San Francisco International Tea Festival returns to the Bay Area in November

San Francisco International Tea Festival banner from 2012.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Francisco International Tea Festival banner from 2012. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

The 3rd Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival is scheduled for Sunday, November 16 at 10 a.m. Held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the festival is a gathering of tea vendors other related business owners, along with tea scholars and tea drinkers from all over California.  The festival website reads: “Discover teas straight from local and global producers, Free swag bag includes your very own teacup to savor tea market offerings, Taste hundreds of different types of tea, Connect with five of the biggest names in tea, Learn how each cup of tea can be a different experience, Enjoy a meal and shopping in the Historic Ferry Building Marketplace, Live music by local artists.”

The event features an exhibit hall where the industry participants offer free samples of some of their tea products, along with tea, tea books, and tea equipment for sale.  There are formal tea tastings and educational lectures from tea experts like the Imperial Tea Court’s Roy Fong, and popular tea and food author and speaker James Norwood Pratt.  Well-known local tea brands are represented among the vendors, including Harney & Sons, Ito En, and The Republic of Tea.  The teas that are featured are high-quality, almost all loose-leaf, with a focus on unflavored teas, and tea as a beverage, rather than “Tea” as a social event.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 16th; admission is $25 per person, which gets you into the main exhibit hall, and perhaps into the lectures, although the formal tea tastings are first-come-first-served and cost $5 each.  Tickets can be purchased from the festival website, and may also be available at the door on the day of the festival.  Each attendee also receives a gift bag with more tea samples from the vendors, a special tea tasting cup to use at the festival, and contact information for all the vendors at the festival.

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Filed under Events, Health, History, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

Review: Jasmine Tea Ginger Ale

Bruce Cost Jasmine Tea Ginger Ale.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Bruce Cost Jasmine Tea Ginger Ale. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Bruce Cost Fresh Ginger Jasmine Tea Ginger Ale is a tasty variation on traditional ginger ale, not only because it has lots of ginger flavor – unlike more familiar ginger ales – but also because it is infused with jasmine green tea!  Bruce Cost is one of the vendors who attend the San Francisco International Tea Festival every year, and I first tasted their Jasmine Tea Ginger Ale there a few years ago.

The ginger ale comes in 12-oz. glass bottles with a sepia-tinged ivory paper label and black lettering, which reads: “Whole leaf tea, floral and earthy with tannins”, “Separation is natural.  Shake gently.” “Bruce Cost Ginger Ale Unfiltered”, “Made with 100% fresh ginger (no extracts) & pure cane sugar”, “Jasmine Tea”, “Proud descendent of the original soft drink, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is delicious, sparkling and rich with whole ginger, long enjoyed for digestive comfort”. It contains 160 calories per serving (bottle), and the ingredients are: carbonated water, pure cane sugar, 100% fresh ginger, premium brewed jasmine green tea with filtered water, and citric acid.  Some vendors also sell the Original Ginger Ale in cans, as well.  It sells for about $2 per bottle.
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Refreshing Citrus Rose Tea Punch recipe

tea punch ingredients

Citrus pomegranate rose tea punch ingredients. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Labor Day may be the unofficial “end of summer” but it’s not the end of the hot weather here in San Jose!  Cooling, refreshing drinks are still necessary to survive the warmth, especially for those of us who live in older homes without air conditioning.  Tea – especially iced or cold-brewed – is a great drink to keep in the fridge, and it makes delicious mixed drinks and punches.  Served over ice, it is wonderfully cooling and easy to drink. Here is the recipe:

2 cups pomegranate juice
4 to 5 cups brewed rose-scented black tea, chilled
2 cups lemon or orange-flavored mineral water
one fresh orange, juice and zest
ice cubes

Combine all ingredients except the mineral water and ice cubes in a large pitcher, and chill thoroughly.  To serve, put 2 ice cubes (or as many as you want) in a glass, fill the glass halfway with the punch mixture, and top off with the mineral water.  Enjoy!  Makes 8 to 9 servings.

If you can’t find plain pomegranate juice, you can use pom-cherry or pom-grape juice, or plain cherry juice, or plain cranberry juice; anything that’s full-flavored, a dark red color, and sweet-sour in flavor.  The South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild uses the English Rose black tea blend from The English Rose tearoom in Pleasanton for this punch, but you can use any rose-scented black tea blend that you like, or choose a Ceylon or Chinese black tea and add some rose water or rose petal jam, if you have it.  Rose petal jam and rose water can generally be found in the Middle Eastern food section of the supermarket.

