Tag Archives: Christmas

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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Filed under Events, Holiday, Product Reviews, Tea, Tips

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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Have a Christmas tea brunch!

image by healingdream.  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image by healingdream. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christmas morning in San Jose has dawned, and it’s rainy! Everybody, stay inside and enjoy a cozy Christmas morning brunch. Pull things out of your tea party pantry if you have to, but keep it as easy as possible so you can focus on enjoying your family and friends today. Keep the kettle on so you’ll have plenty of hot water for tea and hot chocolate, and let people stay in their pajamas and help themselves. Here are some menu suggestions:

Cranberry-orange tea
Orange spice tea
Pumpkin spice tea
Masala chai 
“Semi-homemade” chai

Cinnamon-raisin bread pudding
Spicy chocolate bread pudding

Turkey tea sandwiches

Add a pile of buttered toast, pull all of your jam out of the pantry and fridge, fill a casserole dish with scrambled eggs, heap a platter with bacon, maybe make a huge stack of pancakes, and you’ll be set for a great Christmas brunch for the next few hours. You can repeat your Christmas brunch whenever you want until the New Year (it’s a great way to use up leftovers from Christmas dinner) and it will still be in season! Remember, the “12 Days of Christmas” begin after Christmas Day.

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 other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“Give an open house with a tea buffet”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Gift ideas for the San Jose tea-lover”
“5 gifts you can make with tea”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“Use tea as a holiday champagne substitute”
“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”
“5 tea gifts to make for Christmas”
“Christmas gifts for the tea drinker”

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Filed under Holiday, Menus, Party Ideas, Tea

Christmas teas in the South Bay

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

Looking for holiday activities in the San Jose area? The Christmas season is one of the most popular times of the year for special tea parties. Almost every tea shop in the Santa Clara Valley offers a special seasonal menu, and various museums and historic houses also schedule tea events. Enjoy a holiday tea at one or more of the following places:

1. Heritage Holiday Tea and Tours at the Fallon House, Saturday, December 1, 2012. Tickets are $45 and include tours of the Fallon House and validated parking. Seatings are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and tickets can be reserved by sending checks to History San Jose, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, 95113; by email or by calling Juanita Lara at 408.918.1045.

Thomas and Carmel Fallon House
175 W. St. John St.,
San Jose, CA
(408) 918-1045

From last year’s event: “San Jose’s Fallon House hosts Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea and Tours”

2. Children’s Holiday Tea with Santa at Rosewood Sand Hill, Menlo Park, CA, Saturday, Dec 1 1:30p to 3:30p. “Children can enjoy Holiday Tea with Santa while Santa himself shares holiday stories such as The Nutcracker. As they listen, the kids will sip hot cocoa and tea, and munch on a selection of tea sandwiches and sweets. Champagne will be available for adults. The kids will take home a teddy bear and share their holiday spirit with the children of The Ronald McDonald House in the form of handwritten holiday notes that Rosewood Sand Hill will attach to teddy bears it is donating to the organization.”

Rosewood Sand Hill
2825 Sand Hill Rd.
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 561-1500

3. Children’s Sugar Plum Fairy Tea at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at Santana Row in San Jose, Wednesday, December 5th & 12th, 4:00pm – 5:30pm. For $31.95 per person plus tax and tip. “The SUGAR PLUM FAIRY will visit our tearoom to enchant youngsters (ages 5-10). They will be served tea as the SUGAR PLUM FAIRY visits each table, then gather for a magic show, singing, dancing and a Holiday story. Parents may accompany their children if they wish (they will be served the Victorian Noel Tea) or leave them in the capable hands of the tea ladies.” Call 247.3613 for reservations; credit card number required to make a reservation.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1145 Olsen Avenue
San Jose, CA 95128
ph. (408)247-3613

4. Holiday Candlelight Tea at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at Santana Row.  Thursday, December 6th & 13th, 6:00 p.m.  “A perfect respite for busy shoppers and theater goers. Enjoy a complimentary glass of of champagne, soup, waldorf salad, holiday tea sandwiches, scone, holiday dessert and pot of tea.” $31.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Please call for reservations: 247-3613.  A credit card number is required to guarantee your reservation.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1145 Olsen Avenue
San Jose, CA 95128
ph. (408)247-3613

