Tea at the Westgate Hotel

quotation2Lady K. hosted the autumn tea for the Victorian Tea Society at the fancy Westgate Hotel.  Afternoon tea is held in the Westgate Room, which is the lobby of the hotel.  It can be a little busy with guests coming in and out but it’s a gorgeous setting for afternoon tea.

Tables for afternoon tea

Our table

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VTS table

The ambiance and setting of the hotel was beautiful and it was a joy to sit in the Westgate Room.  However, I have a few complaints…  I hate to complain but after visiting so many tea rooms and hosting a few afternoon teas myself, there are a few things that I see over and over again in tea rooms that just bug the hell out of me!  I’ve decided I’m not going to hold back anymore and just lay it all out in the hopes that the word gets out and tea room owners or managers will take notice.

Each guest gets to order their own tea which is served in individual teapots. I like this a lot!  I tried the classic English blend tea and it was okay.  I don’t have any complaints about their tea selection because they had a good variety–I just happened to pick one that wasn’t very good.  The main problem was that the water was not hot enough which is why my tea seemed under-steeped.

The second disappointment was the very slow service!  Even though we were the first party to arrive for the 2:30pm seating (in fact, we arrived early!), the wait staff did not take our tea orders until 1/2 hour after we were seated (for some of us, that was 45 minutes) and the tea didn’t arrive for another 1/2 hour.

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I liked the individual tea strainers too, just like they have at the Grand Del Mar.

In case you were wondering if the Westgate Hotel offered a vegetarian option for afternoon tea, here it is:

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Vegetarian option: 3 salads (Caesar salad, Bleu cheese and pear with spring mix, and kale salad), cheddar cheese muffin, and Humboldt Fog cheese on brioche

Our food was served tableside by the wait staff, instead of on 3-tier caddies, possibly due to the size of our group.  However, if you have 4 or fewer guests, the food is served on 3-tier caddies.  On the plus side: The presentation of the food was very pretty.

westgatemenuThe menu was a suggestion because the actual food served was a little different.  Comparing the menu above, we were served the following instead: smoked salmon with caviar on brioche (notice the caviar is missing), black tiger shrimp and cilantro cream cheese on sourdough toast, white cheddar cheese muffin, Humboldt fog goat cheese on brioche, and curried chicken salad sandwich.  My two major complaints related to food:

  1. I don’t mind when the menu changes but it really bugs me when the wait staff can’t explain what the foods are!
  2. All the sandwiches were extremely dry or so crisp that when you took a bite, the filling got squished out or slid off the bread or toast!
  3. The food was obviously made far in advance.  The wait staff brought out the food on platters still covered in plastic wrap which implies it had been sitting in the fridge.  For the sake of appearances, the plastic wrap should have been removed in the kitchen and not at the table before serving.  It seemed tacky to me and inappropriate for an establishment that is trying to promote white tablecloth fancy dining.
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Shrimp with cilantro cream cheese on sourdough toast, cheddar cheese muffin, smoked salmon canape, curried chicken salad sandwich, Humboldt fog goat cheese on brioche

When one of the ladies marveled at the caviar on the salmon canape, I was disappointed that my salmon canape lacked the caviar.  One of the wait staff overhead me so she brought out a new one for me!  (OK, so the staff got brownie points for this)

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Smoked salmon with caviar (yes, the salmon was as dry as it looked)

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Berries ‘n’ cream and Raisin vanilla scone with clotted cream

A big plus: The scones were top notch!  Look how big there were, taking up the entire plate!  I picked out the raisins but still thoroughly enjoyed the scone.  I’d come back just for their scones!  I’m so glad they got the scones right!  I have a theory that the secret to a good scone is the size.  They have to be just the right size (biscuit size) or else they risk being overbaked and dry.

