Over the Teacups

Giving Voice to the Tea Industry

5 Things You Can’t Skimp On In Your New Tea Shop

Posted on | January 2, 2014 | No Comments

Restaurant or Tea Shop Must-Haves

While there are many factors that are important in the success of any restaurant, five factors are essential. Not only do these guidelines assure success, failure to meet any one of them may be fatal to your fledgling enterprise.

Tea by Julia Faye

Tea Shop: Tea by Julia Faye

Customer Service

Prompt, friendly interaction with customers establishes the foundation of an enjoyable experience for your customers. Train staff to remember “ABC” in any situation: Always Be Courteous. Regard problems as a challenge to meet, not as a disruption to routine. Take complaints seriously, and address problems as soon as they are discovered.

Kitchen Staff

One of the most disruptive conditions in the restaurant business is high turnover among kitchen staff. There is a learning curve in both preparation, and presentation of your menu items. Hire good people; train them well; let them know how important they are. While adequate pay is important, intangibles such as expressing appreciation for a job well done, and making sure that unpleasant tasks are assigned fairly will inspire loyalty and minimize costly turnover.

Food Quality

There are many factors to consider in menu planning: freshness, flavor, current food fashion, and attractive presentation. On the practical side, you also need to consider cost, preparation time, and potential waste. Developing a few unique items can help set your restaurant apart from competitors. A favorite family dessert, or Aunt Gertrude’s Secret Recipe Salad Dressing can have customers coming back for more.

Kitchen Cleanliness

While most customers don’t see behind the scenes to know whether or not your kitchen harbors dirty little secrets, a dirty kitchen poses health and safety hazards, and can negatively impact employee morale. Most Health Department violations are a matter of public record, and can be a source of bad publicity for months after violations have been corrected. The only thing worse than a Health Department violation, is the potential financial liability for a food-borne illness affecting one or more customers.


Finally, the overall appearance of public areas are vital to success. Plumbing leaks in bathrooms, or cracks on the dining room walls creates a bad impression. Fresh, clean decor affirms the impression of fresh, clean food. Attention to detail in maintaining the overall appearance of your restaurant indicates that you pay attention to detail with the menu as well.

Opening a new tea shop restaurant can be an exciting experience. By paying close attention to these basic success factors, you can overcome the many challenges that often follow.

Tea Shop! Secrets to Create the Perfect Ambiance

Posted on | December 31, 2013 | No Comments

Starting a Tea Shop

If you’re starting your own tea shop, you’re probably already aware that the success of any cafe or restaurant depends on its atmosphere, as much as its menu. Even if you have the best Ceylon, Darjeeling and Earl Grey this side of the Atlantic, no one will want to sit and sip in a crowded, stuffy, or unpleasant venue! To build the best possible ambiance for your tea shop, here are a few tips.

Tea Time! Secrets to Create the Perfect Ambiance

Appropriate Tea Shop Music

There’s a time and a place for heavy metal music, and it isn’t in a tea bar or dainty tea shop. On the other hand, generic instrumentals won’t stand out any more than silence. Find a happy medium by establishing your tea shop’s theme and working outwards from there. For example, if you cater to a hip, casual crowd, they’ll expect to hear the latest Billboard pop; if you’re an Asian-inspired business, zithers will add a twang, and a touch of otherworldly mystery to your tea shop.

Beautiful Tea Shop Lighting

Florescent lights are for the bathroom. For the main floor, splurge on something beautiful and unique, like a grand chandelier in the center of the room, or a collection of tiny tea lights on every table. Don’t settle for standard-issue lighting fixtures, either; look for glass, crystal, or gold materials that will catch the light and sparkle over your guests.

Decorations For Your Tea Shop

What’s on your walls? What covers your windows? Colors are secondary to style in this regard, so worry less about paint, and more about what photos or prints you’ll be hanging later. In an ideal shop, your tea-drinkers will have plenty to occupy their attention while waiting in line, or working on their novels, so don’t skimp on the accents and accessories.

Coordinating Furniture

You’ll want to buy furniture in bulk to establish a soothing, flowing ambiance, where most everything matches, and nothing detaches the eye from the overall atmosphere. They don’t have to be identical pieces as long as they all contribute to the same picture, like chairs interwoven with the same designs,  wood and plastic restaurant tables made out of the same wood, et cetera. Of course, you can buy identical furniture too, especially for a romantic theme; nothing is cuter than a his-and-hers set!

These are just a few industry and tea school secrets for creating a mood in your cafe, restaurant, or tea shop. At the end of the day, it’s only one aspect of your success, with customer service, and drink quality being the facets of the big three. Keep all of them in mind to build your perfect tea shop!

