Spill the Tea: Caroline’s Coffee Roaster

Last year I took my niece to Reno to celebrate her birthday, and of course I had to stop at a tea place (or two). I choose the Laughing C. A. T. Cafe, as I love Cats, but unfortunately I did not have a fun experience there

The following day we went to the Bubble Tea Station in Midtown and had a much better experience.

When we left Reno, we decided to stop in Grass Valley, CA for dinner. It was hard trying to find a place as California in 2021, almost everything was takeaway and after driving we all just wanted some time to not be in the car. Quite a few places had spaces outside but contrary to most people’s beliefs California is not warm year round, as in Northern CA it is freezing in February. So after driving around to a few different places we decided to try downtown. Downtown we ran into even more issues as we had all forgotten it was Super Bowl Sunday and lots of restaurants that did offer dine-in were packed with sports fans.

As we searched for a place to eat that we could be seated immediately, I spotted Caroline’s Coffee Roasters and had to have us stop there.

I recognized the name of the the place as the year before I was gifted some tea from Caroline’s Coffee Roasters. I had looked the website up and it seemed like a cute little place to go to.

Caroline’s Coffee Roasters began as a health food store and beekeeping supply shop back in the 1980s. Caroline Fike bought the shop and changed the name to Caroline’s Honey Spice and Everything Nice. A couple years later her husband and son decided to incorporate the coffee roasting and the name was changed to Carolines Coffee Roasters. It still remains a family owned business today.

We arrived at Caroline’s Coffee Roster at 5:15 and the shop closes at 5:30. We asked if it was still okay for us to shop, as I understand what it is like when you need to close and you have last minute people there, but they said it was fine for us to be there and spend the remaining 15 minutes shopping.

The shop was absolutely adorable and cute! It had a variety of tea and coffee that you could purchase (and are available online); along with little gifts such as mugs, travel cups, stickers, gift baskets, etc.

They also had a cute little tree in the window for people to leave a note about what they were most thankful for in world amidst all the craziness of 2020 and 2021.

I of course had to add that I was thankful for tea.

In the end I ordered Ruby Lemon Mint tea and a cute hiking stamp for a friend’s birthday. The tea was fantastic (I tried a bit to taste test it, of course-you can’t give your friend untested tea). It was delicious and the staff was super friendly and sweet. They provided great assistance as I tried to choose the tea my friend would enjoy the most. I would not only go there again, but I know any time I go to Grass Valley I will be stopping by here.

For Valentine’s Day, a friend of mine gifted me some of their Princess Grey Tea and it was absolutely delicious.

Again I recommend the tea and the shop if you are ever in Grass Valley.

For more tea house reviews, go to Spill the Tea: Bubble Tea Station

For more tea posts, go to How to Make Royal Milk Tea

How to Make Royal Milk Tea

My niece and I were watching the Chinese drama Love O2O and the girls in the series would be drinking or talk about how much they love to drink milk tea. After completing the series, I decided to try and make some as I love tea, and it looked delicious.

I looked around on Pinterest and found a tea recipe from Plum Deluxe that seemed easy to follow and similar to the one they had in the series.

Assam and Darjeeling were recommended, but I have also made this tea with Earl Grey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Darjeeling tea leaves or 1/2 teaspoon Assam tea leaves or 2 teaspoons black tea of choice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Honey or sugar, to taste
  • tea infuser

Directions:

  1. Add the tea into a small bowl.
  2. Boil some water and add a small amount to just coat the leaves in the bowl.
  3. In the meantime, heat the milk and water in a small pot.
  4. Just before the milk and water start to boil, add the moistened leaves and turn off the heat. Stir them with a spoon to mix them in.
  5. Cover the pot and let sit for 4 minutes.
  6. Give it another stir and then remove the bags and pour the milk tea into a teapot or mug of choice.
  7. Sweeten with either honey or sugar if you’d like.

I loved it and it was super simple to make, it reminded me of how I make my Matcha Lattes. I do recommend using a throwaway bag to infuse the milk with the tea, as it is much easier to put the bags in the milk than trying to pour the milk through an infuser as sometimes heated milk has trouble trickling through. If all you have is tea bags, you can also substitute two tea bags for the teaspoons of loose leaf.

I also used my milk frother to froth it up, you don’t have to but I thought it added a little special something to it. Plus I love using my milk frother.

