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The countdown is on, and your friends and loved ones are trying to be all stealth with their gift shopping — as if you don’t really know what’s going on, especially since you’re going all stealth yourself trying to get them the perfect gift. While you’re all scurrying here and there, both at the malls and online, don’t forget to drop hints for that tea gift you want.

A row of Brown Betty’s – a great gift (hint! hint!) (ETS image)

A row of Brown Betty’s – a great gift (hint! hint!) (ETS image)

Here are 3 ways to go about it:

1 Circle Items in the Catalog

Seems sort of old-school, but there are still printed catalogs around. Circle the items you want, dog-ear the pages, and be sure to leave them lying around when they will be found by the right parties, that is, those who are stealthily shopping for presents for you. The high-tech version of this is sending them Internet “bookmarks” for the tea gifts of your choice. Or shooting them pics from your cell phone to theirs.

2 Start a Conversation About the Tea Gift You Want

Assuming that the people whose gift buying decisions you are seeking to influence live in the same house, or near enough to visit, or have phone service (land line or cell or satellite or cable), you can introduce that tea gift into your conversation, such as this:

Relative: “Do you like your toast light or dark?”
You: “I think that dark toast would go best with that gongfu tea set that’s on special now at [vendor name here].”

See? Very simple.

3 Do a Pantomime of You Using That Tea Gift

Go through the motions of pouring hot water into that new Brown Betty teapot with the tea already in it and then setting the timer and then pouring out the tea when it has pretend-steeped and adding milk and sugar or lemon or honey, etc. Make some loud slurping noises (it’s okay to make sounds here, since it’s not a real pantomime) and smack your lips in satisfaction and pretend to eat a cookie to go with that pretend tea. Only a totally clueless person watching your performance would miss what you’re going on about.

Now that you have the method, get going! You don’t won’t to be disappointed when unwrapping those gifts under the tree.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let Nature Sing Holiday Tea for One (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Let Nature Sing Holiday Tea for One (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Stuck for holiday gift ideas for the tea lovers in your life? While I know that I always appreciate the gift of tea no matter how many times I’ve received it, you might be looking for a more creative tea-themed gift this year. If that’s the case, then how about taking them out for tea?

Going out for tea can sometimes be hard to justify when you are thinking about saving pennies, especially if you have a well-stocked tea cupboard at home. But I find that the benefits can far outweigh the costs because it’s the tea-themed version of the ‘experience’ gift over the ‘material’ gift. While tea may not be exactly what you think of when you think of ‘material’ presents, it is something to be bought and sold, as well as drunk. So perhaps in addition to looking at all the various tea gift sets and collections that start appearing on the market at this time of year, try looking into independent tea retailers and tea rooms in your area. If the person you are thinking of taking out for tea is quite particular, then maybe go scope a few of them out to get a feel for the atmosphere, much like you would for a restaurant.

Gift cards are sometimes an option, and if you are not particularly into tea, or if you want to give them the chance to go out to tea with someone else, then these might be a good idea. But even nicer is to take them out to tea yourself. The experience of taking the time to go enjoy a pot (or two!) of tea together might get you less tea for your money than if your bought them tea in bulk, but you might find that its value lies in other places. If you are looking for a new way to work tea onto the gift list this year, taking the tea-lover in your life out for tea can be the perfect holiday present.

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Although Mother’s Day is not for another two months in the US, it was celebrated on the 18th March in the UK. Since I happened to be home in London for this worthy event I was able to spend time carefully selecting a gift for my mother of, you guessed it, tea!

“Affection Ayurvedic”, a herbal infusion from Whittard’s, was one of the teas I bought as a Mother’s Day gift. Apart from being a tea I knew she would like, the name said it all!

“Affection Ayurvedic”, a herbal infusion from Whittard’s, was one of the teas I bought as a Mother’s Day gift. Apart from being a tea I knew she would like, the name said it all!

