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Tea has practically become synonymous with England. The Brits do more than their share to keep those tea gardens in other parts of the world very busy growing and processing tea. Two of those places are China, where tea growing and drinking is said to have originated, and Japan, where tea is so important to their lives that it was part of their emergency rations after a tsunami hit a few years ago. While a Western or British touch to your tea time is very customary, more people are opting for that Asian touch. Here are 5 ways for you to join in the trend:

1 A Tea from China or Japan

Tea time starts with tea. So an appropriate choice is important. And you have quite a few. I focused on the green ones, but in China there are others – black teas, oolong, white teas, and a wide variety of pu-erhs.

Top to bottom: Bamboo strainer, tea scoop, and teapot (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

Top to bottom: Bamboo strainer, tea scoop, and teapot (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

Chinese Green Teas to choose from:

Most tea in Japan is green, but they have quite a variety.

Japanese Green Teas to choose from:

2 A Matcha Experience

The matcha tea mentioned above is part of a tea ceremony. You don’t have to go quite that far. But a Matcha Tea Spoon will certainly help. The “spoon” (more of a scoop) is just short of 7½ inches long and made of bamboo, a quick growing member of the grass family. (The spoons are sold separately.) Bamboo is a symbol of longevity in many Asian countries, so you are also adding that image to your tea experience.

3 A Zen Style Teapot

This Zen Style Glass Teapot isn’t really Asian, but it will convey that Asian air to your tea time. It holds a generous 42 ounces of liquid. The body of the teapot is hand blown borosilicate glass, and the handle is bamboo. It comes with a raised bamboo base, bamboo tea scoop, and micro-mesh stainless steel filter. The filter is definitely NOT Asian, but compromises in tea preparation or blending in with your usual pattern some different ways to enjoy tea can be inspiring. The scoop is great for getting the loose tea leaves into the teapot.

4 A bamboo tea strainer

Once the tea has steeped in that glass Zen teapot, you can use a bamboo strainer to keep the leaves out of the cups. Keep a few on hand, so that they can thoroughly dry between uses, and don’t use them for teas with very fine particles.

5 Asian Symbols

A few Asian symbols are a nice touch here. Since we are heading into that colder time of year, include in those symbols the 3 Friends of Winter: Plum (mei 梅), Bamboo (zhu 竹), and Pine tree (song 松). A bit of red here and there are good, too, since it is the color of good luck and happiness. Or go with yellow which is one of the 4 colors of longevity. Combine both red and yellow for double good luck. Chrysanthemums symbolize the tenth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (roughly our October), so have a vase of them on hand. The crane is another sign of longevity, so a picture of one is great to have.

Whatever your particular selections, have a great Asian tea time!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A pastry fork is totally indispensible. True. Have you ever tried to hold a plate in one hand and cut a piece off that slice of pie, tart, or other goodie residing on it with a regular fork? I have. Not a pretty sight. Makes a total mush of that lovely pastry (especially éclairs and cream puffs), British-style pudding (which is more like a cake), or other delectable goodie that some talented pastry chef slaved over in a hot kitchen for weeks (okay, it was probably just days…uh, hours…anyway, you get the point). So, why is a pastry fork (aka, a “pie fork”) indispensible? Glad you asked. Here’s why:

1 Only Three Tines

First, I need to clarify that this isn’t the kind of pastry fork used to work a batch of pastry dough prior to baking. It’s for using after all that hard work is done and you get to enjoy those efforts. Salad and dinner forks mostly have four tines. But a pastry fork has only three. And they are a bit further apart to spread them across the full head of the fork, which is the same width as the salad fork. Why is three tines better? Because of how that third one is shaped.

The pastry fork explained. (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

The pastry fork explained. (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

2 An Extra-Wide Third Tine

The third tine, counting left to right as shown in the image here) is twice as wide as the others. You are supposed to hold the plate in your left hand and cut a bite-sized piece out of the pastry or pie with the wide tine of the fork in your right hand. Thus this pastry fork is indispensible for the more casual style of tea time served buffet style.

3 Challenges Lefties

The one drawback is that pastry forks are designed for right-handed people. At least, I couldn’t find any online made for the lefties out there. So using such a fork will be a bit of a challenge for them. Maybe a left-handed pastry fork is needed. Any of you designers out there have a golden opportunity here. And an indispensible need for inventors is a problem to solve. And that’s the lack of a left-handed pastry fork!

