The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tea party fundraiser in April for local non-profit group!

image from
Last year I joined a few of my tea friends here in San Jose, CA, in an unofficial group called the Friends of 13th St. Cats. We got together to plan and put on a fundraiser for a small local non-profit group, and we decided to structure the event as a tea party. It was a big success, and we'll be repeating the event this year. The first planning meeting is this weekend! The 2010 tea party fundraiser will be held in a private Victorian home in downtown San Jose, tentatively on April 10 and 11th.

The 13th Street Cats organization’s work is to use the T-N-R (Trap-Neuter-Release) approach to rescue stray and abandoned cats and kittens, get them needed medical attention like spaying and neutering, keep the adults fed and get the kittens adopted into local homes. Last year's event included a silent auction of donated items, and a raffle, and we'll probably be repeating the auction and raffle this year, depending on the kinds and amount of items we can get donated.

We can always use help and, of course, we'll need to have tea lovers attend the event! If you are interested in helping plan, prepare food, arrange donations, work the event, set up or clean up, please e-mail the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild, or the 13th Street Cats, themselves. Details, like finalized location, date, ticket price, etc. will be posted when they are ready.

“A tea party fundraiser: you too can help a local nonprofit organization.”
13th St. Cat Rescue

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In keeping with the Valentine theme of this month: Passion blend tea from Sterling Teas.

Passion blend tea from Sterling Teas. Image sourced from the company website.
Sterling Teas' Passion blend tea contains green tea, black tea, pineapple bits, papaya bits, flavoring, marigold blossoms, safflowers, and cornflower blossoms. This tea has a lovely floral and tropical fruity aroma and flavor. The green tea is not a prominent flavor, but adds to the light floral aroma; the strongest flavors include the pineapple and papaya. There is also a nice, yet mild, “black tea” flavor in combination with the tropical fruit and flowers, which taste and smell almost rose-like. The tea is a light amber color when brewed, and does well brewed hot or as a cold-brew in the refrigerator, although the flavor is lighter with the cold brew method. I received a free sample of this tea last year, from a friend, and especially enjoyed it as an iced tea last summer. I drink this tea, as I do most teas, without milk or sugar, but it can handle a little bit of sweetening; I made a sweetened iced tea version with Splenda for my family, and found it refreshing. I have really enjoyed this blend and I think it's a nice one to drink, especially these days when it's been cold, rainy, and overcast. It evokes the aromas of spring gardens as well as tropical vacations!

Sterling Tea company website
Some other tea reviews:
Republic of Tea’s Orange Blossom White Tea
Teagre Teas’ Chocolate Mint rooibos
Honest Tea’s Organic Lemon Black Tea
SerendipiTeas Buccaneer Blend

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Victorian-inspired recipe: Coconut Rose-water Bread Pudding, version 1.

I dug out my flavorings the other day and decided to try interpreting the Coconut Pound Cake recipe from Godey's Lady's Book as a bread pudding. Here's the recipe:

Coconut Rose-water Bread Pudding

8 slices stale sandwich bread (I used potato bread)
2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk, plus extra
1 cup 2 % milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus extra
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon rose water

Butter an 8-inch square baking dish and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 4 slices of bread and fit them into the bottom of the dish (I didn't trim the crusts but the bread would have fit better if I had). Cover with coconut and sprinkle with a light dusting of sugar. Repeat with another layer of buttered bread, coconut and sugar. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the coconut milk, dairy milk, rose water and any remaining sugar. Beat well to mix, then pour over the bread, making sure to soak it well. Add a bit more coconut milk to the bread in the dish as needed, to soak every little corner. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to soak up the custard, then bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until custard is set and coconut on top is browned. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Well, I discovered that coconut milk isn't very flavorful, and while the pudding smelled great as it baked, it had very mild flavor. I cut the coconut milk with dairy milk because I didn't want it to be overwhelming in its coconut flavor, but I think that was a mistake. Next time I make this, I will try to use all coconut milk, and even add some extra coconut flavoring if I can get it, or some vanilla, and a little more rose water. Or maybe fresh lemon zest. But this has potential!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pair tea with chocolate for Valentine's Day!

image from
While tea and savory foods go together really well, most of us are more familiar with tea and sweets, like cookies and cakes, but chocolate is becoming more widely known as one of the best foods to enjoy with tea. As with wine, tea and chocolate have come to the attention of the experts in the food industry; some person, I don’t know who, had the brilliant idea to have tea and chocolate tastings! Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a really great idea.