5. Victorian Noel Gala at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard in Campbell. Friday Dec 7 and 14 at 7:00, 7:15, and 7:30 p.m. Seatings: 7:00, 7:15, 7:30. Featuring “Champagne, candlelight, music and a 5 course dinner (soup, salad, sorbet, entree with side dishes and dessert)” for $44.95 per person.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165,
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: (408) 371-7377

“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”

6. Farmhouse Christmas Tea Luncheons at Yerba Buena Nursery in Redwood City. Friday, Dec 7 through Sunday December 9, and Friday, December 14 through Sunday, December 16, at 12:30 p.m. Price: $50 per person, reservations required. “Join us for a hot luncheon at Yerba Buena Nursery. This three course meal is accompanied by our holiday “Tea of Good Tidings,” served within our 1905 Victorian farmhouse. Reservations are required, guests age 12 and over are welcome.”

Yerba Buena Nursery
19500 Skyline Blvd.
Redwood City, CA 94062
(650) 851-1668

7. Sugar Plum Teas at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard in Campbell. December 11 & 12, at 4:15 p.m. for $29.95 per person. “Children ages 5 -11 take tea with the proprietress Dale Ann, decorate Christmas cupcakes and enjoy special entertainment by the Holiday Fairy!”

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165,
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: (408) 371-7377

“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location” 

8. Holiday Tea of Good Tidings at Thyme for Tea in Niles.  Saturday, December 15 and Sunday, December 16, 2012; 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. seatings. $38 per person. Menu includes: Cinnamon Rose Holiday Tea or coffee, Cranberry scone with raspberry butter, an assortment of tea sandwiches and savories, a Christmas petit-four, Snowball cookie, Holiday truffle and Charlotte’s fudge.

Tyme for Tea & Co.
37501 Niles Blvd.
Fremont, CA. 94536 (510) 790-0944

9. Afternoon Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace. Weekends, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from the Friday after Thanksgiving to the Sunday before Christmas. Be sure to make your reservations in advance to secure a table! Admission to the Dickens Fair is $25 at the door; afternoon tea is around $29 per person.

The Cow Palace Exhibition Halls
2600 Geneva Avenue
Daly City, CA

“How to have afternoon tea at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco” 
“Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”

10. The Spirit of Christmas Teas at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard in Campbell. November 23 through the end of the year. Includes Victorian Noel Spiced Plum Tea, Scent of Christmas scone with cream and preserves, White Christmas Soup, Delight of the Season spiced sweet potato savory, Visions of Christmas tea sandwiches, and Petite Christmas Log chocolate raspberry Yule log cake for $29.95.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165,
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: (408) 371-7377

“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”

11. GBACG New York Society Tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, Saturday, December 29, from 1:30 – 4:00pm. Hosted by the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild (GACG); tea served at 2 pm in the Garden Court. “Join the best of New York Society as Mrs. Astor hosts a first class holiday tea at the Palace Hotel. The glowing, golden Garden Court will sparkle with fine china and silver as a delicate parade of tea sandwiches and homemade scones — complete with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and rose petal jam — delight your palate. The Garden Court offers a fine selection of teas, from classic blends to creative, modern infusions. Costumes are required for this event. Please select fashionable attire from 1870 – 1895. Please arrive on time, as tea service will begin promptly at 2 pm. You may want to arrive early to take photos at the Palace. Tickets: Advance tickets are required for this event. The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, December 13, 2012. GBACG members $65, Non-members $75, Children $60.

Garden Court, Palace Hotel,
2 New Market St., San Francisco, CA 94105

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, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“San Jose’s newest tea shop: Satori Tea Bar”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“Review: Afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge in San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area destinations: Peet’s Coffee & Tea downtown San Jose”
“Review: tea tasting at Peet’s Coffee & Tea’s downtown San Jose store”

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Filed under Events, Holiday, Tea, Vendors and Shops

Review: afternoon tea at San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel.

