The Essential Tea Companion

Victoria The Essential Tea Companion: Favorite Menus for Tea Parties and Celebrations ****.*

by Kim Waller and From the Editors of Victoria Magazine

An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

 “Whether we’re enjoying a morning break, a quiet afternoon respite, or a soothing moment at day’s end, tea is a ready indulgence. And Victoria has the ideal accompaniment to this celestial beverage.”

Victoria The Essential Tea Companion collects the best of three classic Victoria books in a single completely redesigned and beautiful volume. It serves up history and lore, advice on brewing the perfect pot, notes on collectible china, and best of all, menus for eight themed parties, from a children’s tea to a bridal shower. Here are more than 100 recipes for sandwiches, scones, tarts, cakes, savories, breads, and biscuits, as well as flavored teas both hot and iced, and honeys, spreads, and jams. An authoritative appendix provides the elegant final touch.”

This book is a feast for the eyes & senses~ I could spend hours pouring over the pages. . .as it was, my camera was busy so this is a photo intensive post~

There are plenty of ideas & inspiration to be found, not the least of which is food for a tea or party… I was tempted by Stilton, Pear & Watercress Savory Toasts, Tomato & Goat Cheese Sandwiches, Rose Petal Scones~ which make me long to have organic roses growing in my garden, and a Honey Tart– pretty latticework with a honey-kissed cheese filling, just to name a few.

 I stumbled on these Victorian-style shoes designed as planters, that were the inspiration for hosting a “dress up” tea. They are sprouting flowers and offering up sweet treats, as well as flatware on the table~

Butterflies were essential for my tea~ they fluttered in and landed on cupcakes, and showed in the form of brooches, dressing up my napkins & embellishing my flatware.

I discovered Portmeirion Botanic Garden Flatware for a bargain price at HomeGoods. If you look closely you can see a butterfly stamped on the fork.

Little cups for little girls~

 My husband’s grandmother’s hats are embellished with a pin, in the same fashion as my Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and placed on chairs at the table~

The Charm of Chintz:

“Despite today’s climbing prices, this was once humble daily china, a blithe flower show that brightened ordinary English homes and was just as cheerful as the fabric it was derived from. Indeed, the story is told of chintzware’s originator, Leonard Grimwade, found of the Royal Winton potteries in Stoke-on-Trent, that he once stopped a lady in the street so he could copy the floral pattern of her pinafore.”

“In the heyday of chintzware—the 1920s to the 1960s—many potteries were turning out patterns with fetching names like ‘Julia,’ ‘Sunshine,’ ‘Hazel,’ and ‘Summertime,’ each a favorite of collectors today.”

Philly Strawberry Tea Sandwiches with a Twist, recipe courtesy The Hungry Housewife

Morning’s First Cup:

“Brew a cup; brew a day. Unhurriedly. The sunrise song of tea is lyrical, but with bracing undertones. ‘Of course you can,’ it murmurs encouragingly. The flavor holds a hint of far lands, yet is as familiar as the cat that comes to nuzzle your leg or sunlight on the windowsill. And as you lift your first cup of tea and feel its warmth the day’s challenges settle into perspective.”

Athens Mini Fillo Shells~lots of appetizer ideas & recipes to be found courtesy of Athens~ essential for quick & tasty bites. I filled some with lemon curd & berries for a sweet bite and some with chicken salad for something savory to sample.

“Tea is a daily companion that never fails us. It warms when we—or the world—feel cold, gives strength when we’re weary, and lends delicious grace notes to our gatherings. From the first cheery chortle of the kettle at dawn to the fragrance of an evening cup as the house quiets and we turn to our reading, tea can be counted on to smooth and save the day.”

Butterfly Cucumber-Basil Tea Sandwiches

 Mix 1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese, with 2 T mayonnaise to make the consistency of soft butter, and stir in 2 T snipped fresh chives.

Spread mix on both sides of thin white sandwich bread cut with a cookie cutter. Layer thinly sliced English (seedless) cucumber, top with a basil leaf to complement the sweetness of the cucumber.

Watch them fly off the table :-)

“What turns a drink of tea into an occasion? Often, the cup it is served in—no doubt one reason why so many tea lovers are just as devoted to lovely china as they are their orange pekoe or lapsang souchong. However, your tea set doesn’t need to be Wedgwood or blue willow to bring joy and beauty to teatime.”