4 Keeps Those Dessert Spoons Company

Dessert spoons can get pretty lonely in your silverware drawer. A lot of people think they are just an odd-shaped teaspoon. So, they generate a chuckle or two and then get passed over in favor of the more normal teaspoon. But those who discover the wonders of a pastry fork (the kind you eat with) will soon learn how well it pairs with the dessert spoon. According to an etiquette site, “Traditionally, a dessert spoon and dessert fork are used when eating such pastries as cream puffs and éclairs; the pastry is held in place with the spoon and cut and eaten with the fork.” So the pastry fork is indispensible for keeping the creamy fillings from squirting out too much. And for keeping dessert spoons from languishing in the silverware drawer.

5 A Conversation Starter

Whether you’re a leftie dealing with that awkward, odd-looking fork your host foisted on you, or just one prone to observing and commenting on unusual items that cross your path, you can certainly have plenty of conversational ammo here. Awkward pauses at tea time will be a thing of the past as your host regales you with an elaborate (and probably mostly fictional) account of how the pastry fork came to be while you spend your mental capacities working out which tidbit is fact and which is falderal. So the pastry fork is indispensible here, too!

Whatever the case, your tea time (solo or en masse) will be unforgettable, thanks to the indispensible pastry fork!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gold Plated Rose Demi Spoon (ETS image)

Gold Plated Rose Demi Spoon (ETS image)

You know the saying that “silence is golden” and also that as we age we enter our “golden years.” Well, a golden touch for your tea time is another good one – and you don’t have to be King Midas to have one. All it takes is an item here, an item there. Start with something simple and work your way up.

That something simple could be a gold-plated demitasse spoon. They come in several handle designs. I have the one shown here (a gift from hubby years ago) with the rose-shaped handle and feel like Anna, Duchess of Bedford, herself when using it. Roses not your style? Check out this more simply styled Gold Demi Spoon, this Heart-handled Demi Spoon, and this Teapot-handled Gold Demi Spoon. Other possibilities are this pair of Gold Rose Pattern Sugar Tongs and this Gold Teapot Warmer. (A quick tip from my personal experience: keep any gold-plated items dusted so the finish doesn’t get marred.)

Your gold touches can be a bit more subtle. One example is this Yorkshire Gold tea (available loose and bagged). Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold Tea is a malty tea with a rich brown color. Blended from the fine teas of countries like India, Sri Lanka and Africa, this tea is great for breakfast. Since it is a stronger tea, it is often enjoyed with milk and sugar. Of course, you can get that “golden” flavor from the store brand, deep and rich. (Harrogate is known for the quality of its water and, therefore, its many teashops, going back from the first of tea being popularized in England.)

Want more gold? How about the golden hues of honey from the appropriately named Dutch Gold. You can get it as Pure Clover Honey and Orange Blossom Honey. Great for tea or cooking and baking. Try the clover honey over ice cream, in yogurt, or with oatmeal for a deliciously sweet addition. The Orange Blossom honey also pairs well with fruit, salad dressings, and even as a meat glaze.

Oh, and don’t forget a teapot with a golden touch to it. The Timeless Rose Porcelain Teapot is a fine example. It holds 37 ounces of hot, tasty tea and is decorated in the beautiful Timeless Rose pattern with fine gold edging. (It’s part of a complete tea set and a 45 piece dinner set, so you can go all “King Midas” here if you want.)

While “all that glitters is not gold,” these gold items will certainly make your tea time glitter, sparkle, and make you feel rather royal!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jams and preserves are as much a part of the English-style tea time as the teapots are. And the empty jam jars can be fodder for a number of creative projects. Just the way those tea tins and unwanted teapots and teacups could (see my article here). Save some up and then try your hand at one of the creative uses shown below.

The More Obvious Uses

You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far here. Several uses spring to mind immediately.

  • Candle holders – the possibilities are endless, including filling the jar with hot wax and a wick in the middle.
  • Flower vases – the flowers will have to fit the jar sizes, which can vary quite a bit.
  • Storage jar for non-food items – extra buttons, bits of ribbons, small toys, game pieces, coins, paperclips, rubber bands, and any number of other things.
  • Pencil, pen, and brush holders – some people even go so far as to paint the jars.

More Crafty and Whimsical Uses

Let your creative spirit roam free with ribbons, lace, and even little toy figures attached to the jar lids. Some starter ideas:

  • Salt and Pepper shakers – just a few holes in the lids with a nail and hammer will suffice (pepper needs several, and salt often only needs 2 or 3).
  • Pincushions – people seem to be able to make pincushions out of anything, as I pointed out previously about teacups.
  • Paint jars for your kids – make them even more fun by gluing toy figures to the tops.
  • Holiday gifts and decorations – from pumpkin candleholders to cute snowman jars.