Copyright 2014, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:

“Barbecue with tea for Labor Day”

“Labor Day menu tip: 5 teas for San Jose’s beer fans”

“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”

“Chinese black tea in San Jose”

“Tea-table recipe: rose-petal jam desserts”

“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”

“Greet the summer in San Jose with iced tea during Iced Tea Month”

“Iced tea and how to make it”

“Ease the first-day-of-school jitters with a tea party”

“Cool off with tea ice cream”

“Tea and food pairings for black teas”

“Enjoy San Jose’s warm weather with a floral tea menu”

“Review of Haagen-Dazs Green Tea ice cream”

“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”

“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”

“Going back to school in San Jose? Ease into it with a tea picnic on the beach”

“Picnic in Gatsby style with iced tea at San Jose’s History Park”

“Use tea in refreshing fruit spritzers this summer”

“All about tisanes, or ‘herbal teas’”

“How to: make rose jelly for your tea party pantry”

“Iced tea punches and cocktails”

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Filed under Recipes, Tea, Tips, Uncategorized

Beat the heat with iced tea punches and cocktails.

Pomegranate tea punch.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Pomegranate tea punch. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

With the beginning of summer comes the perfect weather for a refreshing glass of iced tea.  Although there is no reason to become bored with good old iced tea – because of the wide range of flavored teas commercially available – tea can be used to make many other cold beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Alcohol-free beverages include punches, virgin cocktails or “mocktails”, spritzers, and of course, the ever-popular Arnold Palmer — iced tea and lemonade mixed together in equal parts.  It is one of my favorite ways to drink iced tea in the summer!  You can also add things like rose water, orange flower water, and simple syrups flavored with mint or other herbs, orange peel or other fruits to your iced tea for more variation.  Then, there are the alcoholic punches and cocktails that contain tea; there are so many options!

Here are two great tea punch recipes.  The first one was served by the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild at their Pre-Raphaelite Tea Salon a few years ago.  It has remained popular with them and their guests ever since.
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Mother’s Day history and tea tips.

 

Mother's Day post card, 1916, Northern Pacific Railway.  Wikimedia Commons

Mother’s Day post card, 1916, Northern Pacific Railway. Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, as we know it, in the U.S.? Julia Ward Howe, an American poet who also wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the beginning of the Civil War, became so appalled by the violence and destruction that she became a pacifist and called, in 1870, for all mothers to band together in peace, to stop their sons and husbands from being sent to war. Her effort temporarily (until about 1880) resulted in June 2nd being set aside for local celebrations of American mothers, and of peace.

When Howe died, although most Mother’s Day celebrations ended, a group of women in West Virginia adapted the holiday as a Mother’s Friendship Day, to re-unite those who had been driven apart by wartime politics. In 1908, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of the Mother’s Friendship Day committee leader, petitioned her mother’s church — St. Andrews Methodist Church — to establish the 2nd Sunday in May as an official, annual celebration, in honor of her mother; the church assented, presenting each mother with white carnations, Jarvis’ mother’s favorite flower, for the special service. A church in Philadelphia, where Jarvis herself was living, also adopted the holiday. The same year, the YMCA started petitioning the U.S. government to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, working with Jarvis to influence senators and other government officials. Jarvis trademarked the phrase “Mother’s Day” in 1912, to indicate that the purpose of the holiday was “for each family to honor its mother, not … all mothers of the world.” In 1912 West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s Day as an official holiday, and President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in May of 1914.
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How to make rose-scented treats for tea

Old-fashioned fragrant rose, perfect for making rose water.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Old-fashioned fragrant rose, perfect for making rose water. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Now that we’re into the warmer spring weather here in San Jose, local rose bushes are blooming and scenting the air with their fragrance. Roses not only smell wonderful, but are edible, when grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you have access to food-grade fresh or dried roses, you can use them for both culinary and medicinal purposes — they are soothing and moisturizing — and some rose recipes are good additions to the tea party pantry! Some of the most useful rose-scented treats include rose water and rose jelly.

