Category Archives: Books

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.”

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Filed under Books, Movies, Tea

Christmas gifts to buy for a tea-drinker.

Candy Cane Lane tea gift set. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

While many San Jose residents are eager to save money this Christmas season by making some of their gifts, there are still quite a few for whom the convenience of purchasing gifts is worth more than the money spent to buy them. Many holiday sales are still in effect, and some internet vendors are offering free shipping and other discounts, so if you are buying gifts and you have a tea-lover on your list, here are some suggestions that you might want to look for:

  1. A decanter or pitcher specifically for making iced and hot tea in. Teavana sells one, but there are several brands on the market.
  2. A commuter mug with a built-in tea strainer. Satori Tea Bar sells one model that is very convenient, but you can also get them at Peet’s Coffee & Tea and on the internet.
  3. High-quality loose-leaf tea. The most expensive teas are surprisingly affordable if you purchase sample sizes of them. Many tea vendors sell samples for less than $5 each.  You can buy them at Satori Tea Bar, Lisa’s Tea Treasures, other local tea shops, or on the internet.
  4. Tea or chai ice cream. Haagen-Dazs has a green tea and a chai flavor that are available at local Safeway and Nob Hill stores. Local Asian markets also carry green tea ice cream mochi treats in the freezer section.
  5. Powdered instant chai and liquid chai concentrate. Both are shelf-stable items (the liquid must be stored in the fridge once opened), that require only the addition of milk or a dairy substitute to make a nice glass of hot or cold chai. Tazo makes a tasty liquid chai concentrate, and Oregon Chai makes both a liquid concentrate and a powdered instant chai; Tazo and Oregon Chai liquid concentrates are available in most local supermarkets, and Target grocery departments, and Oregon Chai powdered instant chai is available at Nob Hill stores.
  6. Books about tea. Lisa’s Tea Treasures and Satori Tea Bar sell a few titles, as do Barnes & Noble bookstores, but there are many more titles available on the internet. Check Amazon or other mail-order sites.
  7. Tea-flavored candies. San Jose’s Asian markets carry a surprising collection of these goodies. You can get Oreo Matcha candy bars at the Japanese groceries in Japantown, and Bali’s Best Tea Candy hard candies in many Chinese groceries and even in some American supermarkets in the Asian food aisle.
  8. Tea-themed calendar.  There is a Collectible Teapot Calendar put out every year, that is available at the calendar store and kiosks at local shopping malls like the Great Mall of Milpitas.  Also available on the internet.
  9. Tea-of-the-Month Club membership.  Some vendors, like Mighty Leaf Tea, offer 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month memberships in Tea-of-the-Month Clubs.  Members get one or more new teas sent to them every month.
  10. Tea Shirts.  Not just a T-shirt, but one with a clever tea-related slogan on the front, like “Instant Human, Just Add Tea.” Available on the internet from places like CafePress and Etsy.
  11. Tea lotions or other cosmetics.  Celestial Seasonings has a few holiday teas that they’ve added to body lotion for a holiday gift set.  Look in Safeway supermarket specialty holiday product displays for this sort of thing.

Of course, teapots, cups and saucers, tea strainers, tea towels, or anything else that can be used for making or enjoying tea, will make great Christmas gifts for yourself or your favorite tea-lover!  Places like Target, Ross, Marshall’s and Cost Plus World Market have lots of fun things.

Copyright 2011, 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, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea

For more information:
“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”
“Review: Mobile Teapot from Village Tea Company”
“Review: the Royal Wedding tea from Lisa’s Tea Treasures”
“Review: Buccaneer blend from SerendipiTea”
“Review: Passion blend from SerendipiTea”
“Review of Haagen Dazs Sweet Chai Latte ice cream”
“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” 
“Where to buy books about tea in San Jose”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”
“Review: Japanese Oreo matcha candy bar by Nabisco” 
Collectible Teapot Calendar Amazon link

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Filed under Books, Holiday, Product Reviews, Tea, Tips, Vendors and Shops

Have tea with Louisa May Alcott in San Jose!

Louisa May Alcott, ca. 1857. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

The San Jose Woman’s Club, in conjunction with the San Jose Public Library, the San Jose State Library and a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, will present Tea With Louisa May Alcott, a program of tea and living history covering the life and career of Louisa May Alcott, best known for her novel Little Women.  The event will also feature Valerie Weich, a historian and actress, in character as Louisa, talking about the author’s writing, as well as her Civil War experiences.  Advance registration is required.

When: Sunday, October 23, 2011.  2 p.m.
Where: San Jose Woman’s Club, 75 S. 11th St., San Jose, CA 95112
Contact: Toby Matoush (408)808-2096
Admission: Free

San Jose’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Library has received a $2,500 grant from the NEH to support this look at Louisa May Alcott’s work and life, which is one of 5 “reading, viewing and discussion programs featuring the documentary “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women” and the companion biography of the same name.”  The only other library in California to receive the same grant for the same purpose was Oceanside Public Library in Oceanside.  As Louisa was also a supporter of Woman’s Suffrage, this event is especially appropriate for October 2011, the 100th anniversary of women in California having the right to vote!

