Monday, March 29, 2010

Tea Twist or Tea Travesty?

As an author and speaker, I realize that I am not going to please everyone.  That is why there is room for so many in this world because everyone has their own style and those that like that style.  My approach to tea is one of study and learn all I can about it in certification classes and on my own, but also to have fun with tea. 

I recently received an email from a disgruntled reader of Tea with a Twist.  Here is what she wrote:

"I was quite disappointed with your book, I'm sorry. I too love tea and was raised around Tea Parties, etiquette and traditional tea parties of which salads and salmon steaks were never on the menu. Why do you and so many other "Tea Experts" not stick to the right information about tea and turn it into such a travesty. No wonder "High Tea" is so misunderstood in the USA."

I thought the reader's comments would create a great blog and an opportunity for explanation, education, and hopefully great feedback and discussion!  Now, I don't think anyone loves a traditional English afternoon tea party like I do!  In addition, early on in my tea career, I was trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington in Tea and Etiquette and teach classes still to this day on the subject matter. I do think proper protocol and etiquette is very important and varies on the level of formality!  For instance, there is a difference between a BBQ dinner at your local rib shack and a dinner at a five-star restaurant. 

Having fun with tea was my inspiration for writing Tea with a Twist-hence the word "Twist". I wanted to create tea parties that were a little outside-the-box as some might consider me to be-especially my kids!  My inspiration was "a tea party can be all sorts of things as long as you are sipping tea".  I also wanted those that didn't own china and silver to still feel like they could entertain with tea without the expense of having to buy those items!  My philosophy on teatime is that it is anytime so, creating parties for all different events and incorporating tea in them was exciting!  I realize this is might not be everyone's "cup of tea" though.

My love of learning about this beverage took me on a quest to discover traditions in other countries other than my own. That is why I wrote The World in Your Teacup.   Culturally speaking, I would be remiss if I stated that there was one "right way" to have tea as each country celebrates tea differently.  However, for most Americans, a tea party is fashioned after the English tradition of finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts which is properly called an "afternoon tea" not a "high tea". 

To help get the message out about the proper terminology on tea in the "English style", I purposely did a high tea menu for my second book in the England chapter.  A high tea is a "meat tea" or a "supper tea" served in the evening and it is much heartier than an afternoon tea.  I also featured many "high teas" in Tea with a Twist, just with a little "twist" of course.  If you want to learn more about a traditional English high tea or how tea is celebrated around the world, you can read more about it in The World in Your Teacup

Well, salads or scones, salmon or sencha, travesty or twist, I do hope we all just enjoy TEA!

Tea Travesty or Tea Twist?  I guess it is up to the reader to decide. What do you think?  I would love to hear!

Happy Sipping, Lisa

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Big Announcement - Exciting Partnership

Bringing to you on a Silver Platter the Announcement:

 Lisa Knows Tea and The World in Your Teacup
have partnered with
Heart for Africa

Before I became published, I made a commitment that I wanted to give a portion of the proceeds of all of my books back to charitable organizations. (And yes, I believed I would be published, although I received lots of rejection letters and it took about 7 years to do-so I hope that is motivation to not give up on your dreams either!) In a later blog, I will share my partnership for Tea with a Twist! 

While I was researching and writing The World in Your Teacup, I just felt and knew my charity had to have something to do with Kenya. 
I looked into several organizations before choosing Heart for Africa.  The way I discovered Heart for Africa was interesting.  Although I was an active participant in the photoshoot for my first book, Tea with a Twist, I didn't produce it.  My title, however for The World in Your Teacup  is not only author, but producer as well.  That meant I not only wrote the book, but I was also in charge of the photoshoot.  I had to create a shot list for the photographs for the book  and also source all the correct tea items that would be used for each country written about.  I even became the assistant food stylist for the week since our budget was tight (it always seems like budgets are tight, doesn't it?) 

I was trying to source items made in Kenya that we could use for the photoshoot, when I came across Heart for Africa.  It was mentioned by one of the member's moms of my daughter's small group from our church.  Although they didn't have anything at the time that I could use in photos, my interest in the organization grew and I researched their mission and how they were helping Kenyans.

