TEA: Tea Bars

More and more people are hearing the term “Tea Bar” these days . . . quite frequently, really. Tea is becoming as hot as coffee was before it became ever-popular staple enjoyed now. While tea is often on the menu at coffee shops, a new type of establishment is emerging that makes tea the focus. Tea bars have started appearing in urban areas, and their popularity is causing a growth of shops that are dedicated to tea service. There are tea fusions, tea cocktails, hot tea, cold tea– whatever you can imagine, it is being explored. A tea bar is where we began custom tea blending.

What is a tea bar? Imagine if you will, the Baskin Robbins® of tea selections with even more than 31 flavours–canister after canister of ingredients lining shelves and counter tops. Many exceptional, and unbelievable, ingredients (not just tea leaves) are available to mix and match as we blend the perfect tea for the perfect occasion. Experimenting is half of the fun!

We started experimenting almost five years ago. At the White Rose Manor, we have a built a relationship with a tea-aficionado in California through our daughter’s relationship with him. One of our daughters lived there and thought we should have custom blends here at the Manor. She was so right! Now we get to share them with you!

Admittedly, some of the blends do not happen as imagined; some are better. Then again, while some flavours are not my favourites, I have found others to enjoy them– like our loose, black tea, A Black-Tie Affair with licorice root which we released three years ago at a New Year’s Eve celebration. Where else is better to experience “a black-tie affair”?

To date, we have thirteen custom teas here at the Manor. Listed below, we have started featuring a different one for each month of the year. “A Black-Tie Affair” and our Manor House Chai are not shown, and we have approximately 10-12 under development.

  • January – “Fig”ment of your Imagination
  • February – Queen of Hearts
  • March – Maple Leaf Rag
  • April – Lavender Grey Dilly Dilly
  • May – My Fair Lady Anne
  • June – TBD
  • July – A Golden Afternoon (part of our Wonderland collection)
  • August – Peach Blossom Special w/Lavender
  • September – Pomberry Tea
  • October – “Just in Time for Tea” (part of our Wonderland collection)
  • November – Pearamel Delight*
  • December – Holiday Magic

We have blended some custom teas for others, like Crafted Southern Speakeasy in Lincolnton, NC. Their tea is named Southern Peach tea; in addition to serving in hot/cold, they have crafted signature cocktails using the tea as a base. We would love to work with you to create custom blend for you to enjoy and share. Call us at 704.562.0220 or email tea@whiterosemanor.com to discuss what you might like. Discover what a fantastic, personal tea has to offer. Casual, everyday tea that is not your everyday experience.

Graciously,

Alice

*Pearamel Delight is available in November only. Holiday Magic, our Christmas blend will debut on Thanksgiving. All of our teas are available in bulk which is less expensive per ounce than the Sampler packages. Please contact us for pricing and orders (tea@whiterosemanor.com).

CLEANING: Laundry – Keeping Whites White and General Stain Removal

We have white towels. We have white washcloths. We have white hand towels and bathmats. Then there are our white napkins, tablecloths, sheets, and pillowcases. While all of these can be “standard issue” in a household, the white can be an underlying issue. Fair warning—long post.

When I was growing up, I thought everything should be white because you could bleach it clean. Put in washer. Add soap and bleach. Wash. Ta da! White again. This, however, was not how our housekeeper saw it. She believed that everything should be dark colours. Her rationale? “If it stains and the spot does not come out, you will never see it on dark colours.”

Enter, my grandmother. Apparently, NOT the right thing to say. And so, the lessons began.

Today, flipping to the back of Grandmother’s cookbook, the secrets of old are shared. Many I learned as a young girl. Here we go–

  1. Lift any solids from the fabric. Do not rub as this only presses it further into the fibers of the fabric.
  2. Be sure to rinse the area(s) in cold water making the water flows through the fabric the reverse way the stain was created to keep it from permeating further into the fibers. Rinse as much of the residue as possible.
  3. Pre-treat and wash. Aside: We will forgo the discussions of boiling whites because that is not happening at my house.

End Grandmother’s notes. Now enters Alice and her cleverness, aka, tips/tricks learned through trial and error, and a few friends along the way.