Copyright 2011, 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, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
“Review: American classic, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott” by Cindi Rose
“Tea with Louisa” event page on Facebook
“The Woman Behind Little Women: Louisa May Alcott” movie website
“All About Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women”
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House website
“Louisa May Alcott is My Passion: Events”
“ALA announces 30 libraries to receive Louisa May Alcott library outreach grants” press release from January 2011
ALA website for the project

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Filed under Books, Events, History, Tea

15 books that should be on the San Jose tea-lover’s reading list

Your shelf could be full of tea books! Photo: Paul,

San Jose’s summer is more than halfway through, since most local children will be returning to school in just 3 short weeks.  Reading is still a favorite past-time, even with the tech-savvy Silicon Valley kids.  Tea and books go together so well, it’s no wonder that there are a lot of books about tea.  Here are some great suggestions for your own tea library, listed alphabetically:

1. Afternoon Tea Serenade: Recipes from Famous Tea Rooms by Sharon O’Connor.  Menus And Music Productions, Inc.  Emeryville, CA.  1997.
2. And Then It Was Teatime compiled by Laurie Nienhaus.  Gilded Lily Publishing, Ft. Meyers Beach, FL.  2007.
3. Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World by Cynthia Gold.
4. Having Tea: Recipes and Table Settings by Tricia Foley.
5. London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea by Helen Simpson.
6. Taking Tea: The Essential Guide to Brewing, Serving, and Entertaining with Teas from Around the World by Andrea Israel and Pamela Mitchell.  Grove Press, New York NY.  1998
7. Tea with Friends by Elizabeth Knight.
8. Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson.  Jones Books, Madison WI.  2004.
9. The Book of Afternoon Tea by Lesley Mackley.  HPBooks, The Berkley Publishing Group, New York NY.  1992.
10.  The Graceful Art of Tea by Nan Taylor.  Taylor-Brown Publishing, Santa Clarita, CA. 2003.
11. The Protocol School of Washington Tea & Etiquette: Taking Tea for Business and Pleasure by Dorothea Johnson. Capital Books, Inc., Sterling, VA. 1998.
12. The Tea Table by Shelley & Bruce Richardson.
13. The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far by Lisa Boalt Richardson.
14. Special Teas by M. Dalton King.  Stoddart Publishing Limited, Toronto, Canada.  Kenan Books, New York, NY.  1993.
15. Afternoon Tea by Jane Pettigrew and Jenni Davis.  Jarrold Publishing, Pitkin Unichrome Ltd., Hampshire, England, UK.  30 July 2004.

Check Santa Clara County libraries for these books, which will most likely be in the cookbook section.  If you want to buy one of them, there are still a few independent bookstores around, and Barnes & Noble.  Local tea shops like Teavana also sell some of these books, and if all else fails, they can be purchased on the Internet.  That way you can stretch out in the shade with a glass of iced tea and a good book this summer!

Copyright 2011, 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, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
“3 Tea books worth adding to your collection”
Marmalady’s Tea: Books
TeaChat Tea Book and Magazine Reviews
Imperial Tea Court: Tea Books
Afternoon tea books at Hicklebee’s in Willow Glen
Tea and coffee books at Barnes & Noble

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Filed under Books, History, Menus, Party Ideas, Recipes, Vendors and Shops

Where to get tea books in San Jose

Reading a book about tea! Image from

In searching for  a good book to read, San Jose tea drinkers can choose from e-books and downloadable digital files for the Kindle, Nook and other brands of e-Readers that are fairly popular in the Bay Area.  Many residents prefer an actual book to the digital versions, however, so while various local bookstores are closing (multiple Borders bookstores will close in the South Bay in 2011), there are several that are doing well enough to carry a good variety of books, including tea books.  Here are some Santa Clara Valley bookstores that advertise tea books on their websites:

Barnes & Noble – Stevens Creek
3600 Stevens Creek Blvd
San Jose, CA 95117

Barnes & Noble – Pruneyard
1875 S. Bascom Avenue Ste 240
Campbell, CA 95008

Barnes & Noble – Eastridge Mall
Eastridge Shopping Center
2200 Eastridge Loop Space 1420
San Jose, CA 95122

Barnes & Noble – Blossom Hill
Almaden Plaza
5353 Almaden Expressway Bldg. B
San Jose, CA 95118

Barnes & Noble – Westgate
Westgate Mall
1600 Saratoga Avenue
San Jose, CA 95129

Recycle Bookstore (there is also a store in Campbell)
1066 The Alameda,
San Jose, CA
(408) 286-6275

1378 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 292-8880

Leigh’s Favorite Books
121 S. Murphy Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 736-2665

Often, local libraries will have tea books in the cooking and recipes section, as well as the lifestyle sections, so you can enjoy your vacation reading without spending a lot of money or taking up permanent space in your home or your computer with physical or digital books.  There are so many great tea books out there, novels, recipe books, history books, etiquette books, and even poetry!

Copyright 2011, 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, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
“3 Tea books worth adding to your collection”
TeaChat Tea Book and Magazine Reviews
Imperial Tea Court: Tea Books
Afternoon tea books at Hicklebee’s
Tea and coffee books at Barnes & Noble

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Filed under Books, Vendors and Shops