Saturday, October 26, 2013

"A Cup of Christmas Tea" Afternoon Tea

 Christmas Afternoon Tea is a long-standing Jennings Family and Friends tradition.
Readers of this blog remember in 2009 when we built an addition to our home
we added a room we call "the tea room."  
It is a special place where I invite friends and family to gather around the table
to sit amongst some of the many tea cups and tea pots in my collection,
and share a pot of tea, good food and good conversation.
The theme of this tea is "A Cup of Christmas Tea"
Guests in the above photo from left to right:
Mary, Lynn, me (Linda), Melissa, Patty and Alice.
For this special afternoon tea, I set-up a round table covered in a red holly tablecloth,
 using a mixture of Christmas china to set the table, including my
vintage Rosina Yuletide English Bone China cups, saucers, and plates,
with a matching small cream pitcher and open sugar bowl. 
I collected these pretty teacup trios a few pieces at a time.
I placed the plates on square green glass plates given to me years ago
by my Aunt Ida.  I wrote about those plates in a previous blog post.
Aunt Ida purchased the plates in Chicago in the 1940's when she, her young son, 
and husband traveled there by train.  She fondly told me how
she carried them in a box on her lap during the journey back to Kentucky.
I think of her every time I use them. 
For the charger, I used white Lenox dinner plates. 
I used my "Cup of Christmas Tea" teapots, and the matching
dinner plates on the three-tiered server. 
The pretty napkins are very special because they belonged to Lynn's mother, Martha.
The stemmed glasses were given to me by Mary several
years ago.  They were her mother's Christmas glasses,
probably collected at Arby's, but treasured because Mary's mother,
 Laura, enjoyed using them.
I want to mention, the vintage Campbellsville cherry dining room chairs
were my mother's.  She needlepointed the green chair bottoms.
She was so proud of them, and I know she is with me when I used them.
 I enjoy using the three-tier server  the three tea courses.
The top tier served the mini desserts, cookies and pastries.(the last course)
The middle tier traditionally serves scones. (the second course)
And, the bottom tier serves sandwiches and savories. (the first course)
Guests around the table begin eating from the bottom tier first and move upwards.  
Several three-tiered servers will be used at a table to serve one
of each item to every guest.  You can see the plate of sandwiches below will
serve one of each sandwich to two people.  
The second course, is Cranberry Scones, two each for three guests, with a garnish
of star fruit slices, were served with clotted cream and lemon curd.
If you look on the table at the 2nd and 4th photos above, you will see
clear glass vintage dishes of clotted cream and lemon curd. 
The third course, served last, is the dessert course, served
on the top tier of the three-tiered server.  Shown here
each guest has one of every pastry.

 The tea I brewed and served for this special event was
Organic Brown Crown Jewel
a special blend of Assam and Ceylon, exclusive to
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa in Denver,
purchased when Glenn, Austin and I enjoyed afternoon tea there in July. 
Details of this special Christmas Afternoon Tea, including recipes,
will be posted over the next several blog posts. 
I hope you will come back to read more!
You may also read about my teas in the November issue of at this link

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Purple Passion Tea

 I am so fortunate to have friends who help support my tea passion
through special gifts of tea. 
Cara, from Iowa, visited Mary recently and sent to me this very special gift
from Gong Fu Tea in DexMoines.  
The four teas included Purple Passion and Sun Moon Take Hong Cha black teas, 
Umegashima Sencha green tea and Milk Oolong. 
This morning I brewed Purple Passion  according to the Gong Fu Tea description,
"a basic black tea made irresistible by the addition of passion fruit flavoring. 
Linger over your cup as the floral scents delight your senses."
The scent of the passion fruit was delightful when I opened the tin. 
This tea made a lovely amber colored brew. 
The instructions said to brew 5 minutes at 208 degrees. 
The taste was a bit more astringent than I like.  
I will try this tea again and brew it for less time to see if I like it better.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gluten Free Menus at Cracker Barrel

I am so happy our local Cracker Barrel Restaurant has a new Gluten Free Menu. 
There are several great choices here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Nice Cup of Tea - Where?

Believe it or not, this nice cup of tea served in a pretty teapot
was at breakfast at an airport café at LaGuardia on our recent trip.
My guys and I were impressed by the nice presentation.
The guys encouraged me to take this photo for a blog post.  
The tea is an English Breakfast blend.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

19 Lessons On Tea - Book

This small paperback book, "A Guide by 27Press"
is a very easy-to-read guidebook to
"19 Lessons on Tea" 
The description on the back covers says this book
"is the ultimate beginner's guide to drinking premium quality tea.
Whether you want to become a true connoisseur
 or just learn enough to confidently order something at your local tea shop"
From Lesson 1 - What is Tea?
Lesson 19 - Tea and Health
This handy book is filled with useful tea-related knowledge.
No photographs are included, just important tea information,
arranged in 19 easy lessons. 
In the back of the book, you will find online resource information
and several blank note pages for recording your tea tasting experiences. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Afternoon Tea at The Plaza in NYC, 2013

"Everyone should have afternoon tea at The Plaza at least once in a lifetime"
is what the gentleman told me when I called for reservations.
Friday, October 4th was my second afternoon tea at The Palm Court
in The Plaza Hotel. 
Although I had stayed at The Plaza several times over the years,
my first afternoon tea at The Plaza was in 1999
while in NYC with friends, Judy and Leona. 
Oh what fabulous memories I have from that trip!  
On this occasion, Austin, Glenn and I met friends Ed and Elaine for
afternoon tea at The Plaza. 
The Plaza opened in 1907 and has a heritage rich in history and history-making events.