I fully check tablecloths and sheets before they are ever removed to launder. I pre-treat simple stains with Spray ‘n’ Wash® stick where the fabric lays, then I remove and wash.

Some stains are tough! Depending on the stain type, there are ways to fight back. Chocolate, blood, lipstick, mascara, and rust (from hard water and old pipes) have always been challenges. So, here is what works for me—

Yes, definitely complete steps 1 and 2 above.

Protein stains like oil-based lipstick/make-up, blood, cooking oils, meats

  • Dawn® dish washing liquid (safe for the environment, so great when camping, too) – Rub concentrate into stain until stain is mostly/all gone. Wash as usual.
    • Spray ‘n’ Wash stick – So there is a story behind this. It does tend to work well if you act quickly. Sometimes I can even let it sit in the laundry basket until more pressing things are washed and out of the way; however, the stick does not work as well as the original Spray ‘n’ Wash aerosol from years ago. The reason? Phosphates, which were exceptional for destroying proteins, were removed from cleaners when deemed they were not safe for the environment. Nevertheless, with proper attention, the stick works well. Other people I know use Tide® sticks, but I stick to tried and true for me.
    • Wash with laundry soap and a full cup of baking soda. We will come back to the baking soda part.

Chocolate

  • LOTS of cold water until you get it ALL out, if possible.
  • Pre-treat any remaining visible signs with liberal amounts of Spray ‘n’ Wash stick.
  • Wash in cold water, laundry soap, and a full cup of baking soda.

Blood

  • LOTS of cold water until you get it ALL out, if possible.
  • Depending on the fabric and freshness of the blood, hydrogen peroxide works great! I learned that at a hospital when I wanted to save a little baby’s cap for a keepsake. Old blood is more of a challenge.

Old blood/rust/age spots – These are the awesome ones!

  • Efferdent! Yes, Efferdent—the denture cleaning tablets. Get a tub and liberally use the tablets, possibly, multiple times or even starting again with new tablets. Do not worry if the Efferdent is blue, the colour will dissipate. Believe me, I panicked the first time I saw the blue. I have never had any issues with the blue adversely affecting the fabric. Be patient! It could take a few days, but if the item is important to you, it is worth it to do it right. I brought a family heirloom Christening gown back to white with absolutely no distress to the gown.
  • Hydrogen peroxide—Depending on the fabric and freshness of the blood, hydrogen peroxide works great! I learned that at a hospital when I wanted to save a little baby’s cap for a keepsake. Old blood is more of a challenge. Persevere, but be prepared for less fortunate results, just in case.
  • Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover—Use as directed. It even removed dried blueberry juice from my grandmother’s damask napkin; I missed one when initially washing the tea napkins. Warning, in this case, the stain turned black as soon as the spot remover was applied. I shrugged, figuring it would work, or not. No risk at that point. I could not use the napkin with the stains. And, it worked! Absolutely no sign of the stains.

Back to the baking soda discussion . . . This helps keep everything fresh without fragrance and can help keep your washing machine smelling fresh, too. I buy it in large bags and use about two per month; I use it on all the laundry in the house. With regular use, it also helps neutralize body musk in clothing and sheets.

Just for fun, here are renditions of some similar tips I found. Let me know what works for you!

  • Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and rub it gently into the fabric with a clean, soft cloth until the stain is gone. Do this before laundering as usual.
  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water and pour it over the stain. Allow the area to saturate for 20 to 30 minutes before gently scrubbing the area with a clean, soft cloth. When the stain is gone, launder the garment as usual.
  • Rinse the garment immediately with warm running water to remove as much of the stain as possible. Apply 3% hydrogen peroxide to a clean, white cloth, and dab the area to remove the rest of the stain before washing the garment as usual.
  • Cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the stained area making sure that it’s completely saturated. Place the garment outside in the sunshine for at least an hour. Launder the garment as usual.

Alice

TEA: Caffeine, or No

Did you know that teas have different caffeine levels, including none? I was speaking with a young woman last week. She did not realize that tea plants can have less caffeine during stages of early development. The white teas are harvested from early growth–the first leaves produced– and have a short harvest time because of the maturing that continues if the leaves are left on the tea tree or bush. The limited yield of an early harvest is why white teas have a tendency to be quite a bit more expensive. Green tea has more caffeine than white tea, followed by black tea. Reds and herbals are decaffeinated, if not blended with things that contain caffeine.

