This should be categorized "Other Things I Love". It seems like a brilliant marketing idea to have tearooms around the globe participate in a major scone baking event. It seems we could promote our businesses through a fun event that draws lots of media attention, so it began. A huge scone baking event - maybe to win the big prize of being on "the list". I enjoy baking and people seem to enjoy the results.
One Sunday afternoon when I was eight years old and while Mother was visiting neighbors and Daddy was napping, I baked my first cake. We had a new Norge range that came with a weighty cookbook with great recipes. By age 12, I cooked most of the meals for our family - that doesn't mean they were gourmet - merely that I cooked them. It was with pride that I won the Betty Crocker homemaker award in high school - the award not diminished by the fact that our graduating class at Elkton had only 21 members.
Always chasing bright shiny objects, my education encompasses 15 years of college and many personal and professional treks. At an SCAA meeting in Denver many years ago, my dining tablemate remarked that tea and etiquette are two careers for which one can never become too old - one becomes more respectable. My affair with tea has been a long passionate learning experience. Its many prism-like facets have held my gaze and we'll grow old together, I suppose.
Tea blending came naturally perhaps as a result of the cooking experience. Having decided to become immersed in tea, I opened a tea shop, Carnelian Rose Tea, with the idea of being a small, niche supplier of specialty tea. A restaurant license was needed to sample tea in teacups (as opposed to paper cups) and I thought: go for it! The business grew and was moved from a 2,000 sq. ft. space to 5,500 sq. ft. tea shop, gift shop, commercial kitchen and tea warehouse. It was well worth the effort!
An ardent supporter of the Specialty Tea Institute, I've had the honor of serving over ten years on the STI Tea Advisory Board and chaired the 2005 STI Tea Symposium in Seattle, Washington. Having served on the STI Education Committee while Foundations of Tea Level I and II were formulated, STI has my deepest respect for the forward-thinking, studious teaching platform that it provides to its students.
Thank you to my tea friend, Charity Chalmers, Chariteas, STI Certified Tea Professional, who served as a sounding board and valuable addition to start-up in the midst of her many tea travels and operating a successful tea shop in Sandy, Oregon. Special thanks to Annelise Pitt, Thistledown Cozies, a 5-year sponsor; King Arthur Flour, a 5-year sponsor; Amanda Slade, Janis Badarau and Lisa Boalt Richardson for their support, too.
There is little need for me to be in the kitchen any longer and a perfect time in life to teach STI tea education classes and to finish long-planned cookbooks. Time to share recipes, make new friends and have a cup of tea.
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