One Final Use

Awhile back, I did my own little experiment in creating a flavored tea (one where the tea leaves have things like spices, flowers, and fruits added in). The vessel used for storing this mixture was a very well-cleaned used jam jar. The flavored tea turned out rather well, and that jam jar kept it fairly fresh. (In case you’re wondering, it was half Scottish Breakfast, half Kenilworth Ceylon, a couple of pinches of coriander, and several cardamom seeds split open and the contents added to the tea. It is wonderful served hot with milk and sugar.)

Try you hand at turning some of those jam jars into something cute, useful, whimsical, or whatever suits your skill and imagination.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

(ETS image)

(ETS image)

Fall is coming up fast, so your fall teapot line-up needs to be brought out of storage and prepared for duTEA. Don’t have any Fall teapots? Goodness gracious! Something needs to be done about that and quickly. Fortunately, I have the solution – eight teapots that will bring a feeling of that crisp, clean, cool, Fall air to your tea time.

1 James Sadler Big Ben Monument Teapot

For some reason, Big Ben, the worlds largest four faced chiming clock, makes me think of cooler Fall-time weather. The clock is just over 155 years old and is regarded by many as the most popular landmark in the UK. Small wonder that Sadler, known for their collectible and iconic designs, would make a teapot version of this clock tower. This one is trimmed in gold and will fit in nicely with your houseful of teawares – or give you a good start on your own collection. Teapot measures 8″ high x 7″ wide, and holds 2 cups (about 20oz). Not recommended for microwave or dishwasher use.

2 English Garden Teapot

The colors of fall are well-displayed here in this hand-painted ceramic teapot. The sturdy design also seems to convey Fall, the season of harvest and bounty. The teapot holds 34 ounces, a good size for having a friend over and sharing a cuppa with them. Don’t forget the matching cream and sugar set.

3 English Cottage Fine Bone China Teapot

The iconic English country cottage is also a symbol of chilly weather outside and a warm fire inside with a nice pot of tea and cakes. This teapot, from the English Heirloom Collection, holds 6 cups to warm you thoroughly and serve your guests. It is pleasing to the eye as well with fine gold edging, vibrant colors, and a detailed rendition of the well known cottage of Anne Hathaway against crisp white English bone china. (The pattern is available as a complete tea set, too.)

4 Blue Willow Porcelain Teapot with Infuser

One of the most enduring transferware patterns is Blue Willow. This teapot holds 32 ounces, nice for a Fall tea time with a friend or two. The pattern had been around since the late 1700s and depicts the famous Chinese legend of a wealthy man whose daughter falls in love with his clerk. The young couple elopes and the father pursues them through his garden and onto the bridge where they transform into lovebirds and fly off beyond his reach. Central components to the story, the weeping willow, pagoda, bridge and lovebirds, are shown on every piece. The teapot will be quite the focus of conversation for your guests as you tell them the story.

5 Hemisphere 32oz Teapot

Orange and round like a pumpkin, this teapot, which holds 32 ounces of tasty hot tea, is ideal for a Fall tea time. The contemporary styling will suit those of you with that more modern flair to your décor. The durable stoneware helps keep your tea warm longer and assures that this teapot will serve up cup after cup for many years.

6 Wedgwood Oberon Floral Teapot

A bit more formal in design, this teapot is elegant yet very much in line with the Fall theme here. The exotic Chinese-inspired pattern is in soft shades of green and gold, with black accents, against pure white fine bone china. The border is of pale sage green with red accents, featuring vine motifs, bursts of flora and rimmed with lustrous 22-karat gold. It holds 1.4 pints of hot tea, so is a smaller one in our line-up.

7 James Sadler Teapots – Red Lion

I couldn’t resist including another Sadler design here. This teapot, depicting the Red Lion Pub in rich detail with flowers and even a dog on the front steps, will be quite the show piece at tea time. Your guest will be examining every side while enjoying the tea inside. This bone china teapot is a bit smaller, holding only about 16 ounces, for that more intimate tea time.

8 Country Sunflower Teapot

Another teapot with the colors of Fall accentuated by country sunflowers and made of sturdy ceramic. It holds 35 ounces for serving to your guests. And don’t forget the scones!