“Collecting can start with the jog of a childhood memory—perhaps a swirl of rosebuds recalls some long-ago cup in which an adored grandmother offered you a bit of sweet, milky tea scenting with cinnamon.”

“Take care with the food, brew a bracing pot of tea, but most important, enjoy the warmth and joy possible only when good friends gather for a party.”

The Food for Thought gods were smiling on me as I was working on this review. I discovered to my delight, I had won one of several packages of treats from Pondside for an anniversary giveaway.

 Not only did Honora send me Tea, specifically Library Blend, along with a sweet box of Chocolates, but my “petit pacquet” flew over from Victoria, British Columbia.

(insert Twilight Zone music here :-)

Murchie’s is listed as a select source for tea & tea accessories in the back of the book and can be visited here.

So thank you Pondside for my Murchie’s Library Tea & Purdy’s Chocolate~ a perfect duo to accompany a good book, especially one about the ceremony & ritual of tea!

 Dishes~ G. Demartine & Cie

Assorted Napkins, Tea Cups & Tea Pots~ HomeGoods

Chintz Tea Set~ Royal Albert ~ HomeGoods

Portmeirion Botanic Garden Flatware~ HomeGoods

Leaf Demitasse Spoons~ Two’s Company~ Tuesday Morning

Shoes~ Stein Mart

“Explore the many joys of teatime with Victoria’s recipes for sublime teas and classic treats, charming party suggestions, and ideas for building an exquisite collection of cups, saucers, and teapots. It’s all served up with sumptuous photographs that pay homage to a gracious ritual.”

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

  33 comments for “The Essential Tea Companion

  1. April 6, 2011 at 5:59 am

    This is a wonderful post to start the day! I love the quote “And as you lift your first cup of tea and feel its warmth the day’s challenges settle into perspective”.

    The new flatware is a wonderful find o;)

  2. April 6, 2011 at 6:56 am

    This looks like a gorgeous book, Mary. You’ve presented the book and tea beautifully!

  3. April 6, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Now you know I would love this book…I’d have to sit at your table and enjoy every page. Your teatime tablescape is lovely and I love the garden ornament shoes, filled with fresh blooms, and your butterfly mignon cucumber sandwiches are divine! And those forks are a lovely collectable, so dainty! I’ll have to look out for ‘ The essential tea companion’ x

  4. Pondside
    April 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

    This is a post to be read again.
    The butterflies and hats, the sweets and savories – the perfect tea. Effort is required to set such a lovely table and offer such treats, but it’s an effort that is appreciated by everyone around the table.

  5. April 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

    What a beautifully appointed table!!! Those planter boots are so unique and they add so much to the theme! The food is just so pretty, too, which always makes a table look that much better! Those little butterfly tea sandwiches are just heavenly! I am a big fan of butterflies, and I love the way you used a variety of styles fluttering across the table. Stunning all ’round! Truly like looking at the pages of a magazine!

  6. April 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    looks like an absolutely enchanting book. Your goodies are scrumptious.. The cream cheese, cucumber and strawberry has my mouth watering already. Thanks for dropping in and good luck in the drawing!

  7. April 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Many years ago I made a planter boot for my aunt! I was surprised to see yours. The flowers are lovely!!

  8. Carolyn
    April 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Little Tea Cups of china so dear….
    Recalling memories so tender, my eyes drop a tear.
    Tiny fingers struggling… the handle to hold…
    Sipping my tea before it gets cold.
    Grana, so pretty.. but weak from age, lifted the tea tray towards me…
    Please allow me to fill again…your little cup of tea.
    Remembering our Tea Parties, so special, so fancy….The memories are
    “I love you sweet child, remember me.” She always whispered this into my ear. CGE
    Mary, this is a beautiful post and I am sure it will evoke memories for many of your readers. Thanks for sharing this lovely book!

  9. Happier Than A Pig in Mud
    April 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Just gorgeous Mary, you really attended to every detail! Lovin’ the flowers and the butterfly sandwiches are just fantastic:@)

  10. April 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    You even had butterfly shaped sandwiches! I couldn’t possibly love this table any more than I do. You used so many elements that I love, from all the butterflies to the colors to the chintz china.

    I want to scroll through again to see details that I missed the first time.

  11. April 6, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    That has to be the most, most, most gorgeous tea table ever! I hate it when my invitation gets lost in the mail!!!! Such beautiful serving pieces, and those victorian planters are fabulous. Your food is so delightful. The strawberry tea sandwiches and the butterfly sandwiches – pure delight. Oh, how fun. I adore all of the butterflies that have landed on everything. What a feast for the eyes.