Gingerbread house display in the Fairmont Lobby. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

The Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose is one of the oldest and most luxurious hotels in the Bay Area.  The decorations during the Christmas holiday season are elaborate and elegant, usually including a collection of large gingerbread houses put on display in the front lobby.  The Lobby Lounge, next to the reception desk and the hotel bar and a seating area with a grand piano, is where afternoon tea is served by advance reservation.  Afternoon tea is available at two prices: $40 per person (including tax and tip) for the regular afternoon tea, a prix-fixe menu including a choice of tea, two scones, four savories and four desserts, or the Royal afternoon tea, which includes a glass of champagne and costs $50 per person.

The reputation of the hotel and the elegant surroundings make the Fairmont an attractive place to have tea.  Some friends and I made reservations at the Fairmont for tea at 3 p.m. on a Sunday in December.  We had enjoyed the Fairmont’s afternoon tea on a similar occasion several years before, when we went from afternoon tea to walk through Christmas in the Park.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, it appeared that they had no record of our reservation, and we had to wait while they set up tables for us.  We were seated at small round tables for two (there were 6 of us altogether), filled with plates, cutlery, and small jars of jam and honey in little wire stands.

Afternoon tea place setting. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

While the china, place setting and surroundings were beautiful, four of the six teacups on our tables were literally sticky all around the rims, so that the cups stuck to the saucers!  Unfortunately, our server  disappeared once he had seated us and we couldn’t find him to ask about the cups.  We flagged down a different server and asked that the sticky cups be taken back to the kitchen and replaced with clean ones.  The other server apologized and took them back, but then she disappeared as well, and 15 to 20 minutes later, they hadn’t been replaced and we had to ask another server.  They brought us more cups and saucers, but they were sticky exactly as the first cups had been.  Twenty minutes after that, we finally got clean cups and saucers when our tea was brought to the table.

The tea was very tasty and we all enjoyed our choices, which included a Maple flavored black tea, a Jasmine green tea, a berry flavored herbal tisane, and the Empress blend, which was an Assam black tea.  The tea was bagged instead of loose-leaf, and each person received their own teapot.  Although we had waited 45 minutes for it, it had been freshly made and was still hot, but there was no sugar or milk provided with it, and we waited 10 to 15 minutes before flagging down a server to ask for it.  When serving the tea, our server poured the first cup for each guest, but he served the wrong tea to two people!  Luckily he had only poured each of their teas into the other person’s cup, so they just switched cups, and we poured our own tea from then on.

Nut-free afternoon tea dessert plate. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

The scones, savories and sweets were beautifully presented and delicious. There were two 2-inch scones: cranberry-orange, which is the regular scone flavor at the Fairmont, and the special holiday flavor, pumpkin spice.  The scones were still warm when they reached us, so that was good, but the flavor was a bit bland.  We had the tiny jars of honey and jam on the table, and our server brought tiny jars of lemon curd and a small dish of whipped cream to eat with them.  Our plates were garnished with a lovely fresh orchid.

There were four savories: cucumber and tomato on white bread, smoked salmon and caviar on a buckwheat blini, prosciutto and brie with fig jam in a wrap, and egg salad with “vegetable confetti” (chopped chives, and red and green Bell pepper) on wheat.  All were delicious, the prosciutto and fig especially so. There were 4 small desserts: an eggnog custard garnished with a pistachio and served in an Asian soup spoon, a chocolate mousse square with pistachio and ganache, a fruit-topped shortbread round, and a raspberry mousse ball on sponge cake drizzled with chocolate. The chef put together a nut-free dessert plate for me and another lady with allergies, which included: the eggnog custard garnished with a tiny chocolate instead of the pistachio, chocolate ganache in a mini tart shell, and the fruit-topped shorbread and raspberry mousse on sponge cake.  Everything was presented beautifully and was tasty, although I started to have an allergic reaction when I took a bite of the fruit-topped shortbread.  Perhaps it was flavored with almond?  I never found out for certain.

