It's time to prepare my checklist for the long awaited US premiere of Downton Abbey's Season 4. Yes, this will be my personal "time-out" and I'm planning to make it special by:
1. Previewing seasons 1, 2 and 3 on DVD to refresh my memory.
2. Hosting a Downton Abbey event with tea friends A Gift of Tea and Teafields at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York on Saturday, January 4, 2014. You're welcomed to join us for a "Downton" good time!
3. Listening to the Downton Abbey soundtrack.
4. Pulling out my silver tea set.
5. Selecting the perfect teacup.
7. Purchased British McVitie's Ginger Nuts to snack on. Thanks Jan for introducing me to these delicious treats.
8. From previous experience, I must keep a supply of tissues handy just in case there are a few unexpected surprises. I can't watch another Lady Sybil like tragedy without tissues.
9. The perfect throw to keep me warm and cozy while my eyes are glued to the tube.
Let the show begin.................
Lately I've been reading a lot about yixing teapots, so I decided it was a good time to catalog my personal collection.
I will admit I have been guilty of leaving these beauties packed up in boxes on a shelf, but I have made a promise to start using them. My first step is to analyze which yixing pots I will designate for each tea category. Size and shape are important factors in determining which tea to use because certain leaves need more room to expand.
There is something very intimate about serving tea Gong Fu style using a yixing teapot. I'm planning to put my collection to good use during the upcoming holidays. I invite you to join me and take your yixing pots off the shelf.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. It's amazing how 2013 is already shaping up to be a busy year for me, especially since I will be launching my new online tea store "The Tea Lover's Archives" very soon. Before I get lost in the mayhem and excitement of the year ahead, I wanted to show you the tea treasures I purchased during the holidays. This past year I had the challenge of sticking to a $100 budget.
Here are my shopping results:
Teapot Lamp - Made in India
Purchased at The Goodwill for $21
Intricate cut-out details ............
Wedgwood Teapot - Made in England
Purchased at The Goodwill for $41
Lovely wreath detail around the body of the spout................
The back view is just as beautiful as the front view...................
Stunning leaf detail................
Stamp of authencity..............
Keep Calm and Carry On Afternoon Tea Set
Purchased at TJ Maxx for $7.99
Smart pattern and color layout.............
Set of Limoges Tea Cups - Made in France
Purchased on Ebay for $25
Mr. & Mrs. ?..................
Elegant gold filgree detail and top overlayed handles...................
Edite Par Gout De Ville..................
Grand Total - $94.99 with $5.01 to spare.
How do you think I did with my budget challenge? The teapot lamp works perfectly and will look great on my office desk. The Wedgwood teapot was such a steal that I can't stop smiling every time I look at it. During the busy weeks ahead, I will definitely get good use out of the "Stay Calm and Carry On" Afternoon Tea Set. The Limoges cups hold a story I would like to learn more about.
Please drop me a comment about any special tea treasures you collected or received this past holiday. Share the joy of all things tea!
My learning journey with Yixing teapots continues........ I have learned a few purchasing tips I would like to share with you today.
1. Look for a pot with visual balance.
2. Make sure the lid fits perfectly. When the lid is in place, there should be no gaps nor the ability to slide the lid left to right or front to back.
3. Remove the lid, turn the pot over and placed it on a flat surface. The spout and mouth of the pot, along with the top edge of the handle, should lay evenly flushed against a flat surface. There should be no gaps or uneven rocking.
4. It's really important to test how the pot functions when it's filled with water. Let me just say if you're purchasing a pot from a knowledgeable merchant, they should be willing to help you evaluate your selection. If you're ordering online, by all means test the pot when it arrives. Just make sure the merchant has a return policy.
5. There should be a smooth and steady stream of water flowing from the spout.
6. Immediately after you stop pouring, no additional water should drip from the spout.
7. Locate the hole on the top of the lid..........
When placing your finger over the hole, no water should flow out of the spout when you try to pour.
8. With water in the pot, place your finger over the hold in the lid and the spout. Turn the pot upside down.........
No water should seep from the seam where the lid and body of the pot meet.
