Saturday, September 15, 2018

Tea 101 MasterClass by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas: Day 3

Day 3 of the Tea 101 MasterClass consisted largely of very helpful lectures about starting and running a tea business.  The day ended with a meditation given by Shelley Richardson and a graduation ceremony.

meditation by Shelley Richardson
(photo courtesy of Bruce Richardson)

class photo
(photo courtesy of Bruce Richardson)

Receiving my certificate of graduation
(photo courtesy of Bruce Richardson)

gift from Shelley Richardson

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tea 101 MasterClass by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas: Day 2

Day 2 of this Tea 101 MasterClass included a number of tea tastings.  We sampled black teas, herbals and infusions, and finally oolongs.  I came away from the tastings with a much greater appreciation for the flavors and aromas of fine teas.

black tea tasting notes

puehr cake

herbals, infusions, and blends

Bruce Richardson leading the Gung Fu ceremonial tasting of oolongs

The tasting of the oolongs was done in the Gung Fu style ceremony.  It was fascinating and the teas were delicious.  I have a new-found appreciation for oolong teas.

At the end of Day 2 we visited the retail shop of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.  We had great fun and all came away from the trip with much lighter wallets.

Lynn at Elmwood Inn Fine Teas

Shelley Richardson at Elmwood Inn Fine Teas

Our group at the Elmwood Inn Fine Teas retail shop 
(photo courtesy of Bruce Richardson)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Tea 101 MasterClass by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas: Day 1

Arriving at the Tea  101 MasterClass by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas I was greeted by the open door of a historic Shaker building where the class was to be held.  The classroom space was pleasant, comfortable, and well organized.

Day 1 consisted of a combination of lectures and tastings.  The lectures on "Tea as a Lifestyle" and "Understanding Specialty Teas" were followed by tastings of white and green teas.

The lectures were presented by the famous and knowledgeable Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.  The tasting was a joint effort of Bruce & Shelley Richardson with Joanna Kirby, their friend and Director of Education.  After tasting these white and green teas I can say with all assurance that Elmwood Inn Fine Teas is my new "go to" source for fine teas.

Lynn with Bruce Richardson

Monday, September 10, 2018

Tea 101 MasterClass: The Arrival

I arrived this morning at LEX, Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, ready to begin this tea adventure.  The rental car pick up area is right beside baggage claim, so I got my car and hit the road.  The drive from the airport to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill is a quick and easy one.

I saw fields of beautiful fences like these above along the route to Shaker Village.  Closer to the village, beautiful stone walls like these below lined the landscape.

Upon arrival, beautiful scenes greeted me.  The village is dotted with lovely vistas across fields, fences, and stone walls.  Inside the restaurant I found this curving Shaker staircase.

I am excited to begin the Tea 101 MasterClass organized by Elmwood Inn.  In the meanwhile I am relishing this venue, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Carmen Cay Art and Teabags as an Art Material

Artist Carmen Joyce in Action

I recently had the opportunity to ask artist Carmen Joyce of Carmen Cay Art about her work with tea bags as an art medium.  

Lynn: I would love to hear whatever you can tell me about how you started using tea bags as an art material.

Carmen: When I was in high school I would save my tea bags and use them for dyeing paper. I'd use a lighter to burn the edges of the paper, write poems on them and give them to friends. I've collected tea bags for the past 6 years or so. I didn't know what I wanted to do with them but I knew something would come to me!  About a year ago I started exploring the texture of the teabags wondering how I could use them in my artwork. That's when I started drawing on them. As I learned more about the teabags through handling them I realized they are fairly durable. I then started using glue to make bowls from the bags and I recently started to burn them to add a darker color. 

Lynn: Do you drink tea?  If so, does tea have any special meaning for you?

Carmen: I grew up in the South so I definitely drink tea! I used to drink sweet iced tea but now I stick with unsweetened. My morning ritual also involves a cup of hot tea. I like black teas, Earl Grey and jasmine teas. I love sitting on a porch with tea in hand as a welcome to the morning. 

Lynn: Do teabags represent anything in particular to you?
Carmen: Tea makes me think of community. Tea is peaceful, promotes calm and well-being and it brings people together. I love the traditions in other cultures regarding tea ceremonies. The color of tea and teabags have a sense of nostalgia for me. It makes me think of the past and reminds me of my ancestors from the United Kingdom. I wonder what tea they drank and what the meaning was for them. 

Lynn: Tell me whatever comes to mind about using teabags as an art material.