Rose water can be added, a spoonful at a time, to a cup of hot tea or a glass of iced tea, for flavor and aroma, and can be used, with granulated sugar, to make a rose-scented sugar or rose syrup for flavoring iced tea or cocktails, or with powdered sugar, to make icing for tea cakes, cookies and sweet scones. Local grocery stores carry rose water in the Middle Eastern food aisle, and this has been distilled so that it is shelf-stable. Continue reading

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Review: Sticky Fingers Red Raspberry Scone mix

Sticky Fingers Red Raspberry Scone mix.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Sticky Fingers Red Raspberry Scone mix. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Scone mixes are a good item to keep in your tea party pantry for those times when you don’t have 30 minutes to make a batch of scones from scratch, but you still need something to eat with tea, and you want something a little more special than toast.  Enter the packaged scone mixes!  With the company tag line “homemade taste for modern lives,” Sticky Fingers was the first brand of scone mix that I saw in San Jose-area stores, and it has expanded to include several flavors that are available in local Safeway, Target, Nob Hill, and Cost Plus World Market stores, as well as Lisa’s Tea Treasures in Campbell and at Santana Row.  The scone mix is packaged in a foil-lined paper sack, and includes enough dry ingredients for 12 medium-sized scones; the only ingredient that the user needs to add is water, but you can enrich the scones by adding milk, cream, or a combination of those and water when you mix up the scones.

The company website says that all their mixes contain no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, trans-fats or saturated fats.  Ingredients for the Red Raspberry mix include: unbleached enriched flours (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavins, folic acid), sugar, canola oil (with ascorbic acid and rosemary added to preserve freshness), buttermilk powder, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), freeze dried raspberries, natural flavor, and salt.

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Tea and _Saving Mr. Banks_

_Saving Mr. Banks_ official movie still.  Copyright Disney Studios

_Saving Mr. Banks_ movie still from the film’s Facebook page. Copyright Disney Studios

San Jose residents have the opportunity to see, among the other usual holiday movie offerings, a biographical sketch of the author, P. L. Travers, creator of the beloved character “Mary Poppins”, immortalized by Walt Disney.  Starring Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, _Saving Mr. Banks_ is the story of the author’s deep personal love for her characters, and her fight to keep them from being too “Disney-fied” in Hollywood.

The plot also features frequent flashbacks to Travers’ childhood in Australia, and gives glimpses of the various people in her life who inspired Mr. and Mrs. Banks, Bert, and Mary Poppins, in particular.  Fittingly, the movie also features tea many times; Travers is only seen drinking tea, and makes many pithy comments about tea, including: “it is an abomination to drink tea from a paper cup”, and “tea is balm for the soul.”  She also weighs in on the “milk in first/milk in last” question: she takes her milk in first.  During one of the childhood flashbacks, Travers’ prim and proper aunt – a major inspiration for Mary Poppins herself — arrives to help the family, and promises to fix everything while opening her capacious carpetbag and taking out a teacup and saucer.  Walt Disney also visits her in London and asks for “a cup of your English tea.”

We all know the end of the story – since most of us have seen the finished product, animation and all – but most don’t know the struggle it took to make the movie, and the personal investment of the author herself.  I found it a very interesting and moving story, and I would definitely see it again.  It is a good movie to accompany a cup of hot tea, and if you can bring your own travel mug of tea and tea party pantry treats to the theater, so much the better, because my cup of Earl Grey cost me over $4!  The movie will be running in the San Jose area for a little while longer, so why not welcome the new year with tea and a movie?

Copyright 2014, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers,  or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information: 

“P.L. Travers” entry in Wikipedia
“Mary Poppins” movie page on the Disney website
“Saving Mr. Banks” movie page on the Disney website
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Celebrate Beatrix Potter’s work with a tea party”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Making the most of a cup of restaurant tea”
“Have an English tea and Royal Wedding-viewing party”
“Review: Twinings Earl Grey tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Stay up late with tea on New Year’s Eve”
“Use tea as a holiday champagne substitute”
“Review: Mobile Teapot from Village Tea Company”
“How to have tea with Jane Austen (in spirit) in San Jose”
“6 points of proper tea etiquette for San Jose”
“Curl up with tea and a New Year’s Day brunch to watch the Rose Parade”

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Filed under Books, Movies, Tea

Raise your teacup to Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday.

The Coventry Carolers at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe.

The Coventry Carolers at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe.

The popular Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Holiday Party, which opened the weekend before Thanksgiving this year, is in extra celebratory mode, remembering the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.  Born February 7, 1813, Dickens created some of the most iconic stories and characters known to Western literature, which are brought to life at the Dickens Fair in Daly City at the Cow Palace.  Actor Robert Young portrays the author every year and conducts readings of his works throughout the six weekends that the Fair is open. The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through December 22nd.

Dickens’ characters are often found enjoying a cup of tea and some cake, so why not join them – and all the other visitors at the Dickens Fair – over a cup or pot of tea?  Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe is the most popular place to have tea, because you can sit in a Victorian tea room and be served by costumed waiters and waitresses, and if you are in costume yourself, you become part of the holiday scenery.  Be ready to stand in long lines to wait for a table, however, and if you want a full afternoon tea menu you need to reserve your spot in advance on the Cuthbert’s website.  Be advised that full afternoon tea seatings sell out quickly!

