Category Archives: Events

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge christening followed by tea and cake

family photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.  Photo: Mario Testino.  Source: Kensington Palace Twitter feed.

family photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Photo: Mario Testino. Source: Kensington Palace Twitter feed.

The christening photos of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge are out, and they are adorable mementos of a happy day of tradition and faith, followed, appropriately, by a tea reception. The little princess was christened on Sunday, July 5th, and officially named Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge, at St. Mary Magdalene Church at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, where the baby’s parents, William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have their family residence, Anmer Hall.  While the path through the estate’s woodland to the church from Anmer Hall was lined with well-wishers, inside the church only family was allowed, including Charlotte’s great-grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, her grandparents Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Mr. and Mrs. Middleton, her aunt and uncle, Pippa and James Middleton, and her five godparents and their spouses.  Her uncle Prince Harry was in Africa and unable to attend.

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Review of Red Blossom Tea Orange Blossom Phoenix Oolong

Tea tasting equipment at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Tea tasting equipment at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current Secretary of State, was in the Bay Area last week conducting fundraisers, and stopped off in San Francisco to meet Mayor Ed Lee at Red Blossom Tea Co. in Chinatown. They enjoyed a tea tasting with tea shop owner Alice Luong, and Secretary Clinton purchased a cup of tea to take with her, and some loose tea as well. According to Luong, Clinton “asked quite a lot of questions” about technical aspects of tea brewing, like proper water temperature, and seemed to be a regular tea drinker who prefers “stronger, darker tea.”

Red Blossom Tea Company is one of several tea shops in San Francisco’s Chinatown along Grant Avenue, which offer informal tea tastings for free, as well as more formal tastings, like the one Clinton and Lee enjoyed, for a fee. The shop is a traditional Chinese tea shop, with lots of wood tones, red and black in the decor. The company specializes in fine oolongs and other rare teas; I tasted a few teas when I was there several years ago with friends, and purchased their Orange Blossom Phoenix Oolong. Continue reading

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Downton-inspired tea for “Downton Day”.

1920s silver teapot and cup and saucer on display at the Ainsley House in Campbell, CA.

1920s silver teapot and cup and saucer on display at the Ainsley House in Campbell, CA. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Today is the last “Downton Day” of the year  – the final episode of Downton Abbey Season 5 airs tonight on KQED/PBS at 9 p.m. Pacific time. This season’s plot has brought the Crawleys and their servants into the mid-1920s, and nobody’s lives are settled and secure, as usual.  What better way to catch up on the doings and happenings in this fictional world than with a cup of tea and some treats at the ready?  Look in the tea party pantry for some English tea-time favorites, like scones (you can use a mix or buy them ready-made), cream, jam, and cakes.  You can make an elaborate spread suitable for the Dowager Countess, or a simple tea table that would make Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes, or Lady Rose’s Russian refugees comfortable.

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All the Single Ladies (and Gentlemen) – enjoy Singles’ Awareness Day with tea!

Lonely Victorian love letter.  Image:

Lonely Victorian love letter. Image:

It’s afternoon on Valentine’s Day, and many San Jose residents don’t have any plans!  San Jose-area singles aren’t necessarily in for an evening of depression and loneliness; there are plenty of things to do, that don’t require a partner, and getting together at home with some other single friends – or even just staying in by yourself – for High Tea and television or a movie this evening, can be a perfect way to spend the holiday.  Here are some ideas for things to do this afternoon and evening:

  1. Have tea at a local tea shop (advance reservations required).

A Fairy Tale Tea (through Feb. 28th), for $29.95 per person at Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell: 1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165, Campbell, CA 95008. (408) 371-7377

Tea with Love (through Feb. 28th), for $28.95 per person at Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Los Altos: 167 Main St., Los Altos, CA 94022.  (650) 209-5010.

Be my Valentine Tea (Feb. 14th only), for $35 per person at Satori Tea Bar – 37 San Pedro St., San Jose.

A Victorian Valentine Tea Party (Feb. 14th at 3 p.m.), for $30 per adult/$20 per child, at The English Rose Tea Room — 163 West Neal Street, Pleasanton California 94566, (925) 462-6233.
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Last chance this weekend for tea at the Dickens Fair!

Brochure and complimentary teapot from High Tea at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Brochure and complimentary teapot from High Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace in Daly City closes this weekend, and tea at Dickens is still as popular as ever!  The Dickens Fair runs weekends only, between the Friday after Thanksgiving and the Sunday before Christmas; it’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday, December 21).  General Admission is $30 at the gate, but you can get disounted tickets if you know one of the workers or performers. Take a look at these other articles for more information about having tea at the Dickens Fair:

“How to have afternoon tea at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco”
“Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”
“Take tea with Charles Dickens for two more weekends at the Dickens Fair”

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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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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.

