Let’s Talk Tea

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

In my books, when company comes to visit, they are more  likely going to be offered a cup of tea rather than a cup of coffee. I suppose this is because I’m a tea lover myself and am not much on coffee (which makes me pretty much an outlier among my south Louisiana family ? )

I enjoy experimenting with tea flavors – green, black rooibos, herbal, chais. Some of my favorites are Hartney’s Hot Spicy Cinnamon and Bigelow’s Vanilla Chai.  I also have a small collection of tea cups that I’ve collected – I’ve sprinkled images of some of them throughout this post.

* * * * * I’m a big fan of dragonflys – here are some cups that reflect that

Now for some trivia and fun facts related to tea:

  • Not only is tea delicious but it is actually good for you. One of the things contained in tea are polyphenols which are antioxidants that repair cells. Because of this, consuming tea might help our bodies fend off cardiovascular diseases, cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus and other maladies.
  • It is estimated that there a 1,500 different types of tea.
  • On a per capita basis, Ireland is the largest nation of tea drinkers. Great Britain comes in second
  • Approximately 85% of tea consumed in the United States is in the form of iced tea.
* * * These cups are some of the ones I received as gifts – my friends know me well 🙂
  • The United States imports over 519 million pounds of tea annually.
  • Tea is second only to water as the most widely consumed beverage worldwide.
  • The annual worldwide production of tea comes in at over 3 million tons.
  • Tieguanyin, an oolong tea, is the most expensive tea in the world at a cost of about  $1,500 a pound.

    * * * * * These belonged to my grandmother – I cherish them dearly
  • The United States invented both the tea bag and iced tea. Not everyone thinks the tea bag is a good thing as connoisseurs consider tea brewed from loose leaves to be richer in flavor.
  • A cup of brewed tea on average contains less than half the caffeine of the same amount of coffee.
  • The Twining family opened their teashop, the Golden Lyon, in 1717. That shop is still open today.

    * * * * *I like to collect mugs from places I’ve visited – here are some of my faves
  • If a scene calls for an actor to drink whisky, they usually substitute watered-down tea, which has the same look as whisky.
  • The action of tea leaves uncurling as hot water is poured over them is called “the agony of the leaves”.
  • Loose tea stays good for about two years if you keep it away from moisture and light. Tea bags, however, are only good for about six months before they begin losing their flavor.

    * * * * * And of course, as a Winnie The Pooh fan, I couldn’t pass these up
  • Black, oolong, green, and white tea all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference comes in how the leaves are treated after they are harvested.
    For black tea, the leaves are left to ferment until they turn black, then dried and packaged.
    Oolong tea follows a similar process to black tea, but each individual stage in the process is not as long.
    Green tea isn’t put through a fermentation process, rather it is either steamed or pan fried.
    White tea is the least processed of the four. It is made from younger leaves that are usually only left to sun dry briefly before being prepared for packaging.

    * * * * * And finally, here are two of my favorite writer-related mugs
  • Herbal “teas” are technically not teas at all, but rather, something called a tisane.
  • Guinness World Records associated with tea (as of 2016)
    Largest Tea Bag – 551 pounds, 9.8 feet wide by 13 feet high.
    Largest Tea Cup – 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide
    Most Cups of Tea Made in One Hour – 1848 (made by a team of 12 individuals)

And finally, my favorite tea quote:
You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S.Lewis

So, are you a tea drinker? Do you have a favorite flavor? And did any of the above bits of trivia surprise you?


Flavors of Fall!

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  Here at Wildflower Junction we’re celebrating all things Autumn this week. At first I had trouble figuring out what I would write about – after all, there are so many great things to love about this time of year – cooler temperatures (at least in theory!), yummy foods like soups, gumbos and chili, fall colors peeping out everywhere, high school football, and so much more.

But then I went to the mailbox where I found my latest tea catalog and BOOM, I had my topic. Because one of my favorite things about Autumn is the availability of some yummy seasonal teas.

Of course, to do this piece justice, I had to do some research to rediscover old favorites and find new blends to try. So let’s talk about some of those great flavors.

The first one everyone thinks of for Fall is pumpkin.  But did you know that in addition to the regular pumpkin spice tea Teavana makes one called Pumpkin Spice Brulee, Twinings makes a Pumpkin Spice Chai,  Stash makes a decaf version of Pumpkin Spice and Flying Leaf Tea Co. makes a blend called Smashing Pumpkins (what a fun name!)?

