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"When in doubt, the answer's always tea!"


My tea cup collection is probably my most prized material possession. The finest and oldest cups I keep safe within my mother's glass china cabinet in the front room, grouped by color. The rest of my collection are used almost every day, and sit on lace-lined shelves in a small hall just off the kitchen.


In 1986, we were living on a remote island in the Aleutians, off the coast of Alaska. Twice a year we were encouraged to go to Anchorage (about 1,000 miles by air) for morale leave. Believe me, those were indeed needed trips. On one visit "off-island" (as we called it), I was browsing in a gift shop when I spotted the most lovely tea cup on the shelf ~ Royal Albert's Rose Chintz series, Green Velvet. I convinced myself (as tea-women do) that I deserved that cup! After all, living on an island with twelve months of fog, clouds, and wind meant that I should at least have a special and beautiful cup within which to take my tea. That cup became my trusted companion, a small piece of beauty amidst all the harsh elements which surrounded me. And that was the start of my collection. I was hooked, and started looking at and for tea cups everywhere I traveled. I still can't resist a pretty tea cup at a good price.


I have almost fifty cups in my collection. As mentioned above, the first was from the Royal Albert Rose Chintz series. When I first started collecting, I did not have any particular theme, style or maker in mind; I just loved a pretty tea cup. Lately, however, it seems that I am drawn to English tea cups with [pink] roses. And by the way, E-Bay is a great place to shop for vintage tea cups at bargain prices.

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A toast to the grace of the pot,
ready at all times
To give up its emptiness
for the tea.
~The Minister of Leaves

I do not collect teapots per se (but don't tempt me ~ I'm weak when it comes to anything related to tea). I inherited three teapots from my mother, and these I use on the most special of occasions. My every day teapots are a clean, white Chatsford (the perfect teapot), and an old Brown Betty (bought at a second-hand shop) which is actually my fall/winter teapot.


"Afternoon Tea should be provided, fresh supplies,
with thin bread-and-butter, fancy pastries, cakes, etc.,
being brought in as other guests arrive."

~Mrs. Beeton
The Book of Household Management

I have three tea accessories which are very special to me. The first is a precious little sterling lemon fork which I received one Christmas from my ex-husband's aunt. Don't you love it when someone cares enough to take the time to search out that "just right" gift for you? It meant so much, and I will cherish it always.

The second is a small dish I found at a local antique shop. It cost $3.00, and is apparently from a hotel in Budapest, Hungary; its blue and white mark reads, "Hotel Szt. Gellert." It's lovely, and so unusual. I use this small dish for lemon.

The third is a plate I use for tea biscuits. The edges are scalloped, and there is a small scene painted in the center. It reads, "A Present from Belfast."

The spoons I like to use when I serve tea are the sterling commemorative spoons that I have been collecting for several years. It's so much fun at tea to match the Illinois spoon with my oldest daughter in honor of the state of her birth; or the Michigan spoon with my friend who there for a number of years. Souvenir commemorative spoons are fun to collect, even more fun to use, and are actually quite affordable. They can be somewhat hard to find, but the fun is in the search.

I think unusual, eclectic items such as these add so much character to a tea tray or your tea table. Be careful not to be too "correct" with your tea accessories; your table may become too contrived and boring. Show your sense of self with your tea entertaining! The next time you go to an antique store or second-hand shop, snoop around those bottom shelves and see what you can find to add some creativity to your teatime.


"There is a great deal of poetry and
fine sentiment in a chest of tea."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My tea "tastes" have certainly evolved the past year or so. I started out drinking tea in teabag form. Once I garnered the courage to try loose leaf tea, I realized what I had been missing. There is no comparison! And the variety of tea available now is absolutely unbelievable. The Internet is an extraordinary source for ordering any kind of tea from anywhere in the world. I've found tea from Canada, Vietnam, England, France, South Africa, Australia...the list goes on. It would be very hard to list a "favorite" tea at this point, although I'd have to say that I am very fond of a good quality black tea (most especially Keemun), and a nice Ceylon is always delicious. I also enjoy a good Earl Grey (Earl Grey Silver Tips from Mariage Freres). I challenge you to experiment with fine looseleaf teas ~ I promise that you'll find one you love.

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You would think that in Charleston ~ a city named for an English king ~ one would find a tearoom on every corner. Not so! There are only three places nearby to take tea, in the truest sense of the word (well, besides my house, that is) and they are Charleston Place Hotel, Charleston; The Woodlands Resort and Inn, and Time Well Spent Tearoom, both located in Summerville, South Carolina.

