Friday, August 31, 2012

Homegrown Tea Ceremony

    Yesterday was a special day for Prissy and I.  We had a homegrown Japenese tea ceremony in our yard. We were hoping to be able to use the tea house at the Botanical Garden during the Japanese Festival in St. Louis but Prissy is on a tight schedule and had to leave for her next stop.

     We did make do though and although it wasn't the perfect ceremony it was very special for us.  St. Louis' own kimono-san, also known as the Garden Geisha (and my daughter) performed the ceremony for us.  Believe it or not, I have never been able to attend the yearly ceremony at Shaw's Garden so this was Prissy and my first experience.

     Prissy and I really enjoyed this ceremony.  Prissy of course had been coached and practiced her part before we began.  I really enjoyed learning about each part of the ceremony.  Every implement involved has a special meaning and every move made by the tea master is very precise.

          The ceremony began with a tray of sweets,  this was a single strawberry sliced into thirds and skewered with a special bamboo "fork" which looked a bit like a ships or.  Next  the implements that would be used to make the tea were purified with hot water.  This also serves to warm the bowl and soften the bamboo whisk.

     The special bamboo spoon used to take tea from the tea caddy is made of a single piece of bamboo and symbolizes human form of the tea master and when it is being purified for the ceremony it also helps to purify the tea master and clear their mind of everything except the ceremony.

    The green macha tea was placed into the bowl very carefully and then the hot water was added.  Next the tea master whisked the tea and then offered it to me.  I was supposed to finish the tea in three swallows.  Can I just say - ewww nasty.  I obviously fail at tea ceremony, the taste of the macha was over powering and not to my liking at all.


          After the ceremony each item was again cleaned and the waste water was placed into a special bowl.

      Each item for the tea ceremony was carefully selected.  The tray was a five mountain tray (it had a gracefully curved edge that had five raised "hills" and was decorated with a plum colored flower motif.  The bowl used to serve the tea had a purple flower on the side.

      The kimono was plain and simple.   The motif was plum colored and the flowers on the butterfly were used for late summer early fall although it could be worn in early summer because of the plum blossoms.
The fan used to create a separation between the tea master and guest also matched kimono.

     My daughter is not a true tea master but has been learning from a tea master for a number of years and is very humble about hosting a tea ceremony.

     This was a very special experience that we shared together; one that I shall remember always.  My thanks to the Traveling Teapot and everyone that has made this possible.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

After School Scones

   It seems fitting to include this post after our last visit with you.  Then we were wishing part of the family well on her way to college, today we are welcoming part of the family home from school.  My oldest daughter is working towards her GED and my two youngest children are both in high school.

     Last year we began a new family tradition.  As the children always come home wanting snacks and to chat about their day, I decided to see if they would like afternoon tea and scones.  It has turned out to be a favorite part of our day.  We all have a break from work, whether it be school or housework, and take the time to be together.  I hear everything that has gone in on school and they love having mother's undivided attention.

     Here's a photo of Prissy ready and waiting for the children to come home from school.  The tea is just finished brewing and the scones are warm from the oven.  The children are due in any minute.

     This also gives me an opportunity to use my pretty milk glass snack plates.  I inherited my love of milk glass from my mother and have a nice sized collection going.

    Here the children are home and having the tea.  They all of have enjoyed Prissy's visit so much.

     Today we enjoyed one of the children's favorite tea's a raspberry flavored black.  Unfortunately, I was out of fresh raspberries. We love to float a few in our cups.  As you can see Prissy, has jumped right into the family and has no fear of adding her two cents to any conversation.

     Our scone of the day is something new, an orange and chocolate recipe that I think will become a new favorite.

     Once tea is finished the children go off to finish up their home work and I tidy up the dishes and get back to whatever I happen to have planned for the day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back To College

      Prissy helped send my daughter off to college with a large family breakfast.  We had a guest in town from Arizona who was staying with us until college began.  Our family breakfasts are always large and filled with noise, confusion, and loads of laughter.  We may have overwhelmed our guest just a tad, but we made up for it by introducing her to tea.  She was tickled pink to meet our little purple pot.

After filling the horde up with breakfast and tea.  We loaded up the van and the truck and took off for William Woods College which is a two hour drive.  As my daughter says, "Close enough to come home, but too far for mom to live with me". 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tea with God

     Prissy has been joining me lately in my morning Tea with God.  Every morning I get up and walk through our local park and count how many deer I can find (never less than one sometimes as many as 2 dozen).  When I come home, I heat up a kettle and set up my morning tea table in the yard.

