Field Trip: Finding Holiday Gift Ideas at Afternoon Tea

Where did the time go? It’s only three days left until Christmas. It’s work as usual here in Taiwan for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I’m as busy as ever.  Holiday shopping and gift wrapping is happening in ebbs and flows, as much as my schedule allows (you can see a lot of what’s happening over on my Instagram) I wanted to share with you one of my other favorite places to find holiday gifts for friends, family or office colleagues.  Previously, I haven’t done much shopping at Afternoon Tea, a Japanese brand that sells both homewares, cookware, stationery and clothing because I had the impression that most of the items were too cutesy for my taste.  However, I soon discovered that is completely not the case now.  Currently, there is wonderful selection of items that would make fabulous and functional gifts.

A few weeks ago, I arrived for a lunch date with some time to spare, so I had time to wander around the Afternoon Tea location in the Tienmu Sogo, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  I’ll show you a few pictures of my top finds in this post.  The stores are a bit crowded, so it’s hard to take clear pictures, without being jostled by other people; and you can’t really move things around that much on the shelves either, so it’s hard to photograph one particular item.  So please bear with the cluttered photos. Now onto my favorites for the holidays!

One of my favorite items is this clear glass teapot. I love the clear glass because you can see what’s inside~ so wonderful for fruit teas. Also, there is a stainless steel lid with an adorable wooden knob.  I imagine that the tea pot lid stays put while pouring, but if you need to steady it with your hand, the wooden knob will be somewhat heatproof.

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While admiring this teapot, these gold forks also caught my eye. Love their color and shape.

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There is also a pretty selection of mugs here; they come in a variety of colors and patterns, that are colorful, but not overly cute.

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These mugs caught my eye because they look like my favorite stationery and fonts.

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If the person that you are buying for is a tea drinker, s/he will enjoy these glass cups~with an included filter. They come in delicate floral prints, or a more neutral style (with the logo printed around the glass)

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My other favorite find here at Afternoon Tea are the thermo mugs by Thermos. The shorter, squatter versions are the perfect size for your morning serving of oatmeal or Bircher muesli.  The other slightly taller size could hold a nice warm serving of soup.

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This season, I observed that Afternoon Tea has started introducing more kitchenware. I think these non-stick oven ware pans can be handy to have. I imagine that you can use them to make apple tarts that are 1-2 servings in size, or use them for roasting a few baby potatoes, or some spears of asparagus. Perfectly good for those days when you don’t want to use (or wash!) a huge baking pan.

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In addition to bakeware, Afternoon Tea also has a marvelous selection of bento boxes, and tupperware containers of all shapes and sizes. My favorites are these stainless steel ones with the cheerful red lids.

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I was also charmed by this gold dotty tea cup and matching saucer (this may or may not have made its way into my own shopping basket… just wait and see?)

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My top find here at Afternoon Tea are the adorable chopstick rests in all sorts of different food shapes. (They are all wrapped in cellophane, so it’s difficult to get a clear photo) My favorites are the croissants, the cheese wedge and the biscuits) These would make either a fun stocking stuffers, or a unique Secret Santa gift. Plus, they fall under the category of an indulgence that you would never buy for yourself, but would love to receive as a gift, because even the most mundane food can be brightened up if your chopsticks rests on a chopstick rest shaped like a tube of toothpaste.

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Afternoon Tea not only has a eclectic selection of lifestyle goods, but it is also a cafe.  Another afternoon, I stopped by after running errands, for a quick bite to eat.  I ordered the vegetable pasta, because I wanted something light and healthy. This is what arrived.

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So… another closeup. The plate is quite pretty. But the food was not. The pasta sat in a pool of vegetable water, and the leaves were limp, the tomatoes were cold, and the beans were quite hard. But I was starving, so I had to eat it. Plus, the shop was busy and the assistants were rushed off their feet, so I felt bad about sending the pasta back to the kitchen.

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Disappointment in the pasta dish aside, Afternoon Tea is a great place to have well, afternoon tea. Even though there is a time limit of 2 hours, I think it’s more than enough time to sit, eat, drink and do some thinking. In my case, I thought about ways to improve on the pasta dish.

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After my cup of tea, I hopped downstairs to the grocery store (one more reason to love department stores in Taiwan~there is usually a well stocked grocery store in the basement level) and bought some groceries for my roasted vegetable pasta.  My version had eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms and pumpkin. I also added in a few shavings of freshly grated parmesan cheese. (The roasted vegetables look a little lackluster here, because this is actually a plate of leftovers microwaved for lunch; but I find roasting the vegetables instead of stir frying them with the pasta eliminates the whole problem of “vegetable water” in your pasta)

IMG_2810Enjoy!                                                                                                                                                                                              There are several branches of Afternoon Tea locations in Taipei, and throughout Taiwan. The post was written about the Afternoon Tea locations in Tienmu Sogo, and Zhongxiao Sogo. More locations can be found on their website here.

NB: This is not a sponsored post; I paid for all items consumed, and all the viewpoints expressed here are my own.

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