Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Happy Birthday to Her Grace, Anna, Duchess of Bedford

on September 3, 2014

Why are we wishing her happy birthday?  And, isn’t she, uh, deceased?

We’re celebrating because thanks to her, the world has Afternoon Tea.

I love tea (afternoon or otherwise).  My favorite would have to be Darjeeling (just thinking about it makes me happy)

My least favorite is a toss up between the green stuff (any of the green stuff) and Earl Gray (that oil of bergamot makes me queasy).


This is my absolute favorite teapot (mostly because the spout never drips)

I realize that Afternoon Tea is not just the brew itself – but the whole little ritual – boiling water; loose leaves; tea pot; something tasty to nibble on.  A good book.  The English really do have something going there with this little daily timeout – and we would not be worse off for indulging a little ourselves (and if that means have a PB&J sandwich with some chocolate milk, well who am I to judge?).

(If I don’t post again it’s because my (long-deceased) Irish great-grandmother just flung some lightening bolt at me – she had English-issues, but I’m a more evolved creature)

Breton Butter Cake

This isn’t my pic, but that’s exactly what it looks like. Are you drooling yet?

This is my favorite accompaniment to a pot of tea – Breton Buttercake. What????? Not shortbread???? Maevey, you heretic!!!

Well, hold on to you shorts – I DO love shortbread (posted a couple recipes a while back) – but this delightful pastry is like a cross between shortbread and pound cake. It’s totally addictive. Make one yourself and see if you don’t agree.

Totally unrelated aside….my mother was probably the best woman I have ever known (I’ll never come close to being her equal).  She loved my Dad and my brothers and I with great devotion.  But.  If she got angry with you, you pretty much prayed for death.  How did you know you were in deep poop?  She’d announce that she needed “to take tea with you”.  Sounds innocuous, doesn’t it?  UH – NOT AT ALL.  Even our friends quaked at the uttering of those words.  I’m a grown woman, she’s deceased, and I still can break out in a cold sweat thinking about it.  Oh yeah – and she never even laid so much as a finger on us – and we knew she wouldn’t – and still, the prospect of having our mother take tea with us….OK, I’m going to have a little sip of something restorative and head back to work – if I can get my hands to stop shaking.


How I take a short tea break

[Edited quite after the fact to add:  I love this little teapot & cup set which I bought from Pottery Barn when I was first married; the Waterford sugar & creamer set was a wedding gift and the tray was my mothers.  The H worked terribly long hours (chefs do, ya  know) and I would have these long Northeast winter afternoons by myself.  Later I bought larger teapots (I collected them) but this little set still fills me with delight when I use it.  I encourage every lady to put a little tea set together for herself (although it’s nice to have enough to share with your gentleman, if he is so inclined) and try to carve out a few minutes now and again for a little refined relaxation.]


34 responses to “Happy Birthday to Her Grace, Anna, Duchess of Bedford

  1. Mrs. C says:

    I love the idea of an Afternoon tea time but it just never seems possible to slow down enough for it. Your tea pot is so pretty. I have an ugly white utilitarian one.

    I don’t care for hot green tea but I do like it made into iced tea. I’ve never had Darjeerling so I have to try that. I also like Earl Gray, Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time and Chamomile.

    What exactly took place at these dreaded tea times with your mom? I’ll bet it was because she was such a sweet and gentle lady that when she expressed her disappointment, it was surely noticed. As for myself, I’m usually grouchy and cranky most of the time so when I do have something to say to the girls, it’s no different than my usual demeanor and they take no notice! Perhaps I need to take a lesson from your mom about being more sweet.

    • Mrs. C says:

      Lemon Ginger! I forgot about that one and Black Current too! So good….

    • Maeve says:

      Mrs. C., I have really strong opinions about surrounding ourselves with lovely things – not expensive, just lovely. My favorite teapot actually came from a grocery store (!!!!!!), but I acquired several others at tag sales and consignment shops. Just so much fun. I’m convinced the tea tastes better when it’s in a pretty pot.

      Regarding “taking tea” with my mother – here’s the really scary part – nobody actually ever experienced it. The threat was so dire, that my brothers and I would IMMEDIATELY cease whatever we were doing that had vexed her because there was no way that we wanted to find out what would happen. How’s that for a super power? The mere mention had us quaking in our shoes LOL!