     I know that on the ATAA list we have been talking about tea rituals, and this is one of mine.  I love to take the time to make my morning tea special.  I set my table with a lace tablecloth and always use a pretty cup and have a vase of flowers.  Taking the time to arrange my morning fruit in a pretty pattern is another part of my ritual.  It is always a special time for me to sip my tea and say my prayers.  If for some reason I have to miss in the morning, I try to make up for it by having an evening tea in a quiet corner of my living room.  Instead of a flower arrangement or sometimes in addition to  I add a pretty candle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Saddle Up

     Miss Prissy's next adventure took her to Overland, MO where she visited with master saddle maker and my father, Martin Bergin.  She stopped by the shop for a quick visit and was amazed at the multitute of saddles and tools absolutely stuffed into such a tiny area.

All together the old cowboy thought the idea of a traveling teapot odd but something his rather unique daughter might get up too.  He would pose with the teapot or give in to any women's foolishness, but he did allow a Prissy to take a few pictures  in the shop and he did submit to a photo of himself.

The Adventure Continues

    Last Monday Prissy and I were invited along with one of my best friends to go to Washington, MO to visit with a very crafty friend who brings fun and whimsy to everything she does.     It was a scorcher of a day and just too, too hot for a regular tea.

      After chattering for several hours about making cards, paper cutting dies, inks and the U.S. Postal Service we proceeded to lunch which was a lovely salad and scrumptious sandwiches.  For dessert Prissy served iced tea into a variety of fun glasses.  My crafty friend, DeDe, love to collect different glasses from the second hand shops and give them a new home.  She uses them every time she entertains and we always get to choose our own glass.

     Here's a picture of my best friend, Barb, pouring tea for us you can see, she choose a cute wine glass and I had the champagne glass.
  Here's a rather fuzzy picture of our hostess with Priscilla
     Both of these ladies are in their late 70's or early 80's and are still greeting life with the energy (where they get it I don't know) and enthusiasm of 3 year olds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On to St. Charles

     The very next day Priscilla began her celebrity tour by visiting St. Charles, MO, which is northwest of St. Louis along the Missouri river.  St. Charles was  the capital of Missouri from 1821-1826 and was the last civilized stop on the Lewis and Clark expedition for westward expansion in 1705.  St. Charles was founded by Louis Blanchette and originally named "Les Petites Cotes", The Little Hills, in 1765.

     Miss Priss was quite interested in visiting old St. Charles and see all of its lovely shops.  (Can I just say that she has quite expensive tastes?)  She began her visit by stopping by the the site of a archaeological dig where the foundation of a building built by Louis Blanchette was found.
Our next stop was at the Plank House, the oldest house in St. Charles.  It was being lived in while George Washington was President.  The owner of the house and a master wood carver was quite excited to pose with Priscilla and Woody.
Following our visit at the Plank House Priss insisted on stopping to have her photo taken with Johnny and I and a statue of Daniel Boone.  (I would be the one wearing the kitty ears, just because I like them and they matched my top).
     It was during this trip I discovered what a camera hound Priss is.  She demanded we stop for a number of photo opps.

     Here she is posing on an old wood burning stove
And here she is with Woody signing the guest register at one of the shops
     Our final stop of the day was at a newly opened tea room.  I had been waiting for almost two years for this tea room to open and was really looking forward to taking Miss Priss there for tea.  Here we are at Alice's Tea Room and Miniature Museum.
     After waiting so long for the tea room to open we were very disappointed.  We couldn't get a scone the tea was bagged and we were expected to use A teabag in a luke warm pot of water.  The food was nice but nothing too interesting and we waited quite a while for it.  The owner was very chatty and friendly but unfortunately we will not be returning to her shop.

     After a long day of shopping and exploring Miss Priss, Woody, and our family decided to call it a day and return home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Priscilla Has Arrived

     The anticipation and excitement at the Guth house hold reached a crescendo when Miss Priscilla the Traveling Tea Pot arrived at our door.   The entire family gathered around to welcome her.  Johnny Luv did the honors of unpacking her and her all her traveling kit while I was allowed the privilege of photographing this momentous occasion.

     As we unpacked Prissy we discovered a few surprises.  Prissy had not made the journey alone, she had her trusty pet Woody tucked inside of her.  All that could be seen was a little mountie hat.  It actually appeared as though Prissy was wearing the hat herself.
     She was of course accompanied by her lovely American bow and her very intriguing passport.  But there were many lovely surprises included from Ingrid, her last hostess; tea, sweets, cute napkins, and a wonderful dill mix that will shortly be added to some afternoon scones and a wonderful tea room recipe book.
     Prissy had barely recovered from her travels when she sat down to a cozy meet and greet tea with my darling Johnny Luv and I.  We all shared a hearty cup of Mouse Trotters, Irish breakfast tea, Prissy needing something a bit bracing after her travels and Johnny Luv and I needing a bit of caffeine to start the morning.

