Not everyone got the hang of tea…

Not everyone got the hang of tea…

I’m a big fan of Bill Bryson.  For the past several years, since I discovered his writings, I’ve made a point of taking one of his books on my vacation.  It ensures I will fall off my deck chair in stitches at least once.

I recently read  his “At Home” which is a combination of history, humour and floor plans.  Here’s a great quote for all us tea lovers:

“Between 1699 and 1721, tea imports increased almost a hundredfold, from 13,000 pounds to 1.2 million pounds, then quadrupled again the thirty years to 1750 … Not everyone got the hang of tea immediately.  The poet Robert Southey related the story of a lady in the country who received a pound of tea as a gift from a city friend when it was still a novelty.  Uncertain how to engage with it, she boiled it up in a pot, spread the leaves on toast with butter and salt, and served it to her friends, who nibbled it gamely and declared it interesting but not quite to their taste.  Elsewhere, however, it raced ahead, in tandem with sugar.”

And you know, tea on toast?  Perhaps just ahead of her time.

Modern minimalist tea cozy in thick purple wool felt  

Summer shipping 2019

Summer shipping 2019

Yes, like a lot of you here in the northern hemisphere, I’m in and out of town visiting the lake country to try and keep cool and enjoy our fleeting warmer months.

Orders are shipped in and around those times.  Site-wide notices will let you know what those dates are.

Canada Day for modern tea cosies

Hope you have a chance to relax and enjoy the summer too…..


MacGyvering oolong in the County

MacGyvering oolong in the County

Just back from a few days down in the County where we went on a picnic down at the old Lakeshore Lodge part of the Sandbanks park.

We had some wonderful Taiwan High Mountain Oolong from Bei Shan with us.

Tightly wound balls of the dry Taiwan oolong tea

Tightly wound balls of the dry leaves of this Taiwan oolong tea

Traditionally oolong is prepared in a small, clay teapot with just under boiling hot water.  It is usual to give a quick rinse to oolong leaves, especially those which are tightly rolled, which moistens and loosens them and starts their unfurling.  Oolong tea leaves come in many different styles and if the leaves are tightly wound or balled, the first steep is a long one or two minutes which allows the leaves to fully unfurl, the subsequent steeps range from 30 to 45 seconds, getting longer as the number of steeps increases.   Eight or nine steeps can be coaxed from a very good oolong, and three or four from a decent one.

First steep of about 1 1/2 minutes

First steep of about 1 1/2 minutes

We were travelling picnic-light the other day, which meant no teapots nor cups.  What we had was a small sieve and a lovely vintage Thermos which had two plastic lid-cups.

It worked like a charm.  Tea drinkers are nothing if not inventive.

Et voila, two beautiful cups of oolong tea and a pile of beautifully fragrant leaves ready for the next steep.

Two cups of oolong tea and a pile of beautifully fragrant leaves ready for the second steep.

The tea is medium bodied, fragrant with a smooth mouth-feel and a typical lovely sweet apricot (stone fruit) note at its finish.


Hot that pot, then on with the tea cosy…

Hot that pot, then on with the tea cosy…

Almost every tea culture does it — warms the teapot (or teacup) with the boiling water before making the tea in it.  Why?  Because the room-temperature vessel will steal almost ten degrees Celsius from the hot water.  This means if you don’t pre-warm your teapot, your lovely tea loses that heat immediately.  One of this flock of tea cosies will do an excellent job of keeping your pot of tea hot, but it can only maintain the heat that’s there.

As you can see, within about 20 seconds this room-temperature ceramic creamer stole over 10 degrees celcius heat from the boiling water just like a teapot does.

So warm that teapot first, then slip your tea cozy over it (say, isn’t that a smart modern tea cozy right there) — and you’ll have piping hot tea for ages.

Tea in a Model T

Tea in a Model T

Hey, it’s almost summer solstice, and finally starting to feel like summer in these rainy parts.

A recent afternoon laydown on a comfy, cottage divan brought me to a book on Victorian Toronto and this wonderful antique snap of an impromptu tea party.  How dashingly civilised….

Tea in a Model T b

“TAKING TEA IN HER “T”, 1910s:  Far from the madding crowds and congested streets of downtown Toronto, photographer John Boyd, Sr. parked his Model T in a field (perhaps near Islington), and photographed his companion enjoying a cup of tea from the thermos balanced on the running board.  Personal mobility offered some obvious perks….”