      • Maeve says:

        Once we asked my Dad if he knew what would happen if we ever had to take tea with her. He got this confused look on his face and asked if we were sure we heard correctly that our mother was going to give us tea – so we explained. He started to hoot with laughter and advised that some things were better never experienced and that taking tea with Mommy was probably one of those. Note, the phrasing is very important – there was a world of difference between HAVING tea and TAKING tea.

      • Mrs. C says:

        I’ve had my eye out for a pretty (yet, inexpensive) teapot for some time but haven’t had any luck yet. I guess people hold onto their lovely things.

        That is too funny about your mother. I’d love to have some of that superpower! LOL..

  2. Jenny says:

    I like your teapot too, I’ve thought about writing about teatime before. My tea time is at 8 pm after the kids are put to bed. I like my tea spicy, either chai or green tea with cinnamon, a dab of cayenne and some sweetener.

    • Maeve says:

      Jenny – my favorite chai is Twinings in the red box – just a perfect blend of spices. I indulge myself by having it with either some demerara or turbinado sugar (or raw sugar for that matter). I usually try to keep away from sugar in my drinks, but with hot tea, I just can’t, LOL. I love the idea of adding some cayenne – sounds delicious and I’m going to try it. Thanks for the tip 🙂

  3. FuzzieWuzzie says:

    Here’s something for you!

    • Maeve says:

      That’s so cute!!! Much better than the bear who keeps getting his heart broken. What you been up to these days? Out finding yourself a nice honeytree before winter naptime? 🙂

      • FuzzieWuzzie says:

        I wish that i could hand in a good report but, no.
        Finding ways to cheer you up seems to help.

  4. Elspeth says:

    I have a copper tea pot that I picked up at a roadside sale.

    I like sleepy time tea. and green tea also (with chai). II have tea in the evenings.

    But I will (probably forever and always) choose a cup of coffee with vanilla extract and real cream over a cup of tea.

  5. Mrs. C says:

    Maeve, if you want a little tea time eye-candy, visit this site and pour over their 4,000 plus vintage and antique tea pots and tea accessories they have for sale.


    Also, is Darjeerling such a fancy tea that it wouldn’t be in the super Wal-Mart food section or in the grocery store? I couldn’t find any today when I looked.

    • Maeve says:

      That site is fantastic! I’m already coveting a few beauties there. Thanks hugely for the link.

      I’m surprised you could not find the tea at the supermarket. I generally get the Twinings Darjeeling (it’s in a light purple box) but I also love their English & Irish Breakfast teas as well. Bigelow has Darjeeling as well I think.

  6. hearthie says:

    Well get your teleportation gear and get over here, woman. I love tea. LOVE IT. And Darjeeling is quite nice… a sweet mellow tea. I have two teapots, one Asian and red, one large and English and rosey. Also I have a pretty coffee pot. And I have lovely cups. Won’t someone come and play teaparty with me? -batts eyelashes appealingly-

    Have you tried estate sales for teapots? I’m forever seeing stacks of china at the ones I frequent.

    PS I’ll drink most tea, excepting the “breakfast” versions, chai, and orange pekoe unless it’s iced.

    PPS I start every morning off with a mug or two of hot jasmine green tea.

    • Maeve says:

      Wouldn’t it be fun to have a virtual tea party? (well, until I have my transporter installed, that is.) Something like an online chat – talk tea and books and other lightheartedness? And whether one should take milk or not? And really, is the tea bag quite philistine-ish?

  7. hearthie says:

    PPPS for those of us who don’t eat wheat, candied nuts, bits of fruit (dried or fresh) and similar nibblies are good girly foods. Good cheese.

  8. I adore tea rituals. 🙂 Recently, a friend from Australia told me that they usually boil water for tea in electric kettles, and I cringed. I don’t know what it is–but I’ve got to have my caffeine fix just a certain way.

    • Maeve says:

      Yes – I agree; although, I will admit that I do use tea bags (slightly cringes) on occasion. I’m hunting right now for a tea tin – I have something rather specific in mind, so am having a hard time finding the right one. I rather like the search, though.

      Pier One has some very pretty tea accessories – tea balls/strainers. I rather like meandering through there.

      Do you have a special pot or tea cup?

  9. Mrs. C says:

    Ha! I know this is late for this post, but I just came across this sinful recipe today.

    Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies.


    Wouldn’t that make a dainty (NOT!) tea party treat?

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