Monday, June 3, 2013

Taking Tea at Grand Oak Herb Farm

Back last winter, I discovered a treasure in our mid-Michigan community when I visited Grand Oak Herb Farm for a Christmas tea. (You can see that post HERE.) As you can imagine, in Michigan's December it didn't look like this!
To see the farm in its full spring glory was only part of the reason my friend Barb and I returned there. the other reason was to enjoy one of Beulah's teas and to get some tips on preparing aromatherapy potions.
We arrived a little early -- with a bit of time to walk around the grounds and check out the greenhouse, where fairy gardens were plentiful!
Numerous flights of fancy passed through our minds as we enjoyed the wee gardens and the soon-to-be larger plants within.
The on to tea, first passing by this charming spot...
...and entering the tea room.
The table was lovely with easy-to-make tiered sandwich/dessert trays, created with plates and goblets, which are often found at very reasonable prices at the dollar store if you don't want to start gluing your mother's Waterford to serving plates!
They were packed with sandwiches and sweets. We learned that the savory flavors were at the bottom, the saltier bits might be on the next level and at the top, the sweets! And, that you eat from the bottom up!
My plate included Beulah's wonderful basil-curry chicken salad, ham with orange marmelade and dill on pumpernickel, a potato quesadilla and the most divine crostini with an herb butter that included herbs and parmesan cheese. (I could have eaten the whole plate of that!) Other sandwiches included an open face corned beef with horshradish and mint and wee cucumber sandwich rounds.
We were most captivated by her candles. Here's how to do it: In jars, put lemon verbena and orange wedges at the bottom, add a few more fragrant greens if you like. Add water and add a floating candle. What sweet fragrance! 
We had an iced and hot tea. Beulah makes her own teas and both were delicious!
After we worked our way up the tray, Beulah and Peg offered a variety of demonstrations and sharing of products they make and sell at the shop -- and were generous in sharing their. Because I don't sew, 
I bought one of the micro-or-freezer sinus pillows, made from lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary and mint. Lavender brings with it healing properties -- and of course it smells wonderful!

My favorite was the firestarters and I will be collecting pine cones to do this. 
Start with a dried pine cone and tie a long wick around the middle and knot it, so it has two ends. With twine or curling ribbon, tie dried lavender stems and if need be, a drop of lavender oil. Then melt wax -- soy wax is recommended over paraffin, but I suppose both would work. drip that on the knot. Then using a piece of pretty fabric, tie a knot. (The one I bought as a sample at the shop also had a blob of the wax on the bottom of the firestarter, too.) Light both ends of the wicks and off you go! (I suppose you could use wheat or raffia in place of the fabric for a different look.) 
Another easy idea -- buy or make muslin tie bags, fill them with dried lavender buds and use in the dryer.
Peg showed us how to make bath bags -- use epsom salts, lavender, ice cream salts, baking soda and a few drops of lavender and bergemot essential oils. Put into a bag to hand over the shower nozzle or  hang over the faucet/float in the tub.

(With all items, using a cellophane bag is better than a poly one or baggie because the fragrance will leak.

Another idea -- a hankie pillow. Instead of tossing Grandma's tatted hankie, fold in half, stitch along two sides, fill with fragrance (they used lavender, lemon verbena, bergemot and mint) and stitch the top. Place between your pillows for a healing sleep!
Here's another quick idea. I've made lights like these at Christmas -- putting lights in a glass vase or bowl. But next time, I'll be adding some potpourri to it! 
They also discussed tinctures -- the importance of essential oils which are pure and so much more! They make their own moth repellent with cedar shavings, dried cedar, rosemary, lavender, cloves and bay along with eucalyptus oil. No chemicals. No moths, either!
I think our tea with Peg and Beulah was over too soon -- so much to learn, to savor, to sniff, to see! We wrapped up our visit exploring the grounds a bit more...
...and of course, the gift shop!
For those who live in the mid-Michigan area, Grand Oak Herb Farm is well worth the drive to Bancroft, a small town easily accessible by I-69. To give you an idea how popular this spot is, we had guests at our table from as far as Detroit! Please check out the website HERE for additional teas and workshops this summer and return for ones this fall.


Deb said...

What a great tea room. I would love to visit there. Deb

Anonymous said...