Spring is here and so is SSL…

Spring is here and so is SSL…

Welcome spring!  We are so glad you’re here.

And welcome to Flock of Tea Cosy’s newly secure website.  We’ve (finally) implemented SSL — you can tell because there’s now https and a green padlock icon before all our URLs.  This means your internet connection and communication with our website is encrypted and secure.   In addition, and as it’s always been, if you shop on the site all money transactions are done offsite at PayPal’s own secure site, Flock of Tea Cosy never has your credit card details.  Rest easy.

Home decor tea cozies



New French press coffee cozy

New French press coffee cozy

New french press coffee cozy design

You may have seen this coming but, for Fall 2018, here comes the french press coffee cozy version of our “Baseball” design.  Steeper shoulder curves, same buzzy zig-zag stitching on the dart, simple clean curved profile which looks completely at home on morning breakfast counters and evening dinner tables.

Modern french press coffee cozy in Moss Green wool felt

Designed with modern simplicity to fit Bodum’s “Chambord” french press coffee makers in the 8cup and 12cup sizes.

Seen here in fresh Moss Green which brings a breath of spring to any table.  Made from thick (3mm) European 100% wool felt to their highest standards.   This is some of the best, dense, wool felt made in the world.  And beautiful to boot.

And it’s a natural fabric — baa-baa sheep wool — which is a renewable resource and thus a wonderfully “green” choice for your tableware.  An eco-friendly choice as well as a beautiful choice.

A perfect fit for the home of any modern coffee lover.

French press coffee cozy in Moss Green

8cup Baseball Coffee Cosy 12cup Baseball Coffee Cosy



Cozy hack, trivet test

Cozy hack, trivet test

Tea cozy hack and trivet test.

Customers are such an inventive lot.  And helpful.

Fits a tall teapot too

Recently a customer ordered one of the flock’s cosies designed for a french press coffee maker, the 8-cup “Neu” design in Moss Green.  Shortly after receiving it she wrote to tell me it fit her tall, narrow-proportioned teapot perfectly.  A great customer cosy hack!

Coffee Cosy for 8cup Chambord

  • “I love my green cozy. I have a tall teapot (I know it’s meant for a cafetierre) that I use every day and it fits perfectly!”

Trivets survive stove-hot espresso pot

I also recently received a query about whether the trivets could handle a hot-from-the-stove espresso pot.  The colourful wool felt is wonderfully resilient, and perfect for protecting tabletops from hot teapots but I wasn’t confident enough to absolutely guarantee they’d hold up to stove-hot.  It turns out they hold up just fine.  On the flock’s behalf the customer put the trivet through its paces with her espresso pot and it came through with flying colours.  No burn marks and no table-top harmed in the testing.

Trivet for teapot in Burnt Orangewool felt

  • “Ta dah!  And worked out perfectly.  No burn marks.”

Small tea cosy works as egg cosy

I mentioned this awhile ago but it’s worth mentioning again.  A clever customer reported that the small tea cosies work wonderfully at keeping a bowl of soft boiled eggs hot on a Sunday morning.  Another great tea cozy hack.

  • “My wife and I are excited about the two new members of our tea family.  They double as egg cozies as we soft boil several eggs and put them in a bowl.”

A modern wool felt tea cosy in Moss Green multi tasking as an egg cosy -- such a good idea!!Modern wool felt egg cozy in Moss Green

Why shop at FoTC?

Why shop at FoTC?

I’m very proud of the craftsmanship and quality of the products I make to sell under the Flock of Tea Cosy banner, and it makes my day when a sale or a query comes over the transom, especially from some place faraway.


Some place like Finland, or Australia, or Italy, or the far west coast of the USA or even South Africa.  It’s been the magic of the internet that enables the flock’s wares to be found by the relatively small, but, might I cheekily say, discerning, global group that appreciates these simple, cleanly designed, enduringly modern tea- and coffee-cosies.


While most clients have mentioned it is the clean, minimalist design that brought them here, many have reported back their appreciation for this tableware being really  good at its job.  This is firstly due to the choice of fabric, dense wool felt, which is an excellent insulator.  And secondly, because the Flock of Tea Cosy’s tea, coffee and mug cosy designs prevent heat from escaping which ensures the tea or coffee or hot chocolate stays hot.


