A tiny bit of tea trivia

Did you know…

tea room tea photo credit karie engelsLoose Leaf Tea vs. Tea Bags 

In order for tea to reach its maximum flavor, the tea leaves need room to expand.

Tea bags are too small to allow the leaves to unfurl and release flavor. This means they are generally filled with tea-dust, the tiny leaf particles that break off during the processing of tea leaves. They add color, but very little flavor.

For the intoxicating aroma and brilliant flavor of full-leaf gourmet tea, add the correct amount of tea directly to your teapot, add water, steep and pour through a strainer into your cup. (See chart below)


“Herbal teas are actually dried flowers.”

 

Types of Tea

Tisane (tih-ZANN) is a French word for herbal infusion. These “teas” include herbal, fruit, Rooibos and Yerba Mate. Typically, they are dried flowers, herbs and fruits steeped in boiling water. No tea required. We will touch more on this in future blog posts, so please check back often.

tea stock photo karieTea is the second most consumed beverage in the world (water is number one)  and below is a sampling of tea types that tea lovers in the U.S. enjoy from around the world.

  • White Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Oolong Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Pu’erh Tea

 

Flavor combinations

A flavored tea begin with a base of white, green or black tea and then fruits, berries, nuts, flowers, herbs or other ingredients are added. Flavors are combined to both enhance and complement. For instance, coconut and lemon, toffee and caramel, or dried lavender buds, Earl Grey bergamot oil and the essence of sweet cream. To the delight of tea lovers around the world, flavor combinations are endless.

 

tea cup with tea stock photoHow to brew the perfect cup of tea

  1. Warm your teapot by filling it with very hot tap water.
  2. Fill your teakettle with fresh, cold water and place on high heat.
  3. When your water reaches the correct temperature (see below), pour the warm water out of the teapot and add the tea leaves.
  4. Add the hot water and let steep amount of minutes for tea type (see below)
  5. Pour through a strainer into your tea-cup or use a tea filter in the pot.

 

 

Capture tea times

 


Follow our Tiny Bit of Tea Trivia posts each Sunday by pushing the “follow” button above and to the right. Our blog posts will conveniently appear inside your email in-box.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, online or visit our location in Sumner, Washington.


the secret garden tea room photo credit the secret garden tea room and gift shopThe Secret Garden Tea Room and Gift Boutique
1711 Elm Street | Sumner, Washington 98390
253.826.4479  |  sgtea.com

 

 



 

 

Secret Garden Tea Tours: Tea Tour of British Columbia

A very famous french shop (4)Join us as we explore many sides of this beautiful Canadian province.  Our adventures will take us to the metropolitan city of Vancouver and of course the elegant and lovely Victoria, the closest thing to England this side of the Atlantic.

Tour museums, gardens, markets while enjoying afternoon tea each day.
(see itinerary below)

This tour will be a uniquely casual, family-style experience as we travel together as a small group enjoying various modes of local transportation. A luxury passenger van, ferry and a horse-drawn carriage.  

There will be free time in the schedule for independent excursions or relaxation too, as most evenings are free to enjoy any way you wish.

What is included in tour price

  • Lodging
  • All group travel in Canada
  • All group tour entries
  • All group transportation
  • Breakfast
  • Afternoon Tea

What Is NOT included 

  • Most dinners 
  • Lunches and Snacks
  • Optional tours and events

Tour Dates and Cost
Monday, September 8, to
September 12, 2019

Price   $1595
Based on double occupancy
Plus airfare or transportation to Sumner, WA

We will meet very early on Monday, September 8th.  

There are luggage limitations on this tour:  one medium-sized suitcase and one day bag or large handbag for your wallet, iPad.

 



Day 1
Travel to Anacortes, WA
Ferry through San Juan Islands
Cream Tea on the ferry
Tea at The Empress Hotel
Arrive in Victoria (2 nights)

Day 2
Double Decker Bus Tour
Craigdarroch Castle
Royal BC Museum
Afternoon Tea

Day 3
The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens — at Kelowna. (3)Butchart Gardens
Tea at Butchart Gardens
Ferry to Vancouver (2 nights)

Day 4
Granville Island
Carriage ride thru Stanley Park
Afternoon Tea

Day 5
Fort Langley
Afternoon Tea
Travel to Kamloops (1 night)

Additional details about our tour can be found here and meals and lodging here.

Take a moment and browse through our last British Columbia Tea Tour photographs.

Tea Tour France!