Camellia sinensis is a species of evergreen shrub or small tree whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea (Source: Wikipedia). It naturally contains caffeine. Dry, black tea has more caffeine by weight than coffee, but when prepared in a cup, a brewed black tea contains significantly less caffeine than a cup of coffee of the same size.

I have not tried to decaffeinate tea, so I take the label at face value, but should you need to remove some of the caffeine from your favourite teas, here is a link that shares more information. https://www.wikihow.com/Decaffeinate-Tea

We have launched our Pearamel Delight black tea blend for the fall season*. It contains black tea leaves. This tea blend is caffeinated. We also have white and green caffeinated teas. Our reds and herbals are decaffeinated. The attached photo (Source: Republic of Tea) can serve as your reference for caffeine levels, comparing coffee as well.

Enjoy a cuppa!

Alice

*Pearamel Delight is available in November only. Holiday Magic, our Christmas blend will debut on Thanksgiving. All of our teas are available in bulk which is less expensive per ounce than the Sampler packages. Please contact us for pricing and orders (tea@whiterosemanor.com).

GUESTS: Disney Magic

“Cats and rabbits
Would reside in fancy little houses
And be dressed in shoes and hats and trousers
In a world of my own”

Most who have known me knew I wanted a B&B from a very young age– 10, to be precise. And ten-year-old girls have dreams of what the future holds. Just like in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland and the song Alice sings, “In a World of My Own”, having a B&B is a world of my own. Fortunately, I have a family who believes in dreams coming true.

It seems apropos, after all these years, that my imagination and my love for Disney play hand-in-hand. All our children adore Disney movies and music which brings me to a story about some guests we had stay with us. As a matter of privacy, we do not share who stays at the White Rose Manor and when. With permission, I am able to share this story of a family who came to stay.

Fast forwarding to the last day, I appeared at breakfast wearing my Mickey Mouse button apron. Ms. Mama Guest smiles and says, “Mickey”. Mr. Papa Guest grins from ear-to-ear and asks if I am a Disney fan. Well, yes. My whole family loves Disney and could break out in Disney song, or spout a quote, at any given moment. We “whistle while we work” and dream of “a whole new world”, especially when it snows, and we head out “to build a snowman”. We tend to be Disney trivia nuts, as well.

Our story begins when a newlywed couple came to visit Lincolnton and chose to stay with us at the White Rose Manor. We were quite excited because we had not been open very long and they rented all three guest rooms. With them, they brought the bride’s parents and her brother. They came to Lincolnton to see the groom’s family.

On the heels of the wedding and having traveled from China, I was not surprised the bride slept for most of the five days they were here. The others spent time in front of the fireplace playing chess, reading, and having coffee or tea throughout the day. The father apologized “for being slugs” the whole time and was appreciative of the down time. No worries, Mr. Papa Guest. We hope that each guest gets what they need when they come to the White Rose Manor.

On the other hand, Ms. Mama Guest spent her time lounging on the couch surrounded by multiple laptops and tablets. Every time I came with tea or to check on them, she would turn them face down or pull the one she was using close to her chest. No worries, Ms. Mama Guest. Just checking on you.

Back to breakfast on the last day, Mr. Papa Guest continues his questioning of our love for Disney and asks, “Do you know what an Imagineer is?”

“Yes, Sir, I do.”

“Do you really?”

“Yes, Sir. We all do,” I say with a smile. (I am not sure he believes me.)

“Did you know there is one sitting here at your table this morning?” he asks. From the astonished look on my face, it confirms that I do, in fact, know what an Imagineer is. He motions to his wife and introduces the Lead Disney Castle Imagineer for Shanghai. While “lounging” on our sofa, she has been designing drawings for the yet to be completed castle for Disney Shanghai which was still under construction at the time.

Yes, we do get unique, fascinating guests–from all over the world. *sigh . . . my wonderland.

TIPS/TRICKS: Staying Connected

The White Rose Manor Bed & Breakfast is decorated in ways to harken to a simpler time. This means soft lines, turn-of-the-Century antiques, afternoon tea, and no electronics. But wait! We are in the 21st Century and may be very attached to connectivity. At the Manor, we cover that, too.

