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. 


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.


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

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.


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.


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