While some of the experience was to high quality that we expected at the Fairmont, the service we received was very spotty.  Our initial server seemed annoyed with us from the beginning, and he also seemed very harried and not well-informed about the menu.  It took over 45 minutes for him to bring us our tea (after we had ordered it) or even a glass of water, and an hour to serve our food. One of the other guests and I have nut allergies, and when we asked our server about the food, planning to simply avoid things that he said contained nuts, all he would tell us was that “we’ll take care of it.”  He didn’t answer our question about which menu items had nuts, or tell us what they would do to “take care of it”!  However, when we received our tea, he was accompanied by a second server, who was much better at communicating, and much faster in responding to us.  She took over our service from that point on and totally redeemed the experience!

My final verdict is that afternoon tea at the Fairmont is an expensive luxury that might be better worth the money when it’s not the holiday season! While it is nice to have tea in the Lobby Lounge when it is decorated for the holidays, the staff seem way too busy during the holidays to give their customers a consistently good-quality experience, and consistent good service.  Some of the staff are stellar, and really add to the experience, while others are not able to provide adequate service all the time.

UPDATE: One of the other guests in my party wrote a letter to the manager of the Fairmont, complaining about our service and the sticky cups.  He wrote back with an apology, and offered to treat us to tea on another day at the Lobby Lounge, and assign a server to only attend to our needs, in order to redeem the Fairmont’s reputation.  Keep your eyes on this column for an updated review when we return in January!

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: Fairmont San Jose Lobby Lounge
Fairmont San Jose afternoon tea web page
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“Tea can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions”
“Stay up late with tea on New Year’s Eve”
“Use tea as a holiday champagne substitute”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“Favorite tea-time recipe from Gourmet magazine: Meyer lemon curd”
“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”
“Cucumber and smoked salmon tea sandwich recipe”
“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”
“Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”

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Filed under Holiday, Tea, Tips, Vendors and Shops

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

10 ideas for homemade Christmas gifts using tea.

Cooking with tea makes a great gift. Photo: Michele Meiklejohn, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

San Jose’s residents enthusiastically celebrate Christmas and other winter holidays, and everyone is thinking about affordable, thoughtful gift ideas. Of course, tea makes a wonderful gift in and of itself, but did you know that tea can be used to make many things that can be given as gifts? Here are 10 inexpensive, fairly easy ideas for tea gifts that your friends and family would love to receive:

  1. A tea sampler: small sample packages of black, green, oolong, pu-erh or white tea. Kombucha, yerba mate and bubble tea — while they don’t contain actual tea — are also available in packaged form, and can be included in the sampler if desired.
  2. Tea-flavored salt: grind green or black tea with sea salt (and/or herbs) and package in a small decorative jar. Perfect for adding to meat rubs and savory seasoning blends.
  3. Tea-flavored sugar: grind green or black tea with white or raw sugar, food-safe dried flowers, spices or citrus zest, and package in a decorative jar for adding to a cup of tea or sprinkling on top of fruit or oatmeal.
  4. Tea potpourri: blend loose-leaf tea with dried orange peel, dried rosebuds, lavendar and spices. Add a scented oil of your choice and package in a decorative basket or bag. You can even use old tea leaves that you don’t want to drink, since they will absorb the scent of the other ingredients and bulk up the potpourri!  Bulk herbs and spices can be found in many Asian (especially East Indian) grocery stores or at various shops in the Bay Area.
  5. Tea-flavored shortbread: use a few tablespoons of ground tea leaves in place of a few tablespoons of flour in your favorite recipe. Japanese matcha is already powdered, so it is easy to use in baked goods.
  6. Tea jellies: infuse tea and/or herbs in water, add sugar to make a syrup, and add pectin to make a jelly following your favorite recipe. You can add fruit juice as well, and make a delicious spread for toast, or ingredient for a glaze for a holiday meat dish.
  7. Tea and fruit compotes: infuse tea in water, strain out the tea leaves, and use the brewed tea to cook dried or fresh fruits until soft. Add sugar to thicken, and seal the syrupy, soft compote in jars. Compotes can be poured over pancakes or waffles, eaten with whipped cream, or drizzled on top of oatmeal or cake.
  8. A “tea party in a basket”: get a decorative gift basket from Michael’s or other craft store, line it with tissue paper and fill it with a teacup or mug, a small teapot, some tea, and a jar of lemon curd or other small tea party pantry items.
  9. Some “tub tea” bags: fill a few coffee filters or tea filter bags with tea leaves, herbs and Epsom salts, and tie the bag closed with a ribbon. Package in a basket with a scented candle, some nice lotion, a CD of music, and other things for a luxurious hot bath.
  10. Tea and chocolates: pair some loose-leaf tea with high-end chocolates (and maybe a small bottle of champagne) for a decadent gift.