I decided on this gift for several reasons (aside from the fact that I like tea):

  1. While there is already lots of tea in my mother’s house, you can never really have too much tea. Because she has the proper ways to store it, I did not have to worry about the tea going “bad” or losing flavour over time.
  2. My mother can be reluctant to purchase yet another kind of tea for herself when she already have several (I am unlike her in this respect), so it was luxury rather than necessity gift (no socks or soap as a cop-out gift here).
  3. I find it fun to select tea for my mother because I know her well and, more importantly, I know her tea drinking habits well.
  4. I know that my mother is unlikely to take the time herself to browse through a tea shop’s offerings and find herself a new type of tea to enjoy.
  5. There is a huge price range for tea, depending on the quality, type, vendor, etc. So, although I wanted be generous and splurge on expensive, rare teas, this was one of those times when finances were tight. And yet I was still able to find a nice selection of inexpensive but good teas that she ended up enjoying very much.
Never enough tea for Mom!

Never enough tea for Mom!

So, although the official day for, as Wikipedia puts it, “honouring mothers and celebrating motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society” is a while away in the US, a warming (or cooling!) gift of tea is a good show of appreciation for your mother at any time during the year. Or for that matter, a good show of appreciation for anyone you care about!© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What lovely item awaits in the prettily wrapped box?

What lovely item awaits in the prettily wrapped box?

Santa gets his milk and cookies, but what does a “Tea Princess” get for Christmas? That’s easy: anything she wants!

A “Tea Princess” Christmas is full of music, bright colors, great food, and lots of wonderful teas. Plus, a truly kind-hearted “Tea Princess” shares these things with that “Tea Prince” in her life ― boyfriend, fiancé, husband, etc.

So much for the generalities. Now for the details.

Christmas for the “Tea Princess” begins with waking from dreams of sugar plums dancing and of a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer through a cold and starry night. She is raised from her gentle slumber by the aroma wafting to her nostrils of a lovely breakfast being prepared. The sounds of traditional carols grace the hollow of her ear in a gentle caress that says, “Awake, fair one.”

She rises, wraps a warm robe around her, and shuffles to the kitchen in her fuzzy slippers, to be greeted by a sign saying “Delights Await You in the Dining Room.” With a smile, she goes to the dining room and enters to see a table well spread with sparkling dishes and flatware, to inhale the thick and warm aromas of the foods that had teased her awake, and to hear those carols at full volume now, not muffled, and bringing their special inspirations to her heart. Her “Tea Prince” awaits, still wearing his apron and grinning broadly. They share breakfast and a large pot of hot Assam tea, malty and rich, and smoothed with some milk and sweetener. When they are done, he insists that she sit back and relax while he takes care of the cleanup.

A good start to the day.

Then, it’s time to unwrap the presents. A true “Tea Princess” likes to give as well as receive. Bringing good teas to the notice of others and also teawares for steeping them is a true joy. She presents her gifts to her “Tea Prince” with much excitement and anticipation of his reaction. A gaiwan ordered online and some of the finest green teas to steep in it are silently waiting, well-cushioned with crinkled tissue paper, in their boxes wrapped in colorful paper and bows. She hands it to him to tear away that paper and bows and discover the carefully chosen gift, each future sip of that tea prepared in that steeping cup conveying her love.

Now, it’s her turn to unwrap. He sets the box before her, not too big, not too small, and covered with a paper in patterns of gold and red and green, with a profusion of ribbons and bows atop it. (Her “Tea Prince” likes to go all out with such things and does all the wrapping himself just to make it more personal.) The card with it reads: “To my ‘Tea Princess’ who stimulates and soothes just as the tea does.” Should she tear into it or take care and preserve each bit of ribbon, each square inch of paper? She opts to go for it, wresting the box free of its bonds and opening to see the brilliant red tissue paper that she then peels away carefully. What could await her? What lies nested so snug in that tissue paper nest? One more layer and… there it is! A bone china beauty! A 6-cup teapot in pure sparkling white with real, hand-applied sterling trim. The perfect vessel for steeping and serving tea at her next gathering of friends and family.

Wedgwood Sterling Teapot

Wedgwood Sterling Teapot

Needless to say, this “Tea Princess” and her “Tea Prince” spent the rest of the day happily ever after!

 ~ The End ~

Here’s wishing all you tea princesses and princes a splendid holiday season.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your gift list is as long as Santa’s list is (or at least as long as your arm). The malls are crowded and your shopping time is limited. You didn’t dare brave the Black Friday crowds and so were not able to take advantage of those “door buster deals.” Now, time is getting short. Gifts of tea can speed up the process, especially when you order online!