     After tea Prissy decided to excuse herself and rest a while as she was quite done in from her travels and the excitement of meeting all of us.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Canadian Summer Days

I finally have some time to tell you all about Priscilla's adventure since my last blog entry.  It has been a busy few weeks.  Like many of you, I was glued to the Television for the Olympic Opening Ceremony and so was our Travelling teapot.
Fitting the occasion, I found my last few teabags from a Tea Tin I purchased while visiting Buckingham Palace in August 2011, found one of my favorite tea and sandwich china set appropriately called Windsor, it shows a lovely Windsor tartan with white and red heather flowers.  Found a sweet scone in the freezer, quickly spread out my Canada silk scarve and the American flag bow that travels with Priscilla and voila, we are enjoying a cuppa and cheering on the athletes walking into the Olympic stadium.  Oh and I used for the first time the teaspoon, one of 2 I received from Lucille.

Originally my next little visit was going to be at the Richmond Hill Country Club for the Breakfast Farewell that a very good friend organized for me, part party/fundraiser for my upcoming pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain.... I was packing all the techi stuff, like labtop, projector etc, because I was giving a little talk and video presentation for the guests.... and guess who got left behind in all the flurry... our sweet Priscilla.

I had to make it up to her for sure and so on July 30, we were on the road again, this time about 2 hours north of Toronto, to Lake Couchiching to visit a very dear friend of mine Sue Kenney, author of "My Camino" and "Confession of a Pilgrim" multiple documentaries etc... the person who first planted the seed in me to take on the challenge of the Camino myself.  It was a gorgeous day, one of those lazy hazy Summer days, best spend at a cottage on the water.  I packed some of my chinese ceremonial tea ware and some French Macarons and I had a few of my lavender/lemon matcha cookies and off we went.  2/3 of the way, there is a town called Orillia, famous for it's Casino and also known for some interesting shops.  I decided to take a break and check out 2.  Both occupy the same building, and are interconnected inside but purchases are made at seperate tills.

Is where I found Woody the Canadian Beaver

is where I bought blueberry and apple fritters to bring home with me.  They also had lovely scones and loaves and tons of james, cakes, cookies, icecream and also serve lunches and breakfast. They are always very very busy.

Can you say YUMMY!

Lake Couchiching is a beautiful lake in a portion of Ontario called the Land in between, because it divides Canadian rock formations and right at Sue's cottage, where you see the stones in the water, is the end of the shale rocks.
The wind had picked up a bit, which was a good thing, because it was 1p.m. by then and the sun was beating down on us mercilesly.  Sue, and Karen, who was visiting also, had just finished lunch and we were ready for dessert and a cuppa.... oh and Priscilla was in her glory.

Do you notice we are all wearing purple!  That was not planned, but how appropriate.  Karen as you can see is on full oxigen, she is waiting for her lung transplant.  She is a very positive person and tried to be with us all afternoon.  She even was able to come down to the water and be part of a little tea ceremony.  She was the one taking those pictures and so you are able to celebrate with us too.  Since I wanted Priscilla to be part of it, I used her as a water vessel.

This was not any specific ceremony, but it was a blessing and sharing of 3 teas.  I started with one of my favorite teas, Anji Bai Cha, this years Spring Harvest and it is a beautiful tea, gentle and soothing with a hint of flowers and very invigorating.  The scent of the dry leaves is that of freshly cut grass, but when you steep, the aroma is such a pleasure and the scent lingers around you. 

Next, I steeped White Moon Puerh Tea.  This tea is very special to me, it was a gift by my friend Tao, who yearly goes to Fujian and Yunnan.  This particular tea came in a smaller version of the puerh cakes, and it was espcially pressed for him as celebration gift for his 1st year of having opened his Tea room in Toronto (that was 3 years ago).  The Yunnan Assam leaves are white... still with all the pekoe intact and when you steep the leaves, they release a gently toasty charcoal aroma and flavour. The liquor is clear not muddy.  Very special, very rare because it is a tea made of buds only.

Our third tea was a Yunnan Golden Tip, again an exceptional tea. Golden curly leaves that already in the dry stage give off the most pleasant sweet apricot scent, that translates into a beautifully golden amber coloured liquor, repeating the flavour of apricotes more pronounced and lingering in your mouth, a perfect china red or black tea, signalling a perfect cup.  I love this tea, it is very forgiving, even when steeped english style, for 4- 5 minutes.. it does get stronger, but never bitter.  Also, if one wishes, one could add milk and sugar.

Before I left, we resteeped all 3 leaves together(and it made for a very unique tea) in Priscilla for a farewell cuppa, since the sun was setting (picture taken on the road) and it was time to head back home.

Thus ended Priscilla's Canadian sojourn. 

The next day, I packed her up,  this time with a new travelling companion, Woddy the Canadian Beaver... I think she really likes her pet.  

It was a pleasure and joy to have taking care of our Travelling Tea pot.