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Left to right, clockwise: Mocha cake, lemon cheesecake, blueberry muffin, coffee macaron, fruit tart

The desserts were beautiful but two of them had coffee in them which the wait staff did not identify, even when asked.  For example, the opera cake is garnished with a coffee bean but the wait staff insisted there was no coffee in it (well, there was coffee in it). 😦

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The fruit tart was delicious!  That was my favorite dessert

All in all, I had mixed feelings about having afternoon tea here.  It’s beautiful and there was an attempt at making the food interesting.  However, the setting did not make up for the lack of service, quality of the food, and warm tea.  That said, I would come here for afternoon tea over the Hotel del Coronado any day!  So if you’re looking for something fancy, and are thinking about the Hotel del, choose the Westgate instead.

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Tea favors: Cookies from the Good Stuff Cookie Co., a bakery that specializes in stuffed cookies! Chocolate cookie and peanut butter oatmeal

Lady K. gifted us with cookies from the Good Stuff Cookie Co., a bakery that specializes in stuffed cookies!  Now these, I highly recommend! 😉

Yum! Inside the stuffed cookie

Thank you Lady K. for hosting an elegant and lovely tea!  Despite my misgivings, it was so nice to get together and see everyone.  It really is the company that matters.

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2nd Annual Afternoon Tea Fundraiser

[NOTE: This is post two of two related posts.  This is the followup to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I cannot take credit for any of the photos in this post except for one or two.  I am grateful to the guests who were able to capture photos of the event.]

Last year, my philanthropy group hosted an afternoon tea fundraiser to celebrate our 35th anniversary.  It was such a success that we decided to try making it an annual event.  I’m happy to report that our 2nd Annual Afternoon Tea Fundraiser was a sold out event!  We hoped it would be equally successful but selling out was a pleasant surprise!  This year, the proceeds from our fundraiser will go towards college scholarships for needs-based students.  We have always offered merit scholarships but we are so proud to be able to offer needs-based scholarships for the first time in the history of our organization.

Since planning an afternoon tea is time consuming and requires a lot of work, we knew we had to raise the fundraising ante to justify our time and efforts by making this year’s tea even more successful.  To that end, the Tea Committee worked hard all summer to come up with new and fresh ideas for fundraising activities to get guests excited about attending our event.  We listened to their ideas about how to improve the event and recruited an emcee, solicited 3 new vendors, organized a bake sale, put together mystery grab bags, and implemented a new payment process.

Mystery gift/grab bags sold for $15/each. These were a big hit!

Mystery gift/grab bags sold for $15/each. These were a big hit!

Succulent arrangements ranged in price from $10-30.

These 2 arrangements were my favorite! I also liked the teapot bird feeder in the foreground.

Fascinators for $15 and hats for $25.  Everything sold out!

Guests really enjoyed the shopping component of the event.  It was a good opportunity to shop for gifts before the holidays, to support local businesses, and contribute to our scholarships fund.  In addition to shopping, guests could also admire all the different table settings which our own members put together with fine china and linens from their own private collections.

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Tea by the sea

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I love Paris

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Garden tea

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Beauty of roses

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Asian

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Cheerful flowers

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Fashionista!

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Caribbean blues

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A formal affair

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Christmas tea

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Foliage of colors

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Indian

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Butterflies

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Leaves falling, autumn calling

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Eclectic elegance

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The Wizard of Oz

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

While all the tables were wonderful, my favorite table of all was E.’s.  Her theme was Cherry blossoms and I especially appreciated the thoughtful and handmade details that went into her table setting from the crocheted napkin rings, to the cute kimono favor boxes (stuffed with goodies), to the original water color painting inviting her guests to “share a spot of tea” with her.  The colors of her tables evoked cheeriness, elegance, and charm, just like cherry blossoms!  Click on the photos below to enlarge (must see!):

And last but not least, the food was catered by none other than Marlene’s Tea & Cakes!  As our emcee quipped, “Marlene is a magician and her food is delicious. My favorite thing was … everything!” 🙂  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

It was so gratifying to see a full house!  With 164 guests in attendance (a 21% increase in attendance over last year), we raised $5300 (45% more than last year) for scholarships.  One guest commented that our event was, “Better than high tea in London!”  I don’t think we could have received a higher compliment!

