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Reading Tea Leaves ~ A Christmas Tea with Good Friends!

I have many blessings to count this year, but one of the biggest was becoming an active member of The Western Reserve Herb Society. I've wanted to become a member since I was a child because from the first time that I laid eyes on them, I knew that we were kindred spirits. We're a very old group, but ever evolving. They have a web page and almost everything is done online. It's completely refreshing after the last group that I was heavily involved with that fought me tooth and nail about having a facebook page!


WRHS is filled with amazing women and I am blessed to have been accepted into their fold. Most of them are much older than me and all of them are brilliant, the most intellectually stimulating and diverse group of women that I've ever met. We are the stewards of the wonderful herb garden at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens and we do a ton of herbal outreach education to young children and adults. We are a chapter of the American Herb Society, based here in Kirtland ,Ohio. Our biggest fund raising event is a magnificent Herb Fair, which we spend the entire year canning, preserving, drying and pickling for. I finally really learned how to preserve this year, a long held goal of mine and have just put yp a batch of Christmas chutney that is superb if I do say so myself.  

I work specifically in the ancient dye garden with an 80 year wonder woman who goes on frequent Celtic pilgrimages, is a Reiki master like I am and knows every plant in her care intimately. We discuss Reiki, energy and religion while we're working. Like I's an amazing group of women. 

Every meeting is a meeting first, breakbread together afterwards sort of affair. Every member is a wonderful cook, and because we are the herb society almost every dish brought from appetizers to dessert is filled with fresh herbs and edible flowers. Yesterday was no exception. It was the annual Christmas Tea and it was held at one ofvthe loveliest churches in Cleveland. The University Circle United Methodist Church, otherwise known as "The Holy Oilcan Church! From the picture below I'm sure that you can see why!


 We were  given a wonderful tour of the church and all of it's glorious Christmas decorations, a bit of the pipe organ (an original Skinner organ with an echo chamber!) and then were led back to the small chapel where we were treated to Christmas music and a sing~along by the churches pianist. After that was the tea!

We all filed back into the church parlor where we had lain our trays of tea treats sweet and savory. The was a wonderful Wassail bowl as well! The first picture below is my offering; Apple slices with curried cheese, bacon, lemon thyme and a sliver of Cajun chicken.  

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

 All of the food was fresh and exquisite; like I said this is an amazing group of cooks. I was reminded once again though of how wonderfully relaxing and fantastic an afternoon tea can be, especially one held for a specific occasion and with a fabulous group of friends! 

This holiday season why don't you sit down with a girlfriend or two and enjoy a wonderful pot of tea and a few savories. Deviled eggs are so easy to make and so are tea sandwiches. One of my favorites from yesterday? Thinly sliced fruit cake with butter, smoked turkey , arugula and a bit of mustard and mayo. Absolutely easy and just perfect for this holiday season!


The Herb Society of America

Reading Tea Leaves: scenes from a Pearl Street Tea Shop

Last week in Boulder I had the opportunity to stroll down Pearl Street for awhile. I'm no stranger there, but I always return because its still one of the places in America where the shops are mostly wonderful boutiques ... Places built on individual dreams and lively personal visions chock full of glorious merchandise, much of it handcrafted and unique.

After eating one of the yummiest hot dogs I'd ever tasted, I found myself at this lovely tea house after a spirited hike up Flaggstaff Mountain with my family and I was thirsty! Everyone else ran to the nearest Starbucks but I wanted something just a bit more real. Walking through the door I was sure I'd entered paradise... The teas were gorgeous and beautifully displayed and there was a quiet and cozy tea room in the back. I wandered from front to back, sniffed and tasted and finally settled on a lovely handcrafted ( whisk and all!) glass of powdered Matcha green tea that was lightly sweetened and milky with some of those wonderful tapioca bubbles in the bottom that you have to suck through an enormous straw.

Looking outside about 10 minutes later I was astonished to see this amazing sunset.

It was a perfect finish to a perfect day...
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