As cooler weather approaches, and the leaves begin their annual transformation, let your teapot reflect that seasonal change and bring the spirit of Fall to your tea time!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

See article text for which of these is which. (ETS images – montage by A.C. Cargill)

See article text for which of these is which. (ETS images – montage by A.C. Cargill)

Forget the teabag and steep your loose leaf tea in an infuser…or even in a strainer. Infusers are one thing. Strainers are another. But sometimes a strainer can double as an infuser. Honest! So how do you choose the one (or more) that’s right for you? Here are a few tips.

Mesh infusers

These are good for those teas where the tea leaves, herbals, and other items (flower petals, etc.) are fairly small. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Which you choose will depend on what you will use them in and your own personal preference. They are usually in two halves that are hinged together. And they often have a chain attached, while others have a handle.

Examples:

  • Heart Mesh Tea Infuser – Stainless steel. Fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. To clean, open it up, shake the used tea out, and rinse well. Measurements: 2.5 inches in diameter. (“A” in the image)
  • Snap Mesh Tea Ball Infuser – Stainless steel. Fill this ball with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. Dishwasher safe. Can be used with all loose leaf teas. Measurements: 6 inches L x 1.5 inches. (“B” in the image)

More solid tea balls and infusers

On these the holes are usually a bit larger and fewer in number. That means less contact of those tea leaves and herbals with the water. Unlike the mesh infusers, you will probably get a less intense steep. The larger holes also mean you need to use them with teas where the leaf pieces are larger (but not too large) and they don’t have other thing in them, such as lots of spices, that could leech through those holes. These also come in other designs, such as ones shaped like teapots.

Examples:

  • Mini Tea Ball – 1.25 inch – 18/8 stainless steel. Fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. Intended mostly for mug use. To clean, open it up, shake the used tea out, and rinse well. Measurements: 1.25 inches x 1.5 inches. (“C” in the image)
  • Tea Ball – 1.75 inch – 18/8 stainless steel. Fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. To clean, open it up, shake the used tea out, and rinse well. Measurements: 1.75 inches in diameter. (“D” in the image)
  • Snap Heart Tea Infuser – 18/8 stainless steel. Fill with 1 teaspoon of your favorite loose leaf tea, snap shut to hold your tea in place while steeping, dip into your teacup, and stir. Rinse with water and hang to dry. Dishwasher safe. Makes great tea party and bridal shower favors. (“E” in the image)
  • Teapot Tea Infuser with Caddy – Stainless steel. Teapot-shaped, comes with its own caddy. Fill halfway with your favorite loose leaf, close it up, and steep just like a teabag. The caddy acts as a drip tray. Dishwasher safe. Infuser Measurements: 1.5 inches x 1 inch, Capacity 1 teaspoon. (“F” in the image)

Mesh strainers

I’m one of those folks (and we are growing in number) who forego the teabag and steep the tea loose. So a strainer is a must, pouring from the steeping pot into the serving pot (my 2-teapot method as described here). You could also just strain into cups, especially if you are making a smaller amount, not the 6 cups (48 ounces) that we do. You can also put the dry tea leaves and herbals into the strainer and set it on the top of the cup filled with hot water and let steep that way. Here again the size of the mesh is important, with a finer mesh being needed for those teas ground to a finer dust.

Examples:

  • Mesh Tea Strainer – 18/8 stainless steel. Sits securely over your mug, allowing you to pour your hot water over it. The 1 inch deep fine mesh bowl catches even the smallest tea leaf. Dishwasher safe. Dimensions: 7.25 inches L x 2.5 inches W. Please Note: You will only receive (1) mesh tea strainer (not several as the photo shows). (“G” in the image)
  • Double Ear Conical Strainer – 18/8 stainless steel. The design allows for an even, more secure hold onto your mug. Dishwasher safe. Dimensions: 3 inches x 1.93 inches x .51 inches (“H” in the image)

Larger-holed strainers

Just as with tea balls, these strainers have larger holes and so should be used with teas and herbals that have larger pieces. These often have a matching dish for the strainer to sit in between uses.

Fortunately, the options of each are plentiful, with new ones coming out all the time.

Example:

  • English Tea Strainer – Chrome finish adds touch of elegance. Fits over the rim of your cup to catch loose leaves as you pour your tea. (“I” in the image)

Ditch the teabag

Go with an infuser or strainer. You will notice a true flavor difference that is sure to delight!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

ETS Drawstring Tea Filters (ETS Image)

ETS Drawstring Tea Filters (ETS Image)

The teabag has been around for a while. Over a century now, though the exact figure varies, depending on which accounts you believe. In any event, teabags aren’t going away anytime soon and, as you might have guessed, have inspired a number of creative inventors to try out some offbeat variations on the theme. I covered a few of these here and now it’s time to look at a few more.