Of course, you can also give your loved ones the gift of your time by taking them to tea. Local tea shops like Satori Tea Bar and Lisa’s Tea Treasures, as well as Thyme for Tea in Niles, and the Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont, feature holiday-themed afternoon tea menus. Satori Tea Bar and Lisa’s Tea Treasures also offer gift certificates! If you’re the crafty type, you can use tea to dye fabric or paper, to use in a scrap-booking, quilting, or other fiber art gift.  You still have time to make some small gifts because there are three days left before Christmas!

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:
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Chinese oolong tea in San Jose”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Bubble tea: one of San Jose’s most popular drinks”
“Kombucha: what is it, and should you drink it?”
“What is yerba mate and where can I get it in San Jose?”
“Good salt – beyond the round blue canister”
“BBQ Tea Spice Rub”
“Homemade scented and flavored sugars can enhance the taste of gourmet tea”
“Potpourri recipes from SF Herb Co.”
“Earl Grey Tea Shortbread”
“Jen’s Matcha Shortbread”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown” 
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Apricot Oolong Compote: an easy tea recipe”
“Favorite tea-time recipe from Gourmet magazine: Meyer lemon curd”
“Making Bath Salts”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“Are tea-drinkers automatically ‘teatotallers’?”
“New fall 2011 tea flavors at San Jose’s Satori Tea Bar”
“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“Gift ideas for the San Jose tea-lover”
“Birthday gift ideas for the San Jose tea lover”
“5 gifts you can make with tea” 

Leave a comment

Filed under Holiday, Tea, Tips

Attend the Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea and Tour at the Fallon House

Thomas and Carmel Fallon House, San Jose, CA. Wikimedia Commons.

Enjoy a pot of hot tea and tour one of San Jose’s beautiful historic homes this weekend!  History San Jose and Satori Tea Company have banded together to present a Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea and Tour at the Gold Rush-era Fallon House in San Pedro Square on Saturday, December 3rd.  The basement of the historic Fallon House, which was once known as Manny’s Italian Cellar restaurant when the Victorian mansion was a boardinghouse called the Italia Hotel, has been repaired after being damaged by a minor flood a few years ago, and has been transformed into a tea room for the day.

Satori Tea Company created a special black tea blend, called “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” flavored with apricots, cherries, and plums, especially for this event.  The afternoon tea menu will also feature a selection of savories and sweets to pair with the tea.  There will be two tea seatings, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and tickets cost $45 per person ($40 for History San Jose members). Guided tours of the Fallon House and Peralta Adobe, as well as a variety of entertainments, are included in the ticket price.

Accompanying the tea and tours will be sparkling wine from Guglielmo Winery, the Shady Shakespeare players, Christmas carols from the Lyric Theatre Victorian Carolers, and performances by the Liberty Baptist School band and choir, and the band Fiddle Road. Santa Claus will also attend – arriving on a vintage fire engine – and there will be wreath-making workshops, spinning demonstrations and other interesting historic activities.

The Fallon House is located at 175 W. St. John Street, San Jose; there is limited free parking in the private lot behind the museum, but there are several public parking lots and a large parking garage within a block or two of the historic site. To make a reservation and buy your ticket, call Juanita Lara at (408) 918-1045 or e-mail jlara@historysanjose.org.

