Category Archives: Tea

Tea recommendations, afternoon tea recaps, etc.

Friday Favorites: Tea in Georgetown

Every time we travel I strive to thoroughly explore the tea options in that area. As it turns out, Georgetown has a lot to offer!

1. Ladurée
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this French tea room in Paris, London, and New York. Now I can add Washington DC to the list. The M street location has a cozy dining room and encourages reservations. Their specialty is macarons, but they also offer a menu of sweets and savories along with their signature tea blends. After Steve and I snuggled kittens at The Kitten Lounge (go here for the details), we enjoyed a pot of Othello black tea and some sweet treats.


How could we resist the French toast?


For desert (ha!) we shared the Ispahan — macaron, rose petal cream, fresh raspberry and lychee. (Yes, that’s a rose petal on top.) It was magical.

See all U.S. Laudurée locations. You can also find them in France, of course, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Russia!

2. Lady Camellia
The next day, after visiting a small and quirky stationery/tea shop, Just Paper and Tea, and soaking up the atmosphere at The Lantern (see more here), I decided to drop by Lady Camellia for tea.


They strongly suggest reservations, but since it was earlyish on a week day, and just me, I decided to take a chance. They kindly seated me right away. This tea room is small and scores high on the cozy scale. The servers are attentive and both the tea and food were delicious.


I asked for something that wasn’t really on the menu: one scone (with cream and jam) and two tea sandwiches. They were happy to indulge me, and I got a little more sandwich than expected! I really liked this place — so bright and pleasant.

3. Ching Ching Cha
I saw this one recommended so many times during my research that I was very keen to see it, and it turned out to be a refreshing detour from my usual tea (over)indulgences.


Again, I went at 11:00ish, so there wasn’t much of a crowd. One can sit at a regular table with chairs or choose a low table with cushions on the floor (which seems to be a favorite for families with smaller children). The menu of teas and food is extensive, and they offer a “Tea Meal’ with three vegetables, a featured dish with jasmine rice, and a bowl of soup. Knowing I would have lunch later, I ordered almond cookies and mochi (rice cake filled with green tea ice cream), along with the Alisha Oolong–“floral touch of orchid, robust in body yet sweet with a marvelous bouquet.”


The process of steeping the Oolong was somewhat complicated, and the shop’s owner kindly demonstrated for me. A pot of water is kept hot on the burner. First you rinse the leaves a few times with the hot water, dumping this water into the pottery jug (see above) that stands next to the teapot. Once the leaves are rinsed they begin to open, and at that point you can re-steep those leaves practically all day long. (See the unfurled leaves in this photo on Instagram.) After steeping for a minute or so, you pour the tea into the “teapot” (the thing that looks like a large creamer) and then pour from that into the wee cup. So relaxing and no sugar or caffeine overload from the tea. (Oolong has some caffeine, but not anywhere near as much as black tea.) I could have sipped all day–sadly, there was packing to do back at the hotel. I did a little browsing in their shop before I left and hope to feature my purchase in a future blog post.

That wraps up my tour of Georgetown tea rooms. Stay tuned for June’s “Tea and a Book”!

The Tao of Meow*

This past Wednesday was my birthday, and since my husband Steve had a work commitment in D.C., I decided to tag along and enjoy some adventuring. I’d researched ahead of time and located a cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, within walking distance of our Georgetown hotel. Further research revealed that a pop-up kitten lounge had opened nearby on M Street. Since the latter would only be open through June, I decided kittens would be my birthday treat and booked a time when Steve was available.

What a delight it was!


Apparently spring/early summer is when shelters are inundated with kittens. The kitten lounge was designed to ease the burden:

During this time, many kittens are euthanized or turned away from shelters, because kitten care is more expensive and time consuming than adult cat care. Our approach in helping with this issue is simple – we are creating a space to house more kittens and providing rescues with more resources to care for kittens. (www.crumbsandwhiskers.com)


The kitten lounge frees up space in shelters and allows these wee felines to socialize with each other and with adoring humans in a safe, carefully monitored environment. The goal is, of course, to find a forever home for each kitten. You and I can help simply by paying a moderate fee to CUDDLE KITTENS for 10, 30, or a luxurious 70 minutes.

I was wound up with excitement! As a result the kittens seemed a bit wary, but once I’d calmed down they began to wander closer. Just so you know, patrons are not allowed to pick cats up and carry them around. However, one can lounge on any of the fluffy cushions and wait for the kittens to come near or coax them with a toy. Employees are always looking for ways to enhance the experience and thus might settle a kitten or two on your lap. There are so many options, and they’re all AMAZING.

As soon as our half hour was up I knew my trip to DC would not be complete without a visit to the permanent cafe with adult cats, and thus we booked for Friday.


Crumbs & Whiskers Cat Cafe opened in 2015 and is partnered with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. I learned from Wikipedia that the cafe was funded through a Kickstarter campaign with a $15,000 goal. More than double that amount was donated before the campaign ended!


