Miss Minerva’s

I’ve blogged about downtown Culpeper before.  The last couple of times I’ve been, I’ve seen Miss Minerva’s, but didn’t have time to stop.   I still haven’t been in, but that’s the beauty of a BFF…  I merely mentioned it existed to Bec, and voila!  Some of the special Christmas blend showed up in my pile of presents.   It’s a lovely, spiced black tea that’s just right on a frigid winter morning.  Gretchen likes the aroma too, but Sissy doesn’t seem to be impressed; she’d rather the Knight share some of his Apple Jacks and/or the milk!

Photo borrowed from Miss Minerva's website

Doesn’t that photo – borrowed from their website – make you want to meet me there?

We interupt my posting to share that begging works; both dogs are licking the Kight’s cereal bowl clean.  He did eat all the cereal, but he evidently poured extra milk with the intent to share all along.  Hem.

Back to the blogging at hand.

I’m also reading more of the Tea Shop cozies.  They’re perfect reading at the moment.  And G, I’ve “met” Angie Davis now, so feel free to rant away about whatever you wanted to say when you stopped because I didn’t know who she was…

How was your weekend?  I have a finished object to share eventually, and we had a nice birthday dinner for Dae and two friends Saturday night.  I’m knitting away on the baby blanket for a friend due oh… next week?, and waiting for the next big snow.  We had a bit over the weekend.  Snow makes me happy!

Don’t forget that January is National Hot Tea Month.   Too bad I don’t have time to go to Miss Minerva’s with a friend or two…

Tea Network

Tea, the friendship-builder.  Tea, the networking tool.

Week 4: January 24-30
“Whom have you met because of something related to tea? Share something about this person and how your relationship began and blossomed.”

Cute little tea magnets

I can’t begin to count the friendships I’ve made through tea.  Instead, I’m going to mention a couple of significant ones, and note that I thoroughly enjoyed hosting the tea swaps, meeting so many tea lovers, and making new friends.

To clarify, I’m not sure how many people I’ve actually MET through tea related things, but it’s amazing how a shared love of tea has deepened many connections in my life. 

Because I never pulled out my camera while we were together, I don’t have a photo of Ruth.  I could steal one from her, but I won’t.  I can however, remind you of the tea she brought me when we met in person!    Tea, dogs, books, knitting, and a friendship was born.   We’ve shared one cuppa’ in person, and countless more as we email, read each other’s blogs and chat on Facebook almost daily!

I was thoroughly spoiled in one tea swap by Nannette.   Just because life gets in the way and we don’t chat regularly doesn’t mean I don’t still think of Nannette.  The garden flag she gave me still graces the back deck.

I believe tea swaps introduced me to Holly too, and as tea tends to do, I then got to know her sister Lacey.  (I have the flowering teas in my car, and next week when MJ is back in the office some, I’ll be able to get things shipped!)  They’re both kind, thoughtful, talented women and maybe one day, life will let us share a cuppa’ in person.

While I could go on all day, I’ll close by mentioning Wendy.  I’m not sure which swap brought us together, but she’s shared a lot of tea with me, in person and by mail.   In fact, I can’t  recall a time we’ve gotten together she hasn’t handed me some new tea finds to try.  (Now THAT is a true tea friend!)

I couldn’t begin to list all the friendships I’ve made through tea, whether tea brought us together or not.  Please know that if I didn’t mention you, I still adore you and appreciate the teas you’ve shared with me!

Tea is a special part of so many of my friendships, all the way back to my toddler days, when a neighbor lady took on my mother and insisted I could – WOULD – have a proper tea with her.  There’s just something cementing about sitting down with a cuppa’ and another person… if they aren’t a friend when you plop down, they will be before the last sip!

Thanks again Ruth, for continuing this Hot Tea Month tradition.  Sip on!

Tea house, Treehouse

Week Three: January 17th-23rd
If I could have my own Tea House this is how I would run things…..

Wow…  Ruth wanted to stretch our tea imagination, didn’t she?

