Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tea Around the World - Germany

While one doesn't typically associate tea with Germany, when the opportunity to travel somewhere presents itself, leave it to a tea enthusiast to find a tea destination! Traveling to Germany in mid-winter doesn't provide a visit to the Bier Garten, so tea in January seemed the perfect solution. The final installment in celebration of National Hot Tea Month includes these photos from a recent visit to Teelirium at Berger Strasse 104 in Frankfurt, Germany. My friend and I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon here, sitting in the wide glass windows. The tea was brought to the table, complete with timer so we would be able to decant the flavorful brew at the appropriate time. Since my "partial to coffee but willing to humor me" friend enjoys flavored teas, we started with 'cherry bomb' and later sampled 'coffee dream'. Each time we selected a new flavor, our tea cups were removed and replaced with clean cups. Both flavors were subtle and delicate, enhanced slightly with the addition of sugar. They offer three types of sugar, white crystals, natural chips, and a slightly smaller brown grain sugar. With such a collection of choices, I had to try the sugar! In addition, there was a small piece of Swiss chocolate nestled beside the tea cup My luncheon included a nice portion of vegetable quiche accompanied with a colorful mixed salad dressed with a herbal yogurt dressing. Both very tasty. The warm scone was served with 'clotted cream' (more of a creme fraiche) and strawberry preserves. And the rest rooms in this tea lounge you ask, instead of Herren and Dammen, you will find Earl Grey and Lady Grey of course! This final destination on a relaxing visit to Germany provided a delightful chance to enjoy tea around the world as we celebrate National Hot Tea month internationally.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Herbal Talismans

I had a bounty of wonderful Christmas gifts this year but one of my very favorites was this walnut amulet. It was tucked in the toe of my stocking with a little paper out lining the lore of the walnut:
"During the Middle ages, Europeans believed that walnuts would ward off fevers, witchcraft, epileptic fits, the evil eye and even lightning. According to Roman lore, the gods feasted on walnuts while their lowly subjects subsisted on lesser nuts, such as acorns, beechnuts and chestnuts. Walnuts were thrown to Roman wedding guests by the groom to bring good health, to cure disease and to increase fertility." A clever crafter Denise and her faithful dog Beau collected these pretty walnuts while walking in the woods. She then brought them home , scrubbed, sanded, stained and glazed each nut. Then finally she wrapped each one in copper so that it may be worn as a talisman for protection, strength and luck.

This walnut has made a lovely addition to my collection of talismans. Here is a sampling of some of the others. The big blue glass one is a vacation souvenir from my sister, Carrie's trip to Turkey. It wards off the evil eye. 'Course the ceramic garlic key chain represents all that garlic can protect you from vampires, the black death, and much more. The little red seeds, Abrus precatorius, are quite striking, poisonous and are used in tropical areas as an amulet for luck and protection.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Our Herbal Heritage - 6 generations

"Our Herbal Heritage"
In 1850 Philliponc Muller Pross, a German Herb Doctor living in Poland who was quite famous in the medicinal application of herbs and their uses, taught her daughter Marta about herbs. Marta Katharina Pross Loth in turn taught her son-in-law Samuel Ludwig Elgert about herbs. Samuel, a teacher and lay-minister, also became a well-known herbalist passing his herbal expertise to his first-born child Ottylie Elgert, one of thirteen. Ottylie immigrated to America in May 1903. She married and while she lived in Reading, Pennsylvania, made her own cough syrups, camphor rubs, goose grease salves and loved to garden. Ottylie Elgert Peplau passed her love and knowledge of plants to the last born of her five children.
Bertha Peplau Reppert (1919-1999)
Bertha instituted The Rosemary House, Inc in 1968. She wanted to make herbs and herbal products available to everyone through her one-of-a-kind retail herb and spice, gift shop. Her herbal expertise has been captured in the many books and booklets she has authored. During the almost four decades The Rosemary House, Inc has been in business, Mrs. Reppert and family have striven to add a dozen new herbal products every year. These products, Rosemary House Originals, are included in this catalog we offer to you. We also include many, many other fine hard to find herbal goodies. More than a century (or six
Generations) later Bertha has happily passed her herbal knowledge on to her last born daughter, #4.

