Sunday, June 30, 2013

ATAA Sharing Tea from Sea to Shining Sea

Afternoon Tea Across America is an online chat  group that was established in June of 2000 for those who enjoy having afternoon tea with friends either at their home or in tea rooms. In March of 2012 the group decided to host a traveling teapot and to blog its adventures. Fifteen people signed up to host the teapot. During the month that they hosted the traveling teapot, they used it as an ambassador of tea, sharing many pots of tea with family, friends, and strangers along the way. Each host spent one month blogging about their adventures with the teapot. 

The teapot logged more than 30,000 miles during this project and traveled to three countries. The Traveling Teapot blog has 200 published posts and 908 comments by readers. It has been viewed more than 29,000 times by people in ten different countries. It was admitted into membership of the Association of Tea Bloggers, a resource for the exchange of ideas and information within the tea community, soon after the project began.

Afternoon Tea Across America allows individuals who enjoy the tea experience to share ideas for afternoon tea menus, table decor, etiquette, recipes, preparation and service of the tea beverage, and other aspects of tea hospitality. It is also a place to share about tea room experiences and offer reviews of those experiences. 

If you are not a member of our tea community and would like to be,  you can subscribe to Afternoon Tea Across America by sending a request using the subscribe box on the sidebar of this blog. We can also be found on Facebook. We would love to have you join and share with us!

Members of Afternoon Tea Across America love the tea experience! Below are photos that they have shared for this last post of the traveling teapot blog. Each picture illustrates something about the pleasure that the individuals of this group garner from the tea experience. Friendships have been formed that will be treasured for a lifetime. We have enjoyed afternoon tea with one another, with our parents, spouses, siblings, and children. And we've shared with the next door neighbor, classmates, and strangers. We share tea casually or for celebration. It is the tie that binds us together in a world that frequently pulls humanity apart. Thank you, ATAA members, for so generously sharing photos of meaningful experiences in your lives. I believe that this generosity exemplifies the genuine love you share from your hearts.
















Click on the photo collages to enlarge.

When asked "what does the opportunity to take tea with family and friends mean to you?", ATAA members responded with these words:

Linda K *Priceless.

Joa Jane *It means a chance to sit and just enjoy the beautiful tea table and to have that rare moment to look a friend or loved one in the eyes and actually converse, share and just live in the moment. Ahhh, bliss.

Lee *My family all live in different states, so getting together is always so special. We are all tea drinkers, from the youngest to the oldest, so sitting down to have tea together is especially wonderful, so we make a party of it and break out the nice china and make coconut cake and scones with freshly made jam.

Karen D *Taking the time to share tea is giving and sharing time. The time planing and preparing tea is a gift of love and a time to be creative. Setting the tea table a time to share cherished things with your guest. The act of sitting for tea is giving of yourself and taking care of yourself. A bit of respite from cares and responsibilities. You can choose to leave your cares far away from the table or invite comforting conversation to console a friend or family member. It can be a celebration, a magical escape or a warm hug. When the kettle sings it's music to my ears and my heart.

Rose *Taking tea with my family or friends is a precious gift to me.

Karen P *No gatherings give me greater joy than those that involve a good pot of tea, fresh scones and close friends.

Val *Just being together with my friends and being there for them.

Barbara *One of my favorite times of "Serving Tea & Making Memories" is when I put my first tea party together. I gave it to my only granddaughter! It all started with her; the love of my life, when she was 10 years old. Out of the blue (I later realized it was the Lord tapping me on the shoulder) I asked her if she would like to have a tea party with all her best friends (8). She went for the idea, so quickly I went on the Internet and starting reading and reading...and found lots of "first time tea party" information so I could discuss it with the girls. We had a wonderful time together, giggling, even to the point of tears in our eyes! Loved making the scones, desserts and tiny heart shaped cherry tea sandwiches! What an eye opener for those girls finding out you are supposed to ask permission first before getting up from the table! They couldn't believe that one, a lost art, one art I wanted to bring back at a real tea! Since then I have given my granddaughter and the same friends a birthday tea, a high school graduation tea, a bachelor party tea, and a going away to college tea! Every tea time they talk about that first tea party at grandmothers. My heart is so happy to hear how much they love their tea times at my house. You think THEY got a lot out of it? NO! "I" am the one getting so much out of this tea party presentations, especially for these girls. All because one day the Lord Jesus tapped me on the shoulder! His idea!

And when asked "if you were given the opportunity to thank a tea picker for the hard work they do so that you can enjoy your pots of tea, what would you say?" they responded in this way:

Linda K * Your gift is a blessing to many.

Dianne * You're not just picking tea, you're giving happiness to many and making the world a better and kinder place.

Lee * The work you do blesses us each everyday.

Angela * Your hard labor is lifting the spirits of people all over the world.