First up, the Two Part Tea Bag, which was patented about a decade ago. Though it’s hard to believe that no one thought of this before. Unlike many offbeat inventions this one is actually rather clever and may even be potentially useful. As the name suggests, the gadget consists of two bags, one of which consists of tea and the other a “flavoring material.” As the description notes, they “are detachably connected together so that they can be selectively steeped together or separately.”

There are many ways to deal with the problem of the squishy, messy, used teabag when you’re finished with it, and I’ve seen a number of them that resemble the Combination Mug With Integral Tea Bag Receptacle. But given that it was patented in 1989, it’s likely that it was one of the earlier efforts along these lines. As the patent says, “A transverse receptacle is formed into the upper portion of a mug, which slot opens up into the mug. A tea bag which has been dipped into hot water may be slid by the string attached to the tea bag from the hot water into the transverse receptacle where it can rest until it needs to be subsequently reused or eventually discarded.”

Patents aren’t always written in the most user friendly language – or maybe it’s just me. It probably doesn’t help when the text is translated from another language, as is the case with this one for a Tea-Bag String Having Functions of Indicating Soaking Condition. As nearly as I can tell the teabag string changes color for some reason or another depending on that is going on with the tea. Which might be a useful invention that we need but, without fully understanding it, I couldn’t swear to it.

Finally, from 1992, the Holder for Multiple String Suspended Tea Bags seems to be a device that allows one to steep a number of teabags at one time. Again, the text of the patent is a little bit tricky, and I can’t imagine how or why you’d use such a gadget, but apparently someone thought there would be a use for it.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A mug is a mug is a mug…or is it? A stylish tea mug will usually have certain elements in its design. Here are a few to look for when selecting the perfect mugs for your special tea parties or even those solo tea moments.

(ETS images)

(ETS images)

Some examples:

  1. Beau Rose Bone China Can Mug – White bone china helps the beautiful Beau Rose pattern in soft pink and green really stand out. Note the little butterfly inside and the classic shape of the handle. Dishwasher safe. Holds about 10 ounces.
  2. Blue Butterfly Porcelain Mug with Strainer – Ideal for that solo tea moment – just you and a hot mug of tasty tea. This one is a charming addition to your tea time – with gold trim, a swirl border, and a lovely butterfly pattern on white porcelain. A key element here is the saucer that you can use to hold the white porcelain strainer. Dishwasher safe.
  3. Royal Albert Old Country Roses Mug – A classic pattern from the Royal Albert collection in a classic shape (a great element to keep in mind when shopping). The crisp, white, fine bone china and is decorated with the Old Country Roses’ signature motif of burgundy, pink and yellow roses, accented with lustrous gold banding. Note the easy-to-hold handle shape and slight pedestal at the bottom. Holds 9.6 ounces.
  4. Petite Fleur Mug – White porcelain, purple irises and butterflies, a pedestal base, and a unique handle design make this mug stylish indeed. Holds 14 ounces. Hand wash only.
  5. Summertime Rose Fine Bone China Mug – A classic body shape decorated in the beautiful Summertime Rose pattern. Brilliant white fine bone china makes the design of pink and red roses really pop. The classic handle has a small thumb notch at the apex for more steady holding. Dishwasher and microwave safe. Holds 7 ounces.

Body shape, handle design, and pattern on the exterior all combine to make your mug totally stylish. Fill it with your favorite tea and have a wonderful time.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Invasions can begin small and grow so gradually that, before you know it, you’re totally taken over. No, I’m not talking about people. I’m talking about teawares. They can take over your house without any warning, filling every nook and cranny. Here are some signs to watch for so you can at least manage the onslaught.

The display in our house that made folks ask when we’d set up shop! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The display in our house that made folks ask when we’d set up shop! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Sign 1: Teawares fill the kitchen cupboards

Where regular dishwares and cookwares would normally be, that is, in the kitchen cupboards, resides various teapots, teacups, saucers, and dessert plates. Those other items are stacked on the counter or in boxes.

Sign 2: Teawares displace books on the shelves

The kitchen cupboards are all full up with teawares, so now you start displacing the books on the shelves and replace them with the additional teawares that just seem to magically appear in your abode. The books end up in stacks in the corners yet still handy to read while you enjoy your tea.