Susanna R. Reppert-Brill, Susanna with her husband and partner David Brill now own The Rosemary House, Inc, maintaining both the retail and the growing wholesale aspects of the busy family business. Susanna couldn’t do it alone – her husband David Brill is our clinical herbalist and chief computer consultant. Their little herbs Zachery (12), Angelica (8) and Cedar (5) help as best they can and her Sisters: Nancy, Marjorie and Carolynn are all known to lend a helping hand and pitch in frequently. Even Dad the “old boy” Byron at a young 86 is put to work at our events (if he’s not babysitting).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

TEA - A Magazine

It's always exciting to be included in a national magazine, and this feature is no exception. Pearl Dexter, the editor/publisher of TEA, A Magazine, was a guest at Sweet Remembrances last year where she saw my collection of silver tea strainers and urged me to take photographs of them and submit them to the magazine for their Reader's Collection segment, which I subsequently did. The Winter 2008 issue should hit the bookstores and tea rooms shortly, but here's a sneak preview, including the addition of one of my modern tea strainers featuring a frog and his lily pads, a strainer and drip catcher. I have been collecting tea strainers for many years, finding them at antique malls and on the rare occasion, at flea markets. They are on display in the tea room for all to see and enjoy their beauty. They are all unique in shape and design, but all designed for the purpose of straining loose leaf tea before pouring it into your cup. TEA, A Magazine is an excellent tea related publication of good standing. They feature book reviews, a regular feature "About Accoutrements" written by Eve Hill, tea room reviews, excellent feature articles and many advertisements to tempt you with tea related purchases. It is always a treat to receive this magazine in the mail, but this issue in particular was fun to peruse! Of note, if you happen to have the Autumn 2004 issue, Sweet Remembrances was featured on page 9.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Alice's Tea Cup - New York City

Our adventure into the City included watching Mary Poppins on Broadway which features a few references to afternoon tea and culminated with a pedi-cab ride from the theater to Alice's Tea Cup - Chapter II for an evening tea. There are two of these whimsical tea rooms, started by two sisters, and we visited the one on 156 E. 64th St. between Lexington and Third Avenues. Having studied Elizabeth Knight's excellent guide Tea in the City, New York, we were excited to be able to include this stop on our excursion. The little miss selected the Wee Tea which included a herbal tisane, a choice of sandwich (grilled cheese shown here), a blueberry scone with cream and jelly, and the white rabbit dark chocolate mousse with cream and sprinkles all served on the traditional tiered tray. The lapsang-souchong smoked chicken breast with granny Smith apple slices and herbed goat cheese served on seven grain bread accompanied with a generous portion of house salad completed my menu choice. Since it was early evening, I selected a Vanilla Caramel Rooibos as my caffeine free option. With an extensive tea list of well over 120 teas, I relied upon the waiter's recommendation. The rooibos was very smooth and delightful. We were seated at a long banquette with a sewing machine table as our table top complete with foot rest. There are whimsical quotations from Alice in Wonderland on the walls and in the bathroom. This is a fun, comfortable and casual, child friendly tea room. Practically perfect.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tea Around the World - New York

This past Saturday, in the company of my sister and my niece, we ventured into New York City to visit the American Girl Place. We journeyed into the City via train and headed towards the corner of 49th St and Fifth Avenue. We knew we were at our destination when we saw the line of 8-9-10 year old girls and parents, all clutching their favorite historical character. We had reservations for brunch in the American Girl Cafe. This cafe is colorfully decorated and provides efficient service. The young lady had French toast which had a lovely skewer of fresh fruit with heart shaped cantaloupe and star shaped honeydew melon plus a strawberry half. Her beverage of choice was hot chocolate. I had a broccoli quiche accompanied with fresh fruit and English Breakfast tea. My sister selected a bagel, salmon, and coffee. There was a box of conversation starters on the table which included an assortment of questions - this was fun, and we purchased a box to add to our dinner conversation at home. Nikki, our American Girl (Doll of the Year 2007) had a cute little black and white striped tea cup at her place as she joined us in her table top chair. Once brunch ended, we headed back out to the three floor shopping area and made important decisions which involved math additions. We had a certain amount of money in our wallets expressly for the American Doll Store, and we managed to spend it all! It was actually spent several times over; but important decisions/purchases were made and we headed off to see Mary Poppins on Broadway with a huge red bag announcing to the world where we had just been. The combination of that bag, and the young lady carrying her doll, elicited comments from many on the street, actually making New York feel a little 'softer' than what one usually expects from the hustle and bustle of the New York street. It made many smile.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tea Around the World - Japan

