My theory: there are 3 types of tea drinkers (for pleasure, for some health benefit, to save the world/become one with the universe). You may think of some more, but I think this pretty much covers the spectrum. Most tea drinkers are a blend of one or more of these types, at least so far I have not met any purists (all one type or the other). Time to elaborate.

Flowers and a cuppa for that pleasurable tea time. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Flowers and a cuppa for that pleasurable tea time. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

1 The Pleasure Tea Drinker

Many of us truly love the flavor of tea in all its variations, with our without anything added, hot or iced. Starting the day without that morning cuppa, be it English Breakfast, Tie Guan Yin, or even Matcha, would be incomprehensible. The sheer joy of the aromas and flavors make that day start out right. And then there is that Elevenses tea time and Afternoon Tea – moments that the pleasure drinker looks forward to for its sensory delights.

2 The Tea Drinker Seeking Health Benefits

Tea has a long list of health benefits associated with it. Many are supported by actual controlled studies while others come from centuries of anecdotal evidence. People, hopefully with the approval of their doctors, imbibe various styles of teas to take advantage of those benefits, which range from healthy skin and hair to preventing cancer (sadly, a recent study has shown that tea doesn’t cure cancer once it has begun). Along the way, many become tea aficionados and expand their range of sipping pleasure.

3 The Tea Drinker Seeking a Higher Purpose

This type of tea drinker pays close attention to every tidbit of tea news that comes along, not always substantiating it, though, and can base their tea drinking choices on that information. On the plus side, this can send a message to those tea growers and companies that mistreatment of workers or bad agricultural practices will not be tolerated. On the minus side, it becomes easy for false and purposely misleading information to be posted and thus become a tool for strong-arming a company into caving to demands that may not be good for all involved. As long as you know that the information is reliable, you’re fine.

Bottom Line

No matter which of the above you are (and most of you will be a combination of two or more of the above), I wish you happy tea drinking.

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.

Crèpes with tea ooh là là. French is on the menu this morning. Bask in that morning glow with a wonderfully decadent plate of Tea Crèpes and a hot cup of tea.

Tea Crèpes (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

Tea Crèpes (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

2 lbs quartered strawberries
¼ cup tea steeped strong (this recipe used a orange flavored black tea like this one but any tea may be used)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

In a mixing bowl combine the sugar and cornstarch, then put in the strawberries. Toss to coat. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat pour in the strawberries, then add in the tea. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the filling has thickened and become translucent and the strawberries are cooked, the filling is done.

½ cup tea steeped strong (use the same tea as in the strawberries)
4 eggs
¾ cup milk
4 tbsp melted butter (plus a few tbsp of butter for cooking)
1¼ cup flour

Combine all the ingredients together either in a blender or with a hand blender. Ensure there are no lumps once completely blended. To remove the bubbles from the batter gently rap the bowl on the counter a few times. It may be necessary to do this a few times to remove enough of the bubbles before cooking.

Place a medium non-stick frypan over medium heat and melt enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Take the pan off the heat and place one ladle full of the crèpe batter in the center of the pan. Swirl the batter around in one direction until the bottom of the pan has a thin coat of batter. Place the pan back onto the heat and cook for a few minutes on the first side until it is golden brown. Turn over and cook for about a minute on the other side and then remove from the pan. Do this until all of the batter has been used. Place a spoon full of the strawberry mixture in the center and roll up the crepe around it. Top with powdered sugar and serve.

Recipe makes about 12 crèpes with a 12-inch pan.

See more of Janet Sanchez’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.

Steeping teabags in the teapot just like grandpa did. (Stock image)

Steeping teabags in the teapot just like grandpa did. (Stock image)

The way we enjoy tea has changed over the generations. Many of us no longer make tea like our grandparents did. We’ve learned about the variety of teas out there and the variety of infusing methods. But sometimes looking back and giving those old, reliable methods a go can be good, too.

