Monday, January 25, 2021

Unique Tea-Themed Collage Greeting Cards

 Here is a small sampling of my new tea-themed collage cards!






I have made a large batch of original tea-themed collage greeting cards.  Here above are just a few.  Each card is unique.  They are soon to be available in the small gift area at The Gallery at Flat Rock in Flat Rock, North Carolina and at Dobra Tea on Lexington in Asheville, North Carolina!  I am so pleased to get my work out there!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Tea in the South Carolina Low Country

 My family and I spent the past week in the South Carolina Low Country.  Our time in that area is relaxing and familiar because we are natives of South Carolina and have vacationed regularly in the Charleston area for the past twenty years or so.

There are a number of sites in Charleston that would be of interest to any tea lover. The Charleston Tea Plantation, now called the Charleston Tea Garden, is a fun tourist site just outside of Charleston. And there are a number of places in the city where you can take an afternoon tea.  (You can read about those through the South Carolina entries over at Destination Tea.) But there is a lesser known attraction in the area where you can hike forest trails surrounded by an understory of large, naturalized tea (Camellia sinensis) bushes. This lovely place is at the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, a part of the Charleston County Parks System.

My husband has done a great deal of historical research into the cultivation of tea in South Carolina. You can read about it on his blog post over at Brown Dog Press. In that blog post he recounts how tea bushes came to be on this land that is now the Caw Caw Interpretive Center.  And according to the Caw Caw website there are now thousands of naturalized tea plants in the park.


We spent a winter morning hiking the trails at Caw Caw and could not have been happier with the experience.  I recommend driving into the park and parking at the Learning & Exhibition Building.  Use your complimentary trail map to make your way (i.e. hike) from this area to Kiosk 9.  Once at Kiosk 9, you will find yourself absolutely surrounded by large tea bushes.  And the kiosk itself includes interesting educational information about Camellia sinensis and other plants found in the park.  



If you are planning to hike through the forest in search of tea bushes, I recommend doing this during cool weather months as the mosquitoes can make hiking through the forest uncomfortable in the summertime.


In my opinion, the Caw Caw Interpretive Center is a hidden gem for tea lovers. So plan a visit and a hike in this public park during your next stay in the South Carolina Low Country.

(Please note that there is a small admission fee to the park.  I believe the fee was $2 per person when we visited in December of 2020. Also make sure you wear proper footwear for uneven terrain if you are planning to hike.)

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year from My Tea Diary!

 


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Resolutions for the New Year

 

photo courtesy of Unsplash.com
photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

I imagine many of us will welcome the arrival of 2021 with open arms! And, as we welcome the arrival of this new year, we probably cannot help but think about things we would like to change or improve in our lives.  I guess that is what new year's resolutions are all about.  So I will share with you here a few of my tea blog-related resolutions for 2021.

First, I plan to use my background in art history and in library science to find and link to sources of tea-related information and imagery from this website. Here is how I plan to start:

  • Update the "My Tea Library" page with all of the books I have added to my personal tea library since I first typed up that list a few years ago.  
  • Annotate many of the entries in the list.  
  • Link the books on this list to online book sellers.
  • Continue to add to the "Imagery" page on this website (see menu bar at top of screen) which links to a number of digital image collections. 

Next, I hope to write and post new blog content more regularly. 

These things should keep me plenty busy for a while.  And I hope they will result in a website that is a rich information resource for tea lovers.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Share Tea Love with Your Community

 I recently set up a tea-themed display at my local library branch.  This is a wonderful way for any tea lover to share her/his/their love of tea with a local community. 

The display I created is on view at the North Asheville Branch Library, Asheville, North Carolina, for this month of December.  It features books from my personal tea library which are also available for check out through the Buncombe County, North Carolina library system.  I identified each book with the type of person I thought it might appeal to.  For example, some of the book headings are "Tea for the fiction lover" (Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See), "Tea for the memoir lover" (Infused: Adventures in Tea by Henrietta Lovell), "Tea for the Activist" (The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens), and "Tea for the history buff" (For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose). You get the idea.

In the display, I also included an assortment of different style tea pots, a Limoges tea set, and two children's ceramic tea sets. I also included a flyer entitled "What is tea?" as well as two botanical drawings of the Camellia sinensis.

The exhibit has been well received by both library staff and the public.  For me it has been a fun way both support my local library and share my love of tea with my community.


Photo is courtesy of North Asheville Branch Library.