Some clients have mentioned they were drawn to the natural fabric  — wool felt is a natural fibre fabric (baa-baa sheep) which means it will a) decompose when its life is over, and b) is a renewable resource (ie: the sheep survive and are sheared every spring).  It will leave a minimal footprint and is therefore eco-friendly.


On that note, the Puzzle Pieces (trivets, coasters, mousepads, etc made from the off-cuts) use green-thinking to reduce the waste from the cosy production.   More eco-friendly products using wool felt’s natural insulating quality.


Feedback also indicates notice of (thank you!) and appreciation for the excellent quality of the material used.  The coloured 100% merino wool felt that Flock of Tea cosy uses is the best in the world.  It’s made in western Europe to exacting and eco-concious standards.  It is sturdy and consistent in its production, which can’t be said for some other sources, and the colours are rich and colour-fast.  The Industrial wool felt, made here in North America, is a technical grade also made to top industry standards.

The high quality of the materials is paired with high standards of workmanship which ensure that each piece at Flock of Tea Cosy is well-made and made to last.  Everything is individually handmade, all end seams are double-sewn, and the hang-tabs are securely hand-sewn on.  For the puzzle-piece trivets, coasters and table-toppers all seams are button-hole stitched at their end.


With thanks to Flock of Tea Cosy’s clients, some first hand reports can be found here:


Making Bi Lo Chun tea

Making Bi Lo Chun tea

Making Bi Lo Chun tea

If you are familiar with Bi Lo Chun (green snail spring) tea you know it has a wonderful, big, sweet aroma and a distinctive snail-like curl to its dried leaf shape which gives it its name.


View from atop Dong Ting mountain looking out over the tea bushes.

A few years ago I took an unforgettable trip to China for a guided tour of their tea industry.  It was led by knowledgeable and gracious Tao of Tao Tea Leaf and my fellow travelers included two of my fellow tea sommeliers with whom I’d studied.  We were only five altogether plus a driver so we were pretty light on the ground allowing intimate, low-profile visits wherever we went.   The small group also meant we could be nimble in our schedule and respond to invitations and spur-of-the-moment opportunities.

This was the case the April evening we arrived at Dong Ting Shan on the east side of Lake Tai in the province of Jiangsu where Bi Lo Chun originates.  This was our driver, Mister Goo’s, home town and during dinner he took a phone call which alerted him that his father was about to process the last of the Bi Lo Chun from the family plot.  Mister Goo promptly invited us to come and watch.

We were told that it is usual for the local farmers to plant their plot of land with a variety of cash crops and food so that they will always have something in season.  The tea trees were often over-planted with taller fruit (?) trees.  Notice how they are interlaced with bamboo poles which allow the pickers easy access.

The Goos have two pans — one gas-fed and one wood-burning.  Mr. Goo’s father runs the wood-fired pan.  It takes about 45 minutes to make the tea — here the fresh tea leaves have just been put in the pan.  At the beginning of the one-month picking season it takes less time because the leaves are smaller and have less moisture after the dry winter.

The pan is the hottest at the start — note his gloves — and the tea leaves are kept in constant motion being tossed and turned until enough moisture is lost and then the hand-rolling began.

Daughter-in-law loads wood into the stove to keep the pan hot

Hand rolling the tea leaves.

Mister Goo on the gas fired pan.

A few minutes later we tasted the fresh Bi Lo Chun tea.  The wood-fired brew has a fuller, thicker mouth-feel, and more baked popcorn on the nose.  Definitely a difference between the gas and wood fired.  Is that because Mr. Goo’s father is a more experienced tea maker or that the wood fire allows for more character?

The Goo family tea plot produces 15 kilos of finished tea a year.  It takes about 6 kilos of fresh leaves to make one kilo of finished tea.

The Bi Lo Chun season had just ended, but the next day we were able to visit one of the local tea factories to see their set-up, now quiet until the next tea harvest.  Tea is harvested most of the year but made into different kinds of tea.

The wicker drying racks for the fresh tea.

A line of wood-fired baking pans.  The square holes in the walls allow the baker to converse with the person putting the wood under their pan.

Attached to the baking room was the sorting room.  Under each bowl the paper was numbered to indicate which baking pan they came from.

Bi Lo Chun is a spring tea made from the season’s first, tender, very small and delicate leaves.  It’s manufactured to seven different grades in decreasing order of quality and this factory made five of them.  I want a set of these mugs!

Even at the factory level, making the tea involves alot of hands — there is very little mechanization.

