28 July 2013

In a word, Yes

Yes, we are still alive (hooray!). Yes, we are still drinking really great tea (sometimes). Yes, despite generous doses of Sturm und Drang, we are still planning to bring forth a beautiful new tea magazine (we just want it to be worthy of you). And... Yes, we certainly still love all of you fantabulous readers (gosh!).

This is an interesting time, with much learning and much truth-seeking going on. Dustin and I hope that your learning and truth-seeking has been as exciting, edifying, and clarifying as ours has been. Wowza.

Time for tea! More news as it happens! Please stay with us!
Cheers, xoxo,
Trixie & Dustin

08 December 2012

CARDS!!! Get your tea cards!!!

One of Trixie's favorite sayings is "I may be slow, but I get there eventually"... well yes, she is sometimes rather slow (sometimes not so slow!), but she is definitely, absolutely getting there eventually in the realm of tea cards. Yay! Please follow this handy link to view -- and, if you will, PURCHASE -- the new Tea Cards via our shop at RedBubble.com:

Floral, clouds, textures, and more images are leaping into Trixie's portfolio at Red Bubble as we write -- while I continue to bring Trix cupsful of tea and platesful of biccies to keep her energized.

Blowing you a Festivus-tinted tea-stained kiss,

27 October 2012

Control Your Fingers

A lovely, clear, and correct description of the differences between (and similarities among) Afternoon Tea, High Tea, and everything in between...

We particularly admire the section called "Control Your Fingers," which advocates (as we so strongly do!) the Pinkies-Down Principle. Scroll down the image, and find it about two-thirds of the way down, in the right-hand column.

The history and customs of high tea
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Glorious! We're enjoying this beautiful graphic, presented by Confused.com for our edification, with a big, fat pot of tea and a pile of biccies. Because we can. We hope that you can, too.

With all of my tea-stained love and a big wave from Trixie,
xo, Dustin

29 August 2012


Autumn approaches, and with it The Tea Drinker Magazine's Premiere Issue. How excited we are! How we quiver with antici-{say it!}-pation!

We are mere weeks away from the debut of our fab new mag, and we hope that you will join us for an Online Launch Party (date & time tbd; info will be posted here and on our Facebook pages).

Get ready for the most beautiful tea-related publication in the English language!

Blowing a kiss as I head back to Trixie's desk to do some more editing,
xo, Dustin

13 May 2012

Keeping Mum

Here is a silent meditation for you -- less than half a minute -- steam swirling up from this morning's first cup of tea.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the beautiful Mums out there (past, present, and future). xo, Trixie

03 March 2012

Copying it Right

thoughtful topics need tea and treats
Do you spend time on the major social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, et al., as Dustin and I do? If so, and if you are like us, you find things in your digital travels that you would like to hold in memory, to refer back to for inspiration and enjoyment... and, perhaps also like us, you CANNOT remember things all that well anymore... so you "Pin" or you LIKE" or you "retweet"... and those sites make it so easy to do! Cute little buttons entreating us to click and re-post, share, comment on, paste here and there at will. It’s very satisfying, like a treasure hunt.

Why am I mentioning this, when I usually write about tea? Because there is a growing cyber-discussion about copyright, and I am going to watch and comment on it from time to time -- not necessarily here, but perhaps sometimes also here. I am glad of the discussion: it is late in coming, and needs a lot of consideration and participation.

We have Pinterest boards (currently five of them); we have Facebook pages for TheTeaDrinker.com and for TeaWeatherGirl; and we send our posts automatically to Twitter. We read many other weblogs and look at dozens of photo albums online, and spend time nearly every day sharing information of one sort or another with people we like to hang around with online (and in person, but that ain’t always feasible).

I, for one, intend to keep on posting and sharing, because I enjoy it very much and because it is part of my communication with you all. It is one of the ways we speak to each other at any hour of the day, on any topic whatsoever, wherever we may be. Through this sharing, we learn about each other’s preferences and references, and that, I believe, is (usually) a good thing. How, then, can it be in any way problematic?

It is a problem when we share without giving proper credit to the source of the words or pictures... it is a problem when we share without permission and do not make it clear that the work is not originally ours... it is a problem when we alter the work of others with the intention of making it our own... and it is a problem if we re-post the work of others with the aim of making a negative remark about them. There are plenty of other problems with online sharing, some multi-layed in complexity and boggling to a regular mind like mine.

Where, then, are the solutions? How can we continue to let each other quickly know what we admire and want to remember without harming others? How can I post my own pictures online without giving up all rights to them? How can we sift through the conflicting information now abounding to arrive at our own Best Practices for sharing without increasing bad juju? How, indeed.

