Thursday, 17 April 2014

Yes, You Can Wear A Hat

I own a Gourmet Bakery/Tea Shop called La Dolce in Aiken, South Carolina.  We serve Afternoon Tea and High Tea as part of our menu.  I'm often asked if hats are required for our Teas, mostly because so many tell me they "can't wear hats".  Of course hats aren't required, but I encourage my customers to wear one.

I personally love hats and I believe that anyone can wear a hat.  You just have to choose one that looks well with your face shape and hair style.  I'm sure I own 50+ hats and wear some often, many at least several times a year, a few only rarely, and I would never give any of them up.

My face shape is square and my hair is short with bangs.  I have tried on hundreds of hats, and I have a milliner in England that designs hats specially for me.  What I have learned is that for my particular face and hair I need a hat with a wide brim.  It doesn't have to be huge, but definitely a brim all the way around.

Here are some pictures of a variety of different style hats.  Wearing a hat that fits properly and is set on the head at the right angle are critical.  My milliner in England says "a wide brimmed hat should be worn slightly tilted to the right and forward".  



If you have a heart shaped face or a narrow oval, you can easily wear a more fitted hat like the red ones above.  I would also recommend learning the colors that work best with your skin tone.  Hats, like the rest of your clothing should be in colors that compliment you.

You will be amazed at the compliments you receive when you are wearing a hat that looks good on you.  I have found that men especially like women in hats. 

I wonder if the custom of "air kissing" or "cheek kissing" in Europe began because of the complication of kissing with a hat on?  Hmmm, something to research for a future post.

Happy Tea Times,
Lady Kelly

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Elegant Aiken in SC Living Magazine

Lady Kelly and La Dolce Gourmet Bakery, Coffee and Tea Bar are a featured story and the front cover of the July issue of SC Living Magazine.

Following is a link to the article, I hope you will enjoy reading it.

http://ladolce-aiken.com/ladolce/images/article.pdf 

Aiken got its start as a winter playground where the wealthy could enjoy the good things in life. Visitors can still get a taste of that elegant lifestyleno trust fund required.





Tuesday, 16 October 2012

World Tea East Expo

Recently I attended the World Tea East Expo in Philadelphia, PA.  As I am currently heavily involved in preparations for opening a gourmet bakery, coffee and tea bar with my pastry chef daughter, I brought her along to participate in some of the seminars.  I wanted to immerse her in my "tea world".

We attended a seminar hosted by Cynthia Gold, a chef and tea sommelier at L'Espalier restaurant in Boston.  The seminar was about pairing teas with foods, just like you would pair wine with foods.  The hands-on experience was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this with my daughter.

It is amazing how the aroma and flavors of foods, spices and teas can compliment, annul or clash with each other.  There are no hard and fast rules for which ones work or not, you simply need to evaluate and determine.  I did conclude that Japanese teas seem to go best with seafood, Indian teas seem to go best with more spicey foods, but these are not all encompassing.

Take the time to choose a selection of foods that are sweet, spicey, fruity, several different cheeses, salmon, etc. and a number of teas from different countries then, do your own tea pairing experiments.

Are you are a caterer, have a tea room or restaurant or would like to host tea tasting events?  This will add dramatically to your menu and options for additional event venues.

Happy Tea Times,
Lady Kelly

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Afternoon Tea Begins in England

Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford (September 3, 1783 – July 3, 1857) was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria whom she served as a Lady of the Bedroom between 1837 and 1841.   She was also the originator of the British meal "afternoon tea". 
 
The Duchess is best remembered for starting and popularizing the British meal "afternoon tea."  During the 18th century, dinner came to be served later and later in the day until by the early 19th century, the normal time was between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m.   An extra meal called luncheon had been created to fill the midday gap between breakfast and dinner, but as this new meal was very light, the long afternoon with no refreshment at all left her feeling hungry.   She found a light meal of tea and cakes or sandwiches was the perfect balance. The Duchess found taking an afternoon snack to be such a lovely refreshment that she soon began inviting her friends to join her. Afternoon tea quickly became popular in wealthy homes throughout England.
I find afternoon tea to be such an enjoyable time with friends, whether it's for a special occasion or to just spend some time chatting.  It's an easy meal to prepare and the process of laying the table for tea is a ritual in itself that completes the atmosphere. 