How Our Grandparents Made Tea

Grandparents alive today were most likely alive when the teabag first came into popular use (around 1944, just before the start of World War II). The most popular story of how teabags came about is that a tea vendor mailed out sample bags (made of silk) of its tea to prospective customers. They, in turn, dunked silk bag and all in hot water to steep the tea. It proved so handy and time-saving that soon most tea drunk in this country (and in some European countries) was bagged, not loose. Our grandparents would put several bags in their teapots and steep up the tea, then pull out and discard the bags. Sometimes, if they were in a hurry and not having guests over, they would just dunk that teabag into their mug of hot water until it was dark enough. Many still use teabags these days, although some of us (yours truly included) have foregone the teabag in favor of loose leaf teas. You could say that most folks stick with making tea like their grandparents made.

Other Grandpas of Tea

  • A store in Texas called “Grampa’s Tea” where their teas are micro-blended (that is, hand-blended in small batches) and have real dried fruit pieces, flowers, and herbs in some of them for extra flavor and fragrance.
  • A tea vendor with a tea called “Great Grandfather’s Tea.” It is from a single tea estate (Diyagama Estate in the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka) that has been growing and producing fine tea for over 120 years (thus the tea’s name). It is a BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) black tea with a bold flavor that can stand up to milk or is even pleasant on its own. That flavor comes from the elevation (3,500 to 5,500 feet above sea level) and the monsoon rains plus cold, dry weather.
  • Numerous books and images of grandchildren having a “grandpa’s tea” with Grandpa. Again, tapping into those positive vibes the term generates in many of us.

The Meaningless Term “Grandpa Style Tea”

The term “grandpa style” was made up by a tea blogger and seems to have no real relation to how our grandparents (at least those here in the U.S.) had tea. Some think it refers to a style of infusing tea away from home where you toss some loose leaves into a clear glass and add hot water, or you can even do this using cold water (the infamous cold-brewing), and then there are those steeping glasses that have the filter on the lid. But in reality, it is just a meaningless term. The style of tea infusion the blogger described has no real term associated with it. The blogger is merely hijacking a word (“grandpa”) that evokes positive associations in many of us.

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.

englishteastore_2159_16335570Everyone has their opinion when it comes to the question of whether to add milk to tea – and that’s fine (there’s also the question of whether the tea is added first or the milk is added first, but that’s another story). I’m a member of the “no milk” camp, but plenty of people like it and that’s fine because we all like what we like.

But in my research on other tea-related issues I’ve found instances of others who were not quite so tolerant of the milk/tea combination. Most recently, in an 1897 article I wrote about that ranted about the evils of tea in general, the author of said piece said the “dilution of the infusion with milk” is folly, though without elaborating on why.

In Delicate Feasting, by Theodore Child, an 1890 book that’s more of a how-to volume than a proper cookbook, the author pulls no punches when it comes to the milk/tea question. He notes that the custom of adding cream or milk to tea originated “in ignorance or bad brewing.” He goes on to assert that if the tea is good the addition of milk spoils the taste and it also makes the milk harder to digest.

The following year a US consul to China tackled the topic in a government report on Chinese tea. Which is considerably livelier than one might expect for a report written by a bureaucrat. He advises not boiling tea, not allowing it to touch metal and refers to green tea as “an abomination and a fraud.” As for milk, he too advises that it “ruins the flavor of the tea, and the combination injures the stomach,” likening the compounds created by this combination to “pure leather.”

Another report with a touch of the bureaucratic about it, an 1898 edition of the Wisconsin Farmers’ Institutes Bulletin, recommends that teapots be earthen or granite but never tin and notes that for medicinal purposes green tea is preferred over black. However, it also points out that some people find tea objectionable for health reasons and that “the addition of milk to tea and coffee makes them more objectionable.”

I suspect that anyone who likes milk in their tea isn’t going to change their mind about their preferences as a result of all this. But from a historical perspective, it is an interesting side note.

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

C 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 top brand of tea in the UK is PG Tips, a Unilever brand. That special blend has been pleasing palates for over 75 years. In late February 2014 they added some updated blends and flavored teas to their line-up.

Premium Range:

PG Tips has found an exciting new way of making tea; by pressing fresh, high quality leaves to release their natural essence.