I believe that a good first step is to become aware. Awareness spurs thought, and thought often leads us to choose our actions more wisely. To increase awareness, you can do well by taking a gander at these weblogs, where the copyright and permission and future rights issues are being chewed on thoroughly and regularly:
Link With Love... and... a post about Pinterest, in particular, on DirectMatchMedia.com (read the comments that follow the post, for they show several viewpoints). Each of these sources can then send you hopping elsewhere on the internet for more information. Dustin and I are now hopping in this way, and learning as we go.

While we go, of course, we get thirsty, so we need tea! Today, at Dustin’s request, I blended some tippy golden Yunnan with a wonderful oolong-style tea from Sri Lanka. How was it? Knock-down gorgeous! Some of you chide me for blending “self-drinkers” but there really is a magical, greater than the sum of its parts, Good Golly Miss Molly thing that happens on a good day (which today was) that causes me to keep doing it. {Dustin smiles in the background as he drinks his tea}

Wishing you a lovely March with all the good luck and green-itude you can bear,
xo, Trixie

18 January 2012

Warming Up to Winter with Olde Avesbury

The weather in our part of the world has been so benign, so magnificent, for so long that the onset of Winter which surprises us now in mid-January comes as a big-fat shock. Looking at the leaden sky, we wonder when it will be sunny and warm again (weather pundits say at least a week, egad)... so to brighten the day and take our minds off of the impending storms, we dove into the teaware cabinet and brought out this warmly colorful cup and saucer: Royal Crown Derby's unabashedly over-the-top Olde Avesbury. Such a riot of color and pattern! What do you suppose was the impetus, in Stoke-on-Trent of 1932, for this unbridled outburst of hue and rhythm? The good folks of RCD say that it was an embroidery that was the inspiration for the design (which, by the way, is sometimes referred to as Olde Aves). Well gosh, if looking at fine needlework can bring them to such heights of passion... that's pretty impressive. Still more impressive is the fact that they still produce this pattern.

Over a reddish-brown transfer design, an abundance of pine green and chocolate brown enamels have been slathered to highlight the vegetation; more delicate applications of reds-to-purples, even a dash of blue, bring out the various birds in the design, which include pheasants ("cockatrices"), parrot-like birds, even a tiny robin or wren. Wisteria and roses add to the fabulousness of the scenes... sigh.

Trixie and I are playing that favorite of Tea Person's games, What to Serve on This Dish -- I just love to play this! Though dear Trix, resident Tea Maiden and ruler of the hearth, usually holds sway when it comes down to actually cooking the stuff.

No other pottery has made anything quite like Olde Avesbury... though there are other patterns that fall into this exhuberantly-avian category, such as Minton(s) Pink Cockatrice, or Asiatic Pheasants by Burleigh.

Back to RCD for a moment, since we are entering HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee year: if you click through this link you can see what RCD is offering in the way of collectibles for the occasion, which we think are mighty fine, possibly the best commemoratives out there. {If you are lucky enough to acquire any such baubles, would you let us feature them, here, on our weblog? Gratitude in profusion will pour forth...}

Bundling ourselves against the cold and rain (and rain and rain, and more rain still), Trix and I send our very warmest New Year greetings and best wishes for all of your 2012 teatimes,
xo, Dustin

25 December 2011

Festivus Continues!

Clear and cold the day dawned today in our region, with plentiful frost below and a magnificent sky above -- a very nice beginning to this Festivus Day! We just passed the Solstice, then it was on to Hanukkah, Christmas, the advent of Kwanzaa, and it's nearly Tet and our Gregorian New Year... golly whose festival have I missed? Please do not take offense if I skipped mentioning your favorite celebration -- it's just that there are so many holidays on the books right now that even I, Tea Maven to the Stars, get muddled. Happy Everything, Everybody!! Much love, and tea, and excellent health and cozy abundance to you all.

Trixie set me up a swell Festivus breakfast tray today, as you can see in the pics at left... clementines, Friend-made cookies, and sweets of many kinds, ooh la la! And she found me this groovy antique cup and saucer set by Copeland Spode, in the much-loved India Tree {Rust} pattern, which I am so honored to accept as a present today. India Tree comes in a wealth of variations and has been made by oodles of potteries -- originally by Coalport -- so many that it can stagger even a venerable tea maven... but this set is Copeland Spode and of very fine quality, so I am feeling very pampered and adored by Trix today. Thank you to the always-treating tea maiden!

Most India Tree (also called Indian Tree or Tree of India by other potteries) has a black transfer base design with multicolored enamels hand-painted thereon... this also has a black transfer base decoration, but with a palette of hand-painted vermillion, deep red, and tan luster enamels to fill in the pattern. Cup and saucer are both edged in the deep red enamel, and the effect suggests an Indian Paisley, rather than the more Chinese-looking multicolor version (you might sense and describe it very differently, but this is how it strikes me, dear ones).