Laying the table with traditional vintage English china, flatware, linens and serving pieces that I brought home with me from my time living in England, brewing the perfect cup of tea and then sitting back and watching as my guests enjoy themselves and inevitably leave saying "You have made me feel so special."  What could be more enjoyable.


Happy Tea Times,
Lady Kelly

 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tea Comes to England

The turning point for tea in England began with the marriage of King Charles II to the Portuguese Princess Catherine de Braganza who was a tea lover. It was her love of the drink that established tea as a fashionable beverage first at court, and then among the the wealthy classes.

I for one, am so glad she did.  There is nothing so relaxing and enjoyable as to sip tea and relax alone or with friends. 


Any excuse, holiday, celebration or just time to chat are good reasons for hosting your own Tea.  You can become a Certified Tea Hostess by attending the American Tea Master Associations Tea Etiquette Course.  For more information  go to:  www.teamasters.org

Happy Tea Times,
Lady Kelly

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Tea Master class

Last week I finished saying this weeks' post would be about the beginnings of the English Afternoon Tea tradition.  Well, my week has brought other events (not unusual) and I've decided to share them instead.

I earned one of my Tea Master certifications from the American Tea Master Association and since then have become a Licensee of the ATMA.   The American Tea Master Association has appointed me Training Director and I am very excited about this new opportunity.  In this capacity I will be offering Tea Master Classes in Charleston, South Carolina.   I have chosen Charleston for several reasons, it is a beautiful historic city with a nearby airport and it is near the Charleston Tea Plantation; the only tea plantation in the United States.  As part of the on-site course we will include a tour of the Charleston Tea Plantation so that potential Tea Masters will have the opportunity to see what is involved in plucking and processing tea.

The first east coast ATMA class will be a four day conference, beginning on Monday, April 30th through Thursday, May 3rd, 2012.   For more information about becoming a Tea Master please click on this link to the American Tea Master Association.  www.teamasters.org

I am off to Charleston to finalize hotel location arrangements for our spring 2012 ATMA class and will post more information about the class soon.

Happy Tea Times,
Lady Kelly

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tea Legends

The year 2737 B.C. is when my favorite legend of how tea was first discovered takes place.  Shen Nung, emperor, scholar and herbalist understood that water was safer to drink if it had been boiled.  While sitting under a large bush (can you guess what bush?  That's right, Camelia Sinensis.) a few stray leaves drifted down and fell by chance into the cauldron of water he was boiling.  He tasted the brew, found it refreshingly delicious and recognized it's healthful properties. 

As Reverend Sydney Smith said "Thank God for tea!  What would the world do without tea?  How did it exist?  I am glad I was not born before tea."

Aren't we all grateful that Shen Nung made his discovery?  Since then the love for tea has grown around the world and is the beverage drank most after water.  Many cultures developed tea ceremonies to honor the liquid that refreshes, calms, energizes, clears the mind and offers us many health benefits.  There is the Chinese tea ceremony "Gongfu Cha", the Japanese tea ceremony "The Way of Tea", the Korean tea ceremony "Dayre" and, of course, the English tea ceremony "Afternoon Tea". 


I utilize the Gongfu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony at my tea tasting events and find it to be almost a meditation.  During the ceremony you study the tea leaves, the aroma, the feel of it in your mouth, admire the liquor and take pleasure in the taste.  The various steps allow you time to relax, focus on the tea and savor all it's facets.  I am always amazed at the subtle differences between teas and inevitably discover new teas to enjoy.


To view an example of the Gongfu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony watch this youtube video:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4eDYmRSpZI&NR=1 (if the link doesn't work, you can copy and paste it into your web browser)

To view an example of the Japanese Tea Ceremony watch this youtube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RcjT9mVfKE (if the link doesn't work, you can copy and past it into your web browser)

In my next post I will share how the English Afternoon Tea ceremony began.  Until then, "When in doubt, brew up" and enjoy that cuppa.

Happy Tea Times,
Lady Kelly

www.teainspired.com