  • The Fresh One –A blend of 100% Kenyan teas that steeps up a fresh and smooth tasting cuppa tea with an aroma likened to “freshly baked bread” and a deep red color (a true red tea, what we Westerners call “black tea” – read more about it). This as fresh as tea gets.
  • The Strong One – Kenyan and other African teas have been blended for a bold cuppa tea with a strong, bright red color, malty aroma, and thick character. The boldest tasting PG Tips blend available. And, if you prefer your cuppa British style, this tea will be great – a splash of milk and a dash of sugar will enhance that bold flavor.
Strong or Fresh? Take your pick! (ETS image)

Strong or Fresh? Take your pick! (ETS image)

Fruit & Herbal:

The popularity of some herbals is really growing, especially among those who want to avoid caffeine or are seeking some health benefits. PG Tips have come up with several offerings to meet these customer requirements.

  • Aromatic Spices and Mint Herbal – An exotic herbal infusion that features fragrant spearmint, warming cinnamon, subtle orange (from orange peel), and aromatic spices (chicory root, rosehips, and liquorice).
  • Smooth Red Bush and Vanilla – While I’m not a Rooibos (red bush aka “red tea”) fan generally speaking, when combined with vanilla or chocolate this herbal can be quite tolerable. This PG Tips Smooth Red Bush & Vanilla herbal is authentic South African Red Bush with a smoothly soft hint of vanilla flavor. The liquid is aromatic and has a brilliant red color but no caffeine. A bit of hibiscus and cranberry flavorings add just the right touch.
  • Delicate Camomile – Relax and unwind with this natural camomile and flower infusion. For me, it is the perfect bedtime cuppa, helping me ease into sleep.
  • Refreshing Peppermint – A clean and refreshing peppermint infusion that is also caffeine free. Enjoy a cupful as a nice change of pace from regular tea and coffee.
Herbals for that caffeine free cuppa! (ETS image)

Herbals for that caffeine free cuppa! (ETS image)

All feature the famous pyramid-shaped tea bag invented in 1996 by the innovators at PG Tips. They allow more room for the contents (tea, herbals, etc.) to infuse and produce a better flavor. The Freeflow material allows water to pass through the filter and reach the contents quickly, decreasing the steeping time and producing a superior taste.

Try one, try all. You’re sure to find a favorite among them.

See also: PG Tips — “Perfectly Great” Tea! Why My Teapot Loves PG Tips

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.

When it comes to pioneers in the tea industry, it seems that there’s something about the name “Thomas.” There’s Sir Thomas Lipton, whose name is perhaps the most recognizable of all tea people. Then, there’s Thomas Twining, whose firm got started in the tea business nearly two centuries before Lipton did and is still going strong to this day.

Then, there’s Thomas Garway, or Garraway (1632-1704). Okay, so he’s hardly a household name and, in fact, his is a name that’s probably only recognizable to the most avid tea historians. But Garway was a key figure in the early days of the tea industry in England, long before tea became the drink of choice for the majority of that nation’s citizens.

One probably shouldn’t make any definitive statements about when tea first came to England but Garway is often credited with being the first to serve it to the public (in 1657). It was perhaps a logical development, given that he already operated a coffeehouse. It was just one of many such establishments in London at this time that were poised to become all the rage, as much for their popularity as gathering places as for the beverages they offered.

By way of rolling out this exotic new beverage know as tea, Garway put together a broadsheet “Advertisement” called “An Exact Description of the Growth, Quality, and Vertues of the Leaf TEA.” It served to explain what this novelty was and sung its praises in no uncertain terms.

The document also anticipated the “tea is healthy” craze that would follow several centuries later. As Garway noted, “The Drink is declared to be most wholesome, preserving in perfect health untill extreme Old Age” and then went on to list a number of its “particular Vertues.”

The rest of the document is a brief but interesting overview of what the English knew about tea at that time. It contains some interesting perspective, including the fact that “those very Nations so famous for Antiquity, Knowledge, and Wisdom, do frequently sell it amongst themselves for twice its weight in Silver” and the curious idea that “the best Tea ought not to be gathered but by Virgins who are destined to this work.”

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.

