Archive for the ‘Thoughtful and Provactive Musings’ Category

all the tea in china

All the tea in China

Last night I travelled back to China.

Not literally.

In my minds eye I returned.

Leaving behind the creature comforts of old Blightly, we ventured forth across that vast country. It felt liberating to travel with little more than a ruck sack on our backs. Terribly foreign was the other overriding sense – I could not manage a word! Let’s agree to say nothing about, well, you know, the facilities!

But fear not my dears, there was one little luxury that I did not have to do without – lovely tea. I did not let you down and drank all that I could lay my hands to – a noble sacrifice for research purposes only as you will understand and appreciate.

I was absolutely ruined. None of your run of the mill dust there, it was all beautiful leaf, gloriously flavoured oolongs, delicate greens, not to mention the odd restorative puer. Ladies pushed large vats of the stuff through the warm parks to an expectant retired crowd focused on their next game of mahjong.

It was quite the tea adventure!

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Beautiful Queen of Hearts wedgwood china tea cups

Valentines day Tea – with Beautiful Queen of Hearts wedgwood china tea cups

Dust off your Queen of Hearts china Wedgwood tea cups, my dears, for valentine’s day is fast approaching and I have a hypothesis, a theory if you will, that I wish to share. So are you sitting comfortably, tea cup in hand? Then I will begin.

The theory is this – that at some level everyone needs, needs mind you, to love and rather importantly to be loved in return. Without this, there is the decided feeling of something missing, an imperceptible but none the less an irrevocable gap, at least we fear it could be irrevocable, that missing piece that makes us tic, makes us whole.  I speak here beyond the realms of romantic love to include the love of a parent, sibling or friend. I also put this hypothesis to you – that we fear love and loving also for it can make us vulnerable, dependant and very malleable.

What, I hear you ask, is the answer to this difficult dilemma? To build a solid wall between you and everyone else, keep a safe distance and frankly my dears, hope for the best by keeping yourself to yourself? Or to risk the experience, to feel the feeling of adoring someone who you would willingly lay down your very life and soul for?

Of course, this choice is yours. For what its worth, I choose to take the latter path – always – for however wonderful, and however woeful, never to love is never to live.

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Enamel Tea Pot

Enamel Tea Pot – Ideal for Traveling

I was not planning on buying a new tea pot, it just sort of happened. I am unable even to profess the need for a new teapot – the word need is such a subjective word mind you…….

In any event, I do have a new year policy – one in, one out. So there’s a decision to be made for the clear out – although to be honest I think there is a need for a rule change – I will clear out and donate something to a worthy charity, it just may not be a like for like exchange…….I can see the way this will go…….

“surrounded by beautiful teapots with not a plate to eat on, she was none the less totally contented, the only issue was the struggle to eat a meal out of a teapot instead from a plate”……….mmm….I am sure it won’t some to this……….

At this point, you could be forgiven for asking what has this to do with the new year? Well, as well as the year, my tea pot is new and signals a few resolutions for the new year

– to be grateful that I am able to buy things that I consider beautiful and practical.

– to remember all the wonderful shared moments I have spent sharing (and not) a lovely cup of tea

– to relish change and things that herald the beginning of a new year

But I digress – this practical purchase is for a specific purpose and it is this – picnics in wonderful places while travelling the world where a tea girl cannot possibly be without the ability to maker a proper cuppa. After quite a dilemma with a lovely red tea pot, I have chosen classic white with a blue rim for my tea ware which I adore.

I confess I have brewed tea in some unlikely places much to my travelling companions frustration – then he takes his first sip and has to concede, reluctantly he’ll be the first to tell you, but none the less concede that a cup of tea is just what he needed, yes needed!

So, my dears, if you have plans, or no plans at all, make 2014 the year you reflect on all that you have already and think about your new year resolutions and strive to have a go of at least some of them – what are we waiting for? I know you will wish me luck with my travelling tea pot – which you can see I have already chipped – I anticipate more chips along the way!

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Too cute red squirrel tea cosy

Too cute red squirrel tea cosy

I officially ADORE this tea cosy – from the unlikely but quite marvellous Jane Beck Welsh blankets. It is really too cute for Christmas – with a red squirrel who by all accounts ought to be all tucked up for winter – mind you, as it has been quite mild of late, you could be forgiven for keeping your squirrel up and about and occupied for the christmas festivities by deploying him to manage things on the tea front  – I do wish you a a very merry warm and cosy tea time.