Charleston Place (an Orient Express hotel)

I highly recommend Charleston Place Hotel, with its grand hotel atmosphere, for tea. Small tables scattered around The Lobby Lounge are set for tea with starched white table covers. You may also sit on the sofa or in a wingback chair to enjoy your tea. The menu is very traditional and quite good. My favorite are the scones with lemon curd, Devonshire Cream, and jam. If you're lucky, someone will be entertaining at the baby grand piano. It is a delightful experience taking tea at Charleston Place

Woodlands Resort and Inn

The Woodlands is South Carolina's only Five Diamond facility. It is a grand old country inn set on beautiful grounds. Tea is served in The Winter Garden Room, and is by reservation only. Two menus are available and since the tea is by reservation only, you and your tea drinking partner are usually alone. A wonderful place for two friends to catch up with one another.

Time Well Spent Tearoom

Time Well Spent is a small tearoom located within a garden shop. The menu is limited, their specialty is popovers. The atmosphere is bright and cheery, but every time I have been there for tea, I have noticed a crack or chip or stain on either my teacup or dessert plate. Old teacups and plates are charming to use, but I prefer that they be in good condition. A tearoom is no place for chips and cracks.

(If you have a favorite tearoom, tea quotation, or tea story, please sign my Guestbook below and share it with me.)

WHY DO I TEA? I don't know if I can put it in words. As a little girl, I remember seeing my mother and father sitting together at the kitchen table every single night, each with a cup of tea and plate of buttered toast. This was "their" time together when they would review the day. Maybe it has something to do with that. I did not start drinking tea until we lived in Alaska. I guess it was a simple, inexpensive way to do something really, really special just for me...or something I could do privately or with others that was soothing, calming, and dignified. In any event, as I grow older, I'm finding more and more enjoyment in the simple act of laying a tea tray, brewing a potful, and sipping English Breakfast from a favorite teacup.

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"I invite you magnanimously
to please be my guest for tea
at a room with high standards of taste
where the hostess remembers my face
and greets me by name at the door
and recalls what I've ordered before
and inquires kindly after my day,
and appreciates all that I say.

She'll have orange pekoe for the pot
and darjeeling, as likely as not,
or if you are not in the pink
our hostess knows which herbs to drink,
like ginger to help with the grippe
mixed with cinnamon and the rose hip;
or fresh lemon balm if you wish,
perhaps blended with sweet licorice.

So whether you feel well or ill,
this refreshment will quite fit the bill
and, of course, you will quite enjoy me.
Yours truly,
~Aubrey Henslow

"The tea party is a spa for the soul.
You leave your cares and work behind.
Busy people forget their business.
Your stress melts away, your senses awaken . . ."
~Alexandra Stoddard

BOOKSHELF ~Being an avid reader, my bookshelves are overflowing, but my tea books are kept together on a separate shelf. Tea books can contain the most beautiful photographs. They are so inspiring to me. Take a look at some of the books about tea on my bookshelf . . .

(For more information, "click" on the book cover)

A Decent Cup of Tea

A Little English Book of Teas

An Invitation to Tea

Country Tea Parties

French Tea

Having Tea

If Teacups Could Talk

Taking Tea

Tea Celebrations

Victoria's At Table With Family & Friends

Victoria's The Charms of Tea

A Cup of Christmas Tea

Time for Tea ~ Conversations with English Women

Afternoon Tea

Tea Time With God

Victoria'sThe Pleasures of Tea

The National Trust Book of Tea-Time Recipes

The Great Tearooms of Britain

Tea With Friends

Steeped in Tea

Afternoon Tea Serenade (Cookbook and cassette tape)

Serendipitea (Thanks, Marge!)

Tea Lover's Treasury


Great Tearooms of America

Tea Art ~ Mary Cassatt's "The Cup of Tea"

Tea Art ~ Mary Cassatt's "Lady At The Tea Table"

American Classic ~ The Only Tea Grown In America

Celestial Seasonings Tea


Harney & Sons, Ltd. Fine Teas

Stash Tea

The London Times ~ Read It With A Cup of Tea!


Order Authentic English Tea and Food By Mail

A lovely website for lovers of Earl Grey Tea

"Tea Talk" Newsletter

Tea Time In New York

"Over A Cuppa" English Tea Tours

The Tea Lady

The Devon Tea Room on Cape Cod

Have a cup of tea with Annie!

Curious about EterniTea?

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