Carmen: Teabags are tough and pretty versatile. I really love burning them with a heat gun and finding ways to incorporate them into everything I create. They smell like burnt popcorn when they are burned. I've grown to consider teabags as just "paper" when it comes to an art media. When I think of them as paper it opens the door to further ideas, rather than limiting myself to it only being a "teabag". 

For more information about Carmen and her art making, see her website at

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tea 101 MasterClass, September 2018

botanical illustration of the camelia sinensis plant

I am signed up to attend the Tea 101 MasterClass that is coming up next month in Lexington, Kentucky.  This will be such a valuable experience!  The course, organized by the team at Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, is for anyone who wants to be "immersed in tea culture."  Well, that's me!  As they state, tea is not just a beverage, it is a lifestyle. So, check back in September as I post about this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tea Tasting from Tea Time Magazine

Today, Jessie Dean of the Asheville Tea Company, Jill Wasilewski of Ivory Road Cafe and Kitchen, and I got together to taste five teas that we had recently read about in Tea Time magazine.  In the July/ August 2018 issue of this magazine, you will find an article entitled "15 Teas Every Tea Lover Should Taste."  We gathered to taste five of the black teas recommended in this article.

The five teas we tasted, pictured here below from left to right, are:
1) Darjeeling Wonder Tea from
2) Himalayan Golden Black Tea from
3) China Cangyuan Yunnan Organic Black Tea from
4) Keemun Mao Feng Imperial Black Tea from
5) Nilgiri 6892 from

Jessie and I found the Keemun from global tea mart to be our favorite tea of the five.  The tea had a slightly roasted or smoky flavor that paired beautifully with the pistachio nuts that we had on the table.  Jill preferred the Yunnan black tea from Simpson & Vail.  All five of the teas were smooth and refined.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Tea Cup Fairy Gardens

I had such fun creating these tea cup fairy gardens this weekend.  I created most of the miniature elements from scratch, so the cost of putting them together was minimal.  I will give more detailed instructions here on Tuesday as a part of my series "Tea Craft Tuesdays."

Tea Cup Fairy Garden

Tea Cup Gnome Garden

Tea Cup Magic Garden

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Eco Printing with Tea Leaves

A friend taught me a new art/ craft process today:  Eco Printing.  So of course I had to try this process with tea. I used fresh tea leaves that I had clipped from the tea bush in my mother's garden.  (My mother is wonderful with plants, so I  had given her a small live tea plant many years ago.  She has tended the plant all these years and now has it living in her beautiful garden.)

Here is how my eco printing with tea leaves turned out today.  You can enlarge each image by clicking on it.  The reddish-brown blobs are bits of gardenia flower.  You will also see a sassafras leaf tucked in among the tea leaves.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Teacup as Symbol: Miss Everything by Amy Sherald

Print of Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance) by Amy Sherald

I was recently in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and had the good fortune of learning that this painting is on display at the University's Ackland Art Museum.  I will definitely stop in to see it on my next visit to that area.  It will be on display at the Ackland through August 26, 2018.  This painting, Amy Sherald's Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), won the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.  Since 2016, the painting has been on tour as a part of the The Outwin: American Portraiture Today exhibition.

So what does this painting have to do with tea, you ask?  Well, just take a look at it.  The over-sized teacup takes center stage in this portrait.  And the figure wears white gloves to hold this teacup and saucer - bringing to my mind earlier days of well-heeled women "taking tea." But this portrait features a very young black woman - surely too young to be one of those tea-taking, hat-wearing women.

I have been very curious about this image and what role tea as symbol plays in it, so I have done a bit of background research.  I have not found anything written specifically about the tea aspect of this painting.  But online you can find many (non-tea specific) written and recorded interviews with the artist.

There is a short video online HERE in which the Amy Sherald discusses this specific painting.  In this video, the Sherald suggests that the young woman in the painting is playing dress up, engaged in fantasy, (inspired by the tale of Alice in Wonderland) but also perhaps striving to be something other than what she is.  Later In this video the artist says that she wants her artwork to be "relate-able." She wants people to be able to write their own stories about her paintings.  So that is what I will do, since tea is on my mind.

I see the teacup in this painting as a symbol of propriety, conformity to what is socially acceptable in certain circles.  In the case of this over-sized teacup, I see this young woman dreaming of being or becoming a woman who lives comfortably, a woman who has time to socialize and take tea with other women like herself.  Because the figure in this portrait is quite young, and the teacup is quite large, the painting feels dream-like and aspirational to me.