Monday, July 26, 2010

Is Green Tea BAD for you?

Well Miss Matty (Matilda Jenkyns) thought so in the film, Cranford, set in the mid 1800s in England.  I think I may know why she and others from England may have thought that way...

A couple weekends ago, I rented and enjoyed watching Cranford.  It is a movie by the BBC that was featured on PBS a while back.  It is set in a small fictitious town in England called Cranford which is filled with mostly spinster ladies who love to gossip based on the novels by Elizabeth Gaskell.  If you are a fan of period English films, this one will not disappoint. 

In the story, one of the lead characters is Miss Matty.  Due to unforeseen financial difficulties, she is faced with having to bring in extra money.  She is advised to open a tea shop in her living room because,

"Tea would be ideal.   Tea is really a genteel form of trade.  It is purchased by people of every class, industry, and the most superior." 

She reluctantly agrees to start selling tea but states, 

 "I will stock any kind of tea but the green kind-so fearfully bad for the digestive!"

Some might just pass that off as a bad encounter with green tea. However, there was a time that green tea was bad to drink in England.   In my book, The World in Your Teacup, I have a chapter on England which goes into the tea history of the country.  Here is an excerpt which explains one of the reasons why the English did not prefer green tea and eventually became a nation that mostly drinks black tea.   
  "Tea caught on among all the classes, but the taxes on tea were so high in that day that it was unaffordable to most.  This led to smuggling....  To make matters worse, smugglers began compromising the purity of the tea by mixing it with leaves from other plants; thus, stretching their supply and increasing their profits.  
Green tea was easier to adulterate than black tea.  Often additives, which included poisonous chemicals, were mixed in with the tainted green teas.  For example, after diluting the green tea with other plant leaves, smugglers used a metallic paint to make sure the tea was the correct shade of green.  The public soon caught on to this trickery, and black tea became more popular than green.  Some of those who complained about the effects tea was having on their nerves were probably being poisoned.  "
I think it is fascinating to learn about different countries and their tea drinking practices.  Learning why one country favors one type of tea over another is intriguing to me.  If you want to learn more about tea drinking practices of other countries, my new book, The World in Your Teacup, is a great source.

So is green tea bad for you? 
No, it is actually really good for you NOW, but the health benefits of tea is for another blog!  What are some of your favorite green teas?

Happy Sipping - Dragon Well green tea in my cup today, Lisa

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bone China - Is it the Best?

Since tea is not only my business, but my passion, I can spend hours shopping for all things tea. Bone china teapots are on the top on my list because they are not only eye-catching, but they are functional as well. Bone china is the English version of Porcelain. To some, it is regarded as the highest quality and best china money can buy.

In 1799, Josiah Spode II invented bone china. He discovered that by mixing bone ashes with clay. It could be fired at a lower temperature than porcelain but, maintain its durability and delicate look. The end result is a brilliant white, highly translucent, delicate but extremely strong piece of ceramic. It has become the most well-liked type of porcelain in the United States and Britain. 
Bone china teapots should be considered an investment as some can be quite pricey. Keeping it all white might be a good idea. I love this Wedgwood Nantucket teapot and it is on my wish list-hint, hint. I love the nautical look to it, maybe because of growing up by the beach or maybe it is the texture and all the details on it. I like white teapots because it allows me to: 
  • See the color and brilliance of the tea.  
  • Mix and match with antique, whimsical, and/or classic cups and saucers as well as plates to create many different looks with just one teapot. 
  • Flexibility to bring in other colors for the changing of seasons or my mood.  
My bone china pattern is no longer made, so I have to acquire new pieces from replacement centers such as Replacements.  On a trip to North Carolina a couple years ago, I stopped by Replacements.  What a complex!  The owners are huge pet lovers and allow you to bring your dog inside on a leash.  I was amazed at that notion because usually dogs and china don't mix well.  My pattern is made in Germany by Tirschenreuth.  It is in the Baronesse collection with the pattern name Fleur De Lis. I love that is is mostly white with just hints of blue fleur de lis accenting the china.  It is classic, versatile, and detailed.  It goes with many different colors schemes.  I was able to find the teapot and gravy boat in my pattern at Replacements so I bought them both!  It is such a treat to have a teapot now to go with all my teacups!


Several years before that while shopping in an antique shop, I found quite the steal.  I spotted a large soup tureen with the lid and the large chop platter in my pattern all for $50.00.  It would have retailed for over $500.00.  I keep it on my dining room table and fill it with seasonal flowers and decorations.  I am always on the lookout for finding new pieces in my pattern that has expired.


My other favorite teapot is the one that has been passed down to me.  It was my mothers that went with her bone china place setting.  It is made my Royal Albert and the pattern is Lavender Rose.  My father found it while traveling in Canada for a great price and had it shipped to my mom as a surprise.  My mom got stricken with early onset Alzheimer's disease about 9 years ago.  My sister and I split up her china between us.  She graciously agreed to let me have the teapot because she knew how much that would mean to me.  I got the teapot, teacups and saucers, four place settings, and some other serving pieces.  The teapot holds a special place in my hutch along with my other teapot.  

Drinking tea out of bone china, in my opinion, should not just be on special occasions.  I drink out of bone china cups everyday.  I don't  just have fine bone china sets, but all of my everyday cups are bone china as well.  I find them at discount stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Homegoods.  I don't pay too much for them so I am not disappointed if they break. It really is an affordable luxury to drink wonderful tea in a bone china cup!  I do that because I love the way bone china feels with its thin rim and translucent look. I also do that because drinking tea to me is a way to give myself a treat everyday.

Do you drink tea out of bone china every day?  I would love to hear about your favorite bone china teapots and why they are so special.  

Happy Sipping from bone china, Lisa