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Weekend at The Secret Garden Tea Room and Gift Shop

Celebrate Mom with our Mother’s Day Tea.

Secret Garden Stock PhotoPlease join us here at The Secret Garden Tea Room and Gift Shop and celebrate Mom Saturday May 11th and Sunday May 12th.

 

This year’s Mother’s Day Tea is a five-course, garden themed event.
Reservations are only taken by phone, 253.826.4479 or in person.To reserve and purchase your table or for additional information, please call during business hours, Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. All tickets for the weekend event are purchased in advanced.


Menu

Pot of Tea

Toasting Glass of Sparkling Wine or Cider

Strawberry Basil Parfait

Flower Fairy Salad ith Rhubarb Vinaigrette

Sorbet

Warm Scones with Devonshire Cream, Jam and Lemon Curd

Tiered Rack with Tea Sandwiches, Savories and Sweets

 

Warm Towel & Commemorative Photograph

Cost is $65 per person | Children’s version $50
Price includes tax and gratuity.

This tea is also available Gluten Free ($5 add) Vegetarian or Nut Free, with advanced notice.

Please visit our website’s special events tab for additional information.


 

Do you need gift ideas for Mom? Come shop with us!


 

 

Photograph | Karie Engels

Tour de thé de France

Jparisoin a  Secret Garden Tea Tour and discover the most charming, romantic areas of France. Explore enchanting chateaus and gardens, watch Limoges china being made inside the factories, shop china outlets, antique shops and famous flea markets. All this and afternoon tea too!

 

You will feel like a true Parisian as we navigate the city like locals, hopping the Metro (subway) in Paris and joining our tour guide and driver for our journey through France.

We have chosen our 3 and 4 star accommodations for their location, exquisite charm and grace.

You don’t speak French? No problem!
You need not be fluent in French, as the tour will be a uniquely casual, family style experience as we travel together as a small group, working in unison to overcome the language barrier.

Independent Excursions
There will be free time in the schedule for independent excursions or relaxation, as most evenings free to enjoy however you please.

Tour Price Includes

  • Lodging  
  • All group travel in France
  • All group tour entries
  • All group transportation
  • Breakfast    
  • Afternoon Tea

 

What Is NOT included

  • Most dinners
  • Lunches and snacks
  • Optional tours and events

Tour Dates and Costs

Dates    Tuesday, June 25 to Monday,  July 8, 2019

Price    $4995 plus airfare
(based on double occupancy)

Payment Schedule

Upon Application    $1500
February 1  $1500
April 1   balance due

The tour begins in Paris on Tuesday, June 25th.  In most cases, you will fly from the US on Monday, June 24th  The tour ends on Monday, July 8th in Paris.


Day 1  Tuesday

Arrive in Paris
Make your way to hotel  (4 nights)
Hop on Hop off bus tour
Evening Welcome Tea

Day 2 Wednesday

Breakfast
Parisian Lifestyle Course
Mid-day Afternoon Tea (Paris Ritz)
Eiffel Tower

Day 3 Thursday

Breakfast
Guided tour of Isle de la Cite
And *Notre Dame
Guided Tour of *Louvre
Late Afternoon Tea (Hotel)

Day 4 Friday

Breakfast
Walk the Champs Elysee
*Musee d’Orsay
Mid-Day Afternoon Tea at Lauduree
Shop at Nina’s and Mariage Frères
Evening:  guided tour of Montmartre

Day 5 Saturday

Breakfast
Check out of hotel/Pick up by mini bus
*Versailles
Mid-Day Afternoon Tea at Angelina’s
*Giverny (Monet’s house and gardens)
Overnight (Rouen)

Day 6 Sunday

Breakfast
Mont St Michel (1 night)
Group Dinner

Day 7  Monday

Breakfast
Travel to Limoges (2 nights)
Limoges china factory tour and outlet

Day 8 Tuesday

Breakfast
Limoges china factory tour
Porcelain Kiln Museum
Shop china factory outlets

Day 9 Wednesday

Breakfast
Travel to Loire Valley
Chateau Villandry
Group Dinner
Amboise (2 nights)

Paris IIDay 10 Thursday

Breakfast
Chateau Chambord
Chateau Chenonceau
Mid-Day Afternoon Tea (Chenonceau)

Day 11 Friday

Breakfast
Return to Paris (3 nights)
Late Afternoon Tea (Hotel)

Day 12 Saturday

Breakfast
Guided tour of Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (Flea Market at Clingancourt)
Late Afternoon Tea (Hotel)

 Day 13 Sunday

Breakfast
Marché Aux Puces de Vanves (another flea market)
Free time
Dinner Cruise on the Seine

Day 14 Monday

Breakfast
Tour ends
* Skip the Line tickets

Itinerary subject to minor changes

 

Meals

Breakfast 
Each day will begin with breakfast in our hotel.