9. Please perform this test with caution! With water in the pot, place your finger over the spout and slowly turn the pot upside down. The lid should stay in place. As a precautionary measure, I place a thick dish towel directly under the pot before I get started. If by chance the this test fails (which by the way wouldn't be a good thing), at least the lid and water will fall directly onto the towel.
Well, it looks like my new Yixing pot has passed the test!
Purchasing a Yixing pot is no easy task, but if you plan to make the investment, you want to know it functions properly.
In addition, there is the whole aspect of clay quality (a topic for another post). Did you know Yixing clay, also known as Zisha (purple clay) is said to only exist in the caves of the Yellow Dragon Mountains of Dingshan in Yixing, China? This clay is very rare and quite expensive. This would explain why some authentic handmade Yixing teapots sell for hundreds of dollars. It has been noted that some of the first original pieces of yixing pottery were discovered during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
I find the history and artistry of these precious clay pots very interesting. I look forward to sharing more about Yixing teapots in the near future.
Who said pears only grow on trees? Just take a look at this beautiful pear shaped Yixing teapot which I recently added to my collection. I absolutely love the color, shape and hand carved lotus flower design.
The handle looks like the stem of a lotus flower coming from under a lily pad.
The spout is in perfect harmony. It resembles the stem of a lotus flower stretching up to reveal it's beauty which in this case would be the tea liquor as it's poured out of the teapot.
The lid has a carved lotus flower as well as several debossed mandarin characters. I'm still researching the meaning.
The hand carved details continue around the entire back of the teapot. This enables both the person serving the tea and the person receiving the tea to enjoy the beauty of this teapot.
The lotus flower and koi fish carvings are stunning! The fact that someone sat down and spent time creating this amazing work of art, adds a special meaning to serving tea from this teapot. The unity of water, hand picked tea leaves and this hand crafted Yixing pot speaks volumes!
I'm so glad pears don't only grow on trees!
Do you collect Yixing teapots? I'm a big fan and have been studying about the history of these mini master pieces. While in Taiwan, a very wise man gave me a one on one lesson on what to look for when you're purchasing a yixing pot. Let's just say not all Yixing pots are created equal. The quality, shape and functionality plays an important role. In my next post, I promise to share what I have learned with you and give you some pointers on how to enhance your tea drinking experience when using these mini vessels.
I'm a big fan of Cracker Barrel! You just never know what you're going to find when you visit. I rarely leave without finding something tea related and this last visit was no exception. Check out this beautiful teapot bird feeder I discovered hidden under a garden display.
This is a perfect piece for anyone who enjoys watching birds while drinking a cup of tea.
The bird feeder has an antique white washed finish.
There is a delicate bird on top of the teapot lid.
My favorite hanging pole has an antique white washed bird which coordinates nicely.
A teapot bird feeder in the garden of nature.
As I look back at my teenage years, I can still remember how my mother's passion for collectibles influenced my own passion for beautiful tea ware. My mom traveled often and would always return with a suitcase full of antique treasures. I will never forget when she returned home from a trip to England. I was given a pair of elegant antique crystal candle holders along with a gorgeous set of old English dessert plates. Back then, I would have preferred to be given the new Gucci tote bag and Bally boots my mom purchased on that trip, but over the years I soon learned to appreciate the value of antiques.
To this very day, my mom still knows how to WOW me with amazing collectibles she finds during her travels. This past weekend she surprised me with the most amazing tea cups she purchased at a local antique shop.
These Gong Fu style cups have amazing rich color with gold accents.
I love the intricate design found on the inside of each cup and the deep blue nature scene painted on the outside.
The shape is perfect.
Made in Japan.
I had no problem finding the right Yixing teapot from my collection to use with my new cups.
These precious cups come to life with my Shin Yixing pot and the addition of some delicious Li Shan oolong tea from Taiwan.
My mom really struck it big with this surprise gift! It's amazing how she still knows how to WOW me after all of these years. I'm so blessed to have a mother who is my best friend and shares my love for all things tea. Thank you mom! You're the best and I love you!
Spring 2012 has arrived........
Bringing along it's glory and splendor........................
Springing up a harvest of tea cups.............
"Queens Garden" by Paragon
"Violets" by Paragon
"Rose" by Bartley International
May the arrival of spring fill your tea cups with extraordinary tea.