Welcome Rain with Hot Tea and a Good Book

Tea, Book & Lewis

“You can never get
a cup of tea large enough or
a book long enough to suit me.”

C.S. Lewis

I made my monthly trip to downtown Leavenworth to drop off donations at Goodwill and refill my tin with my daily favorite tea, Irish blend, at Queen’s Pantry.  For some reason, I missed this sign (see above photo), prominently displayed to the right as I entered the store.  I only happened to see it as I turned slightly to my right to open the door as I exited.  I stopped, read the quote, and just had to snap a photo.  Apropos for a rainy Saturday, wouldn’t you agree?

Saturday Shopping Downtown

I ran out of my favorite blend of tea last weekend when my son and daughter-in-law visited us.  I waited impatiently Saturday morning for ten o’clock to roll around so I could head north to downtown Leavenworth to visit the local enclave of British teas, foods and sundries: the Queen’s Pantry.

Favorite Local British Tea Spot
Queen’s Pantry

I brought my empty four ounce tin, already properly labeled for Irish Blend tea, with me to the store.  The store clerk suggested I try some iced Elderberry tea, one of the two special daily teas made available to customers.  I filled a small Styrofoam cup with two or three ounces of the Elderberry and sipped it while browsing through the rest of the store.  I liked the sweetness of the tea and asked her if the iced tea had been sweetened with sugar.  She confirmed my suspicion that any sweetness came from the infusion of elderberries when steeping the tea.  I ordered a couple of ounces to take home, as well as two ounces of Japanese pan-fried green tea, another favorite variety I had run out of.

In one of the windows, a cute four cup tea pot sported the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ slogan from WWII during the Blackout when Germany bombed Britain relentlessly.  I found a set of matching salt and pepper shakers that I decided to buy, since I haven’t had a matching set for the dining room table in decades.

Keep Calm and Carry On Salt & Pepper Shakers

I asked the clerk if she had a set in a box, as I didn’t want to take her display ones. She assured me they had several more on display and in the back so she urged me to grab the pair and bring it to the counter.  She returned them to their box and rang up my tea and shakers.

Teas: Irish Blend, Elderberry, & Japanese Pan-Fried Green
Teas: Irish Blend, Elderberry, & Japanese Pan-Fried Green

I slipped in the Tune Shop next door, hoping to find some guitar picks for Terry. The selection lacked the brand and size he prefers, but I bought a half dozen just to make him laugh at my inability to select a proper pick.

I almost didn’t stop by the farmer’s market, since it was already past eleven o’clock.  But I needed some honey, and the market is only a couple of blocks away from Queen’s Pantry.  I bought my honey and tried a slice of locally grown Gala apples.  I couldn’t believe they were already harvesting them.  I should probably check my own apple tree to see if the apples are ripe.

Hillside Honey

I’ll be baking more Honey Wheat bread soon, as the temperatures drop, and we use quite a bit of honey when we make a marinade for grilling chicken. I talked briefly to a local farmer and said “Hello” to a class mate of mine from high school who has a stall of soaps and breads.

My final stop before returning home was the local K-Mart/Sears for some triple-A batteries for Terry.  I also bought a couple of frames to finally put Derek and Rachelle’s college graduation photos in.


I’ll get Terry to hang them up in the dining area on either side of the front window.  I also found a new steamer on sale but none available to purchase.  I made it all the way home and all the way to the end of this blog post before realizing I forgot to acquire a rain check for the steamer.  I guess I’ll be making a second trip to K-Mart later today to assure I get the sale price on that item.  The steamer we have is too small (tiny really) and we’d like a new one so we can steam an entire head of broccoli, not just half or a third of one.

I think I’ll warm up some leftovers for lunch and steep some of the Elderberry for a fresh glass of refreshing iced tea to complement it.


As I steep my morning cup of Irish Blend, I am thankful for all varieties of teas on my nineteenth day of ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness.’  Except for a brief flirtation with flavored coffees a decade ago, I cleave to my morning cup of green tea with an occasional afternoon bracing black tea to spur me on through the rest of the workday.

For many years I associated the taste and smell of green tea, with just a touch of milk and sugar, with childhood colds.  Whenever I had a scratchy throat or an irritating cough as a child, my mother and/or my grandmother would fix me a cup of green tea to sooth away the soreness and quiet the cough.  As I grew older, I learned the value of tea beyond just the common cold ailments of childhood.  I expanded my tea horizons to other blends, trying Darjeeling (my next favorite after green teas), Earl Grey (never again … I’d rather drink coffee), English Breakfast (my next favorite black tea after Irish Blend) and various herbal fruit blends for summer iced tea adventures.

Queen's Pantry (Leavenworth, Kansas)

Once I discovered Leavenworth housed a quaint British shop, the Queen’s Pantry, just a few miles north of my home, I eschewed the tea bag and dove head first into the world of loose tea.  I found all the necessary utensils and accessories as well as gallon sized jars of loose teas with samples I could smell and sometimes try in the shop.  I discovered Japanese Pan-Fried Green tea among the jars and now keep several ounces stocked at home along side my Irish Blend.  In addition to tea, the shop sells gifts and foods imported from Britain and at one time had a cafe that served British cuisine.  It’s a delightful spot so browse and shop on a Saturday in downtown Leavenworth; a little slice of British heaven in the Heart of America.

The Book of Tea by Okakura

At very nearly the end of 2010, on the 28th day of December, I decided to read several short ebooks found in the public domain at such sites like Project Gutenberg or Feedbooks.  I stumbled upon The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (published in 1906) with this brief blurb:

Minor classic of the Orient. Perhaps the most entertaining, most charming explanation and interpretation of traditional Japanese culture in terms of the tea ceremony. Introduction, notes by E. F. Bleiler. “Provocative and entertaining, this edition is particularly pleasing in format.” — Guide to Asia Paperbacks.

I quickly read it and gained insight into Japanese disciplines and art.  The descriptions of the tea room and the tea ceremony evoked vivid visuals I can still perceive in my minds eye.  I highly recommend for all tea aficionados.

I take my tea cold as well as hot.  If I’m not drinking water, I’m usually drinking tea (iced or otherwise).  I rarely sweeten my teas (unless I need an afternoon kick-start with plain black tea).  While I like my hot teas steeped strong, I prefer my iced teas unbrewed, relying on Tetley or Luziane‘s to steep either in the sun or on my kitchen counter.  Just a hint of tea flavor is enough for my palette.

In closing, I’d like to offer up some interesting quotes, proverbs, poems and sayings about tea:

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis

Tea…is a religion of the art of life. ~Okakura

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary. ~Chinese Proverb

Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea. ~Author Unknown

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. ~Japanese Proverb

Tea is liquid wisdom. ~Anonymous 

Tea does our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which the head invade
And keeps that palace of the soul serene.
~Edmund Waller, “Of Tea”

Is it tea time yet?  Somewhere it must be.