Matcha is a powdered, very concentrated form of green tea, typically prepared during the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. The Tea Ceremony incorporates the four principals in Japanese philosophy; Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility. The long thin bamboo scoop, a chashaku is used during the tea ceremony to measure out the matcha. The bamboo whisk, a chasen is used to fully incorporate the matcha and the water to make a very strong communal cup of tea that is passed around to the participants in the tea ceremony. If the color green has a fragrance, it is Matcha; it literally smells green! Because a cup of prepared Matcha can be very bitter, it is usually served with sweets. Matcha is also used to flavor many things, from candies to noodles to green tea ice cream.

Green Tea Ice Cream

1/3 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. matcha, powdered green tea
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. light cream

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar melts; and simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. of the syrup with the powdered green tea, then add that mixture to the syrup in the saucepan, and stir until evenly mixed. Add the heavy cream and the light cream. Chill. Pour into an ice cream freezer, and freeze according to instructions.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tea Around the World - South America

These photos show a variety of Mate cups and bombillas typical of South America where the Mate cup is used to prepare Hierba Mate or Yerba Mate, a herb loaded with caffeine that produces a strong vestal flavor and should not be confused with true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant. Hierba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a species of holly and is enjoyed in these hollow calabash gourds. The herb is stuffed into the gourd which is then filled with hot, not boiling water, and sipped through the bombilla, or metal straw. Traditionally the straw is silver with a bulbous filter at the base which helps to filter the herb while sipping through the shared straw. The gourd can be merely functional or elaborately ornate. Also note the different types of stands to support the mate cup. (Note: there is an accent on the 'e' in mate, pronounce ma-tay.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tea Around the World - England

A nod to England is certainly appropriate in this tea journey around the world! These photos are some that were taken on a fantastic journey to London in March of last year. They represent Afternoon Tea at a wide variety of locations from The Tea Palace, a trendy chic tea room where everything is in purple and white to some of the most elegant hotel teas, including The Ritz. In addition to the large hotel teas, we enjoyed small quaint tea rooms also. Typically, the Afternoon Tea was served on a three tiered tray which held the sandwiches on the bottom plate, the scones in the middle, and the desserts on the top plate. You would start at the bottom, and work your way to the top, savoring each tiny morsel. Ah, and the scones, served with fresh Devon cream. In a word, sinful! A Cream Tea, simply scones, Devon cream, and tea is another way to pass away an hour or tea, treating yourself to something simple, yet out-of-this world. "There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea" - Henry James

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tea Around the World - Holland

As we continue to celebrate National Hot Tea month, we will take a look at tea accessories not only utilized in the United States, but around the world. This wonderful treasure was a gift for my mother from a friend that traveled to Holland. On display in the tea room, many guests inquire as to what it is. This very thick tea cozy, typical of The Netherlands, is called theemuts, or "carrying cozies". A teapot would nestle into this well padded cozy and stay warm for hours. The large metal clasp will hold the cozy securely shut until the need for a good hot cup of tea. It was my understanding that this would even be carried onto the train so they could enjoy tea while traveling.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cucumber Sandwiches

Whenever I make Cucumber Sandwiches for Afternoon Tea, I am always reminded of the fact that there are so many variations to this simple sandwich. Here are two different types that I have made recently.