I’m going to have to try to paint word pictures to illustrate my points, but this is truly uninspired by anything I’ve experienced.  I’ve never been to a “proper” tea house, meaning a business whose main purpose is to serve tea.  I’ve been TO tea at hotels and such, and certainly Keswick Hall, in my own back yard, does as nice a tea as anyone around.  (Hem, hem… there are no tea houses in the area, so…??)

A dusky view from the front porch, OBX 12-09

If you’re new to my blog, you might not know that I am most comfortable either at the beach, taking tea on our ocean-view screened porch or taking tea on my own deck, which is rather like being suspended in the woods.

Gretchen offers a glimpse of the fall views from the back deck, 10-09

That last photo is also a hint of what I have in mind.  I see a cottage off the beaten path somewhere, perhaps in a beach or mountain resort town.   It would have a beautiful garden in the front of the house, and you’d walk up the cobblestone path into a spacious foyer, with a happy retail room to one side.  After all, don’t we all want to take our new tea love home with us, be it a loose tea, a pretty cup, or a new book with tempting teatime recipes galore?

Photo by our own Scrabblequeen... one cup & saucer is mine, the other, hers

Then, there would be at least three different settings in which to take tea.  There would be a buffet of sorts in one room, with a roaring fireplace on cold days, and big, comfy chairs scattered about in pairs, with a fluffy loveseat or two here and there.  Think Panera’s, without the glass and all the other tables and chairs.  I know I often shop and sup alone, so I’d want an inviting spot for people to drop in unannounced, alone or with a friend, to use the free wi-fi connection, have a cuppa’, knit… 

Big comfy loveseat with tea tray for two

In another room, there would be comfortable, more traditional tea room furnishings.  (But do note that COMFORT comes first.)  Still, it isn’t a crowded room; none of these spaces are set up for maxium occupancy, but rather, for optimal enjoyment.  I want to be able to SNOL – snort out loud – and not offend the ladies at the next table too much.  Wait staff would attend to customers in a traditional fashion in this room.

Springtime view off the deck, 4-08

Finally, there would be an outdoor area, with access from within the shop or down another little path from outside.   Just as many pet boutiques are offering tailgates and socials for pets and their owners, I’d like a spot where a gal and her best friends can unwind together.  I’m thinking the outdoor area would be tiered, with pets only on the lower level, because while I am always happy to be with my dogs or anyone else’s, I know some of you are allergic, just aren’t that into pets, and/or simply want to get away!

Think english country chic, with assorted cups and saucers, and one last time, comfort abounds.  Managing is more than just setting the tone, so there would be a great pastry chef on staff, a Keurig for the coffee drinkers who lovingly followed their favorite tea drinker(s) to the tea house.  Of course, there would always be a glass pitcher of true Southern sweet tea in the refrigerator, and Virginia style ham biscuits would always be tucked into the buffet, along with some other heavier fare. 

Loose tea would be served, along with real cream, clotted cream for the scones, etc.  The staff would be trained to offer substitutions for those accustomed to mainstream tea bags, so that everyone has a great experience and can’t wait to come back.  So, that’s a quick tour of my little ideal tea house. 

(And no, I have no plans to open such a venture, but if you’re ever in the neighborhood, let’s meet for a cuppa’!)

Chai Forgot

While reading Monica‘s post, I realized I forgot chai.   I’m not precisely sure where it fits in the tea purist’s world, but I am no purist.  My own short and dirty definition of chai is that it’s an Indian beverage that blends black tea, spices, sugar and milk to make the most wonderful drink.  (If you click on the link above, Wikipedia will give you its lengthy, more precise explanation.)

Mugsy circa 9-06, perhaps waiting for a sip of chai

I don’t recall who introduced me to chai, but it was one of you, an internet buddy.  I’ve yet to try to make my own, in part because I took about a two-year hiatus from chai when Mugsy died.  Each of our fur-kids has had a couple of wacky food cravings, and chai was one of Mugsy’s.  That little guy would go NUTS when he smelled it simmering!  He’d race to the kitchen and park in front of the stove until I poured the liquid into a low, big mug.

For some reason, I’ve always taken my chai in these mugs.    Something about their low, spacious dots just seems right to me for chai.  I’d read somewhere that chai was traditionally served in shallower, large cups… 

Actually, I enjoy Celestial Seasonings chai varieties.  They change from time to time, and the Knight snagged a box of the coconut on Sunday’s grocery run.  I wish I had it with me now, but that’s just one more reason to long for the late afternoon and going home!