We enjoyed 70 minutes at the cat cafe. That length of time made it possible to interact with each cat, as well as to hear stories from the staff about their adventures and quirky personalities. It was a Zen experience for me, and I practically floated out of there when our time was up.

Read about founder Kanchan Singh and the story behind Crumbs & Whiskers. ALSO, check out the shop, and the celebrity guest photos/videos.

Are you wanting to know more about Cat Cafes? Here’s an explanation from a CAT CAFE REVIEWER.

Peruse this List of 125 Cat Cafes in North America. In addition, here are 11 Cat Cafes Around The U.S. That Should Be On Everyone’s Radar In 2019.

*Check Amazon for books/clothing/misc related to the THE TAO OF MEOW.

**All photos in this post were taken by me during our visits. See my Instagram for more pics!

Stay tuned for details on my D.C. tea and bookstore adventures…

Tea and Comfort with D.E. Stevenson

No doubt I’ve said this before, but lately the world is too much with me. More than ever I crave the escape of fiction, and today I’m recommending one of my very favorite “escape artists” — Dorothy Emily Stevenson.

I wrote about D.E. Stevenson a few years ago when I  recommended Miss Buncle’s Book. Little did I know at the time that I would get to enjoy TWO more books about those characters before moving on to Stevenson’s standalone novels. Since devouring the Buncle trilogy, I’ve happily consumed twelve additional Stevenson novels–some of them more than once–and I think there are 25+ more waiting to be read. It makes me feel quite spoiled for choice. Such luxury!

I’m very fond of my editions from Sourcebooks Landmark, which you can see in the featured image above. Furrowed Middlebrow, an imprint of Dean Street Press, also has released two Stevenson books with an introduction by bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith. Perhaps if I can’t convince you to give Stevenson a try, he will:

[Stevenson’s novels] are in a category of their own: clearly-written straightforward tales that take the reader through a clear plot and reach a recognisable and unambiguous ending. The appeal that they have for the contemporary reader lies in the fact that there is no artifice in these books. They are not about dysfunctional people. They are not about psychopathology. There is no gore or sadism in them. The characters speak in sentences and do not resort to constant confrontational exchanges. In other words, these books are far from modern.

Quite a few D.E. Stevenson books are available at Audible.com, and I can vouch that they are cozy entertainment for long drives. If you’d like to know a little (or a lot) more about Stevenson and her books, you’ll find plenty of information at this lovingly curated website.

To complete my bloggish offering of comfort, how about some tea and a sweet treat? D.E. Stevenson was born in Scotland and lived there her entire life (as far as I can tell), and thus I thought a Scottish treat might be just the thing. What could be more Scottish than shortbread? I searched for recipes online until I found this interesting variation: Jam-filled shortbread cookies. They were so easy to make and quite delicious–I had all the ingredients on hand already, including strawberry and black current jam. The cookie cutters were procured from JoAnn, and for tea I chose a Scottish afternoon blend from Brodies Fine Teas, a Fair Trade option available at Amazon. It makes a very strong cup, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up, but I wouldn’t steep it for more than 3 minutes.

Listening Valley, a gift from dear friend Glenda, was my most recent read from Stevenson. Not my very favorite of her novels, but a pleasure to read nonetheless. Now that I think of it, it reminded me vaguely of L.M. Montgomery’s stories of Emily Starr — when you learn what “listening valley” means to the heroine, perhaps (like me) you’ll be reminded of “the Flash”?

Let us close with some final thoughts from Alexander McCall Smith:

These are gentle books, very fitting for times of uncertainty and conflict. Some books can be prescribed for anxiety–these are in that category. And it is an honourable and important one.

Yes, indeed!

What are your comfort reads? Do share in the comments!

Friday Favorites: Tea in Brooklyn

As you might have guessed, when visiting a city I always check out the tea scene. Turns out Brooklyn has a lot of tea to offer!


I’d already done my research and planned three tea experiences ahead of time, so imagine my surprise when I randomly walked past this store on my first morning. T2 Tea is an Australian purveyor that has established three stores in California, five in New York, and one in Boston, MA. (You also can order online.) I spent a lot of time in the Brooklyn store and was able to sample various blends. Apparently they always have a couple of pots going and in most cases will brew you a sample of anything you wish to try. You could spend hours here studying the blends and enthusing over the tea ware. I tried to control myself but nevertheless ended up walking out with Irish Breakfast loose leaf, along with New York Breakfast and Just Chamomile teabags.

I also visited Chrysanthemum: Rare Teas and Flowers, which offers “Fresh cut flowers, Rare Teas, Exotic Plants, Art, Home goods, Handmade Chocolates, Jams & Jellies, all informed by the aeshetics of the Chinese Tea Ceremony.” Keep in mind that if you drop by the owner will interrogate you (kindly) in order to gauge what sort of tea drinker you are.


The only “sit down” experience I had was at Harvey Restaurant in the Williamsburg Hotel. They offer a high tea where the guest can order small bites a la carte. Isn’t the dining area lovely?