“There are two i’s in Fundraising – they should stand for inspiration and innovation, not imitation and irritation.”

–Ken Burnett

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — a tea table

[NOTE: This is part one of two related posts.  The impetus for this tea table was the 2nd annual afternoon tea fundraiser]

I have always wanted to host a Alice in Wonderland tea party because the creative possibilities are endless.  After rereading the book, I was convinced it was a mad but grand idea and decided to pursue it.  I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places–in a recycling pile in the garage!  I spied a big box that once housed a new bicycle and decided to re-purpose the box back to its former glory as a tree.  This 3 ft. tall tree became the centerpiece for an Alice in Wonderland themed tea table in an upcoming tea fundraiser event.

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where –”
Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

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“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat. “We’re all mad here.”

I constructed the tree using cardboard, construction paper, paper, wire, and acrylic paint.  Each side of the tree depicts a moment from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I wanted my guests to see something different no matter where they were seated at the table.

“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”

White Rabbit: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

With the tree ready to go, I started setting the table itself.

Mad Hatter: “Would you like a little more tea?”
Alice: “Well, I haven’t had any yet, so I can’t very well take more.”
March Hare: “Ah, you mean you can’t very well take less.”
Mad Hatter: “Yes. You can always take more than nothing.”

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I added LED lights to the tree

To pay tribute to the Queen of Hearts and her subjects, the napkins on the table were black or red and folded as one of 4 card suits: heart, diamond, spade, or club.  I also scattered playing cards all over the table.

“Get to your places!” shouted the Queen in a voice of thunder, and people began running about in all directions, tumbling up against each other; however, they got settled down in a minute or two, and the game began. Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.

The decorations on the backs of the chairs were from the Talking Tables Truly Alice party prop set.  They were great for hiding imperfect bows but also added to the whimsy of the table.

There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (“which certainly was not here before,” said Alice,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words DRINK ME beautifully printed on it in large letters.

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Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words EAT ME were beautifully marked in currants. “Well, I’ll eat it,” said Alice, “and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door: so either way I’ll get into the garden, and I don’t care which happens!”

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Tea party favors — homemade shortbread

“Twinkle twinkle, little bat
How I wonder what you’re at?
Up above the world you fly
Like a tea tray in the sky.”

Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep “Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle–” and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.

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Dormouse–this little guy is at least 40 years old!

To be continued ….

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September High Tea at Marlene’s Tea & Cakes

I was thrilled when Marlene’s Tea & Cakes agreed to cater our upcoming afternoon tea fundraiser and couldn’t turn down an opportunity to join Lady J. for a tea tasting.

It’s no secret that my favorite tea house is Marlene’s Tea & Cakes.  I have posted about Marlene’s many times and never tire of having afternoon tea there (and that’s saying a lot because I get bored easily when it comes to food).  If you have never visited Marlene’s, you are missing out!  Let me count the ways …
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The table settings are always gorgeous and meticulous (ironed white tablecloths, fresh flowers, delicate china, crystal glasses …).  Most tea houses get the table settings and ambiance just right.  However, they usually fail in one of three areas: Tea, food, or both!  I don’t care how beautiful, charming, or cute a tea house is.  If the tea house does not serve properly brewed tea or decent food, it is neither a tea house or a restaurant.  A pretty house will not keep me coming back.  Marlene’s is the complete package!At Marlene’s, the tea is always hot and, most importantly, properly brewed.  Marlene brews and tests every pot of tea herself.  She won’t serve anything that isn’t up to her standards.  I have the utmost admiration and respect for her passion and commitment to excellence and quality.  She is a woman after my own heart.

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My favorite tea from Marlene’s tea menu, (above) hands-down, is Paris.  On this visit, Lady J. and I tried the Lady Londonderry and I dare say it’s a close second to Paris.  Other wonderful teas are Creme au caramel and Roasted almond & fruit, which happen to be caffeine free.  If you don’t know which tea to choose, Marlene is happy to help you make a selection!