Sunset over Lake Tai near Dong Ting Mountain.


Extra large tea cosy

Extra large tea cosy

The flock’s “Ribbed” style tea cosies have a wonderful puffer-fish expandability — but it wasn’t until quite a while after I designed them that I finally fully stuffed one of the Standard size and measured its circumference.

TC Standard Ribbed o21 Y

Woof — a  37″ circumference!  Allowing an inch of pinch this would accommodate a teapot (including spout and handle) up to about 35″ around.  If you’ve a large teapot, feel free to contact me and we can measure the height of its spout and handle, etc and ensure it will fit.

Use the contact form at the bottom of this page.

TC Standard Ribbed o21 X

It works equally well on most standard 4-cup teapots though, which is what I use mine for.  That’s the magic of this design — it’s very accommodating.

Ribbed tea cosies
Tea Tour: Yixing tea pots

Tea Tour: Yixing tea pots

If you drink oolong tea you’ve probably heard of yixing clay teapots.  They are small unglazed teapots for preparing small, fresh infusions and reinfusions of oolong tea and come in a number of different natural clay colours from the region of Yixing in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on the west side of Lake Tai.  Mostly they are a purply-brown clay but can be reddish-brown and an ochre-yellow shade.  I don’t know how long they’ve been being made in Yixing but they continue even today to be made there by skilled, master potters.

Yixing old town D SNAP

When I was there in a few years ago on one of Tao’s small tea tours, we visited a master potter, Master Zhou, who had a workshop in the beautiful and preserved old town of Yixing where many master ceramicists work with Yixing’s famous clay.  He welcomed us with a fine pot of tea.

Yixing Master Zhou pours tea SNAP

Zhou runs a small workshop with apprentices.  He had five apprentices who had been studying with him for 6 months to three years.

Yixing Master Zhous workshop w students SNAP Yixing Master Zhou w finished tea pot SNAP

Apparently a good yixing oolong pot should stand completely flat if upended with its lid.

The pots were traditionally fired in a “dragon kiln,” so-called because it winds uphill and has multiple air-holes through which the wood is loaded — they’re huge!  At night it apparently looks like a long, snaking, fire-breathing dragon.

Yixing Qian-Shu Dragon Kiln SNAP

Yixing teapots at commercial gas kiln SNAP

The next day we also visited other gas-fired kilns of a slightly more commercial nature.

Yixing teapots at small kiln SNAP

Yixing teapots loading into small kiln SNAP

There is huge demand for these little teapots both from within China and internationally.  While I know that some made by master ceramicists demand very high prices, there are also many made by others, or from molds, that are priced for the regular consumer market.

Oolong pot seasoning A

I couldn’t leave without getting my own perfect little oolong teapot from Master Zhou.  When I got home, and with Tao’s advice, I seasoned it before using it to make tea.

Multi-coloured tea cosies

Multi-coloured tea cosies

Finally had some time at the work table the other day — more of the colourful “Ribbed” cosy design in the small size.

Multi Colored Tea Cozy

These ones are sized for a small 2-cup teapot but because the design cleverly expands like a puffer fish it can accommodate one a little larger or one with a wide spout to handle dimension.

Ribbed Tea Cosy 6 panels Puffer fish colorful tea cozy

Ribbed wool felt modern tea cosy w trivet

Go to the shop
If your teapot is large — or you just like the look — pull gently on opposite sides and the stiff felt will pop out like a puffer fish to wrap around the teapot.

If your teapot is large — or you just like the look — pull gently on opposite sides and the stiff felt will pop out like a puffer fish to wrap around the teapot.

Reasons to love felt…

Reasons to love felt…

It was love at first sight for me, because of its density and thickness and its vibrant colours, but a number of the reasons to love this beautiful, non-woven wool fabric are invisible.


