TeaGuide: Reviews and Ramblings

October 8, 2014

Review: A new tea book

I recently received a copy of Modern Tea: A fresh look at an ancient beverage, the new book by Lisa Boalt Richardson, who is best known in the cyberworld as Lisa Knows Tea. As I had gotten out of the habit of blogging for some time it seemed like the perfect opportunity — or perhaps inspiration? — to resume my ruminations on tea and all things related to tea by reviewing this charming little book.

Modern Tea: A fresh look at an ancient beverageYou might think that with all the books about tea already on the market there is nothing new to say on the subject. Well, you would be mistaken. While Modern Tea is chock-full of the usual introductory tea topics — tea origins, types of teas,  how to purchase, steeping and storing recommendations — it also goes well beyond the basics.

For those who are beginning their journey into fine tea — or who you might want to lure into the world of tea! — Modern Tea provides everything they’ll need to know within its 164 pages. Lisa’s breezy writing style draws the reader in, as do the lush photos (by Jenifer Altman). Don’t be fooled by its slimness and casual demeanor, however; there’s good, in-depth content here.

And for those readers who are too cool for school, who know all the basic stuff, there are lots of details about the art of tea tasting, pairing tea with foods, and cooking with tea; on the other end of the process there’s a section on dark teas and tea processing in general, along with historical tidbits.

For me, the highlights of this book are the many personal reminiscences the author shares with us about her travels to tea-origin countries and her experiences in the tea fields and tea factories and tea houses. I’ve pretty much come to accept that it is unlikely that I will ever travel to the tea lands of Taiwan, India, Japan, and Sri Lanka, so these vicarious experiences are about as close as I’m ever going to get — and Lisa’s descriptions are so clearly painted that it really is almost like being there with her.

Whether you’re a tea newby, an old pro, or somewhere in between, you’re sure to find something new and interesting in Modern Tea. Drink up!

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All content Copyright 2014 JP Badarau; all rights reserved.

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October 3, 2013

Tea for the birds: DIY teacup bird feeder

Autumn is here, and that means it’s time to start putting out food for our beautiful feathered friends. If you don’t have a bird feeder, or you’d like a prettier feeder (or two or more), or you’re looking for a useful do-it-yourself gift project, guest contributor Samantha Joyce shows you how to invite the birds to share tea with you.

bird feederWith a few odds and ends from a home improvement store you can make a mini platform bird feeder out of a cute cup and saucer. The teacup holds the bird feed while the saucer acts as a shield to prevent Mr. Squirrel from taking over the smorgasbord. Teacups are better suited than mugs since the cup and saucers are thin enough to drill through with a bit designed for porcelain.

Materials list:

  • teacup and saucer – from a thrift store or garage sale; the birds don’t mind mismatched or chipped!
  • wooden table leg – from a home improvement store, painted in the color of your choice
  • cordless drill – with Phillips head bit
  • spear point bit – with Tungsten carbide tip or similar
  • wood drill bit – smaller diameter than the wood screw
  • three (3) – plastic or rubber washers as cushions
  • one (1) – wood screw 1.5 inch to hold it together

Bird Feeder CollageFirst, find a stable surface. I have holes in my dining room table after one craft project that involved turning teapots into flowerpots. Do yourself a favor and use a magazine or phone book to prevent this kind of damage. Drill the bottom of the teacup slowly with a bit designed for porcelain, ceramic, and glass. I like to drill the teacup as it sits upside down for easier access. The hole should be centered but it does not need to be even. Be careful not to apply too much downward pressure. Let the drill do the work for you. Repeat this step with the saucer. Set aside.

bird feeder finishedA wooden table leg comes with a long pre-threaded section to attach it to various table surfaces. In this case we turn things upside down: the threaded end becomes a very sturdy spike to plant the bird feeder into the ground. Use the wood drill bit to pre-drill a starter hole for the wood screw on what used to be the bottom of the table leg. It does not have to be as large as your wood screw and only as deep as the wood screw. This is now the top of the bird feeder post.

The three rubber washers are used to insure that the teacup and saucer do not fracture under stress when you snug things up with the cordless drill and Phillips head bit. Have a friend hold the table leg, with the spike end down and the starter hole up. Balance a washer, then the saucer, an additional washer, the teacup, and the final washer. Carefully center the wood screw and use the cordless drill with Phillips head bit to slowly unite the layers at once.

Voilà! This is a quick and easy project once you get the hang of it. You can do it yourself, but it is always nice to have an extra set of hands. And a cup of tea! These make excellent homemade gifts and look charming in multiples around the yard. If you do not have a yard, they also look terrific set into a large potted plant.

For notes on selecting the right kind of bird feed, bird feeder placement and other common bird feeding questions see The Great Backyard Bird Count.

Samantha Joyce is a writer for Seattle Coffee Gear and enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things coffee and tea. She has made many, many teacup bird feeders — and you can too!

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All content Copyright 2013 JP Badarau; all rights reserved.

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January 24, 2011

Ramblings: Win a tea prize!

Photo: CrafTea Designs

We’re excited to announce that our new Facebook page for CrafTea Designs is up and running. To celebrate, we’re giving away free gifts!

To enter our contest, just stop by our page, give us a “Like,” and accept our invitation to our virtual tea party.

Photo courtesy of Artisans Cup

You can win not one but two prizes: a beautiful tea-dyed scarf or tea shirt from CrafTea Designs, and your choice of custom-blended tea from Artisans Cup.

Don’t miss out, stop by today to enter!

Good luck and happy tea-ing!

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