Lady Londonderry Tea (Black tea, lightly and elegantly flavored with strawberry, lemon balm leaves, calendula and sunflower petals)

Ahhh …! The food …!  My favorite thing about Marlene’s is the food.  Marlene excels in tea foods and makes savories and sweets equally well.  Her menu changes monthly with ingredients that keep up with the seasons–her culinary creations are imaginative, creative, gorgeous, and delicious.  I look at her menu every month just to see what she comes up with next!

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Potato leek soup with puff twist (I love that Marlene left some of the red potato peel in the soup to give it texture!)

Marlene also takes great pride in the plating of the food.  I appreciate the effort she makes in the presentation–she is an artist.

Bonus: Banana bread with our scones!

Marlene’s sandwiches are the freshest in the business.  Even though both Lady J. and I know a few tricks about tea sandwiches, we still marvel at the freshness of the sandwich breads at Marlene’s!

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Egg salad and watercress sandwich; Cucumber and carrot sandwich; Turkey, cheddar, and apple butter panini; Mini beef Wellington; and Bleu cheese mascarpone red onion confit quiche

This double chocolate zucchini bundt cake is why I love Marlene’s.  She’s always willing to push the limit and try something different.  This cake was scrumptious!

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Double chocolate zucchini bundt cake

In addition to being a top notch chef/pastry chef, Marlene is a gracious, warm, and lovely hostess.  She tries to make every visit special whether it’s a personal visit to the table, an extra pot of tea, or additional goodies not on the menu (on this day, we got some banana bread with our scones).  I highly recommend a visit–plan an elegant party, have tea with a loved one, or invite your girlfriends for tea.  You will not be disappointed with afternoon tea at Marlene’s Tea & Cakes!  NOTE: Reservations are required.

If you are cold, tea will warm you,
If you are heated, it will cool you,
If you are depressed, it will cheer you,
If you are excited, it will calm you.

–William E. Gladstone

Over the Rainbow Tea

Today is the 78th year anniversary of the film, The Wizard of Oz.  Since its release on August 25, 1939, The Wizard of Oz has been viewed by more people than any other movie.  Nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 1940, it got edged out by Gone with the wind in one of the toughest Best Picture races in Oscar history!

Last weekend, Lady MH hosted her Over the Rainbow Tea for the Victorian Tea Society’s summer tea, paying tribute to this beloved film based on the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)!

A motley cast of characters (Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Wicked Witch Elphaba, a munchkin, Glinda the Good Witch, and the Mayor of Munchkin City) arrived to find Lady MH’s humble abode transformed into the magical Land of Oz!  She left no detail unturned.

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Lady J. pointed out that there is a real Land of Oz in Valley Center, CA with streets called Emerald City Dr., The Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy Lane, and Wizard Way!  There is even a Camino de Oro (Golden road).  No … Lady MH does not live here!

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Emerald City green salad by Lady K

“It’s a twister!  It’s a twister!”

Mini twister chicken salad sandwiches by Lady MH (like the tornado stuffed croissants?)

Wicked cucumber sand-witches by Lady SL

Follow the yellow brick road …

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear!” cried Dorothy, clasping her hands together in dismay. “The house must have fallen on her. Whatever shall we do?”

Petite twice baked “house” potatoes by Lady Henni

Petite twice baked “house” potatoes
(From the Kitchen of Lady Henni)
Serves 8

8 petite potatoes
2 Tbsp. cream cheese
1 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper
Few leaves of kale
Salt, to taste

Bake or boil the potatoes until a fork easily pierces the flesh.  Add the kale leaves to the potatoes just until wilted.  Drain potatoes and kale.

If the potatoes are small, make a V-cut into the tops of the potatoes and remove the cut potato.  If the potatoes are a little big, cut them in half.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out the potato to create a “bowl” and reserve to make mashed potatoes.

Season the mashed potatoes with cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt to taste.  Add more cream cheese or water/milk as needed to get desired consistency.  Fill the potato “bowls” with the mashed potato using a piping bag or spoon.  Reheat or bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 mins. until tops are browned and potato is heated through.

