it’s a tea party!



Happy April, my friends. So glad you’re here. 

I’ve put the kettle on, so come in and make yourselves at home. I hope all is well, and that Spring has inspired you to make a fresh start and follow some new leads.

Whatever work or play lies ahead of you this month, you’ll need proper nourishment. To feed your mind and spirit, you can savor some of the many beautiful poems being posted in the blogosphere in honor of National Poetry Month. While you’re doing that, sip some of your favorite black, herbal, or green tea, and wrap your lips around a favorite sweet. Taking the time to slow down, relax, and reflect will enhance your focus and concentration.

Now, I have a confession to make. I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my entire life. Sure, I smelled the fresh brew and watched zombies miraculously come to life under its influence. But I was never tempted.

Tea is an entirely different story. I grew up around Japanese green tea and the Jasmine served in Chinese restaurants. They calmed and cleansed after a large meal, and seemed to ignite sparkling conversation. Occasionally I even cavorted with a Lipton’s tea bag.

But it wasn’t until I took my sparkling self to England that I became a true tea lover. Those of you who delight in the wonderful ritual of “afternoon tea” know exactly what I’m talking about. A proper English tea is so civilized. It’s all about baby pink roses and fresh table linens, delicate bone china cups and saucers, fingertip sandwiches, scones, bath buns, biscuits, crumpets, and fairy cakes.

Invariably, it’s also about good behavior. No matter the hurt, stress, frustration, or disappointment, tea always makes it better. And it brings out the best in us.

This month, I’ll be posting my favorite tea recipes, along with some tea trivia, folklore, and history, as well as excerpts from children’s and adult literature that mention tea. I’d love for you to join the celebration by sharing your favorite tea time recipes, whether they be sweet or savory. Do you like muffins with your tea? Cookies or quick breads? Or do you fancy scones, cake, tarts, madeleines, eclairs or gingerbread? What’s your favorite sandwich filling?

Perhaps you’d rather share a memorable tea experience you’ve had, show off your teapot collection, pair your recipe with a poem, or talk about your favorite tea scene from a book or movie. Bring whatever you like to the party, and help us celebrate Spring!

Your place at the table will be available all month long, so post at your leisure.


1) Leave your link in the comments of any one of my upcoming tea party posts, or,

2) Email your recipe to me at readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot com), and I’ll post it sometime during the month.

I’ll round up all the posts, and you can access the list any time via the TEA PARTY link in my sidebar.

Here are some great resources for finding and enjoying poetry this month:

1. Elaine at Wild Rose Reader is celebrating National Poetry Month and the first birthday of her fabulous blog big time, with original poems, book recommendations, contests, and a list of resources for children, teachers and homeschoolers that goes on and on.

2. Check in regularly with Tricia at the Miss Rumphius Effect, who is featuring a poetry book every day, along with suggestions and activities for classroom application.

3. Cloudscome at A Wrung Sponge will be posting a haiga (haiku and image) every day this month. She also has a roundup of all the blogs featuring special poetry-related posts.

And now, it’s time for tea! Here is my favorite recipe for lemon bars to get you started. Simple to make, and perfect with a cup of Darjeeling!

(makes 32 bars)


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T flour
3 T lemon juice
lemon rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream first 3 ingredients and press into a 9-inch square pan. Bake 15 minutes. Add together the beaten eggs, the sugar, baking powder, salt and flour. Then add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Pour over the crust and return to a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

25 thoughts on “it’s a tea party!

  1. Re: Eleanor just LOVES tea!
    Love it! You should do (if you haven’t already) an entire “tea collection” of famous people drinking tea!
    Love how her outfit is tea-colored!


  2. Taxation without representation…
    …is a TEA PARTY for the FISHES!
    Cod to the Halibut: “I just love the way you flip your pinky fin when you sip your tea, my dear!”