Another seasonal flavor favorite is apple. Again, there are intriguing blends beyond your normal Spiced Apple. Tea Forte offers Harvest Apple Spice and Swiss Apple, Republic of Tea offers Caramel Apple and Hot Apple Cider blends, Teavana has a flavor called Apple Pie a la Mode and Capital Teas offers one called Apple Strudel.

Then of course there is cranberry. The Republic of Tea offers both Cranberry Spice Hibiscus and Cranberry Blood Orange while Celestial Seasonings has both a Cranberry Vanilla and a Cranberry Apple blend,  Teavana makes a Pomegranate Cranberry herbal tea and Davids Tea offers one called Yes We Cran (another fun name!).

Then there are a number of Autumn teas with intriguing names such as Republic of Tea’s Sonoma Mulled Zin, Teavana’s Caramel Truffle, Davids Tea’s Maple Sugar, and Flying Leaf Tea Co. offers a flavor called The Nutty Butterscotch.

I don’t know about you, but I noted quite a few in those lists that I am REALLY eager to try.

So are you a fan of tea? If so, do you have a favorite flavor?  Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win your choice of any book in my backlist.


High Tea at the Beach ~Tanya Hanson

I’m blessed not only to have a wonderful sister in law, but I also often get to party with her in OAHU where she and MarryingMinda Crop to Useher hubs moved last year!  In fact, it was her guest room I was staying in a year ago April that inspired my 2014 Western historical romance The Christmas Room.

Last week, we tea-partied at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki.

First lady today

This gorgeous hotel is called “the First Lady of Oahu.”  Waikiki’s first hotel, then simply The Moana, opened for guests in 1901. Architect Oliver Traphagen designed a luxury hotel in the “Hawaiian Gothic” style that included amenities in its 75 rooms that were not usually seen–private baths, telephones, billiard parlor, and the first electric elevator in the islands. (In 1898, when Theodore Roosevelt annexed Hawaii as an American territory, the reality of a tourist economy was already burgeoning.)

Daily rate in 1901 was a heady $1.50!


Over the years, guests have included visitors such as the Prince of Wales (later the abdicated Edward 8), Agatha Christie, Amelia Earhart, Frank Sinatra, and Jane Stanford, co-founder of the famed university. In fact, her death inside the hotel in 1905 is a suspected homicide.

Almost immediately upon the hotel’s opening, afternoon tea became a tradition on “The Veranda”.

Banyan tree

Although King David Kalakaua (1836-1891) had actively promoted a return to many island cultural ways quashed by American missionaries early in the 19th century, most turn-of-the-century Honolulu citizens (including King David) valued Victorian fashion and practices.

Tea tray

These days, high tea on The Veranda is a special event I highly recommend. Guests are attended almost constantly by classy waitstaff and served a marvelous meal of sweets and savories. Tiny fingers sandwiches to start, scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, and pastries displayed on elegant 3-tired English bone china trays… Teapots are continually refreshed; I indulged in The Veranda’s signature tea, Moana Sunset, a black tea highlighted by mango and ohelo berry.


Berries and cream…and a cleansing finish of green tea sorbet.

Strawberries and cream

Sorbet with gift fan

An additional highlight, each of us received a souvenir fan!

And what could beat the tableside view?

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Also widely renowned is The Veranda’s Banyan tree, planted in 1904 as a toddler of 7 feet and 7 years of age.

Nowadays the tree is 75 feet high with its branches spreading 150 feet. In 1979, the banyan was placed on the Exceptional Tree List, a registry created to protect rare and historic trees.


The interior of The Moana Surfrider is a gorgeous mix of traditional and tropical.

Grand staircase

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The front porch is inviting as well, filled as it is with dozens of old-style rocking chairs.

Front porch

We took a load off with tradewinds rustling across our fans, er, faces.

Us with our fans in the rocking chairs

It was an afternoon to remember!

How about you? Who of you enjoys afternoon tea, whether elaborate like this or a simple cuppa in your home?



Blurb: (click on cover to purchase)

Running from her past in Lake Tahoe and healing from unspeakable grief, Martita Akala has built a new life on the island of Oahu…until a handsome cowboy from the mainland disrupts her well-ordered peace. 

American cowboy Rooney Lind travels the ocean to fulfill a death-bed promise to find his late cousin’s  lost love. But spending time in Martita’s “Christmas Room” makes him realize he’s found what he’s been looking for his whole life long.