Wizard of Oz mushroom delight by Lady SH

Wizard of Oz mushroom delight
(from the Kitchen of Lady SH)
Serves 8

1 1/2 lbs. white button mushrooms
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. white miso
Chopped parsley, thyme, and basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix butter, olive oil, and white miso together and toss mushrooms in the mixture until coated.  Roast the mushrooms at 425 degrees for 1/2 hr. until the juices run.  Garnish mushrooms with the chopped herbs.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Rainbow fresh fruit cup by Lady J.

Lemon curd, cream, and scones, Oh my!

“We must be over the rainbow!  Now I … know we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

“Over the rainbow” surprise dessert by Lady KM.  I love this complete themed dessert!  Follow the yellow brick lemon bar, over the rainbow cake, to the Emerald City cookie.

Lady KM is the talent behind this impressive rainbow jelly roll cake.  These bright colors were achieved using gel food coloring or Wilton icing gels that were mixed into separate batches of cake batter.

Custom shortbread cookie by Penny’s Custom Cookies

Afternoon tea charms!  Hostess gift from Lady ML

Red slipper yoga socks! Hostess gift from Lady Henni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Lady MH for hosting an enchanting afternoon!  I enjoyed my journey to the Land of Oz with the whole gang and hope our paths cross again very soon … (will there be a sequel?!).

My favorite quotation is (of course) …

Hostess gift from Lady KM

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The Original Yogi Tea Recipe

Believe it or not, I was interested in the ritual of afternoon tea long before I actually started drinking tea!  I know that is a bit of an oxymoron, like hanging out at a coffee shop but not drinking the coffee.  Since I don’t drink coffee (I can’t handle the caffeine in coffee), I never gave tea a chance.  It’s one of the reasons it took me so long to “discover” the joys of afternoon tea.

I only started drinking tea in 2010 after meeting M. who owns a tea shop.  M. convinced me to try drinking white tea.  Surprisingly, I had no adverse reaction so that was the beginning of my tea craze!  From white tea, I graduated to drinking black teas, green teas, oolong, pu-erh, you name it!  Today, I enjoy drinking tea just as much, sometimes more (!), than I enjoy the foods of afternoon tea.  A pot of good tea deserves its own spotlight.

Coincidentally (maybe not … are there coincidences?), M. also introduced me to Kundalini yoga 2 years ago and I learned that Yogi Bhajan, the spiritual teacher who introduced Kundalini yoga to the US, was also the mastermind behind Yogi tea.  If you are a tea drinker, then you are familiar with Yogi brand teas.  Who doesn’t love the inspirational messages found on the tea tags of Yogi tea bags?  Isn’t that the main reason we all drink it?  I do. 😉
0129171646So here comes a confession: I don’t like Yogi tea.  Many of their tea blends contain two ingredients that I’m not fond of: Licorice root and stevia (I don’t like my tea sweet!  And yes, stevia is used in Ayurveda!).  Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), a commonly used herb in Ayurveda, has many benefits including calming ulcers, boosting immunity, lower blood glucose, and easing sore throats and cough.  I don’t like licorice root because, for some odd reason, it throws off my tastebuds and temporarily, all I can taste is a metallic sweetness, akin to the aftertaste I get from aspartame, stevia, and other artificial sweeteners.  Yuck!  It also increases saliva production in my mouth which is an unpleasant sensation.  I might be sensitive to it but I can’t find any information supporting such side effects.  Since it’s unpleasant, I avoid it.  Likewise, if you are pregnant, have heart disease, high blood pressure, or take certain medications, you may want to avoid consuming licorice root.