Lunch 
There will be several days where lunch  will be on your own and you may want to keep it light or simply have a snack as more often than not  we will be enjoying afternoon tea later as a group. 

While in Paris, we will enjoy several famous tea salons and 5 star hotel teas, but once we are outside the city, there are few places that serve a traditional afternoon tea.  

Dinner
Three dinners will be included in the tour, including a dinner cruise of the Seine on our last night in Paris.  The itinerary shows all included meals.

Transportation
Be prepared for a lot of walking, as it is truly the only way to experience each place on the itinerary. We will use the Metro in Paris to move about the city, and will have a small bus and driver for our travels outside the city.

Accommodations

All rooms have en suite bathrooms.
Tour prices are based on double occupancy.  If you do not have a roommate accompanying you on the trip, you will be paired with another un-paired traveler of the same sex.

Most accommodations will have two twin beds in the room however occasionally the only choice available is a queen sized bed.

Tour British Columbia!



Contact us for information. You can visit our site at The Secret Garden Tea Tours, visit our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and of course call us at 253.826.4479

 

Elizabeth’s Bacon Leek Tart

bacon leek tart

Usually, when developing a new recipe for the tea room, there’s a whole procedure that I follow:  research, compile, test, re-test and re-test and then make a large batch to see how it works in quantity.

Usually, I am planning at least several weeks out, however occasionally we come up with a winner on the fly.

A couple of weeks ago we needed a savory for our high teas, and I was out of some ingredient for what I had been planning to make.  I knew I’d bought some leeks for potato leek soup that Mark hadn’t used that morning and I spotted a new package of bacon in the fridge.  Hmmm, what could I do with bacon and leeks.  I decided that a creamy goat cheese mixture plopped into phyllo tart shells might just work.  They turned out delicious and so I thought I’d share.
Printable, full recipe below.


I began by chopping the bacon into small pieces and then cooking it over medium heat.

016

While the bacon was cooking I sliced the leeks crosswise about 1/8th inch thick from the white end up to where the dark green tops begin.

007

After chopping the leeks, I did a quick swish in the salad spinner with lots of cold water to get any of the gritty mud that they’re grown in.  A quick shake to remove most of the water and they were ready for the pan just as soon as the bacon had rendered enough fat that the leeks wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

012

After adding the leeks to the bacon, I stirred occasionally until the leeks were limp and just beginning to turn light golden in a few places.  While they were cooking, I cut the cream and goat cheeses into 1 inch cubes so they would melt faster.  Once the leeks were melted down, I added the cheeses and turned off the heat.

020

I stirred this mixture until the cheese was incorporated and then added some regular black pepper.  I gave it a taste and decided that it didn’t need any salt, but I suggest you give it a taste and see what you think;  some brands of bacon are saltier than others.  Do not eat all of it while you’re trying to decide if you need salt.

At this point, you can let the mixture cool and then store in the fridge for a few days until it’s needed, or you can go ahead and make the tarts.

025

I used a scoop that is a scant tablespoon (#70 for those who are scoop users), and just dropped it into the tart shells.  I sprinkled mine with a bit of minced parsley for color, but I think a miniature sprig of thyme would be very nice too.

028

I baked mine in a convection oven at 350 for about 8 minutes until the cheese was just turning golden brown, but in a regular oven it might be a bit longer.  Taste and enjoy!

Bacon Leek Tarts

Servings: 3 cups of filling | 48 tarts (see note below)

030Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 lb leeks, chopped and rinsed
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • minced parsley or tiny sprigs of thyme
  • pre-made phyllo tart shells

Method

Saute the bacon over medium heat.  Add the leeks once the bacon has rendered enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan.  Stir occasionally until the leeks are limp and just starting to color.  Add the cheeses and turn off the heat.  Stir until there are no white cheese chunks left, then add the pepper and salt if needed.  Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days, or use immediately.

Assemble Tarts
Scoop 1 scant tablespoon into phyllo shells and top with a bit of parsley or sprig of thyme.  Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes until cheese just turns golden brown on the peaks.  Serve immediately or within an hour at room temperature.