It was a wonderful feeling to drop off my first check from my advance of the book just last week.  It will be even more wonderful to continue dropping off checks as I receive my royalties from The World in Your Teacup and hear how it is helping Kenyans!  I plan on wearing some of the jewelry from HOW (Helping Orphans and Widows) at my speaking events and book signings . 

You can read all about my partnership with Heart for Africa and HOW by clicking the link below:

I would love to hear back from you about what you think of my new partnership and better yet, how you could have a heart for Africa too!

Happy Sipping and Giving,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What time is Tea Time in Kenya?

Next week, I will be announcing a very exciting partnership with
Lisa Knows Tea and The World in Your Teacup
so stay tuned..... 

Any time and all the time!

Kenya not only grows tea like I stated in my last blog, but they love to drink it too.  The introduction to tea in Kenya was by a European man named G.W. L. Caine in 1903. The tea plants at that time were brought in for ornamental purposes. Some of them are still alive and growing strong to this day. The first tea grown for cultivation and consumption was started in 1918 on a plantation called Kiambethu Farm. Kenya’s growing region has expanded over the years. The Great Rift Valley runs north and south and is just west of Nairobi. Tea grows in what is called the Eastern Rift Valley and the Western Rift Valley. 

Tea in Kenya is made in different ways depending on where you are in Kenya and what tribe or social class you are from. It is served and consumed as a part of showing hospitality to your guest, so to serve tea Kenyan style make plenty and enjoy!  If you want to learn more about Kenya, their tea,  or how you can tour Kiambethu Farm,  please be sure to check out my new book, The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions Near and Far

As promised from my last blog, here is the yummy recipe you must try. 


1-1/4 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, divided

1-1/3 cups each flour and semolina

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon each baking powder and coarse salt

6 oz chilled soft goat cheese, crumbled into bits

¼ cup honey

1/2 cup heavy cream, divided

1 egg

Mix 1 teaspoon rosemary with all the other dry ingredients then mix in goat cheese keep aside. Whisk together honey, half the cream and egg. Stir into the dry mixture put aside until a soft dough forms, make into a ball. Put onto floured board, pat into a round about ¾-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Arrange separately on waxed paper or baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining cream and sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Bake at 425 degrees F until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 8 Scones.

Make sure to pair it with some wonderful Kenyan tea for a real treat!

After you try the recipe,
I would love to know what you think.....

Happy Snacking and Sipping!

Remember to check back next week for my announcement!!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Out of Africa

One of the questions I get asked as an author is, "What is the inspiration for your books?  For The World in Your Teacup, it was a serendipitous meeting with a Kenyan nurse while my son was in the hospital for a surgery on his mouth.  While she was caring for my son, I noticed her accent and asked where she was from.  When she told me it was Kenya, I asked if she lived near any of the tea fields or liked tea. She not only said yes to both, but went on to reminisce about her country, her love of tea, and her tea traditions. 

From that encounter and then others,  I realized that tea is more than just a beverage.  It is a way to connect.  We were two women from opposite sides of the world, yet we connected over our love of tea.  

Kenya is a huge tea drinking nation as well as a tea growing nation.  It competes for number one exporter of tea in the world.  You have probably had Kenyan tea and not even realized it as many teabag companies use it in their blends for tea. 

For those that are really interested in tea and where it comes from, you might want to take a look at a video I came across from Lipton's website.  National Geographic shot Kenya's beautiful tea fields and the way that Lipton is trying protect the land by certifying their tea gardens as Rainforest Alliance Certified.  I am not endorsing their tea or the Rainforest Alliance, but I think it sounds like a wonderful program to protect not only the land, but the growers as well.

In my next couple blogs, I will feature my goat cheese and honey scone recipe from the Kenya chapter of The World in Your Teacup.  I will also be making a big announcement of a partnership Lisa Knows Tea is working on with The World in Your Teacup.  You won't want to miss it. 

What is in your cup today?  Do you know where it comes from?  Would love to hear...

Happy Sipping, Lisa