Photo is courtesy of North Asheville Branch Library.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

New Teapot Mosaic

 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Homage to a Teapot - My most recent artwork

 


I just completed this tea-themed mosaic.  It's rather Baroque, but great fun.  I had a fabulous time putting it together.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Creating Decor for Your Own Spooky Victorian Tea Party



It’s that time of year: time to get spooky! With this in mind, I’ve crafted décor for a Victorian Halloween Tea Party.  These projects give a nod to some spooky Victorian pastimes such as palm reading, crystal ball gazing, and divination with tea leaves (also known as tasseography).  At the tea table, we will display our curious collections under bell jars.  And we will drink a full-bodied black tea accompanied by tea sandwiches, scones and sweets. So read on to learn how you might craft décor for your own creepy Victorian tea time.

 





The first crafted items that I will discuss are the decorated pumpkins.  After all, what is Halloween without pumpkins? I purchased all of these pumpkins at a thrift shop. 

 Instructions:

1)      -Paint two layers of white chalk paint, allowing drying time between layers.

2)      -Sponge on off-white chalk paint.  Allow to dry.

3)     - Rub a very light coat of “tea stained” wax on the stems of the pumpkins.

4)      -Trace the silhouette of a teapot onto the largest pumpkin. Paint it black. Once dry, attach a cameo brooch to the silhouette.

 

 





The next crafted item for our spooky Victorian tea is a small crystal gazing ball. Crystal gazing, or scrying, was a form of popular entertainment in Victorian circles.

Instructions:

1)     - Find a black and white clip art image of an ornate tea pot.  (You can find a number of these at http://thegraphicsfairy.com)

2)      -Size and print the image onto clear transparency film.  Transparency film is available for laser printers, copiers and inkjet printers.

3)      -Trace a circle around the image using a thin tip sharpie marker. Cut out the image just  inside the lines of the circle.

4)      -Roll up the cut out image and slip it into a clear Christmas ball.  You can find these clear balls at any big box craft store.

5)     - Attach the clear ball to the top of a candlestick using the adhesive of your choice.  I used Lexel by Sashco.  It is a clear, paintable caulk that is available at hardware stores.

 



Victorians were avid collectors.  For this spooky tea party we will display our collection of shrunken skulls under a bell jar.

 Instructions:

1)      -Choose a silverplate plate that fits under your bell jar.

2)      -Cut the end off of a Styrofoam ball and glue it to the silverplate plate with the adhesive of your choice.  I used Weldbond.

3)     - Glue moss over the Styrofoam ball. I used Weldbond. Let dry.

4)      -Stack your mini skulls and glue them to the moss coated ball.  Also glue them together.  I used Lexel as the adhesive for this part of the process.

5)      -Stick floral pins and butterfly or dragonfly charms into the moss coated Styrofoam.

6)      -Once dry, place your bell jar over the arrangement of curious items.

 

The illustrations in these vignettes are from the digital collections of the Library of Congress and from the New York Public Library. To search the digital collections of these two institutions, go to the following two web addresses and enter “tea” as your keyword search term.

http://loc.gov/pictures

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org


 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tea History at the British Museum


Creative Commons use. ©The Trustees of the British Museum.


Fun fact:  The British Museum hosts both a podcast and a blog! That is news to me.  I was thrilled to learn this recently and, of course, immediately searched both media for episodes featuring tea. Given the British peoples’ long history with tea, I was not surprised to find that at least one episode of both the British Museum podcast and the British Museum blog focuses on the history of afternoon tea.  For an entertaining peek into the workings of the British Museum, including a brief talk on the history of afternoon tea, go HERE.  To read a short blog summary of this history written by British food historian, Tasha Marks, go HERE.  Both are primers on the history of afternoon tea and include nothing that you tea lovers have not heard before.  But I find it such fun to find new descriptions of this oft-tread history. These resources are worth the look and the listen!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Tea Find at LIDL

 


This tea find will be of particular interest to my readers on the East Coast in the U.S. Yesterday, my husband and I took a productive trip to the discount grocer, LIDL.  While there, I was surprised to find this loose leaf tea blend from 1001 Delights called "Chai Tea." The package lists the following ingredients for this blend: black tea (rainforest alliance certified tm), ginger pieces, cinnamon, chili flakes, cardamom, black pepper, orange peel, and cloves.

Earlier this morning, I brewed a pot of this tea and found it to be lovely.  I enjoy my black teas plain, even chai blends, and enjoyed this one plain as well following a 5 minute steep.  

I am sharing this find because the taste is good and the price is quite a bargain. This 5.2 ounce bag (FSC certified paper packaging) of the loose leaf chai tea blend cost $2.99 plus tax. That speaks for itself.

© my tea diary
Maira Gall