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Time for tea – part two!

There’s nothing most of us like more than a hot drink and, in the midst of this wet and gloomy January, I am sure everyone’s kettle is in very regular use! A hot drink revives, comforts and warms you all in one go – can’t be bad! I wrote a blog about tea a couple of years ago and lots of you responded and said you’d enjoyed it… so here are a few more thoughts on what is, surely, Britain’s national drink.

I can remember when tea bags first became popular (yes, I am that old!) and loose-leaf tea was suddenly regarded as old hat and rather a lot of faff. In my family, we still used a teapot, but with the new-fangled bags. Nowadays, most people tend to just plop a tea bag into a mug, dunk it a bit – and there you have it. But tea times are a-changing… just as coffee has become a huge industry, with bean grinders, expensive coffee makers and exotic types of beans, so tea is reinventing itself as a healthy ‘on trend’ beverage. Actually, trendiness aside, the amazing range of teas that are now available to make tea drinking a lot more interesting and, in health terms, it’s pretty good for you.

 

Freshly picked tea leaves.

Returning to loose leaf tea isn’t just a trendy thing, you actually get better quality tea. Loose-leaf tea is made from whole leaves or large pieces of leaf that still contain aromatic oils. As you wait for it to infuse, or brew as we used to say, the flavour is slowly released into the water. Commercial tea bags are filled with small pieces of the lowest grade tea, making them quick to infuse. Like so many things in life – what you gain in time, you lose in quality. There are better quality tea bags around now, some with the pyramid shape that gives the tea more room to brew, but loose-leaf tea is still the best for taste.

Going back to brewing your tea properly will also help give you a better cuppa. Just as with coffee, there are now books and websites on how to do this, plus oodles of fancy equipment. But let’s be sensible here – we don’t all have time for an elaborate tea ceremony – so here are a few simple tips for how to get the best from your tea.

  1. Treat yourself to some loose-leaf tea
  2. Use fresh water in your kettle. If you live in a hard water area, filtering your water would be good but it’s an added faff.
  3. Get your water temperature right – black tea (the sort most people drink, like English breakfast, Assam etc.) wants boiling water, as do herbal teas. If you are making green tea, oolong or white tea, use cooling water. Boiling water burns the leaves of these delicate teas, making a bitter taste. Now I know where I have been going wrong with green tea!
  4. Make sure you get the right ratio of tea to water, read what it says on the packet, or do what my mother always did – a teaspoon per person, plus one for the pot! Then leave your tea to brew. Black teas need about three minutes.

But let’s not forget something very important… if we went back to loose-leaf teas we’d be able to see our fortunes! Tasseography is the art of reading tea leaves or fortune-telling. As a child, I remember my grandmother doing this and I was always enthralled! Make a pot of loose leaf tea, pour yourself a cup (ideally a white cup) sip your tea, leaving the tea leaves and a little liquid in the bottom. Then, swirl the contents three times and upend your cup carefully over a saucer, getting rid of the last bits of liquid. You then need to squint closely into your cup at the tea leaves still clinging there and look for the symbols. The common ones include stars for good luck, spirals for creativity and parallel lines for travel or change. Just think what we have been missing all these years!

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Pansies in a teacup

 

Pansies in a teacup – it’s a gorgeous card, isn’t it? I love it – ok, it’s flowers, and as you know… I always like flowery cards. This, as always, is a relatively simple card to create – thank you dies and a few other techniques thrown in for good measure!

Ingredients:

Quick ‘how to’:

  1. Print out some lace backing paper, the tea cup and pansies from the decoupage section of the CD – print it out several times so that you can have as many layers as you wish.
  2. Edge the larger piece of backing paper slightly smaller than main blank with the gold pen by holding it at a right angle to the edge of the paper and just sliding it down, attach with double sided tape.
  3. Stick a smaller piece of backing paper (same height just chop an inch or so off each side) onto some card to strengthen it and then attach to card using glue gel or foam pads.
  4. Now die cut the borders and add those. Cut out the topper and mount that onto the same white/cream card and attach that with glue gel or foam pads. Now decide how many layers of teacup you would like and likewise pansies. Attach all of those with glue gel. Finally using the last teacup, cover it with glossy accents or diamond glaze or whatever shiny substance you like using to make it glossy. Leave to dry and then add that to the card.
  5. The pansies on this example have all been die cut in white and then coloured with alcohol ink pens – but if you hate colouring then you can die cut in yellow, purple and green and paper piece the flowers.
  6. Arrange them in a nice group on the bottom right, fix with glue gel and your card is finished!
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Lisa Audit artwork

happyanniversaryroseIf you haven’t had a look at our Lisa Audit Cardmaking pads yet… you should! Her work is so pretty, contemporary and useful for, oh, so many cards. They are lovely.