So, there’s no plied or otherwise finished spinning to share, nor did I pick up that second sock from 2009 to finish up.  Instead, I caved to peer pressure and cast on for Citron AND a sock mini KAL with some of those stash-bustin’ gals from the Stash Sock Club.   Hem, hem.  Don’t judge me.  Knitting’s my therapy, remember?

How goes your week, now that we’re half-way to the weekend?

Thinking Hot Thoughts

I’m brewing a cuppa’ as I type, which along with Monica‘s post, reminded me that I need to post week two’s discussion points…

Tell us about your favorite teas. Do you prefer black, green, white, red, or “herbal”? Do you like added flavors such as fruit, flowers, vanilla, chocolate, or spices, or are you a “purist”?

If I had to choose just one tea to drink for the rest of my life, hands down, it would have to be an Earl Grey.  It was my first tea, and I guess first loves really do stick with you.  (Y’all know I married my third-grade sweetheart, right?)  The Harney & Sons shown on the left is one often in my cupboard, but I also confess to having the best and kindest friends ever, so the precise brand varies.

But preferences?  Stay away from the red “rooibos” tea, and I’m game for most anything. 

I don’t like vanilla so much, but I do love chocolate mint teas.  In fact, I’m sipping one now. 

White teas, I like with a fruity twist.  Trader Joe’s makes a great pomegranate white tea.  It’s a tea BAG!  While I am a tea snob and prefer loose teas, I’m not going to deny that tea bags have a place in my life, and this is one of them. 

Green teas?  It’s all in the brewing.  Frankly, I only know of one other person who can brew the perfect cuppa’ for me, and that’s because she educated me in the delights that come from using the right water temperature and brewing times, especially for white and green teas.  

That’s my secret to the perfect tea, every time.  The Knight produces a perfect cuppa’ too, thanks to this baby.  He just has to figure out if it’s a white tea (there’s a Sharpie mark on my pot at home where I’ve found just the right brewing temperature), green (again, a mark in that green region near center on the dial), or black (of course!  a mark in the brown region).  That, and head for the low end of the recommended brewing time, and I’m all set.

Herbals have their place in my life.  Sissy comes by her love of peppermints naturally  erm, through me.  Celestial Seasonings Tummy Mint has been a staple in my tea cabinet for as long as I can remember.  I’m pretty sure I found it as an adult, out on my own, but I can’t recall when I was introduced to this balm.  I also keep plain ol’ peppermint, chamomille, something lemon, something orange and some version of a bring on the sleep tea in the cabinet.

Flowers.   On the table or in the garden, but not in my teas.  The fancy “art” teas like this are the worst.  It might make a neat centerpiece if I cared to sort out the details, but I’ve tried several brands, assorted varieties, and I just don’t like ’em.   Harney’s Chinese Flower loose tea is the sole exception.  It is one of a handful of teas that I always have on hand.

I do like to try new teas.  The Knight knows he can score brownie points for pointing out and/or purchasing teas that fit the above criteria.   This time of year, a good find will require a double purchase, because it needs to be on hand at home and at work. 

Well, I’m sure that’s quite enough of my babble about tea.   Please feel free to join in, for a single topic or for all of Hot Tea Month, over at the blog!  Don’t forget to link in if you do post!

I’m in the mood for…

… tea!

It’s time for the first discussion point  in the Hot Tea Month Blog-a-thon

But first, I have to note that yesterday was Ruth‘s – our tea hostess – own blogiversary.  How fitting that a lady of tea began her blogging career during Hot Tea Month, no?

So… the topic.

Week One: January 3rd-9th“Tea as a mood lifter: How does tea improve your day? What is your favorite time for a nice, hot cuppa?”

Oh goodness… there is no easy answer.  Tea improves my day in so many different ways.   Just the very ritual of making tea – the water has to be the right temperature, which cup, mug and/or teapot suits the purpose?, and the waiting on that perfect brewing time – soothes me.