  1.  It’s a renewable resource. Sheep continually grow their wonderful woolly coats which are sheared each spring.
  2.  It’s naturally fire resistant and is self extinguishing.  If you hold a match to genuine, 100% wool felt it will start to burn — but if you take the lit match away the fire on the felt will smoulder and go out on its own.
  3.   It has high thermal insulating properties and this is what makes wool felt brilliant for a tea cosy.  (It is also extremely sound absorbing but that probably doesn’t matter for tea cosies.)
  4.   It’s naturally water repellent — spilt tea, for instance, will first bead on the surface of wool felt giving one the opportunity to quickly blot it up.
  5.   However it can absorb liquid four times its weight which make me think it would make a good door mat — if it wasn’t so pricey ;)  It also means wool felt makes great shoe inserts — insulating and absorbing the sweat or dampness.  Unlike anything polyester (plastic).
  6.   The European 100% wool felt that FoTC uses is the best in the world. Unlike made-in-you-know-where felt which, in my experience, can be easily shredded, this European felt is manufactured to the very highest quality and they’ve been making it for over a century.
  7.   It’s manufactured in an eco friendly manner. The thick, colourful European felt is made to Oeko-Tex 100 standards which mean its manufacturing creates no toxic waste. Children could chew on it and live to tell — although not recommended!
  8.   Frankly it just feels great.  It has a wonderful soft yet sturdy hand-feel which is an important quality for items we touch on a daily basis.

Felt cleaning A

Some interesting things that are (or were before being replaced by a plastic fabric) made of 100% wool felt are:

  • shoe inserts
  • piano hammers, bass drum strikers and timpani mallets
  • chalk board erasers
  • music cassette tapes — a tiny cube held the tape to the sound head
  • roofing felt
  • shoulder pads
  • Valenki — a type of traditional Russian footwear which are warm and dry and with good traction for walking on dry snow when the weather is frosty.
  • In the automotive industry it has been used to dampen the vibrations between interior panels and also to stop dirt entering into some ball/cup joints
  • for framing paintings — laid between the slip mount and picture as a protective measure to avoid damage from rubbing to the edge of the painting.
  • in millinary — many hats including fedoras
  • horse saddle felt
  • house and sound insulation batting — still being done

chalkboard_duster  borsalino_fedora


When I was in England a few years ago I came across a fascinating book on the felt industry there.  The industry, like so many, is now pretty much gone.  While some of the reasons the industry disappeared may be considered short-sighted it is certainly true that most industry has a finite life-span before something new — sometimes something wonderful — comes along and replaces it, changing the labour demographics and economies of towns and even nations.  Plus ça change…n’est-ce que pas?


But wool felt has experienced a recent resurgance in the design and DIY fields.  Beautiful furniture and household wares — including tea cosies, french press coffee cosies, mug warmers (!) — as well as fashion items are available and can be found through quick, easy internet searches.  (Try for non-tracked searches.)  For a great collection of contemporary wool felt pieces by designers and artists (ahem, including you might be interested in this Sydney Morning Herald piece from a few years ago.

Modern tea cozy in Burnt Orange wool felt Modern Mug Cosy Purple  Neu Coffee Cozy in Industrial Fel

Flock of Tea Cosy’s shop.

Rejuvenating your wool felt tea cosy

Rejuvenating your wool felt tea cosy

Rejuvenating your wool felt tea cosy

Just back from a few days north of the city — still some spectacular colour clinging to the trees!

I was visiting SK, the friend to whom I’d given the very first tea cosy cut to what’s become the flock’s signature pattern — that rounded, Roman-helmet shape with a chatter of zig zag pinking along its edges.

TC Shane's Grey Front view SMALL Shane cosy before A

The cosy  then and now. Not bad but life’s added a few creases and folds.

In the five years since it was made the cosy has experienced normal wear and tear and stuffing-in-drawers between tea-drinking visitors so, having a lazy afternoon at hand, I thought I’d see what kind of ‘spa’ rejuvenation I could render on it.

Shane cosy ironing B Shane cosy ironing C

MacGyvoring a rolled thick bath towel to substitute for a small sleeve-ironing board, I placed a clean wet tea-towel between the felt tea cosy and the medium-hot (on medium steam setting) iron and gently and quickly ironed over the creases on both sides.  Then rolled the tea towel to insert in the wonky top tab so it wouldn’t create a crease while I, again putting a clean wet tea towel between it and the iron, gave it a quick pass or two.

Shane cosy after ironing C

Et voila — pleased to report that a little steam ironing with a wet tea-towel between the felt and the medium-hot iron worked wonders.  Just like it’d spent a day at the spa.

Pines red berries Oct 27 Pines red berries Oct 27 B

The marshes and streams were bursting with beautiful bright red berries.  I don’t know what they are but I brought home an armload for the dining table.

Is it a gift?

Is it a gift?

