Introducing The New “Tea Party Girl” – Sonya Michelle

Sonya Michelle, Tea Party Girl

 

It’s hard to believe that today has finally come.  Today is the day I turn over my “hostess” responsibilities at Tea Party Girl.com to a special someone.  I have loved owning and operating Tea Party Girl and I have so enjoyed getting to know each and everyone of it’s readers. (like YOU!)

So without further adieu let me introduce to you, Sonya Michelle, the NEW, “Tea Party Girl.”

Sonya Michelle, Tea Party Girl

 I’m ready to bring you more exciting ideas, stories, information and recipes on Tea Party Girl.com

Q: Welcome Sonya Michelle.  First things first.  All of the readers of this blog are dying to know your personal tea story.  We want to know the nitty gritty on how you came to love afternoon tea and what it’s like to “take tea” in Australia (where you live!)

A: Thank you all for a lovely, warm welcome!  I am sooo delighted to meet the criteria and pass the test to qualify as the new hostess of afternoon tea with Tea Party Girl. Yes, I am an Aussie and I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed the two years that my husband, Tony, and I spent living in Atlanta GA, USA,  working and living like a local. Traveling a bit and exploring a lot and loving our lives and friends over there! Back home here in Brisbane, Australia – now with 3 beautiful sons – nothing gets me through the day quite like a cup of tea, or two, or three….

 

Sonya Michelle and Family

Here’s a photo of me with my husband, Tony, and our three Boys Charlie, Max and Rhys (L-R), earlier this year.

 

I haven’t always been, but for the past 12 months or so I have become almost exclusively a tea drinker, so I think it is curious that this new venture has presented itself to me now.  Doesn’t life work in curious ways?

Australia, just like the USA, is a large country, so I’m sure I can’t speak for all Australians, but taking tea in the typical circles I circulate in involves – tea bags and mugs!  Occasionally a cup and saucer, but usually a mug.  We’re usually all in such a hurry it’s a teabag and a mug – and if you’re at the home of a coffee drinker, it’s a coffee mug at that!

At a coffee shop or café, a teapot and strainer and cup and saucer will be served (but the mug will be thick and clunky and not at all elegant, sob!).

It hasn’t always been the case in my life … my Grandmother would serve ‘proper’ morning and afternoon tea, with fine china, a teapot and homemade date slice (I must see if I can get hold of that recipe from the family – it was delicious).  More recently, a very sophisticated and charming neighbor would serve an elegant afternoon tea, with delightful teacups, company and chatter.  But everyone seems to be in such a hurry these days, and everything is done ‘on the run’.

 

I’m on a mission to bring the experience of soul nurturing afternoon tea times back into our lives.  Surrounded by friends and/or family and treated with small, delectable treats is what we need.

 

 

 Q:What part of Australia do you live in and can you tell us something about YOU?

A: I’ve lived in a few parts of Australia in my time, but find myself happily settled in ‘rural-residential’ acreage suburbia in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  With three growing and lively sons, we have the space to move here, and grow and be noisy and keep chickens and run with friends, get muddy, graze knees, laugh, love and live.

 

Tea for Two - Australia with Sonya Michelle

 

“Tea for Two” in Australia : Two Rainbow Lorikeets having bread and honey on my back deck.

Besides being a full time Mom and happy wife, I also love the internet and connecting with people with similar interests to myself through my computer! I love fresh, healthy food and looking after my health and the needs of my family.

To me, tea is a big part of this healthy living and I’ve become increasingly interested in the health benefits of different types of tea.  (Not to mention the healthy social aspects!)

I love spending time with friends, caring for our animals, spending time at home and I always endeavor to make my interactions with others a positive experience.

 

Q:What made you connect with “Tea Party Girl.com” ?

A: My increasing interest in having a healthful lifestyle and excluding harmful and unnecessary ingredients from our bodies had led me to thinking more about what I consume – is this a dead giveaway for my age? – and a love for drinking tea and sharing a social ‘cuppa’ with special people in order to connect, and enjoy, made the opportunity to join Tea Party Girl literally “jump out” at me.

There are so many aspects to enjoy about Tea Party Girl.  The drinking of the tea for taste and refreshment, the gorgeous accompanying accessories (the ‘pretties’ – teapots, teacups, tea towels, trays, sandwich platters, table cloths….), the opportunity for friendship, sharing, connecting, the opportunity for charitable events and business endeavors.  Tea is so easily interwoven with so many aspects of life!

 

Q: What’s your favorite tea?

A: Is anyone else like this?  I seem to go through phases, where one month I will like one tea, another time I will prefer another tea.  I also prefer different teas at different times of the day, before and after particular meals.  At the moment, my overall favorite is peppermint herbal tea.  It is soooo very refreshing!