Summer temperatures in much of the U.S. have been cooler than normal – and you won’t get any complaints, at least, not from us. But there is plenty of iced tea weather ahead. Those days when you really need to take in the fluids, with iced tea being the main one. Officially, Summer lasts until September 23rd (this year), but often, warm temperatures can prevail far into October and even November. (You folks living in those parts of the U.S. that have Summer all year round also get to enjoy that iced tea year round.)

To be on top of every moment of iced tea potential now through November, I have compiled this list of average high temperatures for August, September, October, and November of this year (2014). If you live in or near one of these cities, you can see at a glance how much iced tea weather lies ahead during those months.

Your guide to potential iced tea weather through November of this year.

Your guide to potential iced tea weather through November of this year.

Now that you know the iced tea potential for the next few months, gather up some great teas to have during this time. Might as well cram in every bit of potential tea-loving goodness you can. Life is short. So fill it with tea!

Some suggestions:

  • Wild Blueberry Black Tea – Packs a great deal of sweet, tangy flavor with an intoxicating aroma, delicious hot or iced, especially with a pinch of sweetener added. For the best brew, steep for 2-5 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil. Ingredients: Black tea, Elderberry and Raisin pieces, Hibiscus petals, Natural flavors.
  • Blue Lady Flavored Black Tea – A uniquely sweet taste with passion fruit, grapefruit, orange, and grenadine flavors. The sweetness of the citrus mélange blends perfectly with the astringency of high grown Ceylon tea. For the best brew, steep for 2-5 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil. Ingredients: Black tea, Papaya and Pineapple pieces, Calendula and Cornflower and Sunflower petals, and Natural flavors.
  • Lemon Black Tea – Combined with a refreshing medium black tea, the natural lemon flavor of this tea is great with a little sugar, and is absolutely stunning iced. For the best brew, steep for 2-5 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil. Ingredients: Black tea, Pineapple and Lime pieces, Lemongrass leaves, Calendula and Sunflower petals, and Natural flavors.
  • Lemon Green Tea – A pleasant blend of tart lemon, with the sweetness of green tea (Pekoe Gunpowder, one of the stronger flavored green teas on the market, taking your taste buds on a journey of smoky depths with each sip). Also makes an excellent iced tea. Ingredients: Green tea, Lime pieces, Calendula and Sunflower petals, and Natural flavors.
  • Georgia Peach Rooibos Caffeine Free Herbal – A caffeine-free blend of peaches and Rooibos, packed with subtle nuances and a complex flavor profile. Ingredients: Rooibos, Blackberry leaves, Calendula petals, and Natural flavors.
  • Oasis Mango White Tea – An oasis of tropical mango flavor, delicate and round with light honey notes, deep hits of mango, and a lightly astringent finish. Ingredients: White tea, Natural flavors.

Do a little bit of your own blending, mixing together a bit of this flavor and bit of that flavor. Lots of time ahead to explore and enjoy!

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.

The swirl of claims about the health benefits of teas and herbals seems never-ending. How do you sort it all out? The best way to start is to consider the source. While the Internet has made access to good information even easier, it has also made fraudulent and just plain wrong information equally accessible. You have to be more vigilant than ever in separating one from the other. Add to that the convoluted language used on many medical sites, and you can see why more plain English versions abound. But are they real or made up? Often, it is hard to tell.

Tea – it just tastes great! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Tea – it just tastes great! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

One thing I know for sure: Some brief article written as a fluff filler piece on a site that focuses on news and politics is not a good source of information about any health claims, whether related to tea, herbal infusions (aka, tisanes), or other substances. I have learned over the years to take this things at arm’s length or ignore them altogether.

A better source, at least for some straight thinking about the issue of tea and health, is a tea blog like this one where the authors have looked at the details, not just at the glossy fluff filler piece. A great article popped up recently addressing the cringe-inspiring Dr. Oz. I have wanted to write something here about him, too, but can’t bring myself to watch him at all, so bravo to Nicole Martin for at least being able to stomach him enough to know how bad he is.