Pearl Dexter, editor and publisher of Tea, a Magazine, says “there are three ways to look at tea and chocolate pairings. The first is as ‘friends,’ teas and chocolates with similar characteristics. The second is as ‘lovers,’ teas and chocolates that compliment each other through their differences. The third happens when both combine ... a ‘perfect match.’” However, lest you think that tea and chocolate tastings are only for professionals, it is entirely possible for a regular person (like you and me) to find a wonderful tea and chocolate pairing. Many experts have helped the ordinary tea and chocolate lover by making a list of some of the most popular tea blends and the types of chocolate that they think taste best together. Here are some tips to guide your own palate, and help you find your own “perfect match” of tea and chocolate!

Assam: Origin – India. Dominant flavor – malty. Pair with -- dark chocolate.
Chai: Origin – India. Dominant flavors – nutmeg, cinnamon. Pair with -- milk chocolate.
Darjeeling: Origin – India. Dominant flavor – bright muscatel. Pair with -- white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate
Dragonwell: Origin – China. Dominant flavors – nutty, vegetal. Pair with – white or milk chocolate.
Earl Grey: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – bergamot. Pair with -- chocolate macaroons, dark chocolate.
Gyokuro: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – sweetish. Pair with – dark chocolate, all chocolate desserts.
Hojicha: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – roasted/nutty. Pair with -- brownies.
Irish Breakfast: Origin – India, China and East Africa. Dominant flavor – malty. Pair with -- chocolate cake.
Jasmine: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – flowery. Pair with -- chocolate madelines.
Keemun: Origin – China. Dominant flavors – rich and fruity. Pair with – milk or dark chocolate.
Matcha: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – fresh grass. Pair with -- white chocolate.
Oolong: Origin – Taiwan, China. Dominant flavors – flowery, fruity. Pair with – white, milk, or dark chocolate.
Pu-erh: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – earthy. Pair with -- dark chocolate.
Sencha: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – savory vegetal/seaweed. Pair with – white or milk chocolate.
Silver Needle: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – sweet vegetal. Pair with -- white chocolate.
Yunnan: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – spicy or peppery. Pair with – white or milk chocolate.

Hmm. Chocolate scones sound like good things to have with tea!

“Tea Wheel I: Tea and Chocolate pairings”
“Tea & Chocolate: pairings” from the Urbana Tea and Tonics Blog
“Chocolate and Tea pairings” from The Nibble
The Tea Room (tea-infused organic chocolate bars)
“Coffee, Tea & Chocolate in Colonial America” exhibit

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A good use for left-over biscuits and meat: Biscuit Sandwiches

modern sandwiches with biscuits and rolls. From
If you're like me, sometimes you buy dinner at good old KFC. They always give you biscuits with your meal, even if you don't ask for them, and in my house, the biscuits always end up being left over to the next day, by which time they're dry and getting stale. The following recipe is a good idea for using them up, since you could make the sandwiches right when you brought the biscuits home, and they would be ready for a midnight snack if you didn't eat them for dinner. They would be a quick thing to grab for lunch the next day, too.

“Biscuit Sandwiches.—Split some light soft milk biscuits (or small French rolls) and butter them. Cover the lower half thickly with grated ham, or smoked tongue; pressing it down upon the butter. Then put on the upper half or lid; pressing that on, to make it stick. Pile the biscuits handsomely in a pyramid upon a flat dish, and place among them, at regular distances, green sprigs of pepper-grass, corn-salad, water-cresses, or curled parsley, allowing four or six to each biscuit. Put in the sprigs between the upper and lower halves of the biscuits, so that they may stick out at the edges. To make more space for the grated ham, you may scoop out a little of the inside of the upper-half of each milk biscuit or roll. They should be fresh, of that day’s baking. This is a nice supper-dish.”
-- from Eliza Leslie’s The Lady’s Receipt-Book, 1847

It's fun that Mrs. Leslie even gives serving and garnishing directions. Who says the Victorians always ate food that modern people wouldn't like?
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)