Because today is Christmas Day, it seemed right and good to splash out the reds! Red denotes auspicious beginnings in some cultures, and we like that a lot, besides it adds another layer to the meaning of the cup and saucer today. Layer it on, people! That's what tea time is all about, say we.

I'm not altogether sure the saucer and cup are from the same set -- the well of the saucer indicates a different cup, the shape with a wider diameter and a squat circular pedestal foot, whereas this cup is smaller and has no foot* -- either way, tea tastes great from it and both pieces cheer me immensely (another thing that tea time is all about!). I just love the tan luster enamel, it catches and amplifies the light so subtly and warmly... they thought of everything, those Stoke-on-Trent potters.

Did you know that on our Facebook page you can not only post comments (which we LOVE), but you can, if you wish, post photographs? Absolutely. Trix and I really want to know what you get up to when drinking tea, so please consider sharing pics with us when the mood strikes you.

Raising my lovely new-to-me cup in your honor today, lovelies, and wishing you every good thing today and always,
xo, Dustin {with a wave from Trixie}

* additional research shows me that multiple cup shapes/sizes were matched with the same saucer. Hmm.

11 December 2011

Luck of the Draw

Some time back, we found an absolutely beautiful large creamer or small sauce boat (you get to decide which it is... we use it for cream, sauce, even the occasional posy!), all hand painted with bouquets of flowers along the red-orange-purple continuum. To spare you scrolling through the archives, a picture of the bulbous beauty can be seen at the bottom of this post. Why mention it today? Because we have been very, very lucky and stumbled over a cup and saucer set in the very same pattern -- the name of which we have yet to ascertain -- whose images you can see splashed along the left side of these words.

These handsome pieces were made by Grosvenor, at that time part of Jackson & Gosling Ltd, in the middle of the 20th Century for a company called Sheraton Designs. The cup size is generous, with a wide-open bowl and an elegant tall foot. The saucer curves upward, suggesting old-fashioned saucers, which were bowl-like and used for actually drinking tea from, rather than just being supports for the cups. Although painted with fine brushes and ringed with delicate images, these are sturdy pieces that we are confident to hold and use.

If you recall when we told you about our Grosvenor-Copeland(s) "Craigavon" set (about a hundred-thousand years ago), it may mean something when we say that these are the exact same shapes -- same potteries, same molds, same delicacy and accuracy of decorating skill... definitely swoon-worthy.

Prices vary widely around the vintage marketplace for Grosvenor/Sheraton/Copeland(s) items, as some vendors know they are the best quality and charge accordingly, while others don't seem to recognize the names and underprice to our advantage. The avid teaware hunter with the luck of the draw is amply rewarded!

We shall certainly let you know when we finally find out the name of this pattern and Sheraton Designs itself... in the meanwhile you can find us drinking tea, pouring sauce, looking at posies, and otherwise entertaining ourselves in the company of these pretty pieces.
May your Festivus celebrations continue with joy and abandon! Blowing you tea-stained kisses {Trixie adding her enthusiastic wave from behind my shoulder},
xo, Dustin

04 December 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... Festivus!!

Isn't it just? Everywhere we turn, it's Holiday, Holiday, Holiday, so why not get into the swim? thought we... consider us well and truly swimming. Our lovely friends help immensely by baking seasonal cookies {see pictures}; our job is to select coordinating teaware with which to honor their sweet labors. Oh and then to eat the cookies.

I hope that we selected well today: what you see here is a cup and saucer set by Royal Worcester and a cake plate by Mintons. Regular readers of our weblog know that these venerable ceramics houses send (or sent) their goods forth from the Potteries in Stoke-on-Trent, the industrial heart of England. When these items were made, armies of craftspeople sat at benches all the day long, tiny brushes in hand, carefully dabbing enamel glazes onto transferware pieces with alarming precision.

To look at them now, in our era of machine production, is to look back to a time of intense human effort and focus, a time of reverence for quality and craft. Those days were by no means easy or simple, and the people who made these items could hardly afford to own them (the 99% and the 1% struggled even then!), but the labor of individuals was of value, and people who had things did tend to take good care of them and not toss them away every year.

Are we better people because we seem to have embraced some acceptance of impermanence of material goods? Were those who went before us better because they revered the products of human manufacture? Yes, no, maybe... chewy stuff to think about while drinking beautiful tea (itself a product -- then as now -- of amazing human manufacture!) and admiring teaware such as this.

I can tell you this much: I am prepared to accept the impermanence of the cookies on the plate... for they are already being happily, gratefully digested by Trixie and myself, along with cupsful of a soothing infusion of New Vithanakande Estate FBOPF-Ex Silvertip "Spider Leg" (our beloved V-Tea Spider!). Home-baked cookies deserve no less.

Blowing you tea-stained kisses, and sending fervent wishes for Festivus happiness your way,
xo, Dustin