Monday, July 22, 2013

Tea...and a Little Patriotism

Belton, Texas. A rather small town where the average speed limit is thirty, and people walk downtown to strut around the local square, look at treats, and grab a bite to eat. It is home to several local businesses that add a spark of charm and community to the hill country of Central Texas. And it is in this neat little town that I must report a recent tragedy. Mimi's Teapot was a place with all the 'local' you could fit into the word, run by a determined woman named Vania White who brought the comforts of teatime from her own home, and added a strong taste of American pride to the atmosphere.

It brings a hard grief to say I discovered this place after it was closed down, and the fantastic house was put up for sale. I am also sad to say I never got to meet this woman, and that she had a dead land-line when I called. However, I feel inclined to write a tribute to her tea room and the experience I will never have for the sake of closure.
I took the liberty of taking snapshots of the place simply to admire the place she created for customers to come and sit, relax on a gorgeous patio, sip delicious tea and eat amazing goodies. It brought a smile to my face to see all the old fashioned appliance sitting rusted in her yard, like a vintage ice-cream maker and water pump. 

What I truly found great about this tearoom was that it was obviously antique, but heavily kept up-to-date with a prominent paint job and a well-painted fence. The flags surrounding this home also gave a sense of modern-decor, and overall made it a very unique place to visit. 
I can just imagine the customers it attracted; if they would laugh while sitting back in their comfy patio chairs and watch the countless flags wave in the Texan, summer breeze; if it brought tearful smiles to their faces reading all the 1940s posters hanging along the fence. 

I think Mimi's Teapot accomplished two things on a daily basis. As a tea-lover, I must applaud her for bringing a nice, comforting sense of community and cozy atmosphere for anyone who walked in. And, I can honestly say job-well-done to the patriotism that shouted out to those passing by, loud and unashamed. 
Vania White took perhaps the most creative approach to the tea experience I have seen thus far, and I commend her for generating a strong and tasteful theme I could never think of. 

I speak on behalf of Belton to say we will miss her little place of tea and patriotism.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Red Tea Morning

Last weekend I had the privilege of sampling a business that sells tea and coffee (along with a few lotions and soaps). Perhaps you've heard of them: the globally based Organo Gold. Yes, folks who have been keeping up with them know they are famous for their miraculous coffee, but, I believe their tea line deserves an honorable mention. It is one of those cases where one has to taste to believe, but this tea is perfectly balanced and perfectly smooth. Organo Gold uses the freshest of leaves and the most organic ingredients. Their Red and Green teas are soothing to the body and help restore a healthy balance. I will be honest saying the 4th of July weekend had left me in need of a good cleanse, and this tea showed up at just the right time. My tummy has finally stopped growling at me and I am happy to go for a hilly bike ride again.

If you are not an avid tea drinker, their coffee does much the same thing: it balances pH level, boosts energy and immune strength, and is a natural detoxification substance. And, while most coffees leave the body dehydrated and susceptible to stress, Organo Gold has turned caffeine into a very healthy alternative that both hydrates and oxygenates your system.

I encourage you to check out the independent distributor I had the privilege of meeting, Lottie Weathers at
If I haven't convinced you to try their products, then she certainly will!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Summer...So Make it Iced

Not many of you know I recently moved to Texas, but I can say it has been an innovative adventure so far; especially in the area of tea and treats. The first thing that stood out to me here in the land of heat and humidity is that Iced Tea is a popular commodity. I have met so many individuals who would prefer a glass of iced tea than an iced latte from Starbucks anytime. And it got me thinking...there are SO many ways to be creative and have fun with cooling, refreshing drinks over the summer--so why stick to just one?

I am sure you all know adding a little liquor to an Arnold Palmer can be a nice topping to a long, hot day. But for those who are less aware of precisely how many froofy, fruity tea drinks are out there, here are a few ideas...

First Recipe: Double Lemon Punch
This tasty iced drink is made with Ginger Ale and Lemon Verbena Leaves. Now, what precisely IS a Lemon Verbena leaf and why is it going in this drink? Well, I found an article that describes the make up and flavor of the herb here.

Supposedly the leaves add a tangy, zesty, citrus flavor when steeped, and they can easily be prepared. They are supposed to be dried and steeped in 2 cups of boiling water and strained before mixing into the punch. In any case, if you do not have access to Lemon Verbena leaves, you may use 2 bags of simple lemon tea to substitute. Now, the recipe is simple from here: The lemon verbena leaves (or lemon tea), 2 cups of black Assam tea and 2 squeezed lemons should be cooled before being added to 1 quart of chilled ginger ale. And a nice decoration to top it off with are ice cubes in the shape of something fun, like flowers, froggies, hearts--anything you can find a mold for at a market. (I'd love to see it done with little flower ice cubes at the bottom of each glass : )

Second Recipe: Rosy Yogurt Cooler
I am not certain how many Americans make their own rose hip tea, but I highly recommend it. If not, a box of tea bags from Wal-Mart is fine. Steep enough rose hips for 2 cups of boiling water while preparing this iced treat. You'll need 2 cups of plain, lowfat yogurt, 1 cup of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries (or any combination of the three!) 3 tablespoons of honey and 8 unsliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries to go on top.
Blend the sliced berries, yogurt and honey until perfectly smooth before adding the steeped rose hip tea into the mixture. Again, I will promote the fun-shaped ice cubes to go with this, or perhaps something more elegant to pour it over. Use a tall glass and put the whole berries on top to give the illusion of a fancy parfait--or perhaps a very elegant smoothie. Heck, feel free to blend the ice in with it : )

Obviously, these fruity iced "tea" drinks taste even better with a friend out on the patio. So sip and enjoy these treats from in the heat!

These Recipes come from Victoria's "The Charms of Tea" owned by Hearst Cooperation, Copyright 1991. I encourage readers to check it out.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Proper Setting

Hello friends and viewers,

It's been about a year since I've made a post, but today I was inspired by a special person in my life by receiving a very special gift. My father, Cary, sent a birthday gift to his new twenty-two-year-old and (can you guess what it was?) I was thrilled to find a charmingly elegant book of tea in all its Victorian glory. This book is aptly titled, "The Charms of Tea: Reminisces and Recipes" and while flipping through the pages, I found beautiful photographs of vintage china sets, along with traditional tiers of cake, cookies, and cucumber sandwiches. Every photo had its own color scheme and its own Victorian fashion. My eyes lingered on each lovely tea setting, and I thought to myself what an important piece that is in the Tea Experience: Setting.

There are many cases where it is the way a gift is packaged that makes it exciting--or even worth opening. And I am delighted to think it is the same with High Tea, that it is not just what is served but how. It matters what setting I am trying to offer because in the end it is the setting that makes the experience, it is setting that allows for rich conversation and a comfortable atmosphere.

I believe the prose on the front flap of my new book sums this idea up by saying,

"The tradition of teatime has long been a cherished one, bringing tranquil settings to the mind, delicate refreshments to the palate, and warm conversation with good friends to the heart."

I would ask you, reader, which setting do you prefer? What tastes do you imagine while sitting at a table? What small delights perk up your senses as you enjoy a treat with a dear friend? I hope the answers to these questions only enrich your ideal tea experience and bring you closer to living it.