Back to Kundalini yoga … after class, my teacher always serves “yogi tea.”  Drinking tea after class with your teacher and fellow students is a longtime tradition in Kundalini yoga.  The act of sharing tea together is intended to foster community.  The tea itself is a tonic for the whole body and meant to revitalize and warm the body.  In the beginning, I didn’t want to try the “yogi tea” because I equated it with Yogi tea, the brand.  Then my teacher revealed that she made the tea herself and that got my attention.  Apparently, there was an “original” yogi tea recipe that started the Yogi tea brand!  This original yogi tea recipe included 5 traditional Ayurvedic spices: Ginger root (anti-inflammatory), black pepper (blood purifier), cardamom seed (aids digestion), clove bud (strengthens the nervous system), and cinnamon bark (aids in calcium absorption).
dsc07218-smallAccording to the Yogi tea website, when blended and brewed, these 5 “delicious and aromatic spices leave you feeling vibrant and alive, while supporting overall well-being.”  A hint of black tea supports energy and milk is added to complement the spices (soy or other milk substitutes may be used–I like almond milk).  In a nutshell, yogi tea was created “to deliver a healthful benefit to the body and a delicious flavor to delight the spirit.”

The original yogi tea recipe is no longer on the Yogi tea website but I found it in the Internet Archive (long live the Internet Archive!).  I’m documenting it here because I don’t want to lose the recipe again.  Things are never permanent in cyberspace …

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This beautiful Japanese bone china tea cup was a gift from my friend S. It belonged to her mother who was a woman after my own heart so I am very honored to have such a lovely memory of her!

“Feel Good, Be Good, Do Good.”
–The guiding principle of Yogi tea

The original Yogi tea recipe
(yield: one 8 oz. serving)

10 ounces of water (about 1 1/3 cups)
3 whole cloves
4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
4 whole black peppercorns
2 slices fresh ginger root
½ stick cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black tea
½ cup milk or milk substitute

Using a large pot, bring water to boiling and carefully add spices. Cover and boil 15 to 20 minutes, then add black tea. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, then add the milk and return to a boil. Upon reaching a boil, carefully remove from heat and strain. If desired, add honey for sweetness.


The original yogi tea recipe is something I make and enjoy on a weekly basis.  I drank it this past winter when I caught a cold and it seemed to help calm my coughs.  The ginger is always warming and comforting where my stomach is concerned.  I drink it cold or hot, any which way!  It’s caffeine free so I even drink it at night as a dessert tea or night cap.  Putting aside the supposed health benefits, it just tastes darn good!  NOTE: The Yogi tea version of “yogi tea,” Classic India Spice Yogi Tea, has a different formula than the original yogi tea so I highly recommend trying the recipe above!

I have yet to read the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan (one of these days!) but I’ll leave you here with one of my favorite quotations from the guru himself …

by Yogi Bhajan

Yogi Bhajan (Photo: Source not identified)

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Movie Idols and Classic Films Tea

You are invited to a Movie Idols and Classic Films Tea!  Lady T. hosted the 2nd Victorian Tea Society tea of 2017 with a show-stopping, star-studded event.

Oh yes!  We got the red carpet treatment …

… and, of course, there were surprise appearances by A-list celebrities from the past and present!

Lady J. and I arrived on the red carpet first and as we made our way out of our “limousine,” a pair of familiar feet suddenly appeared before us!

Lady J. exclaimed, “Hey, WHERE did YOU come from?!”  Indeed, it was as if Mary Poppins suddenly dropped down from sky, Lady S. was so light on her feet!  It was truly a magical (and spooky) moment!

One by one, the stars began arriving.  Can you name the following stars, movies, and/or characters who showed up to Lady T.’s party?

Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables), Alicia Silverstone (Clueless), Rosalind Russell (Auntie Mame), Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), June Allyson, Chinese movie star on vacation (Zhang Ziyi), Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins)

Inside at Party Central, touches of Hollywood graced the sky, walls, table, trees …

During our meet and greet, Lady T. served up delicious cocktails worthy of any Hollywood party!

 

 

When Lady T. initially announced she was going to host a “Movie Idols and Classic Movies Tea,” I asked her to define “classic.”  Lady T. told me that for the purposes of her tea, the term “classic” could refer to any decade.