I highly recommend this recipe and have made it multiple times since (I don’t blog as fast as I drink tea).

For more tea posts, go to Spinach Puffs

For more Recipes, go to Wardrobe Green Bean, Potato Casserole

For more from Plum Deluxe, go to Blueberry Yogurt Oat Scones

Charlotte’s Story

Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

by Carolyn Korsmeyer

I was on Instagram when I came across a post by Heather Moll, in which she was looking for Jane Austen fans to read an ARC of her newest book. I of course am always looking for new things to read (even though my to-read list is crazy long) and reached out to her.

We discussed when she would like the review posted, but after we messaged each other something kept niggling in the back of my mind, I had forgotten something? But what?

After I received Moll’s ARC it suddenly hit me! Back in December, Wiley Saichek had reached out to me to review Carolyn Korsmeyer new book Charlotte’s Story. With him emailing me at the beginning of the holiday season it had completely slipped my mind.

From Clueless

Feeling all kinds of horrible for promising to review the novel and having not done it, I decided before I could check out Moll’s work I needed to read and review this immediately.

When I first read the premise of the the novel, I was intrigued as I have always liked the character Charlotte Lucas and I do not feel she gets enough appreciation. She is often seen as the “what not to do” character, but for a woman with limited options she was cunning and wily. She may not have married for love, but she also didn’t have a disastrous marriage like in The Buccaneers. While she married a man that isn’t passionate, she was for it ate to marry one who wouldn’t hurt her, abuse her, or cheat on her. And while he is silly and bumbling, Charlotte could have had it much worse.

For those of you who have never read or watched Pride and Prejudice, or may not know the character of Charlotte Lucas I will give a brief summary. The story of Pride and Prejudice revolves around the Bennet family, a large family consisting of five daughters living on an estate that is entailed (can only be inherited by a male relative). Mr. and Mrs. Bennet always believed they would have a boy and didn’t plan for an outcome of only girls nor have they been very prudent with their money. Mrs. Bennet is eager to marry all her children off ASAP, as when Mr. Bennet dies they will have a very different lifestyle and it will be harder to find them suitors. Two men come into the neighborhood, along with English officers and a distant cousin who will inherit when Mr. Bennet passes. Mrs. Bennet tried to ensnare marriage proposals but things do not go as planned. There is comedy, drama, and more!

Charlotte Lucas is the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet (second eldest Bennet daughter), and when Elizabeth rejects their distant cousin, Mr. Collins’, marriage proposal Charlotte swoops in. She invites Mr. Collins to move into Lucas Lodge and ends up engaged to him! After their marriage Charlotte moves to Hunsford, to Mr. Collins’ parish. When Elizabeth, Maria Lucas (Charlotte’s sister) and Sir William (Charlotte’s father) visit the Collinses, they are invited to dine with Lady Cathrine de Bourgh who not only is Mr. Collins’ patroness but also Mr. Darcy’s aunt; Mr. Darcy being one of the gentlemen who Mrs. Bennet was originally trying to snare and one that Elizabeth can’t stand.

After this vacation, Elizabeth returns home and we do not hear of Charlotte until the end of Pride and Prejudice. So there is a lot of wiggle room to create a “new” story.

This novel starts off with Elizabeth’s rejection and Charlotte deciding to net Mr. Collins. The two are quickly wed and then go to his home. Charlotte begins busying herself with taking everything into hand (as a bachelor does not always keep the best house). She tries to start a friendship with Lady Catherine’s daughter, Anne, but finds it difficult as Anne has a low constitution and a bulldog of a companion.

Charlotte finds it lonely in her new life, missing her friends and family and is also sad not to be pregnant as soon as she wishes. She also finds herself regretting aspects of her marriage, such as the fact that she was not wooed, won, or worked for. It reminds me of Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and how her husband did not understand the value of his wife as she was won “without effort”. Charlotte also realizes that in her quest for marriage, home, stability, etc.-she never really thought about what type of man she should be looking for.

Hmm…?

When Elizabeth and Maria arrive, Charlotte becomes the viewer watching the scenes unfold, being told later by Elizabeth what has happened-from Darcy rejected proposal to Darcy’s secret.

