Stern said her life-long obsession with tea began as a child when she held tea parties for her dolls and continued as she traveled around Europe with her parents, collecting tea cups and tea pots as they gathered antiques.
After running a cafe in Tampa, Florida, called "The Royal Tea Room," she moved to New York in 2000 with her family and set up a Web site store called SalonTEA.com to sell her line of blended luxury teas and accessories.
Stern has now released a book, Tea Party: 20 Themes Tea Parties, published by Clarkson Potter, designed to be a fun, hip guide to throwing themed parties based around tea and recipes involving tea.
She spoke to Reuters about her tea obsession and recipes:
When did tea become such a passion for you?
"Tea has really been a part of my life since I was young but there is a resurgence going on. I think this is due to the health benefits. It is also beautiful to look at and part of a ceremony you can have with friends. In a fast paced world it gives you a time to sit down.
How much tea do you drink?
"I've always drunk a lot of tea. I never drank alcohol. I probably drink about 12 cups a day. It is the only thing I drink besides water. People do tease me. My husband only drinks iced tea but he liked my black tea brownies. Back in 1996 I started blending my own teas."
What other drinks are you making with tea?
"Some cocktails like white tea martinis with coconut. I think it is a great twist on tea. I have actually been hired by several liquor companies to come up with tea infused cocktails. Liquor and tea really do go together because at least there is a healthy element in there."
What does tea do for you?
"Tea makes my happy. I love the taste and the fact that it is uplifting. I have a bath time ritual when I drink my Sleeping Beauty chamomile tea blended with lavender and use my tea bath products."
How did the book come about?
"I always wanted to do a book about entertaining with tea. It is not just recipes alone. I have tea party tips, decorating ideas, party favors, menus. I have tried to make entertaining easy and beautiful and creative. All the 20 occasions were in my home with my friends and family."
Which is your favorite recipe in the book?
"Well, this book is like my whole life really. The scone recipes are ones I have had in my family. My grandfather was a baker. I guess I have baking in my blood.
One of my favorite recipes is the chai pancakes. It is simple and it never goes wrong. Then there is a lavender lemon cake. It is a great cake you can put in the freezer and pull out when someone pops over."