The parlour at the Manor has soft music, but also a turntable with albums our guests can play. Frank Sinatra seems to be a popular choice as well as the instrumental jazz albums. We are also “connected” with guest WIFI for phones and other devices; some guests just cannot ignore them; therefore, being easily engaged also means having power to keep everything charged.

In effort to keep guests relaxed and not crawling around on the floor looking for outlets, we have anchored extension cords to the bedposts– one per side. Using a split, flat plug extension cord keeps it simple. Guests have their phones/alarms/calendars at bedside reach. Then again, if they get too relaxed, it may be better for them to put the phones across the room. 😊

When discovering the easy-reach extension cords, one guest exclaimed, “Brilliant! I am going to do this at home.” Now it seems appropriate to share the tip/trick with you to do the same.

Hint: Take care to buy the grounded extension cords if you need the extra prong.

TEA: Lincolnton’s Annual Apple Festival

The British are not the only ones who covet their teas. If one has even a smidgen of a another heritage in his blood, he is apt to cling tightly to the origin, even if it is only for bragging rights. Time and again, we hear that American people are a “melting pot”. Well, if that is true, I am happy to melt into a chair and enjoy a hot cup of tea (and I am half British, so I can claim that).

At the White Rose Manor Bed & Breakfast, we have our own custom tea blends comprised of loose leaf teas from around the world. My oldest daughter created the first blends for us. We have been hooked ever since then, and continue to blend more to enjoy and share. The Lincolnton Apple Festival is a great place to get a taste– at Crafted!

We have begun selling the White Rose Manor teas at a local storefront in Lincolnton, Crafted Mercantile– a part of Crafted Southern Speakeasy. Since the Manor is loosely dated (some furniture is not quite that old, some is older) in the 1920’s, it seems fitting to have our teas represented in the same “era”, if you will– a general store or mercantile setting. Crafted is a great fit for us!

Fast forwarding from the 20’s, today is a blur with preparations for Lincolnton’s annual Apple Festival which moved from September to October as of last year. It takes place on the streets of Lincolnton this Saturday, October 19th. The calendar change perfectly fits with the cooler temperatures, fall colours, and larger apple selection. Here at the Manor, we have our own apple-orange tea–served hot or cold–to share at the festival this year. Imagine all things apple on display and to eat with a cup of “Just in Time for Tea” in your hand. Hmm, reminds me that we need to think about a hot tea booth on the Square during the holidays much like the Glühwein taverns in the German Christmas markets; we have our own Christmas blend, too. I think I could mull the “Just in Time . . .

Ha! See how easily the mind can wander? 🙂 Back to the point of this post, the White Rose Manor teas will be represented at the Apple Festival through Crafted at a booth outside the store located on E Main to the right of the Cultural Center. Please stop for a visit and peruse the different flavours; you may get a taste of “Just in Time for Tea”, while supplies last, prepared as a tasting just for this occasion. Depending on the outside temperatures, the fine folks at Crafted may serve it warm or cold. These fine, loos leaf teas are sold as Tea for 2 Sampler Packets that resemble seed packets, as well as being available as pre-ordered bulk (1/4 lb, 1/2 lb, 1 lb), so please ask about ordering your favourite flavours. You can call /text 704.562.0220 or email tea@whiterosemanor.com your order. Be sure to include your name, phone number and email address so we can invoice you. We are happy to ship your new selections to you, or you can come for a visit and claim your package here at the Manor.

While I will be entertaining away from the festival this weekend, the spirit of the day will be in my thoughts. IF you have not had the opportunity to share a cup of tea with me at the White Rose Manor B&B, please give me a call some time. We can schedule a date to meet, visit, and have a cup of tea.

Graciously,

Alice

TIPS/TRICKS: Tissues

Growing up, facial tissues were a luxury in our home. It was usually grabbing a tissue from the bathroom roll (typically, Scott Tissue). How I loved decorating my first apartment! Having the coveted “hope chest” open at my feet and ready to unpack, I rediscovered gifts lovingly placed in the chest for when I flew the nest. There was a spice rack with bottles to fill*, matching towels and toilet seat covers, new sheets, blankets and coverlets, candles . . . and a tissue box holder needing to be filled. For my first home, I was buying the real thing–Puffs Plus with Lotion!