When I hear “classic movie,” my mind conjures the Golden Age of Hollywood from the silent era to the talkies and technicolor … movies such as Dracula, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, movie stars such as silent film stars, Louise Brooks, Charlie Chaplin, and Lillian Gish, or the 1950s and 1960s glamour of Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, or Elizabeth Taylor.  Regrettably, I haven’t seen many “classic movies” mainly because they were shown on TV late at night, when I was already in bed (all good children are in bed by 8pm, right?).  However, I was not completely deprived because I did manage to catch The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and various Shirley Temple movies enough times to be able to recite or sing lines from those movies, which is a testament to how often certain movies are rebroadcast on TV, and always during the holidays.

Shirley Temple (date and source unknown)

Flower Drum Song (1961)

Mei Li (Miyoshi Umeki): “You smell good. You wear incense to scare away evil spirits?”
Linda Low (Nancy Kwan): “Oh no, to attract them!”

Flower Drum Song Orange Oolong Tea (photo by Lady J.)

I love Lady T.’s nod to Nancy Kwan with this Oolong tea and beautiful teapot.  While doing some research for this post, I came across an article, “Talk tea & see” in Time magazine (April 11, 1960), on a Nancy Kwan fansite (claims to be official) that I thought was about Nancy Kwan and tea (wow, what were the chances?).  The article made my jaw drop and I can’t resist including it here because I could scarcely believe what I was reading (say whaaaat?!):

Wonton-sized Nancy Ka Shen Kwan (5 ft. 2 in., 104 lbs.) is the most delicate Oriental import since Tetley’s tender little tea leaves. Last week 20-year-old Nancy was before the cameras in London filming The World of Suzie Wong, and from the first frame the part fitted like her own freckles. Furthermore, the new “yum-yum girl” has saved the movie … Lest anyone have any doubts that her East-West blend can stand comparison with Hollywood’s well-known brands, company flacks have already hastened to announce that under her high-buttoned cheong-sam (the Chinese sheath with the slit skirt), she is the equal of any Occidental. But Nancy promptly corrected the claim that she has “the ample bosom of the Nordics.” Said she demurely: “It is big for the Chinese, enough for the English, maybe small for Italians.”

Nancy Kwan in Flower Drum Song (1961)

A reflection of old Hollywood (or just Hollywood!), it is pretty crazy to think that this was considered a “compliment” at the time.  Sadly, the pressure and expectation for women to play by certain rules in order to be successful, accepted, or validated are still alive today, not just in Hollywood but in general.  The more things change, the more they stay the same?  Old wine in new bottles?  Alas, I could go on and on but this subject is technically inappropriate for pleasant afternoon tea conversation so let’s get back to Lady T.’s tea!

To test our movie knowledge, Lady T. unveiled a game to see how many movie quotations we could identify.  I got only 5 of the following correct.  Our special guest, Lady C. was a real movie buff and her impressive movie knowledge earned her 11 correct answers!  Congratulations Lady C.!  Playing games inevitably made us hungry (especially the sole “man” of the party, Harrison Ford), and Lady T. started off the celebrity tea with Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite, Chasen’s chili.  According to Hollywood folklore, in 1962, Elizabeth Taylor paid $200 to have 10 quarts of chili from Chasen’s Restaurant in Hollywood shipped to Rome, where she was on location filming Cleopatra.

Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Raintree County (1957)

Elizabeth Taylor Chasen’s Chili–by Lady T.

An American in Paris (1951)

Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly): “That’s, uh, quite a dress you almost have on. What holds it up?”
Milo Roberts (Nina Foch): “Modesty.”

An American in Paris (Strawberry Romaine Salad)–by Lady S.

Sandwiches (Cool Hand Luke Egg Salad Sandwiches, Gregory Peck Ratatouille Sandwiches (Veggie Sandwich), Chinatown Sesame Cilantro Sandwiches, The Wizard of Oz Cucumber Sandwich

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothy (Judy Garland): “Someplace where there isn’t any trouble … do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or train. It’s far, far away… behind the moon… beyond the rain.  Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high …”

The Wizard of Oz cucumber sandwiches (to get paper-thin bread, use a rolling pin to flatten sandwich bread)–by Lady ML

Chinatown (1974)

J.J. “Jake” Gittes (Jack Nicholson): “Listen, pal. I make an honest living. People only come to me when they’re in a desperate situation. I help ’em out. I don’t kick families out of their houses like you bums down at the bank do.”