 

Q: What’s your favorite afternoon tea food?

A: Oooooh…well, because I’m on a plan to live to 100 years of age (there’s just so much to DO), and I’m taking a particular interest in healthful (but plentiful and delicious and more-ish) food, I particularly love tasty morsels of Orange and Almond Cake (made with oranges, almond meal, eggs and a little sugar) and dried fruit balls (made with chopped nuts, dates, raisins, coconut, …..) and I have a lovely and adaptable recipe for a “fruity carrot loaf”.  These all go beautifully well with most teas I drink – and are delightfully guilt-free.  Of course, if someone puts a dark chocolate mud cake in front of me, it will disappear in a flash as well…

 

Q: I know you have big plans for this site and for connecting with the readers.  Can you share just a few things we can all look forward to?

A: Where to start? I can’t decide if exploring the stunning array of tea cups, teapots and afternoon tea accessories out there should be first, or, perhaps an exploration of just how many different types of tea that are available to us to enjoy. Then again, the health benefits of tea are incredibly important to appreciate, so that will be a high priority.  The business of tea is an attractive and lucrative one to be in, so exploring further details of how this can be realized is on my list – and I’ll be asking you, Dawnya, to assist me here with your vast experience and knowledge of this area!

Fundraising for charitable causes is also of interest to me, and I imagine will be of interest to some readers, so I will be reporting on some ideas there.

In September, a “High Tea” is being held at a local ‘Bush Garden’ in my suburb and I will be attending to enjoy the experience, review the event and talk with the hostess about the proceedings.

I will also be visiting some local tea rooms (in comparison with coffee shops, they are few and far between, here, I can tell you!) I have just recently learned about, to report how those businesses attend their customers and what really makes them “tick”.

Have you ever heard of “Billy Tea”?  Well! That is an Aussie “experience” and a half.  I won’t call it a tradition, but it’s from folklore in this country and something to be experienced at least once!  If you like tea out of an enamel mug, with bits of ash from the open fire in it, and campfire smoke in your hair while you’re drinking it, you’ll love it!

 

Q: Where can the readers connect with you?

A: Since I’m nearly always connected to my computer, I’ll be close by if you post or send a message on Facebook or via contacttpg@gmail.com or the Contact Us page on teapartygirl.com  And on that note I warmly invite you to reach out and let me know your thoughts and wishes and requests for posts, information, solutions, recipes and topics for future blog posts.

 

 I want to thank you, beautiful Dawnya, for entrusting your much-loved Tea Party Girl blog to me, and thank you readers, for the opportunity to serve you and be in your lives.

 

Dawnyahat

Well ladies and gentleman.  I know I leave you in great hands and don’t worry, Sonya Michelle and I plan to work together from time to time.  I still have a contribution or two to make to the world of afternoon tea.

“Until then, pour yourself a cup of tea, sip, sigh and know you are loved.”

-Dawnya Sasse Tea Party Girl – Retired

 

Now You Can Host a Tea Party and Delegate it, Too!

Tea Hostess

 

 

Let’s face it. Many of us already work really hard. And for some of us, hosting any kind of event sounds like a lot of work.

Even more of us, especially independent Americans, rarely delegate for a number of reasons. I struggle to delegate because frankly, it’s often “easier” to take care of the responsibilities myself than try to communicate with others what I really want them to do.

However, my mother, Anne Evans of Teaching Tea recently participated as ONE of the hostesses of a progressive tea, where the participants visited four homes in an afternoon for each of tea courses. What a great idea!! She graciously offered to share her experience with us.

Be sure to notice: The guests received a gift to take home at each stop! Wouldn’t you enjoy attending a tea like this?!

“Let’s put on a progressive tea,” a friend suggested to me recently. I liked the idea and soon found two other ladies willing to open their homes, set the table, and prepare one part of an afternoon tea. Only one of us had done anything like this previously, though we each really enjoy hosting.

First the four of us met together to plan. Our homes are only 15 minutes apart, so we allowed 45 minutes for each stop and 15 minutes travel time. We provided a map at each place giving directions to the next. One lady planned to seat guests in her shady yard. Two ladies had enough tables to seat the guests. One hostess used chairs and end tables through the main part of her home to augment the limited space at her dining table.

The tea day dawned. At the first house, the participants enjoyed a strawberry and greens salad, a simple pasta salad, and iced tea. The hostess had a guest book for signing and gave each lady a little nylon bag filled with dried lavender and rose petals as she departed.