In this adaptation Darcy and Anne are close cousins, although he has no desire to marry her. It was nice to see it as in Austen’s original piece all is told from Elizabeth’s point of reference (colored by her dislike of Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine). From Charlotte’s point of view Anne is very nice, although naive, and the two eventually become friends.

The relationship between the Collinses become fractured when Charlotte falls extremely ill and while appreciative of the care Mr. Collins gave Charlotte is furious that Mr. Collins never contacted her family about it. Mr. Collins apologizes and shares about his childhood and that his parents never planned for children, his mother died in childbirth, and he has no familial bonds with anyone. It never occurred to him to notify her family. Charlotte forgives him, but everything splinters over the Lydia/Wickham and Elizabeth/Darcy situation. Mr. Collins wants to distance himself from his family (and rebuke them for their actions); while Charlotte wants to support her friends. After the dust has settled, and a quick visit to Hertfordshire, with no children on the horizon Mr. Collins sends Charlotte to Bath to partake in the waters. She journies with Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Norris (Mrs. Bennet’s sister), Maria, Kitty, and Mary. Anne and her nurse/companion Mrs. Jenkins also plan to meet them there.

In Bath, Charlotte partakes of the water and again becomes a spectator into the lives of her party. Kitty, Maria, and Mary enjoy concerts, balls, parties, and young suitors. Anne is thrilled with being free from her mother and finds her own suitor, also being followed closely by Colonel Fitzwilliam. *Wink, wink*.

Colonel Fitzwilliam

Eventually their time in Bath ends and they all must return home, Mary joining the Collinses-and with one more twist in life’s plans will Charlotte eventually finds happiness or just sorrow?

So what did I think of the book? I thought Korsmeyer did a great job at trying to mimic Jane Austen’s style and stay true to the novel while putting her own spin on it. The only part of the book I really disliked was that several times Charlotte was moved to observer instead of an active member of the story. For a book that is supposed to be about her, at times I felt she felt became part of the scenery instead of staying the main player.

Korsmeyer does take liberties with creating her own story and some changes to the characters will not appeal to everyone. While I don’t agree with her depiction of some of the characters I did not feel that she did anything that was too contrary to the character’s “possibilities”. One example is the character change of Mary Bennet, who people seem to disagree with the most. In this version, Mary is taken to Bath and after she receives positive attention from her mother (and young men) with a new style of dress and a different way of acting; she embraces a new personality. For someone who is often only tolerated, left out, and the source of jokes in her family, I could see that with this change to actually being wanted, Mary would try to do whatever she could to keep it. Such as, completely changing her personality and making decisions she previously would not do. After all, I have known people in my life who have behaved like that. It might not be the route I would have taken, but I do not feel it is out of the realm of possibilities for the Austen character.

Parody of the none for Gretchen Weiners meme

Reading this book there were two points Korsmeyer made that I found extremely fascinating. The first is that Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy are the same amount of socially awkward, but in different areas on the spectrum. While Mr. Collins covers his insecurities with a constant stream of words, Mr. Darcy covers his with silence and scowls.

“At one point, I had the oddest impression that in their own ways each man [Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy] was evincing his discomfort with company. How very strange to speculate that my garrulous husband and this stern statue might both be simply ill at ease in society.

Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Carolyn Korsmeyer

It is a fair comparison to make as we see Mr. Darcy react different when in company he knows/likes-however in the original novel we never see how Mr. Collins reacts when he is at home just with Charlotte.

The other point I found really thought provoking was when Mr. Collins discusses his childhood. In this adaptation, Mr. Collins’ mother died in childbirth, his father hated/blamed him + ignored him, and Me. Collins spent his whole life trying to get people to like him. Then one day he meets Lady Catherine who actually listens to what he says and enjoys his company. If this backstory were the case then in a way Lady Catherine has filled that vacant “parental” slot in Mr. Collins’ life. He now has someone who will “rear” him, give him advice, financially care for him (she’s his patron), etc. And not only does he have a “parent” in his life, but has gained “family” with Lady Catherine’s family. Just to be clear I’m not saying that Mr. Collins actually believes the de Bourgh family and relations to be his family, I’m saying that subconsciously he’s adopted them and believes they feel the same about him. Also if he never really had family growing up it would explain why he has no idea how to act with the Bennets, talking to them like he read a book on how to converse with one’s relations. But again, this is all supposition.