Little Jingle Ornaments

Little Jingle Ornaments

To help you in this process, I have composed the following (sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”):

Gifts of tea, gifts of tea,
I must buy today
Oh, what fun it is to shop
On a web site — high-tech way!

Click click here, click click there
Finding the right thing
For Aunt Sue and Uncle John
A gift of tea to bring.

Dashing through the stores
In the local shopping mall
Trying hard to find
Gifts for one and all

Isn’t the right way
To find the perfect things
So online I’ll go to buy
My teas and fruit cake rings!

Gifts of tea, gifts of tea
Trav’lling on their way
Track online to know they will
Be there by Christmas day!

All you last minute shoppers can sing this as you go merrily to your fave web sites to pick out gifts of foods and teas and maybe even those cute holiday teawares. Consider including a special tree ornament with your tea gift, a great way to have your gift be memorable to the receiver. (We always hang those special ornaments in places of honor on the tree.) The great thing is that more sites are letting you pick out the items you want in that gift basket and even include loose teas, not just bagged, in recognition of those of us who have a strong preference.

While you’re at it, be sure to send yourself a little something. Shopping online is such a smart way to go that you deserve a reward! Ho, ho, ho!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My wish list begins “Dear Santa, I want this teapot…” The problem is that there are so many choices out there. Stylish teapot designs abound, so selecting just one takes some careful consideration. It’s essential, though, this time of year for tea lovers to leave hints here and there about which of these teapots are their favorites and would be great to unwrap on Christmas morning. So, here goes…

Decor Infuser Basket Glass Teapot

Decor Infuser Basket Glass Teapot

Decor Infuser Basket Glass Teapot
For those of us who want the taste that comes from tea leaves steeped loose while getting the no mess convenience of an infuser, this teapot is ideal. The wide opening at the top means that a large infuser basket can be used, and this teapot comes with a large infuser basket!

Being made of glass, it appeals to the tea voyeur who likes to watch those leaves steep (you can leave out the infuser basket to get an even better show).

Tsuki 0.5L Cast Iron Japanese Teapot

Tsuki Cast Iron Teapot

Tsuki Cast Iron Japanese Teapot
Made by the family firm of Iwachu in the town of Morioka in Japan using a sand casting technique, this cast iron teapot has a reputation for being among the finest Tetsubin teapots available.

It’s hand-polished, holds about a half liter (approximately 50 ounces), and comes boxed with booklet and removable filter.

Creative Colored Glass Teapot

Colored Glass Teapot

Creative Colored Glass Teapot
Strictly decorative, this teapot adds color and curves to your tea time. The styling is so “out there,” in fact, that this teapot transcends teapotness and approaches being a sculpture.

My favorite part is that glass bead that hangs from the curved handle and just above the lid. It makes me think of an inspiration, an idea, a wisp of sudden insight into the great puzzle of life, a capsule of light that has traveled all the way from some vastly distant star that long ago went nova and is no longer except for these stray rays.

Well, you get the idea, I think!

Lazy Teapot

Lazy Teapot

Lazy Teapot
Getting back to the practical side, try this modern yet practical teapot on a heating stand. You don’t even have to lift the pot to pour your tea! The height of ease.

The clean white ceramic teapot goes well with the satin finish stainless steel base.

Bauhaus Style Teapot
Bauhaus design emphasized basic materials and functionality, and designer Marianne Brandt, a student at the Bauhaus in 1924, came up with this teapot to meet those standards. She used brass, silver and ebony in this minimal design with no decorative elements and simple geometric shapes to create this very usable teapot.

Bauhaus Style Teapot

Bauhaus Style Teapot

As far as selecting one of these beauties to be the one in that brightly wrapped box festooned with ribbons and bows and that most magic item (the gift tag that says it’s for me), I would have to engage in a game of “Hammer Scissors Rock” to reach that Solomon-esque decision.

Here’s hoping you can decide so that your hint list (or letter to Santa) will be more specific for those in a position to grant you this boon. Ho, ho, ho!