Then, there are the memories.  Just about every flavor of tea has a memory associated with it, be it a gift from a friend, or a tradition from some cuppa’ shared long ago…

From a Woolgirl Embrace the Lace shipment

Not to mention that so many of my cups and mugs were also gifts…

Aladdin built-in brew basket travel mug

As for the perfect time, well, any time is the right time for tea!  I do tend to like a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, but for instance yesterday, I craved a nice strong, English Breakfast tea instead.  I tend to move through the tea spectrum as the day goes on, with black teas earlier in the day, then greens, then after dark, whites or herbals. 

(We are just talkin’ hot tea here.  Being a good Southern gal, iced tea – not to be confused with the sweet tea the Knight favors – is good for every waking moment in the warmer months.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go brew a pot of something fragrant and happy!

Hot, hot, hot…

Tea cozy by Ruth, teapot from Rosanne

Don’t you love hot tea?  Come on, I know many of you do!  Won’t you join the Hot Tea Month Blog-a-Thon?   Be sure to scroll down to the first post and sign in via Mr. Linky, then post the first question on your blog… 

I’ll be back later.  Okay, probably tomorrow.   Sissy wants to thank everyone for caring about her.  She’s not enjoying the ear medicine twice daily, and she has no idea that as soon as the special food arrives… 

Well, happy fake friday, and have a great New Year’s Eve if you’re celebrating!

DoTea and more

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush…

Kudos to Sue on her first post for Dogs on Thursday!   Managing the group’s blog is now a group effort, and Sue was the brave soul who took on that first post.  Thanks, Sue!

My own DoT post is a bit of a tale.  When Mugsy died, I took his name tag and put it on a keyring with Fred’s tag.  I was crushed when I realized it was missing just a few weeks later.  I had no idea when or where I’d lost it, so imagine my surprise when I saw this in the Garden a couple of weeks ago:

How it got there, I don’t know.  I’m calling it a miracle.  The Knight suggested one of the girls found it and dropped it there, which is highly unlikely; of all the things they put in their mouths, metal ain’t one of them.  Someone else suggested a bird, but I’m sticking with my own little miracle.  I called Mugsy “Angel Boy” when he was younger, and I still talk to the boys and ask them to look out for the fur-girls.  To say finding this warmed my heart is an understatement.

So, tea.  This week’s topic is about sources/vendors.  I’ll pick tea up most anywhere.  I prefer loose tea, but tea bags have their place too.  I mentioned my go-to-source on the other blog, but I also order a good little bit from Adagio.   They have a neat custom blend section, and always send a free sample along of something.

I have another FO, so now I’m two reports behind.   In the meantime, here’s Sissy rockin’ her new cowl, which she loves VERY much. 

Gretchen will be in the office this afternoon, so I can take her to the vet for her last batch of puppy shots before tonight’s meeting.   Perhaps some cuteness will happen…

Happy little Friday!

Hot Tea Month Week #2

The most exciting part is our button, courtesy of Ruth‘s camera and Monica‘s techie skills. 


The topic: Describe your perfect cuppa’ hot tea. If you’re like me and it depends, share as many different scenarios as you care to.

Since I described the preparation on the other blog, I’ll describe the flavors here.  There are a variety of teas I like, and for this post, I’ll focus on blends.  Since we’re talking hot tea, I like a green tea with a floral, citrus or minty edge.  I almost never use a sweetner with a green tea, and I like it brewed on the short side of the recommended time.  I don’t like anything too hot, so even green tea generally sits for a while to cool down to my ideal sipping temperature. 


Photo courtesy of Harney's

My favorite brews?  Harney’s Chinese Flower, as pretty to scoop up as it is tasty.    I also reach for Adagio’s Pomegranate Green often.   There are a host of great blends on those sites, but I’ve also been gifted some great greens.  Since I don’t know where they came from, it’s hard to link…

I keep some Republic of Tea Pink Grapefruit bags with me most of the time.  (It’s also one of my favorite iced teas, but that’s another story, for another month.)

I like to brew a pot of green tea and sip all day.  If I’m just hanging around reading, knitting and entertaining the fur-girls, I might make a second pot…

How do you brew?