July 19, 2010

guest blog: a perfect pot of tea

thanks so much for having me here, thursday! it's my first time guest blogging, and i hope i don't mess things up (nervous wave to all of the my girl thursday readers out there!) ;-)

i've got a great little find to share with you today. well, it's nothing terribly rare and i really don't know that it's worth a whole lot on the market. but those aren't the reasons i go hunting for treasures. you know, sometimes you just see something that clicks with you. and this was it. a great little teapot. and i was lucky enough to find a few matching cups, saucers and plates to go with it.

franciscan teapot plates saucers cups honeycomb pattern

the brand is franciscan, made in england.
franciscan honeycomb pattern dishes

the pattern is aptly named "honeycomb"...

the teapot was $2.99 and i bought each of the other pieces for between 29 cents and 59 cents, so the whole set here came to less than $10. i've seen single plates of this pattern on e-bay and elsewhere for upwards of $20 each.

although it says "made in england", these dishes have an interesting history. the company has its origins dating back to california in 1875 when they made...sewer tiles. not very appetizing, i know. but the franciscan dinnerware began in 1934, and was eventually purchased by wedgewood in 1979, and production was moved to england. this dinnerware increased in popularity in the 1950's and 60's. in 1961, jacqueline kennedy ordered the dinnerware to be used on air force one.(source)

as for the teapot, how do you make a perfect cup of tea? well, the answer depends on which part of the world you're in, and who you are asking. i'm sure there have been family feuds over this topic. actually, i've been present during arguments about whether milk should go in before or after the tea has been poured. "if you put it in before, you'll scald the milk!" (the horrors!) "but if you put it in after, it doesn't mix properly!" and so on. don't even bring up the topic of whether you should scrub the teapot or leave it. it may cause a war.

i think most connoisseurs of tea can agree on the following:

* it starts with a good tea leaf (loose leaf tea is preferred over tea bags, which often contains finely ground tea bits... someone once mentioned to me that bagged tea is like the sweepings off the tea packaging factory floor; i dunno. i've had plenty of tea, and while i do prefer the taste of loose leaf tea, if tea bags is all you have, it'll be fine!)

loose leaf tea:
loose leaf earl grey tea

below, you can see that tea bags contain finer particles, and are more likely to contain stems:
bagged tea

other essentials for a good cup of tea...
* clean water, boiled.

* a vessel that will keep the tea warm (tea cozies help, and have kept crafters busy for hundreds of years!); some cultures use a device called a "samovar" which acts almost like a double-boiler for the tea pot.

what kind of tea leaf should you buy and how much should you use? how long should you steep it? should you use a tea ball or let the tea leaves loose and strain them out afterwards?

tea strainer, tea ball, tea bag, loose tea

all of this depends on the tea and your own personal taste.
here's how i do it.
tea kettle

  • boil fresh water using a stainless steel kettle on the stove.
  • when it's boiling, i pour a bit into the tea pot, slosh it around to heat the teapot, then empty it into the sink.
  • i measure out my tea and put it directly into the pot...different amounts depending on the tea, and how "wired" i want to be if it's a caffeinated tea. just a note: tea delivers caffeine to the body more slowly than coffee, so you wont get the same "jolt" of energy as you might from coffee, and the effects are more subtle and last longer than coffee.)
  • then, i pour the hot water, place the lid on the teapot, and let it sit under a tea cozy for about 10 minutes.
  • i pour through a small strainer to catch the tea leaves, and enjoy.
if you're new to tea, don't stress about all this or over think it. the bulk food store is a good place to find loose leaf teas that you can buy in small quantities. try them out, and see what you like. have fun trying different methods to make your perfect pot.

and maybe you'll be lucky enough to find the perfect pot in which to make it.

thanks again for reading and for the chance to share here!

you can always grab a cup of tea and join me at i made it so .

i'm also on twitter.

and for the knitters out there, look me up on ravelry, if you'd like.

i'd love to hear from you.

~ ana :-)