Jeanie, I enjoyed every single detail of this post, and I took it in as I like to take in such posts, one sip at a time. Delicious!! Took me back to past teas with friends. I love the menu and I tend to go for savory more than sweet, but everything looks heavenly. So much inspiration too. Love those floating candles, especially since they seem so simple to make.
What a beautiful time. Glad you shared it with us.

PS-We purchased your recommended DaVinci chianti to go with our Saturday dinner and it was perfect! Posting soon.

Much love!

Jennifer Richardson said...

i thought that nothing could be more glorious than that first iris
but then I came to the food
and, oh why do I come visit you
when i'm already hungry!?!?!
yum and gush.
it's a beautiful life you share;
thank you that:)

My Grama's Soul said...

Oh Jeanie.....what a lovely also gave us some great tips here. I have tons of lavender here in AZ and I plan on trying a few of these.



Bella Rum said...

I'm telling you, Jeanie, this is my kind of day. First, my mouth was literally watering over the food. It looks so delicious. Then all the infor about the herbs. I have/had a "herbie' that I could put in the micorwave or freezer. I loved it, but before I knew what was happening, I walked in the room and H had it over his eyes when he had pink eye. Ohh. I don't trust it now.

Some great tips on this post. Thanks, Jeanie.

Barb said...

Jeanie - so many wonderful and creative ideas! Thanks for sharing. I'd love to visit this place. The treats and tea look yummy. I think I'll try that verbena/water/candle idea outside on my deck.

Annie said...

What an absolutely divine place, Jeanie. I went to their website and checked out the gift shop. There doesn't seem to be anything for shopping online. Did I miss it, maybe. I'm going to look again. I was wondering if they have a book of food and non-food recipes.

Annie said...

Omg, it's palm to the forehead time. It's right there on the front page. There's a CD. I'm on the hunt for a book. Silly me.

Joanne Huffman said...

It really sounds like a delightful time at a lovely place.

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

This is my kind of day Jeanie.
Wandering through a fascinating garden with a beautiful tea house too!
I love the hankie idea and the firelighters - isn't she kind sharing these "how tos".
Shane ♥

shooting star said...

What pretty place and what a pretty tea session!!

Janet said...

The food, the tea, the all looks so beautiful. I like the idea of the fire starters and the hankie pillows...both things I might be able to manage.

I'm glad you had such an enjoyable day. You deserve it.

Arti said...

If I ever visit Michigan, I'll def. go see this place. We don't have tea houses like this around here. Well there was one in a neighboring town but closed down due to lack of business. You sure hope they can sustain themselves... just like indie bookshops and coffee houses. Thanks for sharing this wonderful outing experience, Jeanie.

Retired English Teacher said...

What a fun, fun, fun place to visit. This lady is just brimming over with ideas and creativity. I so admire those who make things from herbs, pine cones, and simple pieces of fabric.

Friko said...

I’d love to visit the herb farm. I’m sure I’d take home a lot of ideas. As it is, I will be making those floating candle lights. I can imagine how delicious the smell will be.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a cool place to visit! That food sounded delicious and now I am craving iced tea! Those little scent sachets sound wonderful. I love the scent of lavender. I used to go to this spa that had these neck warmers that had a lavender scent and it was heavenly to have one of those around your neck!

shoreacres said...

My favorite part of the post is that photo of the window with the lace curtains. The combination of the plain wood and the fancy lace is just wonderful.

As for the food - I'll just take that plate of savories, thank you very much, and go over here in the corner so you don't have to mess with them. ;)

Marilyn said...

I have been waiting for the right time when I could just savor every little thing in this post. You know I would love this tea so much and just love anything to do with herbs. What a very special place and thing to day on the last days of Spring. Thanks for shaving them with us.

~*~Patty S said...

What a special time you lovely and inspiring!
Those candles really speak to me and I so Love sitting down to tea.
Thank you for sharing such a special spot with us dear Jeanie!

I need orange said...

What a lovely afternoon! Just being there and seeing/hearing/eating/doing all of those things sounds healing......

Kathleen McCoy said...

You have a gift for discovering the most wonderful places, Jeanie! What a great way to spend a day with a friend! Everything from the setting to the food to the curiosities along the way was enchanting!

Cottage and Broome said...

Jeanie, I just love tea and teahouse! It looks like you had a magical day! The gardens looked beautiful and I love the little fairies too. Laura

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