Another good tip: When you come across that fluff filler piece, take time to go to any sources the author has bothered to link to. You may even need to follow links in those source articles until you get to the beginning of the trail. The time will be worthwhile since there is so much fakery out there these days. They want your “eyeball time” on their site and try to write things that will attract the search engines to them (it’s called SEO – search engine optimization). In fact, most social media “experts” post something like “10 Tips to Getting More Site Traffic” to give themselves more site traffic (Hee!) and to get you at least to see the promotion for their latest book. (As a side note, this blog recently changed its URL to conform to Google’s new structure designed to have their search engine find it faster but others to not find it at all. It’s a way to shut out the competition.)

Getting back to that latest tea health claim tidbit spreading like wildfire online, just pass it by and go to a reputable source.

Updating a much-seen image off of Facebook. (Screen capture from site)

Updating a much-seen image off of Facebook. (Screen capture from site)

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.

(stock image)

(stock image)

Many people, even those who are not tea drinkers, have probably heard that tried and true old phrase about “all the tea in China” (mentioned in our esteemed editor’s article here recently). It’s a term that has actual historical roots, hearkening back to a time, once upon a time, when there was only one game in town for anyone wanted tea. That would have been China.

In later years the British, in particular, began to grow tired of the Chinese stranglehold on the tea market and responded by growing their own supplies of tea in India and Africa. But China continued to be a major force in the world of tea and to this day are the world’s top supplier of this commodity.

Which means that the normal course of events is for supplies of tea to flow from China to the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Which makes sense, given that tea production in the United Kingdom is still something of a novelty.

But surprisingly enough, there are a few cases when the flow of tea goes in the opposite direction. The only tea producer of note in the UK nowadays is Tregothnan Estate, in Cornwall. Read more of what we’ve written about them here. As I noted briefly in a news report earlier this year, Tregothnan tea is making its way to British supermarkets and may even be turning up in China at some point. More about all that here.

As I noted in another article recently, tea production has also come to Scotland on a modest scale. According to a recent report in the Scottish press, another Scottish tea company is looking into exporting their products to Shanghai, in China, and possibly to Japan as well. While this particular company apparently does not using any native grown tea in their products, it’s quite a feat nonetheless to be exporting tea to the world’s largest tea producer. More details here.

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 bit of Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling would surely be worth the discomfort or risk of any task! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A bit of Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling would surely be worth the discomfort or risk of any task! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

You’ve probably heard the expression “Not for all the tea in China.” And I can tell you that that’s a lot of tea. There’s Keemun Panda, Oolongs, Tie Kuan Yin, Snow Dragon, Pai Mu Tan (White Peony), etc. … see what I mean? In fact, China is the top tea-growing country in the world (the tonnage in 2009 was 1,359,000 and was over one-third of total world-wide production). The expression usually indicates that someone is asking you to do something you don’t want to do. And that brings up a whole host of possibilities. Just what would you NOT do, even if offered all that tea from China? The British drink somewhere in the neighborhood of 165 million cups of tea daily. The task would have to be pretty bad for them not to do it in exchange for tea.

Some Things Hubby and I Would NOT Do

We drink a lot of tea daily – on average about 6 to 8 cups. Most of it is black tea. But we also have oolongs, green teas, white teas, and even some pu-erhs. Most of it is from India or China. India is the #2 tea grower in the world, so the expression could be updated to “not for all the tea in China and India.” Let’s just go all out here and upgrade the expression to “not for all the tea in the world.” That’s on average about 3 million tons per year. Wow! So, for us to forego that tasty Assam, Kenyan, Keemun, Bi Luo Chun, Gunpowder, Silver Needle, Arya Ruby, Ceylon Orange Pekoe, and more, the task would have to be pretty disgusting. A total yuck!

Some ones that come to mind:

  • Deactivating a bomb in the heart of London left over from World War II.
  • Cleaning the public restrooms in Paris using a toothbrush.
  • Hiking up Kilimanjaro carrying an elephant on my back.
  • Going shoeless for a year – in Siberia.
  • Digging a tunnel from my house to China using a teaspoon.

What’s Your List?

Give this careful thought. Tea is, after all, a great beverage, one that invigorates and soothes at the same time. The task would have to be pretty off-putting to make you refrain from tea.

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.

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