There are a few other options if you want to have some tea at the Dickens Fair.  Cuthbert’s has a “take-away” window at the back of the shop, where you can buy each of the tea menu items a la carte, and find your own seating outside the tea shop.  There is Mr. Brown’s Fine Coffee & Teas, which is one of the food vendor booths, where you can get tea, chai, scones, and other treats a la carte.  New this year is 2 English Ladies, a shop that sells cream tea supplies for your tea party pantry, like lemon curd, jam and preserves, and loose tea blends.  Cuthbert’s also sells teapots, if you need one of those.  There are many ways to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a treat for the holiday, and raise your cup to the joy and imagination of Charles Dickens’ works!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page  on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair website http://dickensfair.com/
Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe website http://cuthbertsteashoppe.com/
Food booths at the Dickens Fair http://www.dickensfair.com/food-drink
Dickens 2012 website http://www.dickens2012.org/
“Charles Dickens in Pictures” from The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/charles-dickens/8954312/Charles-Dickens-in-pictures.html
“Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/review-cuthbert-s-tea-shoppe-at-the-great-dickens-christmas-fair-review
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/tea-tasting-san-jose-area-day-trips-san-francisco-s-chinatown
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?” http://www.examiner.com/x-8683-San-Jose-Tea-Examiner~y2010m7d14-Teatime-101-what-do-we-mean-when-we-talk-about-tea
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/what-you-need-to-make-a-good-pot-of-hot-tea
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/tea-101-how-to-brew-a-pot-of-tea-using-loose-tea
“How to have afternoon tea at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/how-to-have-afternoon-tea-at-the-dickens-fair-san-francisco
“Last weekend for tea at the Dickens Fair!” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/last-weekend-for-tea-at-the-dickens-fair
“Enjoy traditional Irish seed cake with a nice cup of tea” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/enjoy-traditional-irish-seed-cake-with-a-nice-cup-of-tea
“Escape the rain in San Jose with a Cornish cream tea & Pirates of Penzance!” http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-san-jose/escape-the-rain-san-jose-with-a-cornish-cream-tea-pirates-of-penzance
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?” http://www.examiner.com/article/what-should-i-keep-the-pantry-for-tea-parties
“By Dickens, a Victorian Pacifican serves up delectables at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe” http://www.mercurynews.com/my-town/ci_19393798?source=rss
“When the exhibits are people: first-person cultural interpreters at Dickens Christmas Fair.” http://www.examiner.com/x-19428-San-Jose-Museum-Examiner~y2009m11d29-When-the-exhibits-are-people–firstperson-cultural-interpreters-at-Dickens-Christmas-Fair

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Filed under Events, History, Holiday, Tea, Tips

Have a Halloween High Tea while greeting trick-or-treaters

A Jolly Halloween.  Image: Halloween Cavern of Clipart.

A Jolly Halloween. Image: Halloween Cavern of Clipart.

Halloween is almost here in San Jose, and the trick-or-treaters will soon be out in force.  Since it also looks like it may be a cool, rainy autumn evening, why not put together some hot tea and treats for yourself – and maybe some friends – as you wait through the night to hand out candy to the local kids?  Unfortunately, homemade goodies can’t be passed out to trick-or-treaters – everything must be individually wrapped and sealed in its original factory wrapping – but there’s no reason why you have to limit yourself to leftovers, microwave popcorn or extra Halloween candy tonight.  A pot of hot tea will hit the spot as the rain falls outside, and you can give yourself a delicious shiver with some spooky treats to go alongside.  Here are some suggestions for your own Halloween High Tea:

Orange Spice Tea
Pumpkin Spice Tea
Masala Chai
Pumpkin Spice Tea Toddy

Spooky Black Olive Scones
Pumpkin Seeds
Hot Dog Mummies
Tombstone Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Psycho-delic Cat Eyes

Vampire Cupcakes
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes
Spider Truffles
Meringue Ghosts

Hearty black teas pair better with the hearty food that is so appropriate for cooler weather.  Cozy up with your own special food and a nice hot pot of tea, and you’ll be ready to welcome any number of trick-or-treaters!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page  on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:

“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Enjoy San Jose’s harvest moon with some hot tea”
“How to make masala chai at home”
“What to do if it rains in San Jose on Halloween: have a tea party!”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“A Twilight theme tea”
“How to put on a Gothic high tea”

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Filed under Holiday, Menus, Party Ideas