The finger sandwiches are made with thin slices of cucumber which have soaked in a vinegar/water/ice bath for about 30 minutes. Remove them from the liquid and drain on paper towels. Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Then sprinkle the cucumber slices with pepper and dill weed. To prepare the sandwich, spread cream cheese on one side of a slice of white bread, place about 4 slices of cucumber on the cream cheese, and spread a second slice of bread with mayonnaise. Place this piece of bread, mayonnaise side down, on the cucumber slices. Remove crusts from all four edges, and cut the sandwich in half. To garnish the plate, I've used a fresh sprig of Italian parsley. These are very refreshing. And the dill, pepper, and vinegar flavors delightfully contrast the crisp crunch of the cucumber as you take that first bite into this sandwich.
The second variety again uses a cream cheese base for the spread to which you have added some freshly grated cucumber and onion. Before adding the cucumber and onion, be certain to drain as much of the liquid as possible as you don't want the cream cheese to be overly moistened. Sprinkle in a touch of pepper as seasoning. Spread a slice of bread with this mixture, remove crusts, and cut into whatever shape you prefer. Here we made triangular sandwiches. For the finishing touch to this sandwich, spread a little of the cream cheese mixture on the edge of the bread and dip into finely snipped fresh parsley.
To hold your tea sandwiches until your special event, place on a cookie sheet, cover lightly with a piece of wax paper, and then seal tightly with saran wrap and refrigerate until serving time. Because of the moisture of the cucumber, you don't want to hold cucumber sandwiches for an extended time, so plan to make it only an hour or so before your party.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


. . . . .And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:11

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tea Around the World - Russia

This beautiful Russian Samovar graces the mantel in the tea room and frequently elicits a 'what is it?' inquiry. A birthday gift from my mother many years ago, it has held a place of honor in the tea room. It is said that a well polished Samovar is a sign of hospitality and represents the good manners of the host. Looks like it's time to polish it again. Although I haven't used it recently, it is an impressive way to serve tea at a party! The Russian Samovar is used to heat water to prepare tea. The large urn holds hot water while the tea pot sitting atop the Samovar contains a very concentrated tea so that you may dilute your tea to the strength you desire. There is a cylinder that goes up the middle of the Samovar which holds charcoal or pine cones as the Russians typically prefer. This is then ignited to heat the water in the urn and also to keep the tea pot warm. Water is released from the urn by the large spigot in the center, and the tea concentrate is poured from the teapot. Charcoal heated Samovars are becoming difficult to find, but you may still be able to find electric Samovars. For additional information, photos and history regarding samovars, visit Wikipedia. If you are preparing a Russian tea, be sure to have a bowl of jelly as typically that is used to sweeten the tea. Another method the Russians employ is to hold a sugar cube between their teeth and drink their cup of hot tea, melting the sugar as they are drinking the tea. This sounds like it might require some practice before trying it for the first time!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

National Hot Tea Month

January - is National Hot Tea Month - a perfect time to enjoy the warmth and satisfaction of a perfectly brewed pot of tea. As the weather gets colder and the days turn quickly into nights, take time to prepare some loose leaf tea, and enjoy the flavorful brew. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season behind us, it is quite enjoyable to sit with a pot of tea and savor the moment. Whether it's simply quiet time for yourself, or surrounded by family as you relax and enjoy a good book or pleasant movie, take time for tea during National Hot Tea Month. There are so many wonderful varieties of tea to sample, that you shouldn't limit yourself to the same old flavor. Although I personally enjoy a hearty plain black such as an Assam, we find that the flavored teas are quite popular in the tea room. Blue Lady, our most popular blend, is a black tea base that has been blended with coconut, strawberry and kiwi flavors. Our second most popular flavored tea is French Caramel Creme Brulee - the only way to describe it is 'ooh la la', it's just that good! In the later evening hours, I enjoy a cup of Rosemary's Relaxing Tea, an herbal tisane that simply helps me to relax. So, whether you are enjoying a true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant, flavored or not, or a tisane; an infusion made from herbs and therefor naturally caffeine free, just be certain to celebrate National Hot Tea Month.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.