Merry Christmas Cheer to You!

Posted on | December 10, 2013 | No Comments

Merry Christmas

It’s a wonderful time of year with peace, love and unity are in our hearts. The video, “Say Merry Christmas” is a good reminder that Christmas is not about shopping or the gifts or a holiday.

Lyrics to “Say Merry Christmas” are available for free download.

Merry Christmas

Need to Recapture Lost Tea Photos?

Posted on | December 2, 2013 | No Comments

Have You Lost Your Tea Photos?

Sometimes it seems that gremlins find their way into my Drop Box folder’s tea photos or the backup files.  I’m sharing my tip with you in case you have experienced the same issues.

If you’ve loaded your tea photos onto your web server, or not, but can see the photo on your screen, it’s easy to take a screen shot and resave to your tea photos file.

Snap-A-Shot Pro by Nice Kit

I use Snap-A-Shot Pro for screen capture, save as .jpg or .png and then edit with Adobe Fireworks or Photoshop.

And not just for lost tea photo recovery: today, I needed to capture part of Chariteas’ photos but they are coded for no right-click, save.

With Snap-A-Shot, screen capture was easy, the edit very simple, then an insert into an STI podcast discussing tea tutorials at Chariteas. (Reminder: always have photo credit permission before infringing upon intellectual property rights).

Chariteas sign3

Before: Chariteas’ Screen Capture Photo

After: Chariteas' Screen Capture

After: Chariteas’ Screen Capture

Chariteas sign

After: Chariteas’ Screen Capture and Adobe edit

Chariteas' STI Podcast

Chariteas’ STI Members’ Podcast

Capturing from the OLD Days

For updating materials from a James Barber website in the 1990’s, I wanted James to illustrate a new website whose archive is long gone thanks to a crashed computer.  Using the Way Back Machine, the entire website can be captured via screen shot.  Pretty nifty, hmm?

Leadership Skills' Global Protocol Page

Leadership Skills’ Global Protocol Page

Be Creative with Snap A Shot Pro

Whether you need to capture tea photos or archives from days gone by or for a new project, I highly recommend screen capture techniques. Transparency: I have an older version of SnapAShot Pro. If you want the sparkly new version, it’s free with blog post.

And if any of this just doesn’t make sense, feel free to leave a question!

How To Make The Christmas Spirit Last Past Christmas

Posted on | December 2, 2013 | No Comments

When you were younger, you probably found yourself wishing occasionally that Christmas would last all year. What would be not to like about getting to open presents every day and eat huge amounts of food? When you get older though of course your views on this matter tend to change a little. For the adults in the family Christmas can be stressful and expensive – and eating that much every day would no doubt kill you within the year.

Still though, even as you gradually begin to turn into that jaded Scrooge you will still find yourself wishing that certain elements of Christmas could last all year. Maybe that would be the good will, the attractive decorations, the music or the closeness of your family. Christmas brings out our stressed side but it also brings out the best in us. So how can you make sure that those good elements last as long as possible?

Keep the House Decorated

Of course it’s bad luck to leave your decorations up past the first of January, but if you’re not the superstitious type then you shouldn’t let that scare you. If you’re a fan of Christmas decorations then there’s absolutely no reason not to keep them up where everyone can see them and keep your home looking glitzy and glamorous as a result.

And if that’s a little too odd for you, then how about you just keep it decorated in other ways? They don’t have to be Christmas decorations – you can make the house look just as nice with some nice flowers and ornaments and it will still keep the Christmas spirit alive.

Make Time

One of the other great things about Christmas is sitting on the carpet with your family and playing board games, or just all having a good chat and a laugh over dinner. It’s a great feeling to get everyone together and Christmas is a great time to do that. But the point you need to remember is that you don’t need an excuse. Just suggesting to your family that you sit down and play a board game together, or encourage everyone to eat together at the table and you can enjoy the very same feeling of family and fun. And why not invite Grandpa round at other times during the year too? He might be grumpy, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without him…

Keep up the Goodwill

One of my favourite parts of Christmas is when you walk down the road and a stranger smiles at you and says hello. It sounds like a small thing, but that kind of cheer and good will is something that can really bring a smile to your face and put you in a cheery state of mind.

But do you know what? If you were the one to smile first and say hello, then most people would return the gesture no matter what time of year it was. The thing is, that deep down, a lot of us wish that it was still Christmas.