Note
This recipe makes about 3 cups of filling, so it will do about 48 tarts.  They come 15 to a box, so this works out okay.  If you don’t need that many, try the filling in an omelet, or cold on crackers as a spread.  It would also be wonderful in puff pastry.  I’m sure you’ll find a way to use it all, even if it’s just on a spoon!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How we got here

crop house small

Where we are now

In the Spring of 1989, a friend and I began selling some craft items at local street fairs and shows.  I was a year out of college and was an assistant buyer for a local chain of Christmas stores.  I  had worked in a very nice gift shop and a flower shop in high school and college and did lots of crafts in my spare time, so selling our wares was an obvious move.  After the first couple of shows, we quickly realized that we would have to give up our social lives and make our merchandise in all our spare time if we were to keep our booth full.  Since I had a buyer badge for our regional wholesale gift mart, it was an easy decision to supplement our handmade stock with other goods.  We sold Yankee Candles and some stationery products at our next show and they were a hit.  Several shows later, we were basically a gift shop that travelled, with a few craft items to cutesy up the displays!  By November of 1989, I had quit my job and we had a short-term lease for a little space inside Aurora Village Mall in North Seattle.  We did okay, considering that the mall was in steady state of decline.  (No wonder they were willing to take a risk with two young girls signing a commercial lease!)  By the middle of the next year, the mall was nearly empty and we found out that they were getting ready to demolish the place, so we began looking for another mall that would take a chance on us.

In the Spring of 1991, we moved into our brand new location at Factoria Mall.  We had hired an architect and chosen a contractor to build out a previously unfinished space, designed a sign/logo and had a trompe l’oiel painter cover the storefront with ivy.  And ordered loads of merchandise to fill the 1500 square feet.  This was to be our home for the next 15 years.

floral front

Store front of The Secret Garden gift shop in Factoria Mall

Things went along smoothly for a long time.  We had artist signing parties every so often, and set up vignettes in the middle of the mall featuring exciting new products.  We dealt with the Beanie Baby craze and the long lines that went along with each new release and had a great staff who enabled us to have days off, take vacations and enjoy life.  Then in 2001, the coffee shop that was next door to us closed, leaving an empty space between us and the center court of the mall.  For the next year, several different businesses occupied the space, but none were viable, at least in that location.  In 2002, we (along with my sister Mary) got an idea to hold a tea party on Mother’s Day weekend for our good customers.  We asked mall management if they would let us use the empty space since it still had a couple of sinks and big counters.  They gave us the go-ahead, so we began scouting out tables and chairs at yard sales and gave everything shabby a quick coat of white paint.   We added curtains and table runners made of pretty floral sheets (from Goodwill) ,  washed up lots of the china we sold in the gift shop, borrowed a few pictures and wreaths off the walls of the shop, brought in a few things from our homes and began planning our menu.

Tea Room Interior

The Secret Garden Tea Room interior in Factoria Mall

Then we applied for the temporary permit from the health department.  Oops!  It turns out that the permit would cost more than all of our tables, chairs and decor combined!  And it was valid for 21 days.  Since we sold out our Mother’s Day Tea really quickly, we decided that the only way to justify the high cost of the permit, was to use it more than just the two days.  After all, the rest of it was set up and ready to go.  So we came up with a couple of sandwiches and salads to offer for lunch on the days following the Mother’s Day tea and to our surprise, people actually came!  We had sort of figured we might catch a few folks who couldn’t get tickets to the tea and mall employees looking for something new, but everyone who came loved our food and said they’d be “regulars” if we opened permanently.

We hired a restaurant consultant, Mark (being handy and all) built out our kitchen, and our families worked tirelessly getting ready to open  with real kitchen equipment.  Mary and I experimented in the kitchen daily to come up with our recipes and we are serving those same foods today.  Our scones, cranberry salad, pea salad and Cashew Chicken Salad are still our most popular menu items.  November of 2002, The Secret Garden Tea Room opened for business.

tea room exterior

The Secret Garden Tea Room exterior in Factorial Mall

Once again, everything ran smoothly for a couple of years.  Then the mall ownership changed and they quit renewing leases because they had plans to tear down sections of the mall to create a multi-story  mixed-use complex.  Our lease was up at the end of January 2006, so we started looking for a new location.  One of our long-time gift shop gal had a husband in real estate, so we asked him to keep us in mind for a location in Bellevue, Issaquah or Kirkland.  The next day he showed up with pictures of a Victorian mansion in Sumner.  “Whoa”, we said.  “We’ve already got a house and we’re looking for a quiet little strip mall not too far from Factoria”.  But we kept the photos and showed them to our parents.  Mark’s mom suggested that we just go take a look at the place since we love old houses.  So we loaded up the van with his parents and drove 35 minutes south.  As soon as we walked in the front door, we started placing our furniture and gift shop displays.  It was perfect!  When we brought my parents down to see it a couple of days later, they agreed and with the help of both sets of parents, we were able to make the deal, and got the keys on November 1, 2005.  Here’s what the house looked like then.