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How to use tea to dye fabric

Prince George of Cambridge in the reproduction christening gown.

Prince George of Cambridge in the reproduction christening gown. Photo: The British Monarchy. All Rights Reserved.

Great Britain’s Prince George of Cambridge was recently christened in an ecru lace-trimmed and silk satin christening gown, a replica of the one made in 1841 for Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, by Janet Sutherland, Embroiderer to the Queen.  The antique gown had been worn by every newborn in the Royal Family at his or her christening until 2004, when it was determined that the garment was too fragile to be worn further.  Queen Elizabeth commissioned her personal dressmaker and designer, Angela Kelly, to make a reproduction of the gown, which was, itself, a nod to Queen Victoria’s wedding gown.  The replica was made, like Queen Victoria’s gown and the original royal christening gown, from ivory Spitalfields silk satin and Honiton lace, and was dyed a lovely sepia shade, to imitate the original, with tea.  The reproduction gown was first worn in 2008 by the Queen’s grandson, James, Viscount Severn, the son of Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex.  The guests later enjoyed a private afternoon tea, with champagne and Christening Cake – part of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding cake, which was a rich fruitcake — after the ceremony, at the Prince of Wales’ and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s home, Clarence House.

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Steampunk tea and Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose




Clockwork Alchemy, the Steampunk convention associated with FanimeCon, has returned to San Jose’s DoubleTree Hotel for the second year.  Featuring dance, art, crafts, writing, music, fashion and food within the Steampunk aesthetic, because the genre is tied to Victoriana, tea will always be available whenever convention attendees want a cuppa.  Not only will the DoubleTree Hotel’s restaurant offer its usual hot tea on the menu, but the convention is setting up its own tea room, called The Alchemist’s Tea Parlour, where guests can get not only a nice hot cup of tea and a biscuit, but even have their fortunes read in their tea leaves.  The Tea Parlour will be open from Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Riesling Room.

Other occasions for tea include a writers’ gathering and reading, called “Tea and Trumpets”, on Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Monterey room.  On Monday at 11 a.m., there will be an interesting class called “Stocking the Steampunk Pantry, Equipping a Steampunk Kitchen, & Setting a Steampunk Table” in the San Carlos Room.  The class will explore the relationship between the Industrial Revolution and agriculture in changing how people got the food they ate and what was available to various locations.  Class attendees will use this information to imagine the tools, gadgets, and ingredients appropriate to a Steampunk kitchen.  There might also be an episode of “Tea Dueling” in and among the other activities!

Admission, or Membership, to Clockwork Alchemy costs $65 for the weekend (and includes free admission to FanimeCon, also in San Jose this weekend), but you can also buy a Membership for each day on its own.  Just go to the At-Con Registration line in the Bayshore room at the DoubleTree Hotel; Friday, the opening day, costs $35 to attend, Saturday and Sunday each cost $40, and Monday is $30 for a general admission Membership.  Children are welcome to attend with an adult, and have a discounted rate.

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_Tea Lands of China_ featuring San Jose’s Victoria Boyert

Satori Tea Bar sign.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Satori Tea Bar sign. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

When do you get to see someone you know in a PBS documentary? This week, that’s when. Victoria Boyert, owner of Satori Tea Bar in San Pedro Square, downtown San Jose, was chosen to represent the tea world on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China last year, resulting in Tea Lands of China, which will air on local PBS stations this week.

The documentary follows Boyert and Mark Rozell, a manager with Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, on their journey to Hangzhou and Yunnan in China to learn about Longjing and Pu’erh teas. Longjing, better known by its English name, Dragonwell, is a type of green tea, and pu’erh is an aged green tea that is pressed into discs and stored in caves to develop its characteristic earthy flavor and aroma. Boyer and Rozell learned how to pick, process, and brew these teas, tasted food made with tea, and met the people who have cultivated and processed these teas for generations.

The one-hour long documentary will broadcast at 9 p.m. on Channel 200 in the South Bay, and PBS’s KRCB 22 in Sonoma County on Tuesday, May 7, and at 2 p.m. on KQED World on Saturday, May 11.  Local public television stations may re-play the program repeatedly, so check your local listings, and the PBS website for re-play links.  Keep your eyes on this blog, as well, for the results of a personal interview with Tori Boyert about her experiences!

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:
“Tea Lands of China” documentary web page
“Tea Lands of China” on the KQED website
“Tea Lands of China” trailer on YouTube
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?
“Tea and the mold-free diet”
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“San Jose’s newest tea shop: Satori Tea Bar”
“An overview of Chinese teas available in San Jose”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”
“Tea bricks: what are they and should they be used?”
“San Jose’s Satori Tea Company going to the World Tea Expo”

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