The Taste of Christmas

Our memories are tied closely to our senses, and particularly taste and smell. That’s why sipping mulled wine or biting into some Christmas cake can make those warm Christmassy feelings come flooding back. And many of the tastes we associate with Christmas can be just as enjoyable the rest of the year. If you want to relive Christmas for just a moment then indulge in one of these Christmas flavours and you’ll find you can almost close your eyes and hear the carols…

Have a Mini Christmas

If you find that all this isn’t quite cutting it and it still doesn’t genuinely feel like Christmas, then there’s nothing to stop you creating a ‘fake’ Christmas at another point during the year. Wait until the middle of summer and throw your mini Christmas with a fake tree, a small number of presents, a turkey dinner and some Christmassy music and for one day you can imagine it’s Christmas – and you’ll find it’s a great fun novelty to enjoy for a day too. Most of all though, if you have a mini Christmas in the middle of the year, then it will mean you only have to wait six months between Christmases…

Holiday Wonder Diet for Stress Relief

Posted on | November 27, 2013 | No Comments

Holiday Wonder Diet

How about some unsagely advice?

The Absolutely….Without Fail….Holiday Wonder Diet.

Here’s a little remedy I found for holiday stress in my life – not that I adhere to it religiously, but it does have its merits.

This Holiday Wonder Diet is designed to help relieve holiday stress.  It has proven especially beneficial to people employed in the tea and culinary industries.  This diet has been tested on numerous Tea Room Owners prepping for Christmas teas, Tea Authors at deadline on their new tea books, Caterers, Baristas, the mail lady, Fed Ex driver and my son.

It was so successful that I thought all my friends might like to try it.



One half grapefruit with no sugar
One slice whole wheat toast – dry
6 oz. Skim milk


4 oz. lean broiled skinless chicken breast
1 cup steamed spinach (with stems removed)
1 cup herbal tisane
1 Oreo cookie

Mid Afternoon Snack:

Balance of Oregon cookies in package
1 pint Ben & Jerry’s “Roman Holiday” ice cream
1 cup herbal tisane (No Sugar!)


Two loaves garlic bread with cheese
One large sausage, Canadian bacon, mushroom, olive and cheese pizza
2 Hershey candy bars , No Nuts!
1 cup herbal tisane, No Sugar!

Pumpkin Pie - Credit Wikipedia8 Basic Ground Rules for the Holiday Wonder Diet

  1. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream eaten directly from the fridge is permitted after 6 p.m.
  2. If you eat something small, and no one sees you, it has no calories.
  3. If you drink diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are canceled out by the diet soda.
  4. When you eat with someone else, calories don’t count if they eat more than you do.
  5. Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER counts.  This would include Hot Chocolate with brandy or Sara Lee Strawberry Cheesecake.
  6. Cookie pieces contain no calories, which occur only in whole cookies.  However, nothing with peanut butter is permitted on this diet.
  7. Chocolate is the 8th Basic Food Group and is Universal in color.  It may be substituted for any of the Food Groups green in color.
  8. Food items with the same color have the same calories: For example… pistachio ice cream and spinach … mushrooms and white chocolate.

If you will follow this diet religiously … which means NEVER EATING IN CHURCH … you will notice marked lessening of your stress level.

Good Luck with the Holiday Wonder Diet!

From my favorite stockbroker, D.A. Davidson.


6 Christmas Traditions Followed Around the World

Posted on | November 21, 2013 | No Comments

Christmas Traditions and Celebrations From Around the World

Christmas Traditions, Dinners and Celebrations

A lot of countries have different Christmas traditions, so I thought it would be fun to look at what they have on their dinner plate on the big day.

You’re probably used to a traditional turkey dinner you enjoy every Christmas. Even the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other countries are used to the same thing. Just because we have our own traditions doesn’t mean everyone else in the world eats the exact same thing. If you look around you will find there are some very different ways to do things. You might think they sound weird or marvelous, so let’s take a look at them so you know what they are.

Denmark Christmas Dinners

Christmas Traditions, Dinners and Celebrations From Denmark

In Denmark they still eat a roast dinner as part of their main course except it’s goose, duck, or pork. They eat it along with a tidy helping of potatoes and red cabbage. One thing that is interesting about their Christmas dinner is what they eat for dessert. It’s not regular rice pudding because there is a single almond hidden inside. The lucky person who finds the almond is awarded a special present that is kept on the table.

Netherlands – Christmas Traditions and Celebrations

Christmas Traditions and Celebrations Dutch Dinners

Some Dutch people eat a traditional Christmas meal, but others do things a little bit differently. They sit around in little groups and each person has their own frying pan. Everybody has to season and cook their own food in small portions. Before the meal the host should already have prepared lots of different meats along with chopped vegetables. The food is then eaten along with a selection of sauces, salads, and fruits.

