You are Celtic (over one in ten Americans are) and Elizabeth Knight‘s written a book published this year for you.
I spent some time with her book this afternoon (accompanied by a cup of Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold loose leaf tea). Not sure what to expect, I enjoyed finding not only thirteen new themed tea party ideas, but learning about Celtic history and how it relates to the tea culture. With Irish and Welsh ancestry living in a town founded by Cornish immigrants, I wanted to learn how tea traditions did not belong to the English alone.
I first turned to July’s theme, the Hen Party Tea. I always thought calling women a group of hens derogatory, as if we all “cackled”, but instead I learned it’s an old Scottish custom where the women gathered the night before a wedding to pluck hens for the wedding feast. Now, Ms. Knight isn’t advocating we all gather to pluck hens, but to celebrate the best of our strengths and contributions over the ages. One of my favorite of her ideas was to offer, in her words, the original chic(k) lit book – The Little Red Hen as the tea party favor. Do you know the story? Isn’t that just a darling idea?
Another resource the book provides is one of the best charts, A Guide to Teas, I’ve seen. It includes the tea-type (i.e. black), its place of origin, a description, the brewing time, serving suggestions, and a list of complimentary foods. And because my tea table article is the most-read article here at Tea Party Girl, I’ll mention that I found the appendix Set to a Tea: The Tea Table a simple and complete explanation of what your tea table needs and why.
The book was issued by Benjamin Press, Bruce and Shelley Richardson’s publishing arm of their work. If you haven’t yet heard of the Richardsons, it’s worth spending some time at their website and learning about their contributions to Americans learning to appreciate afternoon tea. They operated arguably the most recently famous tearoom, the Elmwood Inn, from 1990-2004 in Perryville, KY and the teas are still available, along with cookbooks based on the afternoon tea menus from those days. Of the two I own, I like A Year of Teas at the Elmwood Inn the best because the menus are organized by month which helps my full brain with decisions. But all their books are well-photographed and the other book I own, The Tea Table, is full of “Tea Time Hints”. Here’s an example appropriate for this time of year:
“Keep your tea out of the sun! Making sun tea is no longer promoted by the tea industry. Putting tea in the water and placing it in the sun for several hours is like making a petri dish for the growth of bacteria. While tea does not contain harmful bacteria in its dry state, it can become a haven for bacteria when brewed and cooled. In traditional brewing methods, the addition of boiling water kills any bacteria that might be present. If you do make sun tea, be sure to boil it before you consume it.” (Richardson, 65)
Any Benjamin Press books make great gifts for the tea or book enthusiast. Who do you need a gift for? Are you Celtic? Do you know the story of the Little Red Hen? Had you heard of Elizabeth Knight, Bruce and Shelley Richardson, or the Elmwood Inn before today? Do you still make sun tea? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with us.