If your order here at Flock of Tea Cosy is a gift — (housewarming? Christmas, birthday? Mother’s Day? Hanukka?) —  and you’d like it shipped directly to your giftee, we’d be happy to wrap it in special tissue and include a personal note from you for you.  Either include a mention at check-out in the “Notes” field, or mention it when I contact you to confirm your order.

Tea Cosy Gift wrapped in gold tissue

No extra cost.  Easy peasy.

Tea Tour: Brooms

Tea Tour: Brooms

During my tea tour trip to China with Tao a couple of years ago, I was entranced by the abundance of beautiful, hand-made, all-natural material brooms everywhere.  The photos aren’t necessarily great quality but the brooms are.

Broom Yixing by temple  Broomette in Zhenge tea factory

Broom in Tong Mu Ms Wang

Broom in Wuyi B SMALL

Each one has its own personality.

Broom in Wuyi SMALL

Broom Zhenge White Tea Factory

Broom in Wuyi

Broom in Shanzhou B cropped  Broom in action

Broom in Wuyi town SMALL

Broom modern SMALL

Within a generation these handmade lovelies will probably be replaced by the plastic (non-biodegradable) ones above.  Colourful though, I suppose.

Oolong afternoon…

Oolong afternoon…

Lately I’ve been reaching for the oolong in the afternoons.

Oolong Big Red Robe

Specifically today it’s Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) from TaoTeaLeaf.  By no coincidence it was with Tao that I went to the Wuyi mountains in China a couple of years ago to see and taste this wonderful tea.  It felt a bit ridiculous to have accreditation as a Tea Sommelier without ever having seen a living breathing tea plant, and being on a ‘tea tour’ was a wonderful agricultural avenue into contemporary Chinese culture.

Oolong Da Hong Pao

How about this for a mini, MacGyvered tea tray drain board?  (It’s a steamer in a cake pan.)  I got the little teapot on the same trip while in Yixing and seasoned it when I got back home.

Wuyi Shan Da Hong Pao garden

The Wuyi mountains are famous for their oolongs and especially Da Hong Pao.  Oh yes, and they’re gorgeous.

Wuyi Big Red Robe Garden sign

Da Hong Pao is an almost fully oxidised oolong, and this one has a beautiful warm aroma of fire and baked yam on the leaves and a typical stonefruit note of bitter-sweet apricot.  It’s medium bodied and perfectly refreshing on this hot summer afternoon.


Paris tea

Paris tea

It’s a very grey rainy spring day here so find myself thinking of sunnier moments, like being in Paris last fall.  Naturally had to visit a few tea establishments while there.  One of them was the oh-so-French Nina’s Paris.

Paris Nina Vendome C Paris Nina Vendome B

Nina’s Paris was named after Nina Diaz, who in 1778 created a recipe for a cake called NINASETTE that was offered to Marie-Antoinette on the occasion of the birth of her first child, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte.  And yes, you can sample the cake in the perfect cake-box of a shop.

Marie Antoinette with her two eldest children, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte and the Dauphin Louis Joseph, in the Petit Trianon’s gardens, by Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller (1785). (Wikipedia)

Nina was a descendant  — it’s hard to tell exactly which, from the website — of Pierre Diaz who founded Distillerie Frères in 1672.  The distillery specialised in perfumes and essential oils and became the official supplier of said aromatics to the Court of Versailles from the time of King Louis XIV to Louis XVI (1754 – 1793) and his wife, Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793).   Distillerie Frères were apparently the first in France to distill lavender oil — my fave, and something I strongly associate with France.  In 1986 Nina’s Paris bought Distillerie Frères and the aromatics are used to flavour many of their teas.

It was under King Louis XIV that Le Potager du Roi (the King’s Kitchen Garden) was created, and Nina’s Paris also has an official partnership with the present-day garden.  Their lovely Marie-Antoinette Tea blend is made with apples and roses from that garden.  Very appropriate since it was said to be one of Marie-Antoinette’s favourite places.

Nina’s Paris’ selection of teas features black or green teas blended with fruits, herbs, flowers and essential oils as well as non-caffeinated tisanes of blended herbs or rooibos.  Everything is beautifully packaged and if you’re in the market for gifts to bring home they also have gift boxes of tea as well as lovely jams, jellies and fruit drinks made from the bounty of Le Potager du Roi.

Paris thundering rain in Jarind du Palais Royale

After we left Nina’s and we were about to sit down for a cup of tea there was a sudden, unbelievably strong downpour of rain. It lasted only about 15 minutes but long enough that we sat inside, rather than outside, at this lovely little tea spot, Cafe Kitsune, in one of the hidden treasures of Paris, Le Jardin du Palais.  It’s probably this moment, on this rainy grey day, that takes me back to Paris.