To this day, I love pretty, decorative things, including tissue box holders with soft, easy-on-the-nose, tissues; however, there are the busy household and never-ending refills to consider. So–consider this! Choose an elegant, whimsical, or plain tissue box cover and place a “soft” roll of toilet issue inside. The dispensing trick is to remove the cardboard core and feed the tissue stream from the center. Voila!

*By the way, spices are expensive, especially compounded with needing all of them from starting with nothing. Spice collections make a great housewarming or shower gift.

CLEANING: Laundry – Bleach Spots

I love coloured sheets and towels! I took great care to colour-coordinate our guest rooms so I would know, at a glance, which sheets fit which bed– buttercream for the queen-sized Rose Room bed, sage green for the full-sized Middleton Room and cornflower blue for the Grandstaff Room queen. Now let me set the stage for what came next . . .

Each room at the White Rose Manor has one bed–queen or full–with two sets of sheets for each. Additionally, each room has its own wash cycles when it comes to laundry; I wash all of the bed linens for these rooms in separate loads, no combined loads. Also, I do not use bleach. You can imagine my frustration when my beautiful sheets were speckled with bleach spots, both large and small. I did mention I do not use bleach. What was happening?

The bleach spots first appeared on my blue towels in my guest bathroom. Next, they appeared on the Grandstaff sheets, our most frequently booked room– all soft and romantic, so you can imagine. Now, beauty marred with bleach spots? Of course, I could hardly stand it! I bought replacements. Then, it happened again. Next, the sage sheets began showing and, finally, the buttercream, though hard to see with the lighter shade.

What was happening? Miss Marple/Nancy Drew/pick your favourite is on the case. With a little sleuthing, plus having a college-aged son and a guest with a son a bit younger, the culprit was discovered. Now mind you, there is no negativity in this post about the product that caused the problem, but rather a problem that needed a solution. My solution was white sheets which I started buying after the second round of sheets began showing bleach marks.

The culprit was . . . cleanliness! More specifically, facial cleaning products, like ProActive, leaving remnants of the product on hands, in hairlines and on faces! I suspect it mostly happened when guests washed their faces in the sink vs. the shower which might result in a more complete rinse. While great products can produce great results, lack of rinsing away all of the product can result in the residue bleaching anything it touches, especially towels, pillowcases and edges of sheets where someone pulls the sheets around the shoulders when settling in for a good night’s sleep.

So, the problem has been identified. White sheets, pillowcases and towels purchased, but I still prefer colours. Now what? A friend sent me a link for bleach-resistant sheets. I am not sure if they work, but I may try them when it is time to replace the latest purchases.

I am including the Bed, Bath, and Beyond link here: https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/s/bleach-resistant-sheets . If you try them, let me know if they work. If this article helped you identify the same culprit in your home, let me know that, too! Then, pass the information to someone else.

Graciously,

Alice

So, I own a B&B . . .

. . . and there are so many questions people ask about B&B Life. Here is my chance to share. Where to start? That is a good question. I will start with the back of Grandmother’s cookbook. Without further ado, indulge in your best British accent and read on.

Era Gone By

I am one of the lucky ones. At least, I think I am. I have my mother’s cookbook, and in that cookbook is a section that might have been what my grandmother wrote in the back of her cookbook–all the hints and recipes gathered through years of experience, IF, she thought to capture it in writing.

Here are things I hope to share with you in some sort of organized fashion. To help me gather my thoughts and to give you quick access to things that may interest you, I will do my best to put a HEADING at the beginning of each blog post, so you can quickly find them.

I will crosspost the link to our B&B page on Facebook (http://facebook.com/WhiteRoseManor). I do hope you enjoy perusing this page and find some tidbit of usable content. Also, I hope you will share it with others! Feel free to share your own tips/tricks and comments with me. I love hearing new things.

  • TIPS/TRICKS – helpful hints (like Hints from Heloise of which you probably have never heard)
  • SANITATION – cleanliness procedures we follow as a fully-licensed North Carolina B&B
  • GUESTS – anecdotes about our visitors (the names will be changed for privacy protection)
  • SUNDRIES – until I determine other categories, I will toss some things in this bin

Graciously,

Alice

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