Christmas Celebrations in France

Christmas dinner in France is a big event as the French love their food. The celebrations start on the day before Christmas, but they run into the next again day because everyone has to stay awake past midnight. In Provence, which is an area in the southeast of France they enjoy 13 different types of dessert. It must be hard to find room in their bellies after they’ve already devoured goose, duck, salmon, oysters, and liver during their main course.

Christmas Dinner in Japan at KFC?

Christmas Traditions and Celebrations in Japan

Quite a lot of Japanese people definitely have a Christmas dinner you wouldn’t be able to guess in a thousand years. One of the most popular places to grab dinner is KFC. It’s actually so popular they let people reserve their delicious buckets months in advance to put their minds at ease. The reason they love fried chicken is because of an ad campaign that took off in the 70s. Fried chicken is the complete opposite of raw fish and all the other things they usually eat.

Italy – Christmas Feast

Feast of the Seven Fishes - Christmas Tradition in Italy

Italians from the south are in love with seafood and their Christmas dinner is called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. They just take 7 different fish and cook them in a number of different ways. Instead of having a proper menu they follow it’s a case of doing whatever they want. Some people even cook more than the traditional 7. If you’re wondering why they eat so many different types of fish it’s based on religious reasons.

Eastern European Christmas Dinners

Christmas Traditions and Celebrations in Ukraine

We’re actually going to focus on Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine because Eastern Europe probably has more than a few Christmas traditions. They eat a meal which consists of 12 different dishes, but unlike most other countries these meals don’t contain any meat. It’s a little different to having a large bird sitting on your table. They have a tradition to honor their dead relatives during the meal and they even set a plate out for them.

Are you hungry yet?

Christmas is only a few months away so if you like some of these suggestions you might decide to do something different this year. There are so many options to choose from, but let us know in the comments below if you liked any of the ones we discussed.


5 Best Featured Restaurants In Sitcoms And Movies

Posted on | November 20, 2013 | No Comments

Restaurants in Sitcoms

It is a well known and often acknowledged fact that a certain restaurant, café or pub plays a very important role in our lives. These specific spots apart from serving food, coffee and drinks, work as a mood-enhancer, comfort-provider and a place where all your best friends meet and discuss why the Lannisters always win. In our television shows and some movies too, a certain place to sit and eat has often played a very important part, from plot of the story to character development or anything. Here are 5 of restaurants in sitcoms which play a big role in some of your favourite shows:

Friends: Central Perk, the iconic coffee shop which was frequented by the six protagonists on a nearly daily basis. Where else would Rachel get her first “real” job? Where else would Joey work to fund his demanding acting career and where else would Phoebe Buffay sing “Smelly Cat”? And most importantly, how else would we meet Gunther? Even at the café, the six of them aren’t the same until they have their “orange couch” to sit on. If someone else has occupied it, they will have to get up, it doesn’t work another way. Though Rachel was not the best employee they had (she would spit in the food of the rude customers) and Joey liked giving free food to pretty women, Central Perk has always embraced their flaws. Without Central Perk, it is unimaginable for us to see epic conversations happening between the six of them.

Restaurants in Sitcoms and Movies - Central Perk

How I Met Your Mother: MacLaren’s Pub, alright they are not the same show, but if there are Pinterest boards and Tumbler pages dedicated to the similarities between Friends and HIMYM then something is on. Like Central Perk, MacLaren’s pub is the place the five protagonists of the show like to “chill”. They are also good friends with Carl MacLaren who works as a bartender there, and occasionally serves the five of them free drinks. Another “friend” Ted and Barney made here is Doug Martin, the hot tempered bartender who beat up three men for sitting in the gang’s booth. The group has a favourite booth near the bar, though they do sit elsewhere sometimes (more flexible than the group of people mentioned above) and don’t get as angry as Doug does if it is occupied.

How I Met Your Mother - Restaurants in Sitcoms and Movies

Big Bang Theory: The Cheesecake Factory, like Joey, the lovely Penny too needs a job to pay her bills while she pursues what is left of her acting career. Even Bernadette worked here before she got her PhD and Howard. Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard are often seen eating here. The best thing about this place is that they serve free cheesecake slices on someone’s birthday when they come in, no free nachos are served though, never. As a matter of fact, the notoriously stubborn Sheldon, who originally ate only at Big Boy on Tuesdays, CHANGED his schedule and began eating at this place because of their delicious burger. That’s how cool this place is.

