Presents from Across the Pond!

I didn’t go to London for Wimbledon last week with my husband and my son, but I got some good stuff, anyway.

Remember those souvenir T-shirts that said, “My parents went to wherever and all I got was this T-shirt?” Yeah, my souvenirs are way better than that. I got all three of the items I suggested before they left! 🙂

The English like their tea, right? Me, too! I would’ve fit right in. And I probably wouldn’t have had to carry around my own tea bags or ask if the tea was freshly brewed at all the restaurants like I do in the U.S. of A.

I was happy to learn that in London, the hotels actually cater to tea-drinkers. Instead of a coffee pot for coffee drinkers – and pretty much nothing for those of us who don’t appreciate coffee-flavored tea from water that’s been run through the coffee maker – there was tea service in the rooms!

Too bad I wasn’t there to see that, but it makes me smile, anyway. Can’t wait to try this new-to-me brand. Mango and Earl Grey – mmmmm.

And then there’s the chocolate. They did well. Or, I did well. A chocolate library?! Ha! Two of my favorite things combined. Extra brownie points to the hubs who carried these hefty chocolate bars in his bag through two airport terminals due to flight issues. This little “library” weighs a ton!

Next? A very British silk scarf from a museum there. The lightly printed architectural drawings with bold royal blue and gold border look . . . well, royal!

They had a great time being tourists and taking in the amazing tennis at Wimbledon. While I enjoy watching tennis, I’m not a big fan of lines or “queuing up” as they call it. So I declined. I’m happy they had a fabulous father/son experience. And I appreciate they took the time to think of me while they were at it!

If you’re vacationing this summer, happy travels!

What’s your all-time best souvenir?



It’s tea time!

It’s tea for me! Tea is by far my favorite drink, and I consume a rather large quantity of it. As I sit here on a chilly winter evening with my cup of decaf, I thought I’d pass along a few thoughts about . . . tea!
Right now, my favorite caffeinated morning tea is Tropical Green from Harney & Sons. I have several boxes of this shipped directly to my house every few months. It has a light pineapple flavor to it. I drink a couple of cups of that each morning, particularly on winter mornings. Sometimes I’ll also have an Earl Grey, especially if I’m not at home, because that seems to be one that some hotels and restaurants will offer.
In the afternoon, I usually switch to flavored teas. A couple of favorites are Bigelow’s Lemon Green Tea and Blackberry Sage from the Republic of Tea. The Republic has several good ones, including Mango Ceylon and Ginger Peach. The Blackberry Sage is also good as an iced tea.

Ahhhhhh. Iced tea. Nothing better on a warm summer day. Anyone who dines with me on a regular basis knows that iced tea is not iced tea is not iced tea. Iced tea can be ruined. It can, in fact, suck. It has to be fresh. It has to be brewed. Freshly brewed.  I don’t know where the food industry got the idea that tea can be a fountain drink. No. Sorry. It can’t.
It’s interesting how iced tea can vary across the country. When traveling, finding good iced tea often becomes a quest. And, often, a disappointing one. Truly, there are some states in which it simply isn’t safe to order an iced tea. It’s putrid. One state that gets it is California. Yes, one more thing to like about Sunny California. They know how to make iced tea. Some of the best iced tea I’ve ever had – with flavors of apricot and passion fruit – has been in California.

Because of the difficulty, I always carry tea bags in my purse. I also have a stainless steel thermos that often travels with me on road trips. I’ve actually taken it empty as a carry-on, too, when I know I’ll be traveling by car once I get to my destination, or sitting out in the sun at a tennis match or on the beach. It’s my special thermos and can be used for nothing but tea – ever. Have you ever tried to make tea using a machine that’s been used to make coffee? Then you know what I mean. Ew. Grimace. It tastes like coffee.
A quick note on flavored tea. Flavored tea is made when there are bits of organic flavoring in the loose tea or tea bag. The flavor is released as the tea is brewed. Let me repeat that – as the tea is brewed. Flavor is not a syrup that is poured into a cup of tea. Ugh.
My very favorite tea for making iced tea was introduced to me several years ago in Colorado. It’s called Tropicana from Xanadu. I used to be able to get individual tea bags, but for the last few years, it’s only been available as loose leaf. A bit of a pain. But, in this case, totally worth it. Yes, it appears that I am, in fact, a tea snob. 🙂
So now you know why the characters (the women, anyway) in my stories tend to prefer tea to pop or coffee!