Category Archives: History

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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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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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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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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Italian Easter Bread: food to eat with tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Many Western cultures have special recipes that only come out on certain holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. Sweet and savory dishes pair well with tea, and a hot cup of tea alongside a special holiday treat can be the perfect way to enjoy the temporary calm on the morning of a busy day. San Jose’s Italian residents have several bread and cookie-type Easter treats, but the most famous one is probably Italian Easter Bread, which goes by as many different Italian names as there are regions in Italy. Here is a fairly easy recipe, which originated on The Italian Dish blog:

Italian Easter Bread
1/3 cup butter
1 ¼ cups milk
1 envelope instant yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
4 to 6 uncooked Easter eggs
multicolored round sprinkles

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan or the microwave, then remove from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes (temperature should register between 115 and 130 degrees Farenheit on a food thermometer). In a large bowl, combine the yeast, salt, beaten eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot) butter mixture, and then beat in 2 cups of the flour until smooth. Add the remaining flour in ½ cup increments, mixing well in between additions, until the dough is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you mix it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. Punch the dough down, divide it into three equal pieces, and roll each into a rope approximately 2 inches thick. Braid the ropes together into a single loaf, pinching the ends of the ropes together to keep the braid from coming undone. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place risen braided loaf on the prepared sheet, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. Nestle the raw Easter eggs in the folds of the braid, spacing them evenly along the loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm, or refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, when cooled, if you want to eat the Easter eggs, which will now be hard-cooked. Discard the Easter eggs if left at room temperature more than a few hours. Makes 1 loaf.

You can dye the Easter eggs and make the dough ahead of time, up to the first rising, and refrigerate it, covered, overnight, to bake the next day. The first rising should happen in the fridge, so you should only have to let it come to room temperature, punch it down and shape it, let it rise the second time and bake it in the morning. Or, you can leave off the Easter eggs, and bake the loaf on its own the day before, and have it ready for breakfast with a hearty black tea, and perhaps some chocolate from the Easter bunny, in the morning!

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 Italian Dish blog
“How to give an Italian Tea”
“Easter tea party ideas and tips” 
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“How to make holiday orange spice tea”
“Cinnamon-raisin tea bread pudding with cream cheese filling”
“Aztec chocolate bread pudding to eat with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Enjoy traditional Irish seed cake with a nice cup of tea”
“Pan-Pacific Expo Canapes for the tea-table” 

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Downton Abbey Season 3 comes to the Bay Area

Highclere Castle, the setting for _Downton Abbey_ Series 3. Photo: John James.  Creative Commons 2.0

Highclere Castle, the setting for _Downton Abbey_ Series 3. Photo: John James. Creative Commons 2.0

The BBC’s hit Downton Abbey returns to PBS on January 6, 2013, and will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on Sundays until February 17th. Local tea and history-lovers are planning to make a special event of watching the first episode of Season 3, and today KQED is holding a free preview and tea at their headquarters in San Francisco, which is about 45 minutes northwest of San Jose. *Note: the KQED website has been updated with information about Season 4.*

The KQED website reads: “You’re invited to join KQED and Downton Abbey fans on Saturday, January 5, 2013 for tea and an exclusive sneak preview screening of Season 3, Episode 1. Celebrate the return of the Grantham clan as the English country estate enters a new era post-WWI.”

What: KQED Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview
Where: At the KQED headquarters: 2601 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA
When: Saturday, January 5, 2013, 2pm (2pm Tea, 3pm Screening) – RSVP
Cost: FREE, but Space is limited. RSVP required for you and one guest; R.S.V.P. by visiting their Eventbrite page.

If you miss the KQED event today, next weekend there will be a lecture and tea in Woodside, at the Woodside Library, which is about 35 minutes northwest of San Jose. The library website reads: “Come learn about the world of Downton Abbey! In a fascinating illustrated lecture, DiAnn Ellis covers everything from the real Highclere Castle where the popular PBS series is filmed; to the beautiful Worth gowns; to the real work day of a person in service. Questions and tea and cookies will follow the program.”

What: Downton Abbey Culture event
Where: at the Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Rd., Redwood City, CA 94062. For more information or to R.S.V.P., call (650) 851-0147
When: Saturday, Jan 12, 2013 1 p.m.
Cost: FREE, but space is limited. Please R.S.V.P.

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Don’t miss the 2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival!