For my petite high tea I chose avocado toast and and a chocolate cherry cupcake. To mix things up a bit, I chose a tea cocktail instead of hot tea–more specifically the “Sunday Kind of Love” cocktail with Sigani 63, Aperol, hibiscus tea, honey, lemon, and Prosecco. I was amused to see it served from a teapot into a matching cup. It took me ages to get close to the bottom of that pot, and you’ll be relieved to know that I took a cab back to the hotel. (You can find an older version of the full “high tea” menu here.)

Ultimately, however, my most elegant and inspirational tea experience in Brooklyn was to be found at Bellocq in Greenpoint.


There’s no real storefront–the setting is more like a warehouse than a shop–and one must ring the doorbell to be let in. But once you’re inside, it’s absolutely magical. Truly, it’s one of the most elegant and delightful teashops I’ve ever visited.

They offer Signature Blends (black, green, white and herbal) along with Pure Teas (single estate black, green, white, herbal, oolong, puerh and yellow). You’ll notice in the featured image at the top of this post that each kind of tea is on display for study, and they are happy to let you get a nice sniff from within the airtight containers. I was in heaven!


A lovely sitting room beckoned, perfect for sipping tea. I did sit there for a moment, but all I really wanted to do was study the teas and ask questions. The staff members were very friendly and knowledgeable. I could have stayed there all day, but eventually I did make my purchases and leave them in peace.

I wanted to buy EVERYTHING but ended up settling on the Bellocq Breakfast and Nocturne in canisters, along with a bag of Little Dickens. Each is absolutely delicious, and I’m sure I’ll be ordering from them in the future.

That concludes my Brooklyn posts. Stay tuned for May’s “Tea and a Book” and more!

Tea and a Book and an Art Installation: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I haven’t updated “Tea and a Book” since Christmas! I am determined, however, to mend my ways AND account for April with this post…

During a recent chat with my friend and crit partner Brandi, she recommended Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings. (I think we’d been talking about Quakers, early American feminists/abolitionists, and a story I’m revising.) What a fascinating novel!

Quick take: This creative retelling of the life of Sarah Grimké, a notorious abolitionist raised in a slaveholding South Carolina household, includes the perspective of Handful (originally “Hetty”), a young slave gifted to Sarah whom she later “returns” when unable to stomach the idea of owning another human. The novel is beautifully written and thoroughly absorbing but not necessarily an easy read due to the horror and heartbreak that shadow these women’s lives. Yes, this was an Oprah book and perhaps you’ve all read it already, but I still wished to celebrate it.

Goodreads synopsis: Hetty “Handful” Grimké, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

Two memorable passages:

Sarah: I saw then what I hadn’t seen before, that I was very good at despising slavery in the abstract, in the removed and anonymous masses, but in the concrete, intimate flesh of the girl beside me, I’d lost the ability to be repulsed by it. I’d grown comfortable with the particulars of evil. There’s a frightful muteness that dwells at the center of all unspeakable things, and I had found my way into it. (130)

Handful: We’d leave, riding on our coffins if we had to. That was the way mauma had lived her whole life. She used to say, you got to figure out which end of the needle you’re gon be, the one that’s fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth. (386)

I happened to be in Brooklyn when I finished the novel, and imagine my surprise when I learned from the author’s note that Kidd was inspired to write this story after seeing Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” at the Brooklyn Museum:

The Dinner Party is a monumental piece of art, celebrating women’s achievements in Western civilization. Chicago’s banquet table with its succulent place settings honoring 39 female guests of honor rests upon a porcelain tiled floor inscribed with the names of 999 other women who have made important contributions to history. It was while reading those 999 names on the Heritage Panels in the Biographic Gallery that I stumbled upon those of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, sisters from Charleston, South Caroline, the same city in which I then lived. (…) Leaving the museum that day, I wondered if I’d discovered the sisters I wanted to write about. Back home in Charleston, as I began to explore their lies, I became passionately certain.


I already was well acquainted with The Dinner Party because my stepmother experienced it soon after it was first exhibited (1979) and had shared her enthusiasm with me. I won’t lie–as a kid I found the concept rather weird. When I saw it in person this past Saturday, however, I was overwhelmed by its impact. I circled the table at least four times and took my time studying my favorite settings (which you can see at my Instagram).


I even crouched on the floor and searched until I found the inscription for Sarah Grimké, appropriately located near the Sojourner Truth table setting.

Now for tea:

This may be a cheat, but I still think it’s appropriate. After being dazzled by The Dinner Party I really wasn’t that interested in the rest of the museum. Instead I was HUNGRY. So I made my way to the museum restaurant (The Norm) and bellied up to the bar. As soon as I saw their brunch options I knew exactly what to order–the Horchata French Toast.

MY GOLLY. This crunchy french toast with blueberries, mango, strawberries and a spiced maple syrup was absolutely divine. The English Breakfast tea paired perfectly. Every bite/drop was consumed and cherished!

Recipes for Horchata French Toast:
Love and Olive Oil
Rick Bayliss at Men’s Journal
Kate in the Kitchen

Stay tuned for more from my Brooklyn trip!