The nice thing about our paper pads is that everything you need to get you started on a card is there and then you can add embellishments or backing papers as you desire.

With this card, several Signatures dies have been used – our rose tea set and our Harriet Lace Edger down the right-hand side.

To complement the teapot there’s a fun little tea bag and string bow, and the bunting in the top right is one of our Signature shapes.

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French China and hydrangeas…

CulinaryBirthdayI have said before that Hydrangeas are one of my favourites and here’s another example of how pretty they look. Fresh hydrangea popped in a teacup with another flower or two – lovely!

I follow various vintage–inspired interior design companies on Facebook and I get so much pleasure from little cameos of flowers in old china, or just old china on its own! I keep promising myself that I will redo my kitchen cupboards and arrange vintage china beautifully on every shelf… hmm maybe not, I might be too busy, nice thought, though.

It may be wonderful and contemporary to get all your household contents from IKEA, or somewhere equally minimalist but, for me, it will never have the appeal of collecting oddments from older members of the family and arranging them on shelves and window sills. I have about twenty little jugs of various sizes and I love the way they look as a collection. If I had more space I would love to collect teapots or teacups and saucers. I saw a collection the other day beautifully displayed – vintage Tupperware – hmm mine just looks beaten up and not attractive at all and is bunged in the cupboard over the freezer!

But the romantic in me inspired me to choose this artist – Stefania Ferri – she has some wonderful vintage–inspired looks which we have translated into card ingredients in the pad – I love it! Here’s how to make this card.

Ingredients:

  • Stefania Ferri paper pad
  • Joanna Seen Paper Collection volume 3
  • Signature Dies Hydrangea and Wild Rose
  • 8” square white card blank
  • Pink, Green and burgundy cardstock
  • Assorted glue and tape

Technique:

  1. Take some burgundy paper from the papers pad and layer some of the hessian look paper on top. Cut the main topper from the sheet and the small decoupage piece. Also, cut out the border strip featured on that page and the sentiment. (Brilliant that it’s all on one page I think.)
  2. Attach the hessian layered paper to the card blank, then add the decorated border. I do this with double sided tape. Now add the main topper and build the small amount of decoupage with some glue gel. Add the sentiment in the position shown.
  3. Now cut the roses and hydrangeas. Make sure you lift the rose petals to give some movement and likewise with the hydrangeas. If you wanted to you could add pearls in the centre of the roses. All of the die cuts have been fixed onto the card with glue gel.
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Tea for two

TeaCupBirthdayFor the last 100 years at least, “I’ll just pop the kettle on” has been the British way of handling life. If in doubt … have a cup of tea. Things not going right … have a cup of tea. Long and difficult discussion to have with a family member, I’ll just get the kettle on!

The older members of my family were complete tea-aholics drinking many, many cups a day. But now as the younger generation comes through and flourishes, not so many of them are tea drinkers. I’m a bad example as I mainly drink coffee, then switch to peppermint or ginger tea after lunch, but my daughters – not a sign of a hot drink, what did I do wrong? My younger daughter quite likes mint tea made with fresh mint leaves (bet nobody in the office makes her one of those!) but apart from that, neither of them have anything except water. Goodness me, my granny would be amazed!

I always love sending a card with a tea bag hidden inside it as a little extra – just makes the handmade card even more of a little present. Here’s how to make this card:

Ingredients

Technique

  1. Cut some lilac card to slightly smaller size than the card blank and then white smaller again and layer. Attach to main card using thin foam tape or sticky pads.
  2. Die cut the cups and teapot in white and then stick some scraps of lilac card behind the rose design.
  3. Die cut the Clarissa die in white and trim to fit the card, attach with glossy accents glue or a quickie glue pen.
  4. Now cut a plain circle in the Kraft card and layer onto a scalloped circle in lilac card about 3½” diameter. Attach the teapot and cups using glue gel and curve them slightly.
  5. Die cut the wild rose in cream and green – or you could do it all in white and colour with alcohol pens. Attach to the card as shown.
  6. Finish the card with some flat back pearls and the printed out sentiments.
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