Inspiring Modern Tea houses

Inspiring Modern Tea houses

Have you seen these?  Perhaps it’s the spring in my garden — the sweet warm air, the fresh almost rubbery flowery buds, the crazily chirping birds — but my mind has been turning to garden structures and what more appropriate for this flock than a modern tea house?

modern tea house in Japan
A tea house by Terunobu Fujimori

The Black Tea House By David Maštálka of A1 Architects with sculptor Vojtech Bilisic.

The Hat Tea House, also by A1 Architects

Tokyotoshi Prefab Teahouse
pre-fab tea house kit from Tokyo Toshi

A student project by Simon Kaempfer

Actually designed by Saunders Architecture (photo by Iwan Baan) as an artist’s studio for Fogo Island, but a cup of tea would taste delicious in here I think.

I’d happily take any one of these, you?


A Chinese tea cosy

A Chinese tea cosy

Hey look what I found in a Tea Museum on Dong Ting mountain, the heart of Bi Lo Chun tea making — an antique tea cosy (!)

Bi Luo Tea Museum early tea cosy SNAP

The metal-lined drawer held hot coals and the box on top was for the teapot.  Clever, what?  (Although not quite as quick and handy as one of the flock ;)

PS: my tea travels in China, including in the stunning Wuyi Mountains, were rich and amazing.  Naturally I have loads of new fresh, fresh tea in my drawer.  Glory hallelujah.

Tea and marmalade

Tea and marmalade

Ugh it’s an unbelievably grey, mushy, sloggy, soggy January day here.  Pouring rain, melting snow, icy patches.  You know what I mean.

Tea and marmalade A

However, nothing that some tea and toast and marmy (made on Saturday) can’t fix.

Tea and marmalade C

The tea is a Ti Kwan Yin oolong from the Fujian province in China, a gift from The Tea Stylist from her trip there last summer — a wonderful treat.  Light, mouthwatering, a fresh floral aroma with a hint of pear and a soft smokyness.  You can see from the leaves and the pale green-gold colour of the liquor that it is a lightly oxidised oolong — only a little bit of red-brown oxidation showing on the edges of the leaves.

Tea and marmalade D

There.  I feel better already.


Oeko-tex felt = good for kitty

Oeko-tex felt = good for kitty

My cats, even though they’re getting on (15 and 16 years old) have wild moments of kittenish play.  They can whisk a stray bit of felt off the table and down the hallway at an impressive speed but I got to wondering how safe the felt is for them.

So I called the felt company and got this glad news:  the European felt is certified free of harmful substances by Oeko-Tex Standard 100.  Loads of information on their website about the exhaustive tests they do.

I was told that the Industrial Felt, which is made here in the suburbs of Toronto, has not been submitted for testing due to the testing expense but that no harmful chemicals are used in its production either.  However since it sheds a bit as I’m cutting it or they play with it, I tend to keep it under tighter wraps from feline hunting.


It could have been a teapot….

It could have been a teapot….

When I was in Paris a few weeks ago I was strolling through the Musee D’Orsay’s decorative arts galleries when my eye caught this beauty.  Dating from 1904-07,  it’s designed by Carlo Bugatti, father of Ettore Bugatti who started the eponymous  automobile company.

I confess ignorance of Bugatti Sr’s (1856-1940) work as a designer.  He was trained as an architect but apparently never worked as one.  Instead he became a highly successful designer of household objects — side-tables, chairs, night-stands, stools, tableware, etc.

Okay, I thought it was a teapot but apparently it’s a watering can!  Or at least a model for one.  But it’s simply beautiful, yes?

(And I’m sure I could have used it as a teapot although would have called for a rather odd-looking tea cosy.)

Head-swelling mention on Remodelista

Head-swelling mention on Remodelista

Have you ever been to the Remodelista site?  Everytime I visit I see something I like and the women who run it have “favorite things” listed that I either have or lust after so naturally I think they have exquisite taste.  All to say that when they published something on this flock of tea cosies a few days ago, well,  (blush) I just thought that was the cat’s pajamas.

Here’s the link … “Tabletop: Felt Teapot Warmers from a Flock of Tea Cosy




Remodelista modern tea cozy in Burnt Orange