain:  My God's not dead
              He's surely alive
                             He's living on the inside
                     Roaring like a lion...

The movie revolves around the lives of several individuals who are challenged and up against a world that believes God doesn't exist.

It's an excellent movie.  If you're a Christian it will strengthen your faith.  If you're not a believer, it will definitely give you a lot to think about.  Make plans to see it.  You'll be glad you did.

May God bless your week!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A New Black Tea and Herbal Tisanes to Try

The Plymouth Historical Museum sells [and serves at their events] a signature tea called "Mary's Blend" - A cherry and almond flavored black tea in honor of Mary Todd Lincoln.  I bought a small tin [$3.95] to bring home.  

I made a cup yesterday, and enjoyed it.  According to one statistic I recently read, 84% of tea consumed in the United States is black tea, most of which is flavored.

You truly meet the nicest people over tea.  When I finished my Hudson's presentation a lady named Laura came up and introduced herself to me.  She said she has been reading my blog ever since I visited the tea shop where she works, TranquiliTea, also located in Plymouth, MI I blogged about my April 2013 visit here.   

From reading my blog Laura knew I was leaving the next morning for Kentucky, so she gave me a gift bag filled with organic herbal tisanes to take along to try.  

Chartreuse herbal blends is a relatively new company established in 2006, and is based in Trenton, MI not far from where I live.  The herbal blends are currently sold at Whole Foods stores in seven states,  several local stores, and, of course, at their web site.

I took the tisanes with me and placed them by the tea station at the hotel, but there was such a wide variety of teas already there, and we kept so busy that they didn't get sampled. So I've been trying them one at a time now that I'm back home.  I like that they're a "Made in Michigan" product.

The first one I tried was Tucson Bold - it contains organic hibiscus, rose hips, lavender peppermint and stevia.  The steep time is 10-15 minutes for the fullest flavor.  The hibiscus makes the infusion a deep, ruby red color that's enjoyable either hot or iced.

The second one I tried was Moroccan Spice.  Of the two I've sampled this is my favorite so far. It also contains hibiscus and rose hips along with cinnamon, orange peel, lemon balm, and wood betony [all organic].  The steep time is five minutes longer, 15-20 minutes.  I think the spices in this blend help balance the tartness.  The infusion is a light red.

The company blends 13 different tisanes, and I have five more from Laura to try:  Evening Spa Blend, Mountain Green Blend, Brazilian Berry Blend, Pride of Africa Blend, and Dandelion Detox Blend.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Laura!  I wish I would have taken a picture of you at the Mad Hatter tea to share on my blog.  I will the next time we meet up.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sharing J.L. Hudson Memories with the Plymouth Historical Society

On Sunday, March 16, my hubby and I went to the Plymouth Historical Museum, in Plymouth, MI for a Mad Hatter Tea Party.  Executive Director, Elizabeth Kerstens, contacted me back in January about doing my J.L. Hudson's presentation for the program. We arrived at 1:00 p.m. to get set-up for the 2:00 o'clock tea.  The room was ready for 52 attendees, and ladies were busily preparing the meal - a Maurice Salad, of course!

The director, Elizabeth [at right],was busy with meal preparations.

Students from Northville High School Honor Society were servers.  They did a great job!  I smiled when I overheard one of the ladies concluding her instructions with them say, "Now go wash your hands as though you're preparing for surgery."  ;-)

Many of the attendees wore a hat - including one gentleman [left, orange hat].

Pictured below is Tricia and her mom.  Tricia won a prize for the hat she made.  Isn't she sweet?  She reminded me of my granddaughter, Isabella.

The tea-loving lady below made her hat too - front and back view.  Love the tea set on top!

She won first place!

Another secure man who wasn't afraid to be in a predominately female crowd.  He said he's a history buff who liked Hudson's.

The attendees were so attentive and responsive.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for the invitation to speak to your wonderful guests.  I thoroughly enjoyed sharing with them.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm Back!