HWH Nov 2005

As we began telling customers that we’d be moving, we were surprised to learn how many were from Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and other points South of Bellevue.  The move away from our “home” base began to seem less scary.  We packed up the shop and tea room right after Christmas, and thought we’d be open by early March in our new beautiful location.  Ha!  The “cosmetic” projects became infrastructural projects that required permits and contractors and thousands of hours of labor.  Once again, thank heavens for families with not only time to help, but the skills to get things done right.  We finally got open in November of 2006, and although the house will never be “done”, it is a dream come true.  What a joy to live, work and raise a family  in this beautiful piece of history, while sharing it with the lovely friends we call customers.

Why a tea room?

Interior shot

“What made you want to open a tea room?”, is a question we get asked a lot.  I didn’t grow up drinking much tea…my parents are German and Scandinavian Lutherans from North Dakota, so coffee was the only hot beverage in my heritage.  Yah, sure you betcha they put out some tea bags at the church “coffee hour” on Sundays, but I never knew anyone who actually tried it.  Then, in the early 1990’s while on a buying trip for our gift shop, in Atlanta, in July, I discovered iced tea.  It was love at first sip!  So that’s where the “tea” part of our story began.

betty gordon cover

I must go back a lot further though, to get to the “tea room” part of the story.  As a child (and to this day still) I loved reading the old juvenile series books.  I started with Nancy Drew and The Dana Girls, and then discovered many other series, like The Campfire Girls, Betty Gordon and Ruth Fielding.  In these books, written in the early part of last century, the heroines always stopped in little tea rooms to have lunch while on their adventures.  Usually the tea rooms were quaint little cottages, run by nearly penniless young women who ended up being part of the story.  The food was always simple, but delicious and I wanted to eat in a tea room.  Department stores had restaurants they called tea rooms, but they were so NOT what I visualized.  I grew up in Issaquah, WA and as a teenager, worked in Gilman Village, a quaint shopping area that was comprised of old homes moved onto a nice property and connected by brick paths and gardens.  There was one little place (The Boarding House Restaurant) that would have been a perfect tea room, but it wasn’t called that, so it still didn’t count in my mind.

Then in the mid 1990’s, a new place opened up in downtown Bellevue.  Not on Old Main ( a shopping district with a bit of charm), but in the bottom of a highrise office building.  It was called Lisa’s Tea Treasures, and as soon as I heard about it, I made a reservation.  It was a cute little place, much like I had envisioned (at least once you were inside!) and the food was wonderful.  I experienced my first high tea, and was thrilled.  We would take our friends, families and employees there for any occasion we could dream up.  Then one day, they were gone.

About this time, I heard about another tea room somewhere around Burien.  While not as fancy as Lisa’s, it was still wonderful and I was hooked.  I started a tea journal and began seeking out tea rooms wherever I traveled.  By this time there was this great new tool called The Internet, and it made it much easier to find tea rooms.  I wrote up my first menu for a tea room in 1996, and began giving small tea parties at home.

In the meantime, back at The Secret Garden, we began to carry vintage items.  We’d go to estate sales and thrift shops every chance we could and even took a couple of extensive road trips looking for the china and glassware and other cool stuff that our customers coveted.  In 2000, a trip to Europe, with the women in my family, centered around hitting all the flea markets we could find!  We also rented a car in England so we could go to the Potteries district (Stoke-on-Trent) and tour the china factories.   I had always loved old stuff, but once I started learning about antique tabletop, it nearly became an obsession.  Of course, we took tea at every tea room we came across and added even more ideas to my tea journal.

flea market

By the time we did our Mother’s Day Tea 2002, I was quite well versed in the subject and it was such fun to go through my journal and compile the best ideas from all the places I’d visited to incorporate into The Secret Garden Tea Room.  I’m so fortunate to be able to combine so many things that I love into an occupation!