Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What's What Wednesday 1

Tea Lessons

New Feature

Hi! Welcome or welcome back! If you're a regular reader, you know we love tea. Hot, iced, plain, sweet, unsweet, with milk, without. A tasty beverage! And we love to try new blends and share our reviews. Type "tea review" in the magic search box and see how many we've tried over the past 4 years. 

Anyway, I was thinking we throw around a lot of tea words and we're not even sure what all of them mean. So we brainstormed a new post topic and series. On What's What Wednesdays one of us will break down one jargon word for you. Let's start with Assam.


Honestly, I only know Assam as a type of tea, so I got out the laptop and searched some of our favorites for information. The Tea Maestro, TeaTime Magazine, Joseph Wesley, Harney and Sons, The Republic of Tea, and Teapigs. The last two didn't quite have what I needed; the first two (giggles) Mr. Richardson submits his work to TeaTime, so they are the same; the middle two added a bit extra.
It turns out Assam is a place. A part of India; the upper right or northeastern corner near China. If you look at the map, you can see a river runs through it. 

Assam is known for its wildlife, archaeological sites, and, of course, its tea plantations. Hey, check this out! Assam is the largest tea growing region in the world. The tea found there comes from the camellia sinensis assamica plant. In many cases the tea is harvested by hand.

The tea is picked, dried, and fermented and is one of the most notable black teas. Blenders like its rich, malty flavor as a base; you'll find Assam tea in blends like English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast. You'll also find it in a lot of basic tea bags. It is mellow and slightly sweet. Steeping time ranges from 4-6 minutes depending on how strong you want it and if you plan to add milk. 

In fact, it's perfect if you like to add milk, but don't add cream it's too heavy and can mask the taste of a good tea.
Speaking of you add it? Do you add it before or after pouring out? (giggles) That's a serious debate among tea drinkers. For the record, we've been known to do both depending on time.

I hope this new post series helps you understand our reviews better.

Best wishes,

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Rain or Shine We Remember

Around here it tends to rain on Memorial Day.
Not always, but we always prepare for it just in case.
This year it was bad enough to cancel the parade and ceremony.
We still took time to remember those that serve our country.
Who give their all every day.
Especially those who gave everything.
Thank you.

How did you spend your Memorial Day? Did you have any special plans? Watch parades?

Best wishes,

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tea Review: BPG

Thirsty Thursday #22

The Metropolitan Tea Company

Buckingham Palace Garden Tea

Hi! Can you believe we're up to our twenty-second Thirsty Thursday post?! I love it! The other day Lady Marvin posted a photo of her steeped tea; it was so colorful. When we asked about it she told us it was the Buckingham Palace Garden tea she and Xyra found at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. I had to find it and share it with you!

So here's the thing. It's not available at the grocery store; and the company site is for wholesalers, so you can't really order directly online either. BUT if you are out and find a little tea shoppe you might find this tea blend on the shelves.
According to the picture Xyra took this blend is, "Flavoury with medium body. Delicate Earl Grey and Jasmine notes. Bright with a touch of coppery colour. Perfect for afternoon settings." The website adds, "Intriguing hints of high-grown Ceylon Earl Grey blend effortlessly with soft Fujian jasmine, malty Assam, flavoury Dimbula Ceylon, and brisk East of Rift Kenya to create a blend fit for the Queen's annual royal garden party."

Because we don't have a container to show off, I'm using our small stove as a pedestal. The little white bowl holds enough tea to steep for the review.
Isn't is pretty?
It's even prettier in the teapot!

Water added. Lid on.
Timer set for 4 minutes. 
You know sometimes we will practice with a tea before we review it. Yesterday we practiced and majorly over steeped the tea. Do NOT over steep this tea. It gets really bitter. We doctored it, but it was still pretty bad.
[Timer beeps]
Done! It does have a lovely copper color to it.
And lightly dancing leaves.
The more you have in your cup the deeper the color. This will be my plain taste.
Now all three cups are prepared.
Plain is nice. Comforting. Not one note tries to top the others. The Earl Grey and jasmine are very faint. I'll add a tiny bit of table sugar. (sips) 
Hmmm. The sugar brings out the jasmine more. Still delicate and well blended notes. The website's Buckingham Palace Garden paragraph starts out, "Milk before the tea, or tea before the milk?" So I'm going to add that too. (sips) 
You know, even though it is a "medium body" it holds up well with a bit of sugar and milk. The milk adds a creaminess to the mix. 

