Albert Lea native pens ultimate tea time resource book

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 18, 2003

What began as a pamphlet for helping mothers plan tea parties for their daughters has grown into a full-fledged book for an Albert Lea native.

Julie Loree Peterson has written the book, &uot;Treasuring the Gift of Tea Time: Tea Parties for Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Friends.&uot; Peterson, the daughter of Brad and Nancy Wright of Albert Lea, is a 1982 graduate of Albert Lea High School.

In 1998, Peterson merged her life-long love of tea parties with a business idea and named it Specialteas. It was a tea party business which planned and catered themed teas for children in the Minneapolis area. From cream puffs to &uot;tea-talks&uot; and everything in between, she whipped up custom-ordered tea parties with all the trimmings. Because of requests for ideas from mothers, she decided to put together the pamphlet.

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But soon it became obvious that the pamphlet was taking a new direction, so she re-named her business AntiquiTea Flair.

&uot;It just grew and grew,&uot; she said of her venture.

In her introduction, Peterson explains how tea parties became such an important part of her life:

&uot;’Let’s have a tea party!’ came the exclamation from my grandmother. Without a moment’s hesitation, my mother, two sisters, grandmother and I would break into a gleeful choreographed tea dance. The background music of running tap water would begin to play, filling up the teakettle. With clanks and rattles of cupboards and drawers my mother would orchestrate a tray of delicate cucumber sandwiches or Grandma’s fresh-from-the-oven ginger cookies or, in a pinch, cinnamon and sugar crustless toast would do.&uot;

Peterson said those simple, spontaneous teas with her family are precious memories forever captured in her heart. &uot;They were also my introduction to a family tea legacy that had been passed down from my Great-Great-Grandmother Abigail,&uot; she wrote.

There is a special place in today’s world for tea parties, Peterson said. &uot;In a day and age where mothers and daughters can easily drift apart because of busy schedules that encompass work, school, meetings and many other activities, enjoying a cup of tea together or planning a special tea party with guests is a wonderful way to connect with one another.

&uot;There is much planning and preparation that goes into planning a fancy tea party, but by teaming up as mother/daughter hostesses you may find that preparing for the tea is not so much work, as it is pleasure. The blessing to the mother and daughter comes from time spent together, working side-by-side, exchanging ideas, laughing, talking, shopping, decorating, baking, and perhaps praying together for a tea that is intended to bless others.

&uot;… To practice and experience the same traditions, recipes, amusements and ceremony of tea that perhaps our own ancestors first enjoyed centuries ago is why I believe there is such refreshing charm steeped in this time-honored tradition.&uot;

The book includes entertaining ideas, insightful tips and topics from the types of tea, tea preparation, tea etiquette, hospitality to bringing meaning into themed tea parties by incorporating inspirational and Biblical lessons. There are treasured recipes, including several from friends in Albert Lea:

The Savelkouls share their favorite family cookie recipe made famous by their grandma. The hint of almond, lemon and vanilla flavorings makes this oatmeal cookie a cut above all others.

Grandma Sykes’ Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 small egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups quick-cooking oats

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheet. Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg, vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture. Add oats, mixing well. Roll into small balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place balls on prepared cookie sheet and press with glass to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes. While still warm, sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

The Sletten family shares Jackie’s mother Evelyn’s most-requested recipe.

Chocolate chip pie

30 large marshmallows

1/2 cup milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 graham cracker or regular pie crust, cooled

Melt the marshmallows and milk in the top of a double boiler; cool. Whip cream until thickened and fold into marshmallow mixture. Add chocolate chips. Pour into pie crust. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate, if desired. Chill.

Peterson, as a little girl, remembers &uot;tea-ing&uot; with her mother’s friend, Judy Bangh. She shares this delicious recipe:

Cranberry muffin dessert

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

1 cup cranberries, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins. Mix butter and sugar. Add egg, water and evaporated milk. Sift dry ingredients and add to liquid mixture. Fold in cranberries. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8-9 muffins. Serve with hot butter sauce (below).

Hot butter sauce

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all in a saucepan and boil for 1 minute. Drizzle over warm muffins. Can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.

In the book, readers will also find Pootie Reed’s recipe for lemon cream cheese scones, JoAnne Schwartz’s recipe for cheese-stuffed mushrooms, as well as many others from family and friends, all suitable for serving at a tea party.

Peterson took most of the photos in the book herself, borrowing friends and family members and their children for tea party scenes. Photography is a hobby, she said.

The author said she’s been amazed at the way her book has been received thus far. She’s scheduled to do a tea talk at the Iowa Governor’s Mansion in May and some book signings in Florida. There will also be some book signings in Albert Lea in the future. The book is on sale at Best Buy Paper Company, Bible Book Store, The Constant Reader and The Turtle Dove Tea House. More information on the book can be found at

Peterson and her husband, Keith, live in Chanhassen with their two daughters, Lexie and Anna.