I found Korsmeyer to be a talented writer who is able to write a story that can hold your interest. This book will not be for everyone but I do believe that if you enjoy Pride and Prejudice adaptations it is well worth a read to see a different view into the Collinses and a deepening of characters that are often at the back of the action. Besides having more Charlotte, I really enjoyed the fleshing out of Anne de Bourgh, Maria Lucas, Kitty Bennet, Mary Bennet, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Whether or not you agree with everything in the story, I still think most will enjoy the stroll down a “what if” path in the Jane Austen universe.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to Can The Shop Around the Corner Be Considered A Pride and Prejudice Adaption?

For more on Charlotte Lucas, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Book Club/Tea Party: Spinach Puffs

I am sooo, sooo, sooo behind in these. In October 2020 some friends and I started meeting every Wednesday for a Tea Party/Bible Study/Book Club. We began with The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, and when we finished moved on to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This is different from my book club and the Book Club Picks I have been reviewing (and also desperately need to catch up on). I’ve been sharing all our tea recipes for you too, to try at home.

For the fifth and final week we did the feast with Aslan:

“Meanwhile, let the feast be prepared. Ladies, take these Daughters of Eve to the pavilion and minister to them.”

For this week we had Nobilitea’s Regal Plum (as the Pevensie’s are royalty), French Bread, Sausage Green Bean Potato Casserole, Spinach Puffs, and Strawberry Shortcake.

One thing I will be doing differently here than in my earlier posts, is that I will be sharing discussion questions that your group can discuss as you read and eat. I didn’t post discussion questions in the previous posts on The Magician’s Nephew, as I wasn’t in charge of that book. For discussion questions, click on this link: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Discussion Questions Chapter 10-17.pdfDownload

Let’s spill the tea.

This recipe comes from Gourmandize.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Thaw pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix 1 egg and water and set aside
  3. Mix remaining eggs, cheese, spinach, onion and parsley
  4. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface.
  5. Roll each pastry sheet into 12-inch square and cut each into 16 (3-inch) squares
  6. Place 1 tablespoon spinach mixture in center of each square
  7. Brush edges with egg mixture. Fold squares over filling to form triangles
  8. Crimp edges to seal.
  9. Place on baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture
  10. Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

They were righteous and rocked. Haha, you can’t have a post on spinach puffs without mentioning Kronk!

For more from our The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe teas, go to Sausage, Green Bean, Potato Casserole

For more recipes, go to Marmalade Rolls

For more tea posts, go to Spill the Tea: Bubble Tea Station

Spill the Tea: Bubble Tea Station

Last year I took my niece to Reno to celebrate her birthday, and of course I had to stop at a tea place (or two). I choose the Laughing C. A. T. Cafe, as I love Cats, but unfortunately I did not have a fun experience there.

The following day I wanted to try another place, but my niece is not a fan of tea (I’m trying to convince her otherwise). However, she does like Boba and doesn’t consider it as “gross” as “my tea” so it is fair game to try. I enjoy Boba so I was happy to try out a place.

I wasn’t sure where to go and Reno has a LOT of Boba places to choose from. I searched through the options, tried to find the highest rated and settled on Bubble Tea Station in Midtown.

Bubble Tea Station had really high reviews and when we arrived there, the line was super long. You know that something has to be good if the line to get it is enormous.

They had so many options to choose from, which was really nice, as many places had changed to a small menu with COVID-19.

Bubble Tea Station (BTS) did make one change to their menu, they no longer offered a choice of size, but due to costs only serve large Bobas (24 ounces).

We each decided on different ones: my sister ordered passionfruit (no boba as she hates tapioca), I ordered Matcha (no boba as I too hate tapioca), and my niece ordered the original.

My sister and I loved our drinks (I guzzled mine down) while my niece didn’t care for the original. She ended up trading with my sister and enjoyed the passionfruit better.

The staff were very kind and friendly and gave wonderful suggestions to those uncertain as what to drink.

If you love Boba I highly recommend it and would definitely revisit when I return to Reno.

Also as a bonus, there is an amazing shop across the street, Junkee. Don’t miss out on that store as it has so many awesome things!

For more tea house reviews, go to Spill the Tea: The Laughing C.A.T. (Coffee Roasting and Tea)

For more tea posts, go to Sausage, Green Bean, Potato Casserole