Chinatown cilantro sesame sandwiches–by Lady J.

The actress, Bea Arthur, was a vegetarian and this mushroom toast was her preferred way to start her day, every day.

Bea Arthur’s Vegetarian Breakfast (by Lady B.) and Claudette Colbert Cheese & Olive Puffs (by Lady K.)

Claudette Colbert

Splash (1984)

Remember the scene in Splash when Madison (Daryl Hannah) digs into the lobster at the restaurant? 🙂

Alan (Tom Hanks): … I do wanna talk about what happened in the restaurant.
Madison (Daryl Hannah): Oh, I am sorry, that’s how we eat lobster where I come from.

Splash- Shrimp — by Lady T.

Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall (Diane Keaton): “It’s so clean out here.”
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen): “In Beverly Hills, they don’t throw their garbage away — they turn it into television shows.”

Annie Hall Carrot & Pineapple Muffins with Lemon–by Lady T.

Tea at Five (2002)

Tea at Five was a one-woman play, written by Matthew Lombardois, based on Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography, Me: Stories of my Life (1991) which included stories about her life at the Fenwick estate, her family home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where afternoon tea was a daily ritual.

Katharine Hepburn with tea and brownies? (unknown date and source)

Katharine Hepburn: “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies–by Lady Henni

American chef, Ruth Reichl, claims, “The best recipe I have for brownies comes from a friend who got it from a magazine about Katharine Hepburn. It is, apparently, her family’s.”

Katharine Hepburn’s brownies
(from Epicurious)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Melt together 1 stick butter and 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and take the saucepan off the heat.
2. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat the mixture well.
3. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (In the original recipe, 1 cup chopped walnuts is added here as well.)
4. Bake the brownies in a buttered and floured 8-inch-square pan at 325°F for about 40 minutes.  You can cut these brownies into squares, once they have cooled.

Or you can try my vegan gluten-free brownies…

Vegan, gluten free brownies
(yields 16 brownies)

2 Tbsp. unsalted almond butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 chia eggs (2 tablespoons ground chia* + 6 tablespoons water, whisked)
1/2 cup finely ground, blanched almond flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

* NOTE: 1 Tbsp. chia seeds = 2 Tbsp. ground chia seeds. Can also use ground flax.

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together almond butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and chia eggs, using a spoon.
  3. Add cocoa powder, almond flour, salt, and chocolate chips to the wet mixture and mix with a spoon until incorporated.
  4. Pour batter into pan.  Smooth batter into an even layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 1-2 hours. Slice into 16 brownies. Enjoy!

La Dolce Vita (1960)

Journalist: “What do you think you like most in life?”
Sylvia (Anita Ekberg): “I like lots of things. But there are three things I like most. Love, love and love.”

Anita Ekberg’s Swedish apple cake–by Lady C.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh): “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind Strawberry Rhubarb Fool–by Lady T.

We certainly had some great movie conversations and I got a list of everyone’s favorite movies so I can watch them later on Netflix. 🙂  Thank goodness for Netflix because I would not be able to see classic movies otherwise!  Even when brick ‘n’ mortar video rental stores were the norm, classic movies were still in short supply.

Lady B.–Little Women (1949)
Lady C.–Auntie Mame (1958)
Lady Henni–American Beauty (1999)
Lady J.–Anne of Green Gables (1985)
Lady K.–Clueless (1995)
Lady ML–Arsenic and old lace (1944), An affair to remember (1957)
Lady S.–Blade runner (1982)
Lady T.–Gone with the Wind (1939), In the heat of the night (1967)

What is your favorite movie of all time?

Thank you Lady T. for hosting a memorable and fun tea for the ages!  It was an honor to have tea with your famous friends–I learned so much and ate too well! 😉

Just for fun, I came across these entertaining “Cup of fame” tea bag holders.  Go ahead punk, make my tea!

I’ll end this post with a quotation from D.’s favorite movie …

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick): “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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