 Afternoon tea is served daily 2 - 5 PM.
The menu includes:
Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages
The New Yorker
Chocolate Tea
and the
Eloise Tea
Tea selections are:
The Plaza Signature Blends: Breakfast Tea
Afternoon Tea (my choice)
Classic Teas: Organic Earl Grey
Willow Stream Decaffeinated (Glenn's choice)
Reserve Black Teas: Golden Monkey Picked
Organic Tong Mu Phoenix Tree Lapsong Shouchong
Reserve Green Teas: Madame Butterfly Jasmine (Austin's choice)
Kosabei Estate Natural Dryer Mouth
and Four Herbal and Fruit Infusions

Glenn, Ed, Elaine and I enjoyed The Fitzgerald.
Austin considered The Chocolate Tea, but selected The New Yorker
he was very pleased with his selection.
The Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages
Sandwiches and Savories:
Curried Lobster Salad, Local Aple
Deviled Quail Egg Salad
Smoked Salmon, Wild Sturgeon
Roasted Turkey Sandwich, Pomegrante Chutney
Cucumber Sandwich, radish, Basil
Freshly baked warm seasonal scones, Plain and Cranberry-Orange
Double Devonshire Cream, Lemon Curd, Preserves
Pastries and Sweets:
Pate de Fruit with Gin Rickey Sugar
Fudge Marshmallow Square
Amarena Cherry and Chocolate Sachertorte
Banana Financier
Hazelnut Napoleon
Jazz Age Chocolate Bon Bon
Price $60 per person

Below:  My gluten free Fitzgerald Tea sandwiches

GF amazingly delicious scones
GF sweets 

I am often asked which of the many afternoon tea venues
I have visited and experienced are my favorite.
Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel
located at 5th Avenue and Central Park South
ranks among my Top Three American Afternoon Teas! 
The service, food, and ambiance make for a perfect afternoon tea!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tea and Gluten Free While Traveling

 Buffet breakfast at the Marriott Marquis included tea
and Gluten Free choices of cereal, muffins, bagels and bread
with a designated GF toaster. 

 I became Gluten Free in February (due to health reasons) 
I am so glad to finally see hotel and airport gift shops 
stocking GF to-go boxed meals, bars, and snacks.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NYC Fall Break - Shows and Dinners

We saw three great shows while in New York,
Spiderman Turns Off the Dark

The Book of Mormon
and, Matilda. 
Dinner after the shows were at three very different
and all delightful restaurants very conveniently located
to each theater.
Serefina, Guy's American Kitchen and Bar,
and the famous Sardi's (below).
The Marriott Marquis in Times Square
is very convenient to the Theatre District.
We only took a cab from the airport to the hotel
and from the hotel back to the airport.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Russian Tea Room Afternoon Tea

 The Russian Tea Room (RTR), located on W. 57th Street, opened in 1927,
and is described as more of an institution than a restaurant.  
For this reason, I chose it as our Saturday, 10/5 afternoon tea venue. 
The RTR was closed 2002 - 2006 and reopened to some changes, 
but it is decorated with the famous red leather banquets, 
bronze samovars and colorful paintings, for which it was well-known.  
 The menu (above) offers "High Tea" and "Royal High Tea"
daily from 2 - 4:30 pm.  
We chose the "High Tea"  which includes: 
Sandwiches and Blinis
Curried chicken salad with raisins and pecans
Shrimp salad with remoulade
Smoked Scottish Salmon with chive cream cheese and cucumber
Artichoke with red pepper and a sun-dried tomato goat cheese
Smoked ham and turkey with truffle croque monsieur
N.Y. smoked sturgeon with dill and sour cream
Roquefort bleu cheese and pear with walnuts
a tasting of two American caviars on Blinis
Assorted seasonal scones
cupcakes and petits fours

 I chose Darjeeling tea, Austin chose Formosa Oolong, 
and Glenn chose the Rooibos Chai. 

 The sandwich course was brought to the table on a three-tier server. 

 My Gluten-Free afternoon tea first course was the same
sandwich fillings, except they were served without bread.,
on cucumber slices, in endive leaves, and on spoons. 
 The scones were served with butter and jams,
on the same server with the desserts. 

 My GF replacement for the desserts and scones was
a very generous serving of choice of sorbets.
I enjoyed the mango sorbet.  
 The excellent service and ambiance made for a most memorable
New York City afternoon tea experience at the famous Russian Tea Room.  


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