Even though it's only been 17 days since my last post and blogging break, it seems like forever!  

I've missed sharing my tea adventures, and had to force myself to stay focused on my tea presentations until they were done.   I'm excited to be back now, and share everything that occurred while I was on break.  

On March 11th, I met a dear friend for lunch at P.F. Changs, Somerset location, in Troy, MI. 

I ordered Sesame Chicken with Brown Rice, Wonton Soup, and White Tangerine Tea. Everything was yummy!  Ruth and I hadn't seen each other for quite awhile, so getting caught up with each other's news was the best part of the lunch.

Ruth's mum lives in Worthing, England, and she sent a gift with Ruth for me.  The gift bag contained a beautiful porcelain tea caddy in the Blue Willow pattern, from Rington's Tea Company which has been in business since 1907.  The company, located in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East, England, still makes home deliveries!

~ Backstamp ~

The inside of the caddy lid has the initials of Rington's Tea imprinted.

Last year Ruth's mum sent me the Rington's teapot that matches this tea caddy.

~ Teapot backstamp ~

Thanks so much, Elizabeth!  I'm very grateful for your gifts to me!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Taking a Break...

I'm working on two upcoming speaking engagements. The first will occur at a tea next Sunday at Plymouth Historical Museum where I'll be speaking on the subject of Michigan's historic [and beloved] J.L. Hudson Department Store.  Details about the event are at my blog post here.

The next morning [Monday, March 17th], my girlfriend and I will drive down to Berea, Kentucky for a four day gathering with a small group of tea friends - four of whom [besides me] are tea bloggers: Friendship Tea [Linda J., coordinator of the gathering], Rosemary's Sampler [Nancy R.], Tea With Friends [Angela M.] and Tea and Talk [Maureen R.].

Linda has planned a wonderful itinerary that includes a tea and tasting at Bruce Richardson's Tea Shop in Danville, KY.  Another day is tea at Greentree Tea Room in Lexington, KY. We'll be staying at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea.

I'm excited about a second speaking engagement that will take place shortly after I return from Kentucky, on Tues., March 25th at Meadow Brook Hall. 

My 30 minute lecture, which will take place during an intimate Downton Abbey Style tea party for ten ladies in Mr. Wilson's study, will be about the history of tea during the Downton Abbey time period, and I will conduct three tea tastings.  I've chosen Harney & Son's Queen Catherine blend [black], Simpson & Vail's Earl Grey [green], and flaming Oolong.

Due to preparations for the speaking engagements and trip, I'm taking a short break from blogging, and hope to resume on March 26th.  I'm sure I'll be bubbling over with things to share, so please come back.  Until then, take care!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Royal Treat Tea Room

I recently learned about a scone shop called Just Delicious Scones, that relocated to a larger building, and is now a tea room called Royal Treat Tea Room.  It is located in the neighboring city of Roseville.  They don't have a website, but they do have a Facebook page. For local readers, their address is 28750 Utica Road.  

I decided to check it out this afternoon.

A small group was having a tea party at the back of the tea room that was just concluding.

A lovely lady named Gail was working.  She remembered me from when I worked at Tea by Three tea room.  Since it was late in the afternoon, and I was by myself, I didn't plan to have tea, but I called ahead to ask permission to take pictures for my blog, and the owner graciously granted permission.  It's a cute tea room that accommodates about 50.

Scones and unique baked goods are their specialty, and they outsource them to local food establishments.

I wanted to purchase some scones to go, so I asked Gail which scone was the very best seller. She said it was the first scone that Jennifer [the owner] made, cranberry-apricot. So that's what I bought. The scones sell for $.75 each.   I definitely plan to return when I can sit down for tea and lunch.

They carry a wide variety of boxed teas.

When I got home the cranberry-apricot scone made the perfect treat with a cup of apricot tea.

It was yummy!