See also:
Holiday-Colored Teawares
Teawares Fit for a Queen (or at least a Duchess)
Collectible Sadler Teapots
Metal vs. Porcelain and Bone China Teapots
My Yixing Teapots
Teapots, Teapots and More Teapots
All About Teapots
Cast Iron Teapots
Trying New Teawares — Glass Teapots
“Basic White” Teawares
Tis the Season for Sparkly Teawares
Teawares as Part of Your Holiday Décor
“Basic Black” Teawares
Price & Kensington Teawares  

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Metal Snowflakes Gift BasketWant to give the gift of tea this Christmas but not sure what that should be? Tea gift baskets can be the perfect answer.

Gift giving is a way to share something we like with others, give them something special we know they’ll like, or just let them know we’re thinking of them. Sometimes, workplaces promote a gift giving program called “Secret Santa” where you draw a name of a co-worker to give a gift without them knowing it’s you. Each of these types of giving can be met with a tea gift basket, especially if you craft it just right.

To guide you in this undertaking, I’ve laid out some basic principles for crafting the perfect basket.

First, start by selecting a tea or two and be sure to consider the level of tea knowledge of the giftee:

  • Newbie — stick to the basics such as a black tea blend, a common type of green tea like gunpowder, or a generic white blend.
  • Mid-level tea drinker — ratchet up the tea choices a notch, swapping that black tea blend for Buckingham Palace Garden Partyor Scottish Breakfast (Assam with a bit of Keemun) and the gunpowder green tea for a Japanese sencha.
  • For the “Tea Princess” on your list — Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea, a Darjeeling 2nd or Autumnal Flush, Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival Green Tea, or even Peony White Needle White Tea.
  • For your boss or someone else you want to impress — Adams Peak White Tea, Wuyi Oolong, Darjeeling White Tips White Tea, or Nine Bend Black Dragon.

Second, pick some treat or two that would go well with the teas selected according to the above list:

  • Scone mixto go with that black tea blend, especially if it contains Assam tea.
  • Lemon cookiesto go with the gunpowder tea.
  • Fruit tarts to go with the Yunnan.
  • Carrot cake or cheesecake to go with the Sencha.
  • Cookies with cinnamon, vanilla, and other such flavors to go with the Darjeeling.
  • A package of chocolate covered McVitie’s Digestives to go with anything. (Hey, it’s chocolate!)

Third, an appropriate teaware will help your giftee enjoy the tea(s) in the basket:

  • For loose teas, a nice little teapot, with an infuser basket or with a strainer, and a holiday design mug.
  • For bagged teas, either a nice little teapot with a holiday design mug, or a tea-for-one or tea-for-two set.

Woven Christmas Tree Gift BasketOnce you know what you want in the gift basket, you can select a basket that’s the right size. Basketsserve two purposes: first, to hold things, and second, to be an attractive part of the gift and possibly something the giftee will keep for years to come (I certainly have). So, choose well. Metal, wood, plastic, and woven baskets in a variety of shapes, including round, oval, rectangular, or such objects as sleighs, are available. Metal, wood, and plastic will last longer, but a woven sleigh basket will look so cute with a teddy bear in it when the tea is gone and the holidays are past.

These ideas should get you started on crafting that perfect tea gift basket. Happy hunting!

Don’t miss A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

Here are some more holiday tea gift ideas for the different types of tea-drinkers on your list. If the recipient doesn’t really fit a certain type, you can seldom go wrong by giving him or her a selection of teas, a teapot or a tea mug. Tea lovers always enjoy having a good supply of tea, and teaware, on hand.

1. The College Student: College students need their caffeine just to keep up with their busy schedules. The new TigerWing range of mate-based tisanes offer fun flavors in nifty packaging. If your student is a tea lover, they’ll appreciate a complete gift set that includes an electric kettle, loose leaf teas, paper and metal infusers, a measuring spoon and a brightly-colored teapot.

2. The Tree Hugger: For your ecologically-minded friends, how about a selection of organic, loose-leaf teas and a reusable tea strainer? Unlike teabags, which can end up in landfills, tea strainers are reusable and, with proper care, can last for years. Another option is a tea infuser mug which brews up tasty cups of loose leaf tea with minimal mess and waste.

3. The Aficionado: So you have a tea-loving friend who has all the equipment, but really loves to try new, high-quality tea. The Golden Moon range of loose leaf teas is simply excellent. My personal favorites include their amazing Darjeeling and Sinharaja (a wonderful Ceylon) teas.  Another option is a selection of loose-leaf estate teas.

