Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
The BBC’s popular serial drama, _Downton Abbey_, has returned to PBS for a 5th season! Full of beautiful costumes, sets, and English countryside, this historical drama also includes tea as a regular part of life, as it was in Edwardian, and now “Roaring Twenties” era – English society. The program has inspired a variety of products, from high fashion designs, to furniture and jewelry, to china and other housewares, to tea blends. The Republic of Tea is the best-known company to have come out with a whole line of tea blends inspired by Downton Abbey. The teas are available at Cost Plus World Market, and at some independent tea shops like Thyme for Tea in Niles. I purchased this tin of tea for about $12 at the Cost Plus on Coleman Ave. in San Jose.
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”
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.
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:
Filed under Recipes, Tea, Tips
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.
Filed under Recipes, Tea, Tips
_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.”
Filed under Books, Movies, Tea
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.
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.
Filed under Events, History, Tea
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
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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”