  3. TEA and me!
    Look closely at the belt I’m wearing in this art school photo. You can see a hint of an ammo pouch that I kept some sort of treasures in… anyhow, I’m wearing an Army surplus ammo belt with a canteen that you can’t see in this photo. It’s FULL of iced tea! I use to be a REAL tea freak in art school. Not much anymore.
    I’m a java freak, now…


  4. I SO heart you right now. A whole month of tea?! I’m squealing with delight right now. I very well may invite you over, sit you on my couch, and never let you leave. 🙂


  5. Don’t you want to be civilized?
    NOT if it means
    getting a haircut
    wearing polo shirts
    painting landscapes
    attending operas
    …just a spot of tea now and again, OK
    otherwise, NO!


  6. How many good ideas can one blog writer have??? I mean, every month an awesome theme? It’s almost unbearable. It’s going to drive me to drink. Tea, of course.


  7. Tea Party and Poetry
    Elaine M.
    Thanks for helping to spread the word about poetry and for the link to my list of poetry resources at Wild Rose Reader.
    Here’s the title of a children’s poetry book that I think you might like to read: TEA PARTY TODAY: POEMS TO SIP AND SAVOR. The book was written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Karen Dugan. Spinelli includes a “teatime tip” along with each poem.
    I love lemon bars! Thanks for the recipe.


  8. Tea is Me!
    What a delightful subject!
    I have been a tea drinker since I was a little girl. One of my dearest friends has a tea party every spring – hats required! If you do not have a hat, one will be provided! (tee hee) It’s a lovely affair, she sets up several tables, each decorated with pots of flowers, colorful tablecloths, cloth napkins, and a beautiful array of cups, saucers and teapots. Her mother was an English war bride and my friend carries on the tea tradition.
    We have tea and lemon curd tarts and other scrumptious goodies – including baby quiches, asparagus or cucumber finger sandwiches and cake (poppy seed is a favorite!) And, homemade shortbread!
    Then, after most of the eating is done, we share poetry, music, photos and other creative projects we love.
    It is so civilized and refreshing – focusing on the good things!
    Here is a link to a pic of me at her party last spring – scroll down to Julia Karr and there I am wearing a tiny little 1940’s afternoon hat – not much more than an oversized headband with feathers!
    (not sure how to make the link active?)
    I’ll have to post some more Tea is Me! on my blog – and come back to the party with receipes (probably one for lemon curd – food to die for!) and have another cup. Right now I’m drinking Equal Exchange fair trade green tea – I usually start the day with a cup of jasmine tea & then a cup of green tea. Then green with lemon later in the day… sigh… where would we be without tea?
    Thanks for the tea party all month on your beautiful blog!


  9. Re: Tea is Me!
    You look so lovely at that table, Julia (sigh)! Lemon curd tarts are one of my absolute favorites — I’ve never baked any, but purchased loads of them when I lived in Wimbledon. Would love to see your recipes! So glad you’re coming to the party :).


  10. Favorite Tea Memory
    My favorite tea memory comes from Queensland, Australia where I stayed with friends at their sheep and cattle station. Whether the day involved mustering sheep, setting fence posts, or cleaning water troughs, all work stopped for afternoon tea. It wasn’t fancy, and the tea was strong and black (no sugar, milk or cream) in a mug. On one occasion we boiled the billy over a campfire for tea. I remember flies swarming everywhere. I was sure I’d swallow one when I took a sip of tea. I was told the trick to enjoying your tea, was to hold yourself so still the flies rested on your back instead of buzzing around your face. What I know now is that no tea is any good unless you take a moment from your daily tasks to sit and be still long enough to enjoy it.
    The Nerada Tea Plantation is in Queensland and worth a visit.


  11. Re: Favorite Tea Memory
    What a fabulous memory! This underscores the fact that tea is not merely a beverage to be gulped down in haste — but that it can, and does have spiritual, emotional, and social implications. That afternoon tea, boiled over a campfire, brought everyone together, flies and all. Thanks for sharing this!


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