4. The Anglophile: Put together an assortment of English teas, such as PG Tips, Twinings, and Taylors of Harrogate along with some traditional British foods such as clotted cream, lemon curds and jams, scones, and biscuits (cookies).

5. The Iced Tea Lover: Sure, its wintertime, but lots of folks drink the stuff year ’round. Bodum does some gorgeous iced tea pitchers and companies like Harney & Sons make special large teabags designed for brewing up pitchers of iced tea.

[Editor's note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

If you are indecisive about your gift list, don’t despair. Here are some tea-related gift ideas for everyone from tea newbies to aficionados plus folks with special circumstances. Let me know how these work for you!

1. The Patient: A friend has just been told by her doctor to eliminate caffeine because of health problems. She’s been a steady coffee drinker all her life and is really going to miss having a nice hot beverage to sip during the day. Now all true tea has caffeine, and even decaffeinated teas contain small amounts, so unless your friend’s doctor gives her the ok, stick with herbal tisanes made from non-stimulating herbs (note: mate/yerba mate is a stimulating herb). If your friend likes convenience, don’t try converting her to loose-leaf herbals, yet. Instead, get her a beautiful mug, some nifty bagged herbal tisanes, and a tea bag caddy. Not sure which tisanes to get her? Try some from Stash, Republic of Tea, or Harney & Sons.

2. The Traveler: Your aunt is a tea lover, like you, but travels a lot on business. This means that she gets to spend a lot of time in airplanes or hotel rooms where the tea options are both limited and abysmal. A tea wallet, plus some bagged teas, can help her keep a steady supply of quality tea on hand while on the go.

3. The Host/ess: If you plan to attend a lot of holiday parties this year, get some beautiful, elegant containers of tea and herbal tisane to give your gracious host or hostess. Golden Moon’s tea tins are simply gorgeous,  and are great options for folks that enjoy loose-leaf tea. If your hosts prefer bagged tea, Harney & Sons pyramid teabags come packed in handsome, reusable tins and the Republic of Tea offers both bagged and loose-leaf teas in their distinctive cylinders.

[Editor's note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’ve always enjoyed shopping, even window shopping. So, I find it fun to search for that perfect gift for my family and friends and even more fun if they happen to be fellow tea lovers.  What could be easier than finding a decorative tin of fine loose tea, or an interesting book on tea history or entertaining with tea.  How about an exquisite china cup and saucer or teapot for a collector or pretty table linens to grace their next afternoon tea-table.

Perhaps someone on your list truly appreciates a gift that has been handmade with love. I’ve received handmade teacup candles, teacup pincushions and even a silk flower arrangement in a teapot.  If you’re a baker,  a gift of scones or tea cookies make terrific gourmet gifts and can be combined with a pretty tea towel or some dessert tea for a thoughtful gift.  Many of my friends look for tiny tea theme Christmas ornaments for my table top tea tree.  Or perhaps a piece of jewelry like the pretty crystal teapot earrings that my hubby gave to me one Valentine’s Day.  The annual Teapot and Tea Calendar is always a welcome and useful gift and one that I look forward to receiving each year.

So often you hear someone say that they like to relax with a cup of tea and a good book.  Now, there’s a simple gift buying option.  If they like mysteries, the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Childs would be perfect.  The baker or cook might be pleased with one of the many books on afternoon tea.  Some of my favorites are Tea Party by Tracy Stern, Tea With A Twist by Lisa Boalt Richardson and Afternoon Tea Parties by Susannah Blake.  There are so many titles available by today’s leading authorities on tea,  it might be difficult to choose just one.  You could start with James Norwood Pratt, Jane Pettigrew, Michael Harney or Bruce Richardson, plus many others who have authored tea books.

Even children can benefit when it comes to choosing a tea theme gift.  I’ve already tucked away a play tea set for my little granddaughter for Christmas.  Nana will have lots of fun passing along her love of tea to another generation.  So, I hope you have lots of tea lovers on your gift list and happy shopping.

Don’t forget to stop by the parTEA lady’s blog, Tea and Talk!

[Editor's note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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