Sign 3: Teawares cover the dining table

The cupboards and bookshelves are full, so you start just stacking those teawares on the dining table. Who eats in a dining room much anymore anyway? Everyone wants that eat-in kitchen or that open floor plan so when guests are over the cook and/or host/hostess can be in on the action with them. So, stacking the dining table high with your teawares just makes sense and uses valuable space.

Sign 4: Guests ask when you set up your shop

You’re giving a party, the guests arrive, and one of the first things out of their mouths is, “When did you set up a teawares shop?” And then they start looking for the price tags. It could take you awhile to convince them that it’s really not a shop. Some will remain unconvinced and say to you as they leave at the end of the party, “Let me know when you have a sale.”

Sign 5: A 3.5 to 4.5 Earthquake makes a big clatter

An earthquake of 3.5 magnitude is known to shake things in your home or office but otherwise may not even be felt, and a 4.5 magnitude quake will definitely rattle things. [source] Your teaware-filled house will resound with the clinking of those teawares during that earthquake. Sort of a symphoTEA!

Sign 6: You never need to wash teacups

You have so many teacups around that you never need to wash them in order to have a clean one. It works at a Mad Hatter Tea Party, so why not at your house? Just have a cuppa, set that teacup aside, get a clean cup, and have another cuppa.

Sign 7: Ditto for teapots

Once the teapot is empty, simply set it aside and grab another full teapot to continue imbibing.

Sign 8: You don’t ask for borrowed teawares to be returned

A neighbor or friend asks to borrow a teapot and/or teacups and saucers. You say sure and never bother to ask for them to be returned. And when they try to return them, you run the other way.

Sign 9: Dusting/cleaning your teawares involves an Indie 500 style pit crew

The pit crews at the Indie 500 know their assigned jobs and perform them to the utmost to help the driver get out of that pit and back on the track in the shortest time possible. Imagine them, dust rags and dishcloths in hand, making short work of dusting and washing your teawares. Like those pit crew members who change the tires, refill the engine oil and other fluids, etc., your teawares dusting crew will each have its assigned area, some dusting the items on the bookshelves, others tackling the ones stacked on the dining table, and still others collecting the used teacups and teapots left sitting around and giving them a cleaning.

So, has your house been taken over? Ours sure has.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Teabag and useful but annoying string. (stock image)

Teabag and useful but annoying string. (stock image)

Let’s put aside for now the matter of whether tea bags are a good thing or not. Some would say they are, and others scorn them. But the fact is that there are plenty of tea drinkers who use them. Probably all of whom have experienced that nagging problem of the tea bag string that escapes from its designated spot outside the tea cup and ends up in the tea.

It’s a problem that has inspired a significant amount of innovation and gadgetry. As I noted in an article here last year, some of the gadgets devised to get around the problem included the Tea Bag Buddy and the Tie Tea Cup. The Washington Post even deemed the problem significant enough that they compiled a list of suggestions from their readers of how to get around it.

But wait. There’s more. Of course there’s more when it comes to those pesky tea bag strings. This Tea Bag Cup Lid patent was filed for in 2007. It resembles the Tea Bag Buddy mentioned above in that it somehow attaches the tea bag to the lid and, as the application says, “a resilient stopper (38) is disposed within the access opening in the lid, holding the tea bag string (36) between the stopper and the access opening, permitting the tea bag (22) to be initially immersed in hot water within the cup for brewing with the capability of retaining the tea bag string when the tea bag is manually drawn upward away from the tea after brewing. The invention allows brewed tea to be consumed through the lid body without of removing the tea bag until any time after drinking the brewed tea.”

Here’s a patent awarded a year earlier for an “an improved tea bag has a pouch containing tea and a string connected to the pouch. A securing element is connected to the string. The securing element is releaseably attachable to an object such as a tea cup or tea pot.” Or you could try a 2003 patent from Germany whose name describes exactly what it sets out to do – Elongated Handle With Slit for Holding String of Tea Bag Has V-Shaped End to Slit to Facilitate Insertion of String Into Slit

Here’s a rather intricate patent from 1967 for a Teabag Dipper that doesn’t seem to attack the string problem head on but solves it anyway. It’s described, in part, as “a teabag dipper in the form of a saucer for a teacup combined with a receptacle and provided with an arm to which is attached a teabag which, by rotation of a crank mounted upon the arm, can be transferred from a position whereby the teabag is dipped into the water in the teacup to a position whereby the teabag is dumped into the receptacle for disposal.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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