Restaurants in Sitcoms and Movies - Cheesecake Factory

Harry Potter Series: The Three Broomsticks, the wizarding world wouldn’t be half as much fun if The Three Broomsticks didn’t exist. From the trio’s delicious butterbeers and sneaky tastings of Firewhiskeys, to Ron’s obvious crush on Madam Rosmerta, everything happens here. Hagrid invited Harry to cheat, no, learn that dragons would be the first task in the Triwizard tournament he was taking part in. But the best event that happened there was Harry’s explosive interview about Voldemort’s return for the paper Quibbler. It was like a slap on Umbridge’s face, surely, the finest moment in the movie (book).

Restaurants in Sitcoms and Movies - Harry Potter - Hog's Head

Honourable mention: Hog’s Head, the other pub in Hogsmeade, where the weird ones go as Three Broomsticks attracts the coolest witches and wizards. But, the neglected Hog’s Head served as Harry’s first meeting with what would later be Dumbledore’s army, thus it deserves a mention here.

Seinfeld: Monk’s Cafe, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have most of their meals here, from breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner. Some of the shows’ classic phrases too, like “yada yada yada” have been introduced to us viewers in the insides of this café.

Restaurants in Sitcoms and Movies - Trunktown Melbourne

A favourite place to eat or drink with the best of our friends is common in all of us; it’s good to know that the case is the same with our favourite television and movie characters as well.

It’s a Special Day! Kindle Countdown Deals

Posted on | November 15, 2013 | No Comments

It’s Kindle Countdown Deal Day 1

17-76 Tea Party Award Winning RecipesWhat’s special about today? Many things, of course, and today the Kindle version of “17-76 Tea Party Award Winning Recipes” is on a Kindle Countdown Deals (a daily deal) for only 99 cents!

That’s 17 Jam, Marmalade, Jelly and spreads for your favorite scones.  In the same cookbook and recipe collection, are 76 Scone Recipes for afternoon tea. They go just fine with coffee, too!

Intermixed are comments from historical times and you’ll see that I have a fascination with President George Washington and the first First Lady, Martha Washington.

Go here to receive yours today at 99 cents because with Kindle Countdown Deals, tomorrow it will be $1.99 and increase daily until it reaches the regular price of $7.99.

Do you love good deals as much as I do? A good resource for any tea room, coffee shop or tea party planner.  Most of the recipes are part of my Tea Academy and Tea Business School classes.



Kindle Countdown Deals – Scone Recipes

Posted on | November 12, 2013 | No Comments

Kindle Countdown Deals

What are Kindle Countdown Deals? It allows readers and writers to take advantage of Kindle books that have been placed on sale from their original price.

17-76 Tea Party Award Winning RecipesWant scone and jam recipes at a great price? The best selling “17-76 Tea Party Recipes – Award Winning Recipes” – a collection of 76 scone recipes and 17 Jams and Spreads is available as part of the Kindle Countdown Deals from November 15, 2013 through November 21st!

It’s a really good deal and chock full of tried and true recipes from the Carnelian Rose Tea recipe collection, A Cuppa Countess Gourmet Guide and a lightweight family history.

What’s Inside?

The foreword is written by the famous James Norwood Pratt (he might say infamous). Reviewers include tea and food historian, Judith Krall-Russo, Pat Jollota, Pat Stephens, and Ethan Harris.  Photos are by Kate Singh, Aevum Images.

Inside are jam and jelly recipes including Blackberry, Sage and Lavender, Chantilly Crème and Mock Devonshire cream.

Scone recipes include Stilton Scones (with permission from Stilton in the UK), a basic scone recipe that was given to me by a chef at the Ritz Carlton in London and my sister’s Blue Ribbon biscuit recipe.

Set Your Calendar for the Kindle Countdown Deal

Buy “17-76 Tea Party Recipes” for only 99 cents on Friday, November 15th and each day the price goes up a dollar until the Kindle Countdown reaches the full price of $7.99 on November 21st. It’s a sale price every day!

Why Kindle Countdown Deals?

Kindle Countdown Deals is a new promotion by Amazon for customer appreciation. And for me, since there were formatting issues with the original Kindle publication, I’m practically giving away the Kindle version of my personal scone and jam recipes in appreciation of good customer service to me. It’s kind of a pay-it-forward idea.

Try it! Only 99 cents! Nearly 100 recipes! That’s a penny each on Friday! (Or get it free with Amazon Prime.)

Book Review

Love the recipes? Give is a big thumbs up with 5-star rating. Enjoy this Kindle Countdown deal.

Have a wonderful day and Happy Baking!








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