The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time-travel with a Jules Verne Steampunk Tea!

A samovar fits the steampunk aesthetic!
Santa Clara will play host to a time-traveling fantasy world this weekend, with the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition at the Hyatt Regency.  Why not take your tea travels in a whole new direction with historically-inspired fantasy?  Jules Verne was the original science fiction author, who wrote a collection of novels during the 19th century featuring hot-air balloons, airplanes, dirigibles, and other cutting-edge technology of the Victorian era, with speculations about how these gadgets would affect the world.  The Silicon Valley is one major result of ideas like his, and it can be a lot of fun to combine Victorian aesthetics with modern technology in your home decor, or even just in a really great tea party. 

Jules Verne’s ideas and stories are the main foundation underneath the literary genre called “steampunk,” which has recently seen a surge in popularity in the San Jose area.  The genre now encompasses not only historical-science fiction novels, but costume, architecture, art, music, and many other aspects of modern life.  Steampunk is basically Victorian science fiction, with steam power (as well as water power, wind power and manpower) as the driving force behind the machinery and conveniences of life, combined with the rejection of mass-produced consumer goods in favor of custom-made, hand-tooled, and elaborate tools, clothing, furniture, etc. with individual personality. 

Attend the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition for ideas and inspiration, and celebrate Jules Verne’s foward-thinking with a Steampunk Tea!  Tea, being the beverage most associated with the Victorian era, provides a completely appropriate beverage for all ages in the Steampunk world.  Verne was a Frenchman, so French country food, as well as delicate pastries, should definitely have a place on the table.  If you have a garden or greenhouse, you could take advantage of the clear weather forecast and hold your tea outside this weekend, or you could set up a Victorian library or parlor atmosphere inside, in imitation of those rooms in Verne’s family home in NantesVerne’s works feature many “exotic” countries, whose cultures can be studied for other food and decor ideas; these countries include Africa, France, United States, Pacific Islands, Australia, Russia, China, India. Africa, France, United States, Pacific Islands, Australia, Russia, China, India.  The menu could include rooibos from S. Africa, dim sum from China and curry from India, for example.  Whether you dress in your Victorian finest for the Steampunk Exhibition in Santa Clara, or entertain some friends at home with a Steampunk Tea, you’ll be sure to have a fun time doing something that is definitely out of the ordinary! 

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.
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For more information: Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition, March 25-27, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, CA
The Works of Jules Verne
"Bienvenue a la maison Jules Verne: A Walk through the House"
“Crash course in Steampunk”
“Google doodle marks writer Jules Verne’s birthday”
“Jules Verne” Wikipedia article
“Steampunk” Wikipedia article
Local steampunk club St. Clair Aeronauts’ Steampunk Tea Party
“Eye of the Storm” Steampunk short film/music video
“Steampunk: An Overview” slideshow by Jeff Vandermeer
“Da Vinci Automata”
The Steampunk Tribune

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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)