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:
“San Jose’s newest tea shop: Satori Tea Bar”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”
“Tea history: what type of tea did American founders drink?”
“Tea with the Founders: an 18th century style tea menu”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Gift ideas for the San Jose tea-lover”
“Are tea-drinkers automatically ‘teatotallers’?”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
History San Jose
Satori Tea Company
“Tea in Manny’s Cellar sounds so civilized” by Sal Pizarro
Guglielmo Winery
Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company
Lyric Theatre Victorian Carolers
Liberty Baptist School Band
Liberty Baptist School Choir
Fiddle Road
Serendipity Spinners Guild
Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County

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How to have a Victorian Afternoon Tea at The Dickens Fair

Victorian ladies at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe, 2009. Photo: Valarie LaBore.

The Christmas countdown in the Bay Area has officially begun, not because of Black Friday, but because of the opening of The Great Dickens Christmas Fair! And of course, given the fact that tea became England’s national drink near the beginning of Charles Dickens’ lifetime, there are several places where you can get a nice cup of tea and a treat at the Dickens Fair. Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe, the only sit-down tea room at Dickens, is the most popular place.

Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe is so popular that it is almost impossible to walk in and find an empty table. Advance reservations are highly recommended, and the traditional plan is to arrive at the Cow Palace at least an hour before opening time so that you can get in line near the front. That will enable you to walk through the Fair to the Tea Shoppe without having to waste too much time stuck in the crowd at the entrance. This year, opening time is 11 a.m. Once you’ve entered, immediately head for Cuthbert’s and get in line to make a reservation for later!

This year, Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe is also offering an online reservation service for customers, and they have expanded the Shoppe to include a Solarium dining area! Reserved seatings for afternoon tea in the Solarium are 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 4 p.m., and online reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. There is a $5 per person deposit required for online reservations, or you can pay for your afternoon tea in full, through PayPal. Once Cuthbert’s is booked, they don’t open the shop for walk-ins! Once you have your reservation, you are free to walk around and see the Fair, and come back when it’s your time for tea.

You’ll need to check in and confirm your reservation around 15 minutes before your reserved tea time; if you’re running late, they’ll only hold your table for 10 minutes! Once you are seated at your table inside the shop, you can choose from a menu of a la carte items, or order the full afternoon tea, which costs $21 without tax; this is a prix fixe menu that includes one pot of tea, two scones or crumpets with butter, honey, whipped cream, lemon curd or jam (you can ask for more than one topping), one kind of tea sandwich (you get two sandwiches, both the same flavor) and one dessert item, plus a small commemorative teapot to take home. The a la carte menu enables you to order each item separately. The High Tea is served at 4 p.m. and also includes a fixed menu and a teapot to take home.

If you can’t get a reservation, you can buy all the a la carte menu items from the take-out window at the back of the tea shop, and there are a few small tables and chairs outside the shop windows where you can sit to eat your treats. There is also a tea booth – Mr. Brown’s Fine Coffee and Tea — elsewhere in the Fair, but seating nearby is on the regular picnic tables scattered throughout the venue.

To get to the Dickens Fair from San Jose, take 101N, towards San Francisco, and take Exit 426 A/Brisbane. Merge on to Bayshore Highway, and take Bayshore to Daly City. Make a left off of Bayshore and onto Geneva Ave. once you get to Daly City, and follow the signs to 2600 Geneva Ave.  You can also get to the Cow Palace on BART, and take the free shuttle from the Glen Park station.  Admission is $25 per person – although there is a $3 discount if you purchase your tickets in advance online – and parking is $10 per car. The Dickens Fair runs on weekends from the Friday after Thanksgiving, to the Sunday before Christmas.  Having tea at Cuthbert’s – especially if you are dressed in Victorian costume – is an experience not to be missed!

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:
The 33rd Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party website
Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe
“When the exhibits are people: first-person cultural interpreters at Dickens Christmas Fair.”
“Where can I have an English or European-style afternoon tea in the San Jose area?”
“Tea history: what type of tea did American founders drink?”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
The official Dickens Fair costume guide
“By Dickens, a Victorian Pacifican serves up delectables at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe”
Food booths at the Dickens Fair
“Take BART to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco (photos)”
“Victorian costumes at the Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair launches SF’s holiday season”

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Filed under Events, History, Holiday, Party Ideas, Tea, Tips, Vendors and Shops