2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival postcard. Image from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

For Bay Area tea-lovers, a festival devoted to caffeinated beverages promises to be a tasty and energy-filled event; we have the Winter Fancy Food Show and the San Francisco International Tea Festival, and this weekend is the 2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival on Saturday, August 18th. The event organizers have planned an information-filled morning for the festival, which ends at 1 p.m. so that all the tea-tasting and coffee-tasting (plenty of free samples!) won’t interfere with anyone’s sleep that night. There will be a vendor hall featuring coffee and tea companies, as well as classroom discussion panels and workshops about tea and coffee, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

The tea panel, Tea 2.0, will be led by the Bay Area’s James Norwood Pratt, author of the New Tea Encyclopedia, and a celebrity in the tea world. Panel members will include Ned Heagerty of Silk Road Teas, Patrick Pineda of Tisano Tea, Sina Carroll of Red Circle Tea and Eliot Jordan of Peet’s Coffee & Tea. With James Norwood Pratt as moderator, it will be a really fun, as well as interesting, discussion! Tickets are $25 each (purchase from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce or at the door) but you can get $5 off your ticket by going to the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce page on Facebook and “liking” it. Here is the vital information:

Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival
August 18, 2012, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Shattuck Hotel
Hotel Shattuck Plaza
2086 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (510) 292-4353
Toll Free: (888) 623-7261
Fax: (510) 845-7320

It’s about a 45 minute drive from San Jose to Berkeley for the festival. To get there from San Jose, take Hwy. 880N toward Oakland, then merge onto 980 E towards Walnut Creek. Continue on CA-24, and take the Martin Luther King Jr. Way exit. Make a slight right onto Adeline St., left on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and make a right on Allston. Or, if you want to take public transportation, you’d take the 180 Express bus to the BART station in Fremont, then take BART to the downtown Berkeley station, and walk a block to the hotel.

Copyright 2012, 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:
Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival website
Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival – Maps and Directions
Online registration through the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival tickets on FunCheapSF
“Perk up at the Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival”
“Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival – Saturday, August 18, 2012”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“An overview of Chinese teas available in San Jose”
“Chinese oolong tea in San Jose”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“Bay Area Winter Fancy Food Show will include lots of tea”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival – accessible to San Jose tea lovers”
2011 Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival on YouTube

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Have tea, French-style, for Bastille Day!

Macarons at La Grande Epicerie, Paris. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

While Bastille Day isn’t widely celebrated in San Jose, the local French restaurants and cafes are enjoying their own festivities, featuring French music and special menus. Why not join in the fun with some tea and French food this evening?  You can go out, or put something together at home.

It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy; stop by a bakery – even one inside your favorite grocery store – and pick up some baguettes for hearty tea sandwiches, croissants to eat with jam and cream, and a frilly dessert like macarons, petit fours, or chocolate eclairs. Satori Tea Bar in San Pedro Square, Cocola Bakery at Santana Row, and Bijan Bakery & Cafe are only a few places in San Jose that sell Parisian macarons, croissants, and other traditional French pastries to add to your table. Many local French bakeries also serve as coffee shops and are open late into the evening.  You can even go to Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard for their special French tea plate, if you want to extend the festivities through the weekend.

While the French are better known for their love of coffee, tea has had a devoted following in France since the 18th century; it is said that Madame Pompadour introduced the custom of adding milk to a cup of black tea! Try pairing Keemun – known as “the Burgundy of tea” – or Darjeeling – known as “the Champagne of tea” – with your menu. Make a champagne tea sparkler, with a fresh summer berry and a teaspoon of sugar crushed in the bottom of a glass, topped with iced tea and champagne. Try jasmine green tea or scented white tea in your sparkler recipe, or mix it with chilled lemon sparkling water for an alcohol-free champagne substitute. Don’t want the caffeine to keep you awake? Use some fresh herbs, like mint or lemon balm, to make an herbal tea or tisane.

Of course, it goes without saying that the tea served at a French party should be good-quality loose leaf tea. There are several places in the San Jose area where you can get nice loose-leaf tea. The French are nothing if not detail-oriented and the smallest detail of quality does not escape their notice! Have a nice, yet simple tablecloth and napkins on the table – real linen if you have it – and a bunch of garden flowers in a vase, and you’ll be well on your way to having an elegant French-style tea!

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:
“Best French Restaurants in San Jose”
“Cocola Bakery, a quaint French sidewalk cafe offering treats, espresso and more”
“Gluten-free afternoon tea tips”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Is it too warm to sleep? Try soothing orange-blossom mint tisane”
“Tea history: what type of tea did American founders drink?”
“Tea with the Founders: an 18th century style tea menu”
“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”
“How to give a Tour De France tea”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“How to use edible flowers for tisanes”
“Use tea as a holiday champagne substitute”
“Can you really de-caffeinate your tea in 30 seconds?”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“San Jose’s newest tea shop: Satori Tea Bar”

Cocola Bakery
O’delice Bakery & Cafe
La Patisserie
La Miche Bakery & Cafe
Bijan Bakery & Cafe
Le Boulanger 
Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row

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