At house two, the savories graced the kitchen counter. There were egg salad sandwiches on sprouted grain bread, broccoli spears dipped in seasoned mayonnaise and toasted, chopped walnuts. Also included were ham and chutney roll ups, open-faced cucumber sandwiches, and tiny pastry shells filled with artichoke spread and topped with shredded carrots. A caffeine-free herbal rooibos tea refreshed everyone and directions for making
tea along with some tea samples provided the parting favor.

House three served scones with jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream along with mango blackberry hot tea. White Jordon almonds in a handkerchief were tied with a pretty ribbon and given to each guest.

The fourth house hosted the sweets which were lemon squares, fresh fruit, and chocolates along with a creme brule` hot tea. The favor here was a little, cloth hat purchased at the Dollar Store. We each donned our hats as the hostess had arranged for her neighbor to pop over and take a group picture.

Everyone talked and laughed their way through the entire tea, learning new things about the whole wonderful affair of making friends with tea.

The four of us met a week later to savor our success and ponder any improvements for next time. We decided our only misstep was in not writing our phone numbers on the maps. One lady did need some intervention on directions and a number would have simplified that frustration for her.

So, if you’re not wanting to tackle a tea all alone, how about getting together with a couple of friends for a progressive tea? Start small and simple. You’ll be amazed how delighted your guests will be.

Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

Mothers Day Afternoon Tea

Mothers Day Afternoon Tea

Need a simple idea?  Why not host a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea?  I am not talking about a lavish event instead I am suggesting an intimate affair for you and the one you love.  Mother’s Day is May 11th this year, just a month away. Your typical Mother’s Day may be as simple as sending a card or flowers, or picking up the phone. Do you try to get together with your mum?   If so, what about setting aside some time for a Mother’s Day afternoon tea instead of fighting the Sunday brunch crowds?

Most mothers I know desire more quality time. Either their children are young, and they long for quality, uninterrupted time with their friends, or their children are grown and desire uninterrupted conversations and the full attention of their busy adult children. What could a mother enjoy more than a chance to sit down over a pot of afternoon tea and an opportunity for quality time with their loved ones?

Here’s a few simple ideas to get started:

1. Properly invite your mother. Decide whether to bring your Mother’s Day afternoon tea to her or host her it your home. Call her with a specific time and place that’s easy on her.

2. All you need for the event, especially if afternoon tea is a brand new experience is:

  • an uncluttered corner with two comfortable chairs and a small table.
  • a tablecloth or piece of pretty fabric to cover the table.
  • a small bouquet of flowers. Grocery store flowers work as well as the abundant wild flowers available right now.
  • a pot of properly-brewed tea.
  • two pretty tea cups. (If you don’t have any, ask a friend or even your mum!)
  • a particularly yummy dessert you make yourself or pick up at a bakery.

Now, there are many little details one can add to this event such as: linen napkins, instrumental music, or a savory. However, if you have never hosted afternoon tea, keep it simple and remember that the gift of quality time is your focus. If your mother mothered you before 1970, a Mother’s Day afternoon tea may very well have been a part of her history, yet not something she’s experienced with you.

If you’re a mother who needs quality time with your friends, see if you can modify the above with 3 or 4 of you on the Saturday afternoon before Mother’s Day. See if dads can watch the little ones, keep it simple, and give yourselves time to enjoy one another un-rushed and un-interrupted.

What mother do you know could benefit from sitting down over tea this spring for Mother’s Day?

 

Where to find inexpensive teacups

inexpensive teacups

inexpensive teacups

I am often asked, “where can I find inexpensive teacups? “  That is a great question.  There are several resources that you might consider if you want to add to your teacup collection.  Owning an assortment of affordable cups and saucers will come in handy for children’s tea parties, additional guests, gifts, picnics and more.

In addition, some people have grown a business hiring out pretty crockery for tea parties. The business can also host and cater for the tea parties, depending upon the business owner’s intent for the business. More on this idea in another post…

Here are a few of my “go to” resources.

1. Amazon.com

Now they don’t sound like a specialist tea or china or porcelain company, do they? But with the online influence and effective ‘buying power’ that Amazon have, they can provide some truly competitive deals. Couple that with the fact that you can read what other people have said about the products they’ve purchased by way of Reviews, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect if you purchase a product from this heavyweight. Add to that the likelihood of qualifying for free postage, super-fast postage and great customer service (think : what will happen if you have a breakage during delivery?) and you’ll likely be very pleased with your inexpensive teacups purchase.