I really like this blend. 
It is holds up anyway you like to fix it...but I'm curious. I wonder if it can be re-steeped?
Here we go!
[Timer beeps]
Wow! No change in color.

Let's see how it tastes. I'm only trying it plain this time. Just checking the blend and body of a re-steep. Sometimes the next steeping is weaker. (sips) 
Hey! This is good. It re-steeps well. Almost better than the first cup, almost. Anyway, the Metropolitan Tea Company Buckingham Palace Garden tea is lovely with nice flavors blending for a relaxing cup. 
I hope you find it in your area tea shoppe.

Oh! Here is the Find a Retailer link.

What is your favorite beverage for the afternoon?

Oh, hey! Did you notice the photos aren't quite as yellow or dark as previous? We have new light fixtures in the kitchen now. They're really bright! But make for good photos!

So glad you stopped. Come again soon!

Note: Tea Time with Melody Q is not affiliated with American Girl or The Metropolitan Tea Company. The tea reviewed was purchased with our won money for our collection. The review is unsolicited and comprised of our own honest opinions, thoughts, and words. Links are provided for educational and informative purposes only; no purchase is required or suggested to enjoy the post.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Meet Marie-Grace

Meet Marie-Grace

by Sarah Masters Buckey


Meet Marie-Grace is the fifth book chosen by Flo and the girls over at Say Hello to My Little Friends for discussion in their book group. We were really happy to see it listed because it gave us a reason to move it up on our to read list. I mean, seriously, the Marie-Grace and Cecile series books have been sitting around waiting to be read for a year or more! So without further ado...let's hit the reviews!

First off, super interesting read. New Orleans is a very interesting city with loads of history. But my favorite part has to be her voice lessons with an actual opera star! Reminded me of Lady Trav's husband, but a woman. Anyway, we got to see a time when celebrities were not automatically super rich. Mademoiselle Océane took students to help pay the bills. You know, I wonder if she every worked with or met Jenny cool, she may have, but that's my addition to the story.

Okay, so here it is. I really like Marie-Grace and her story. She's shy because they've returned to her mom's home town and she can't remember anything about being there before. But then she's really strong in some situations. That time she helped her dad, pretty spectacular. Plus her new friend Cecile really helps. But the part I liked best was the history at the back of the book.

Fun read! I liked learning about New Orleans, especially Marie-Grace's schooling. From home school to a public style school. Being in social situations will help her.

Marie-Grace is shy. I am too. I liked that about her. Every time she grew, I smiled and cheered her on! LOVED the illustrations! Really helped me see the scenes better.

Lavinia! Oh, she's terrible! Just like Nellie Olsen on Little House; always thinking she is better than everyone else. I loved how Cecile described her in her Mardi Gras costume! But you have to read it to find out yourself!

Being new and not knowing anything is no fun. I remember how that felt when I first arrived here. I'm glad she is meeting people who are being friendly and helpful; who balance all the mean people like Lavinia. Great read. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Yay! I got to practice my French! Language is an interesting thing; so many came together and stayed separate in New Orleans. I hope Marie-Grace learns or remembers more as the stories progress.

Xyra's Review
Meet Marie-Grace (American Girls: Marie-Grace and Cécile, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was great! I loved that the author noted in advance the use of French language and that there was a glossary and pronunciation guide in the back of the book.

Marie-Grace is the not so new girl in town. She was born in New Orleans, but her dad moved his practice a few times before heading back to the land of his wife's family. She barely remembers being in the city. She find challenges in making friends at school, but not during singing lessons.

I truly enjoyed the attention to historical detail as well as the lessons in society and traditions. The author basically skimmed the top of most topics; not much you can do in less than 150 pages. But what she wrote peaked my curiosity and inspired me to want to know more and find out things on my own.

The illustrations were a great asset to the story. So was the history section after the story.

Looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

Have you read this book? how about the entire series? What did you think? Share here and you can join the discussion over at Say Hello to My Little Friends too!

Happy reading!