Thank you, blog reader, for joining us on this journey. It has been our pleasure to have you follow us as we have shared so many adventures with the little plum teapot. If you choose, please leave a comment with this post, expressing a way that the traveling teapot has inspired or influenced you. I know that the blog authors would love to hear your feedback. Thank you for cheering us on as we have shared along the way.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Storybook Lavender Tea

Although the Traveling Teapot blog is a project of an online chat group called Afternoon Tea Across America, there are many others who have been following along with the adventures of the traveling teapot. They have commented and expressed interest in the teapot's adventures. Some have even offered things to share. Which brings me to the story of Clarice and her lavender tea. The Rosanna Kings Road teapot in the picture, posing with our little plum teapot, has a connection to Clarice, as you will see.

A road trip across the state on a summer day several years past took me to visit Clarice. Of course I had to stop along the way and this little gas station called Teapot Dome Service Station was an interesting place to stop to stretch awhile. Isn't it cute?


Clarice blogs at Storybook Woods. She is a creative homemaker, gourmet cook, and the author of a book called Wren Bay. She is friendly and warm, setting one immediately at ease when in her presence. And she invited me to tea! Knowing I loved lavender, she planned a menu of delicious lavender foods.

We had lavender scones, lavender honey, lavender jam, and lavender mousse....

And the most delicious espresso hazelnut cookies. In the crown teapot (like mine) she served a most fragrant pot of Summer Hill tea.

The table was beautifully set with a vintage tablecloth, hankies, and an assortment of pretty pieces of china and silver. It was such a pleasant time and I enjoyed visiting with Clarice and her fun and creative daughters.

The time flew by and Clarice's Lavender Tea is still high on my list of "favorite tea times". Clarice has been following the little plum teapot on its adventures, and when the lavender theme became evident here, she offered one of the special lavender recipes that she developed so it could be shared with traveling teapot blog readers. Here she shares a recipe for Lavender Honey Drop Cookies. Her recipe is perfect for anyone and especially for those who eat gluten-free. 

Lavender Honey Drop Cookies

1/3 cup lavender honey
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups almond flour

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. In a saucepan, melt the butter and honey together. Combine with dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. The dough will come together like play-dough. If the dough seems a bit too wet, add more flour until you achieve the desired consistency. Roll dough into small balls of dough. Place on parchment paper or greased baking sheet. With three fingers, flatten each cookie a bit. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature of the oven to 175 degrees F. Bake the cookies for another ten minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Enjoy!

Check the side-bar of Clarice's blog for other inventive recipes that she has developed.

Since returning home from visiting Clarice, I've found a matching Kings Road teapot in a local shop. I purchased it as a reminder of a wonderful day with Clarice.

You can read about Clarice's view of our tea party here. She shares the lavender mousse recipe in the post. And, you can read my review of our tea here along with a review of Clarice's novel.

Please check back tomorrow for the last post about the little plum teapot who's traveled far and near.

The Teapot & Lavender Love

The little plum teapot could not complete her journey without visiting one more lavender farm. She saved the best for last! Not far from the host home is a pretty little lavender farm that's nestled in rolling hills next to a large wheat field. The lavender farmers are a husband and wife team. Formerly from France, they moved to America sixteen years ago and bought ten acres where they could cultivate a dream of rural living. During the school year, he is a university French professor. But during the summertime, they farm their land together, growing 25 varieties of lavender that they market locally and abroad.

Karen invited us into her gift shop and looked so charming modeling with the little plum teapot! Many of the items in the gift shop have been crafted and made by Karen and her mother. 

The little plum teapot was back at her posing adventures again. She has had a lot of practice in posing on her journey's across America. She's quite a pro by now.

Here the plum teapot poses with succulent gardens, stamped flatware, and a pretty table runner.

Lavender sachets in all shapes, styles, and colors can be found throughout the gift shop. In one area there's a large bin of lavender bud with a sign that says "feel free to touch". The fragrance is serene!

Karen sells lavender bud, lavender sugar, and a variety of mixes for recipes that she has developed using their lavender.

And she creates beautiful lavender arrangements and wreaths! 

A variety of lavender books and cookbooks are available too.

It was a hot afternoon, so the little plum teapot started out in shade. Tables for classes in lavender weaving and wreath making are set on a shady porch. 

A lavender cutting center is set up under an awning in the lawn.

 After chatting for awhile Karen offered the opportunity to go out into the fields and harvest some lavender for the teapot --- 'on the house'. What a thoughtful gesture. The lavender fields are open for those who love to wander. This gracious pair of lavender-people greet visitors.

The Blue Mountains and rolling fields of alfalfa and other crops can be seen in the distance.

The Blue Mountain Lavender Farm grows complementary flowers that are interspersed with rows of many varieties of lavender. 

Row upon row of beautiful blooming flowers are a feast to all one's senses.

The little plum teapot felt right at home in such a pretty place. Karleen, always a good sport, agreed to hold the teapot for another picture.

Lavender was cut and placed in the traveling teapot for a few more photos. We loved the sign! Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free kitten! Love!

Before we left, the traveling teapot just had to pose with these teacups filled with succulents. Then, it was carefully tucked into the trunk of the car, lavender and all, to journey home where the lavender is drying in the teapot. It was a pleasant adventure to the Blue Mountain Lavender Farm.