Here’s an example of a gorgeous set, with a high customer review rating from quite a high number of customers :

inexpensive teacups

Rose Chintz 8 Ounce Porcelain Tea Cup & Saucer Set of 4

 

2. Maryland China Company

Maryland China Company offers both wholesale and retail sales.  They primarily offer white china which can be used for almost everything.  They also offer paintable china for your own custom designs. Maryland China’s prices are always low but their clearance section is absolutely rock bottom and you can find some super cool designs.  Today, I found toast and tea sets for as low as $3.75 each!

Visit their clearance section here and be sure to read the requirements for purchase.

 

3.  Magpie Marketing

If you are looking for British China then look no further than Magpie Marketing.  While Magpie is essentially a wholesale company their purchase minimum is SUPER LOW so anyone can probably find a way to work with them.  Here are a few examples of things they recently featured on their site.

-Mix and Match China Cups and Saucers – Bone China $5 each

-Oversized Breakfast Cups and Saucers- Bone China $10 each

-London Design Teacups and Saucer (set of 2) – $8

 

Visit their site here and check out their amazing offers.

 

4. Paintable Tea Cups

Now, if it’s paintable inexpensive tea cups you’re after, whether a mug, pitcher, tea pot or teaset, visit Ann’s Ceramics!  These are paint-your-own ceramic bisque beverage items for those who want that personal touch, or a tea party to remember. Ann’s Ceramics produce your bisque after your order is placed and delivers them to your front door – it’s ready for any type of color product and their site gives details on how to apply paint.  Very reasonably priced and how wonderful would this be for a special Mother’s Day gift, or a tea party for girls?

Click here to visit Ann’s Ceramics.

 

5. Ebay Lots

Ebay has long been a “go to” place for china.  I have found many teacups on this site however, there is a key to saving money.  Here it is!  Always shop for teacup lots.  You will not only save money on the cups and saucers you will also save money on shipping.

Here are some recent finds:

-30 piece set of Grosvenor china teacups – $15.00 plus shipping

-4 cups set vintage pink and gold teacups set – $12 plus shipping

-23 vintage Royal Albert teacups. – $220 plus shipping (very collectible)

 

Click here and put teacup lot in search box.

 

Last but not least, you can always search for inexpensive teacup sets at garage sales, thrift stores and at Overstock.com

Tea Party Girl Asks: Where have you found teacups?  Leave a comment and share your strategy!

Dear Dawnya – How Do I Make Tea For A Large Group?

tea for a large group

Hi Readers-

It’s the beginning of the week and that means it is time for another Dear Dawnya post.  This week I answer a question that many of you may have wrestled with in the past.  How do you successfully make tea for a group and should you use teabags to do it?

 

Dear Dawnya,

I enjoy your website. It is very helpful.  I’m helping in the kitchen for a fund raiser for Adult Day Care organization in my community. I’ll be in charge of the tea making and serving (with help of course). There will be 120 guests. I know the group has water urns for tea that have not been used to brew coffee, but they want to use tea bags to make the tea, I assume in the urns. They will be serving both Earl Grey and Herbal teas.  For a 50 cup pot, how many tea bags to brew the Earl Grey for 120 guests? How long should the bags be brewed?

I would very much appreciate your advice.

Thank you,

Confused but Excited

 

Dear Confused but Excited,

Making tea for a large group is best done by creating and using a tea concentrate.  Your concentrate is made ahead of time and is poured into the pots that are then filled with boiling water.  The result is a mess free, consistent cup of tea for each and every guest.  If you plan to serve more than one tea you will need more than once concentrate made in advance.  Here is my personal recipe.  I share many more details of this process within my online course, Start A Tea Business.com

 

Tea Concentrate For Groups

25 servings = 1 qt water/ 1/2 cup loose tea or 25 bags

50 servings = 2 qt water/ 1 cup loose tea or 50 bags

100 servings = 1 gal water/ 2 cups loose tea or 100 bags

Make teabags w/ loose tea using large tea socks (can be ordered off of Amazon or purchased wholesale from MetroTea.com)

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and then remove from heat. Add the tea bags or the tea socks and steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove  the tea.  Let the tea cool and pour into pitchers and refrigerate.

This concentrate can be made up to 3 days in advance. Be sure to make it and test it before serving to a large gathering.

You can use the concentrate in the individual pots or in  large water urns which have NOT been used for coffee.

Using a 45 cup urn = 90 Tblsp or 5 1/2 cups of concentrate. Fill urn with water and heat, then add concentrate. If making ice tea, pour in cold water and concentrate in urn, add some ice. When serving, pour over ice in cups.

1 lb of tea should serve at least 200 people or more. The fresher the tea the better!

 

Enjoy your group gathering.  I know it will be a success!

Warmly,

Dawnya

TeaPartyGirl.com

 

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Do you have additional ideas or questions?  Post them here in the comment section!