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make your own tea - in this lovely Tisaniere from Sarah Raven

make your own tea – in this lovely Tisaniere from Sarah Raven

Most of the time I love to drink robust black tea but there are times my dears when a healing herbal infusion is just the thing. This is where the “make your own tea range” from Sarah Raven  comes into its own. I adore the lovely tisaniere or if you need just one cup the tea for one infuser will be just the ticket, although quite honestly I cannot image too many situations where one cup would suffice . Then, there are the rather cute tea bags for keeping your herbs in with its practical metal clip but ensuring the flavour gets out. The main reason I think the whole range is so utterly charming though is that you can grow your own herbs to infuse – splendid stuff.

make your own tea - with these lovely tea bags from Sarah Raven

make your own tea – with these lovely tea bags from Sarah Raven

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Christmas is solved! Well, it is for all of us tea lovers at any rate. These very stylish woollie beauties to cover tea pots by Dutch designer Eva Solo are just the thing to keep hot all that needs to be kept hot – after all, with all the potential challenges ahead for winter fuel and heating, I think every tea pot deserves to be kept warm too, don’t you?

woolly tea pot cover

The very stylish Eva Solo woolly tea pot cover – every tea pot deserved to be kept warm this winter


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manly tea mug - Emma Bridgewater black hatch

A manly tea mug – Emma Bridgewater black hatch

Well, fellow tea drinkers, in a rather unusual move for me, I am going to be all enthusiastic about drinking tea from a half pint MUG – yes, almost heretic I know, however, this mug is a rather special one crated by none other than the queen of British pottery, Emma Bridgewater. It is bold in black & white & as you can fit a proper half a pint of tea in this mug, I have nicknamed it manly – perfect for the male of the species who isn’t that keen on drinking his tea from a china tea cup – and yes, I know I don’t know why either as it tastes so much better, but this is quite the next best thing I think. Bravo Emma for such a gorgeous design.

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Full of the sense of possibility, of positive “can do”, and wide eyed perfect smiles, the American dream is captivating, nevertheless, it was proving rather tricky to find a decent cup of tea in the good old USA.

Quite by accident, just when I had given up if truth be told, we found it – Tea and Sympathy, it’s name betraying its purpose – a perfect tea sanctuary. The essence of a British tea room found right in the heart of TriBeCa NY city. If you are a Brit in the US who like me felt the need for a feeling of home, this is the place for you. And if the leaf tea alone does not suffice, proper puddings are included too.

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The heady aroma of Jasmine, fig and olive scent the warm tuscan air. Tall cypress cast their long shadows as I gaze across the landscape. Time is slow in this ancient vista. Why then, dear readers, is not all perfect in Mary Kates’ world? The answer is simple, my dears, and it won’t come as a great shock to those dedicated tea aficionados – it is rather a challenge to find a decent cuppa here. Quite understandably, I will go to extraordinary lengths to have a nice proper cup of tea.

Fear not for my sanity though dear readers, for my tea has travelled with me. I boil bottled water to brew my leaves, after all, the water makes a huge difference to taste, and through ingenious use of a jug – there is a desperate lack of a tea pot – I have managed to create rather a splendid cup of tea. After all, what is a holiday without being able to sip a splendid cuppa.

Tuscany is beautiful – their tea is truly terrible – so I cannot help thinking there is an opportunity here. At this point in time however, when traveling to a country that prides itself on the quality of its’ coffee, Tea with Mary Kates’ advice is to be prepared!

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too adorable - A squadron of Bettys ganache bumble bee's

Too adorable – A squadron of Bettys ganache bumble bee’s

In an attempt to elevate the intellectual tenor of Mary Kate’s quite splendid tea blog, I thought  would broach the subject of a topic raised by Albert Einstein no less – the mysterious disappearance of bees. Einstein discussed his view that we all need to be very worried about the state of our planet if & when our bee populations start to dwindle.Not to mention the shortage of honey for adding to a lovely cup of Lapsang souchong.

Environmentalists have taken up this theme with the fall in bee numbers & quite honestly I do anticipate the disappearance of another group of bees quite imminently – fear not thought readers, these gorgeous edible bees are designed to disappear from the marvellous bakery that is Betty’s. China tea cup in hand with the bunting fluttering in the breeze I will be having my ganache bumble bee in the sunshine & with luck, I’ll be hearing the gentle buzz of real bees all summer long.

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