Tag Archives: economy

Make homemade jam for the tea party pantry

Orlando's Fruit Stand in San Jose.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Orlando’s Fruit Stand in San Jose. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Jose’s history as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” is no longer visible in the orchards that once covered the Santa Clara Valley, but plenty of local people still have fruit trees in their front and back yards, trees that are filling with ripe fruit this season.  Wild plums and berries can also be found along the banks of rivers, creeks and streams in the Santa Cruz mountains and local foothills.  For those that don’t have edible landscaping at home, and even for those that do, the local farmers’ markets are a wonderful source of fresh, ripe fruit for tea-table jams and preserves.  What better treat to serve your tea guests, give as gifts, or enjoy by yourself than homemade jam?  You can make jam either with or without adding pectin; it’s a fairly easy recipe either way.
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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

Black Friday shopping stress? Not when you relax with a tea party!

Autumn teapot and cup. Photo: MorgueFile.com

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, but do you really want to fight with all the crowds on the freeway, in the parking lot, and at the stores? Life in the Silicon Valley is stressful enough. Instead of going out on Friday, stay in with a relaxing pot of tea and keep your sanity (which is more valuable than any sale), and wait a while to take advantage of the sales. They’ll still be around in a few days.  Use some leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner (you know you have them!) to make up your Black Friday morning or afternoon tea menu.  The flavors went well together on the Thanksgiving dinner table, so they’ll do just as well at tea time:

Orange Spice tea
Pumpkin Spice tea
Homemade chai

Cinnamon scones
Cranberry-orange scones
Cinnamon butter

Savory black olive scones with butter
Turkey salad sandwiches or Turkey and cranberry tea sandwiches
Warm sweet onion spread on crackers

Leftover pumpkin and apple pie
Cinnamon-raisin bread pudding
Aztec chocolate bread pudding
Maple shortbread

You could even use the time to use tea to make some gifts.  Or, you could go into the Santa Cruz Mountains and cut your own Christmas tree. Bring it home, set it in a bucket of water in the back or front yard, or in the garage, and warm up with a tea party! Use up some leftovers, anything else you need can be pulled from your tea party pantry, and you’re set for a relaxing, easy, festive Black Friday. Put on some holiday music, recover from Thanksgiving, and actually enjoy the season instead of losing yourself in the shopping frenzy. It’s just not worth the stress and frustration!

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:
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea” 
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea” 
“What is chai and where can I get it in San Jose?”
“Thanksgiving in San Jose: count your blessings with a cup of tea” 
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Gift ideas for the San Jose tea-lover”
“5 gifts you can make with tea”
“Where to buy books about tea in San Jose”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”
“New fall 2011 tea flavors at San Jose’s Satori Tea Bar”
“5 Reasons to Skip Black Friday Sales” 

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How to give a Budget Economy Tea.

Photo: Graeme Weatherston, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

In the 1930s and 1940s, most Americans were living on a very tight budget, due to unemployment in the 1930s, and rationing in the 1940s. Although the current economic situation is not nearly so desperate for most of us as it was during the Great Depression, people are starting to say, “everything old is new again,” and more people’s attention is returning towards reducing waste and being very frugal. Buying fewer things, using them until they wear out, and recycling things we already have, are methods that used to be common knowledge, but are worth learning again. And by “recycling”, our grandparents didn’t mean gathering up the cans and bottles and taking them to the recycling center; they meant taking an old or partially worn-out item, and using its parts to assemble something new and useful.

Kitchen and table leftovers were a large part of this effort. Leftover meat was used as an ingredient in another dish, like a stew or hash; leftover bread could be made into French toast for the next day’s breakfast, and leftover tea was used for many things, both for meals and other household needs.

Tearooms in England and the United States became popular places for lunch, especially for women newly entering the work force. Rationing and practicality ruled much of the foods offered alongside the pots and cups of tea. Bread Hot Cakes – or French Toast – and summer puddings, were not only tasty tea-table dishes, but were economical because they used up stale bread. Peanut butter was invented in the late 19th century, and was combined with jelly in sandwiches by the turn of the 20th century. It became widely popular and was served in both sweet – like peanut butter and orange — and savory – like peanut butter and pickle – sandwiches, in upscale New York tearooms! As it became a commercialized product, the price lowered until peanut butter became a staple of most households in America, and was a standard lunch item, especially for children, during the Great Depression. For the kitchen or tea room table, vegetables could come from private gardens, and berries could be picked wild in most places.  With the downturn in the economy these days, using up leftovers in new ways, and even growing your own fruit and vegetables, combining them with inexpensive pantry staples to make new dishes, can be a way back to a simpler time, as well as a way to make our dollars go further. In the spirit of 1930s and 1940s practicality, here is a menu for a recession-appropriate penny-pincher’s tea party or picnic!

Hot Tea

Buttered Toast or Bread Hot Cakes and Jam

Peanut Butter and Apricot Sandwiches

Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches

Malvern (or Summer) Pudding

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

Sources and Further Information: “Food Lessons from the Great Depression” article  
Department store tea rooms in the 1930s
1940s menus re-created in 2004 for Kensington Palace restaurant, London
“Tea Making Tips” from 1941 England
1940s recipe for Bread Hot Cakes (or French toast)
Food Timeline: peanut butter
1940s recipe for Aristocrat Sparkling Punch, published in Gourmet magazine
Egg Salad with Lemon and Fennel, a way to use leftover or wild fennel
Syrup Loaf, a 1940s recipe without granulated sugar
Ritz Cracker “Apple” Pie, another vintage ’30s-’40s recipe
Recipe for Victory (WW1 recipe collection)

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