  12. April 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Victorian shoe planters! You always find the most incredible things. This has to be one of the prettiest tea tables ever. Love all the butterfly details from the new flatware (too cute), to the delicate butterflies flying about the table, to those sweet cucumber sandwiches. I don’t want to leave, so I might just linger a bit longer. I think I need to order this book. Thanks! ~ Sarah

  13. April 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I am so happy to know about this book. Your tea table is beautiful, and I do love cucumber sandwiches. All your butterfly details are wonderful. Linda

  14. April 7, 2011 at 1:38 am

    This is gorgeous. Hope to see you at My Dream Canvas!

  15. April 7, 2011 at 5:08 am

    A beautifully presented post, I had no idea until I started blogging how much Americans seem to enjoy Tea :)

  16. Janay
    April 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I love myself a beautiful tea party!!! Unfortunately, none of my friends are girly girls as me and aren’t into such things. :( I could look at your post for hours on end, soaking up all the details. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe links with us; I do enjoy collecting recipes!

  17. April 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Your tea table is so beautiful and inviting. I would love to join you for tea! The little sweets and savories look so delicious.
    And now I have added yet another tea book to my list. :)
    Your photos are very nice as well. I hope that one day that my photos will be as professional looking.

  18. April 8, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Victoria magazine’s books are always so beautiful.
    Those are lovely sandwiches; I think I will make some today. My children would love the butterflies (and I have a butterfly cookie cutter, too!)

  19. April 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Not only do I want you to come photo my tables, food or whatever you want to shoot, I want to be invited for tea. Lovely, Mary. BTW, do you use PhotoShop to create your collages? I haven’t gotten into it yet but think that might be next, that is after I master photography.

  20. April 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Beautiful tea table and scrumptious recipes…Love the flowers and butterfly theme….The flatware is quite the find! Thank you, Mary….coolish and raining buckets here today and this is a bright spot to visit!

  21. April 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I loved your post!!!! Totally love the Philly Strawberry Tea Sandwiches. You have so many good ideas:)

  22. April 10, 2011 at 1:15 am

    What a beautiful blog!!! An added treat for me, tea is my favorite … and I see you also have a post on New Orleans … I will read next! Stunning photography!! Kudos \(^o^)/

  23. April 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    What a great post!! Your photos are awesome. Always love reading your blog.

  24. April 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Wow, your tablescape is stunning. I love all of your gorgeous tea pots and accessories. Everything looks so yummy and so beautiful. Great book. Thanks so much for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  25. April 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Oh my, where do I begin! Your post is a delight to the senses! Everything is just lovely from the china to the sandwiches! I adore your chintz and the bottoned boot planters! You have simply indulged us with this wonderful tea! It’s been a real pleasure to visit with you! Thank you for sharing it with us and for stopping by to have tea with me.


  26. April 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Your tea table is so lovely, butterflies eveywhere and wonderful accessories.
    I haven’t tried using my butterfly cookie cutter for sandwiches, it must have been tricky to get the little wing tips out.
    Loved this post.

  27. April 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Gorgeous post! I love your Victorian boot planters and that book looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

    HaPpY tEa TiMe TuEsDaY!

  28. April 13, 2011 at 8:50 am

    How did I miss this table??? Life is just too busy. Those sho planters are amazing. What a great table. I have a lot of tea books and a lot of Victoria books, but I don’t have this one. I think I need to remedy that. Your butterfly tea sandwiches are adorable. Thanks for lots of springtime inspriation.

    – The Tablescaper

  29. April 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

    What a beautiful tea post!!
    Especially loving the butterfly sandwiches and the Victorian shoe planters!!


  30. April 13, 2011 at 11:47 am

    You take my breath away with this table, Mary!! Such fantastic attention to details & such wonderful treats for the eyes & the tummy!
    The author of the book should send you a check because of how many copies this post is going to sell, honestly.

    Thank you SO much for sharing your ideas & beautiful items.


    ps. My Irish mother would not like those shoes on the table….”bad luck”, she would say. We weren’t even allowed to set the bag that held the BOX that held a new pair of shoes on the table!!!!! Funny memory!

  31. April 18, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Your tea looks so lovely and inviting. I love the butterfly sandwiches. How creative. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Joan
    July 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    So beautiful done, love the butterfly sandwiches.

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