Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Before there was porcelain...

We’ve come a long way from the loaf of bread to the fine china.

Not long ago, porcelain was very expensive and only the richest of the rich were using the fragile items from which to eat. At dinner time, at almost every European castle throughout the Middle Ages, trenchers were used instead of plates.

Trenchers were a vital feature in medieval feasts. They were made from stale loaves of bread, cut out so as to hold soup, meat, stew. After the meal, the loaves were either eaten, flung to the dogs, or handed to the poor. Later, trenchers evolved into a small plate of metal of wood.

Colonists of the USA had an individual salt dish or a squat sale cellar near the trencher. These salt cellars came to be known as trencher salts.

The porcelains from China arrived in Europe as the trade with Asia opened up around 1500. It still took another two centuries until hard porcelain was actually made in Europe. That happened around early 1700. It then took another two centuries to make the use of porcelain common and to ensure its place in every household and at every table.
Fancy That offers rentals of fine china and not trenchers. (grin). We also offer vintage glassware and other unique accessories for your special event. As the holidays begin entering our consciousness, keep in mind that you may need fine china, ruby red glasses, or other items for your holiday party. We’d be pleased to help.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our visit to All Things Tea in Plymouth and the discovery of Tregothnan Tea

Recently, we visited All Things Tea in Plymouth Massachusetts.

Once we entered the quaint little town, we know we were in for a treat. The town brims with salt air, cooling the hot outside of the later summer day. Once inside, we were greeted warmly and quickly. Immediately to our left was a retail section that included wonderful petit fours shaped in hats, or shortbread cookies shaped in tea-themes.



It was then off to tea. As we had a wonderful Victorian tea, we noticed the brand of tea that All Things Tea serves up proudly: Tregothnan Tea.
Let’s turn to Tregothnan Tea for a moment! It is the only tea grown in the UK! And here it is, being imported by All Things Tea as the distributor in the USA for this wonderful tea! A little about the Tregothnan Tea:
Tea was first mentioned in British literature in 1615. The British took it to Africa and India, in fact wherever in the Empire it might be grown. Tregothnan has a history of botanical firsts and is home to original introductions of Magnolia and rarities from Darjeeling. These Magnolias now tower to 60ft and are among the worlds largest in cultivation. Tea comes from a special form of Camellia sinensis: Tregothnan was also first to grow Camellia ornamentally outdoors 200 years ago.

From their web site: “The belief in doing things well has persevered at Tregothnan: the Estate has stayed within the same family since 1335. Seven years of trials have been undertaken to achieve these fine teas that really deserve the accolade ‘English Tea’! Tregothnan is putting the English into English tea. The search for the perfect tea was intensified when it was proven that high quality tea really thrives in certain places on the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall. Translated from the Cornish language 'Tregothnan' means 'The House at the Head of the Valley' and the beating heart of the Estate is the Private Botanic Garden.”

Summer House on Tregothnan Estate
Tregothnan is passionate about growing and collecting plants, including many rare specimens and this passion is the inspiration for our range of English Estate products and experiences, notably the UK's first tea plantation and manuka honey production

Quaint seaside town of Tolverne on the banks of the River Fal.
Tolverne on the banks of the River Fal is one of the most intriguing tea houses in the UK and has recently entered an exciting new phase in its history.Until 1832 it was known as Tolverne Passage Inn and was a transport hub for the Fal. The pub licence continues to this day as does the licence to ferry passengers on the river. It’s great to see this continuing as part of Tregothnan. The Boscawen Family have lived at Tregothnan since 1335 and Tolverne is a very special part of Tregothnan. Tolverne is within sight of Tregothnan Garden, the home of English Tea and the inspiration for the growing range of products.

Tea House at Tolverne
Again from their web site: “Whether arriving by land or boat, Tolverne is the hub for the Fal, a truly special place in Cornwall.Tregothnan believe they have developed the perfect Cream tea to enjoy at Tolverne. Tregothnan is well known in London and beyond and we have no doubt that Tolverne will become a favourite destination for anyone interested in tea. Tregothnan at Tolverne ensures continuity of the centuries of management of the banks of the Fal. From tea bush to tea cup: the first fresh leaves are plucked by hand, from sunrise. The 2 leaves and a bud are quickly taken to the withering racks where they are usually laid, supported by bamboo. They leaves are gently withered to allow softening. Rolling then takes place if we are processing black tea. This can literally be rolling the leaves between two surfaces, traditionally by hand. Oxidation is then allowed by spreading the leaves on a surface at a controlled temperature- this stage is also known as fermentation. As the natural liquid in the cells interact the colour changes from green to brown. The final stage is then to dry the leaves to 2% moisture. Green tea varies from the above in that oxidation is replaced by steaming, this retains the green leaf colour.All processes are entirely free of chemicals and have been sustainable for 4 millennia. 36 hours after plucking the fresh leaves the tea is ready for drinking. Blending is a vitally important part of creating tea brand identity. Tregothnan is developing blends that really identify quintessential English tastes by blending traditional imported teas added to our own leaves.”

Delicate tea leaves resting under a blanket of snow
So there it is! A fine tea from England, actually grown IN England, available now at All Things Tea in Plymouth. Please do visit their web site, and their quaint and adorably cute shop at your first convenience!

Thanks for stopping by! Please do tell your friends about Tregothnan Tea, and that you can buy it from All Things Tea in Plymouth Massachusetts.