Mad Hatter is a charming quaint shop located in downtown If you love whimsical and fun, along with hats and teas, this is a shop you will want to visit.

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What Makes Shades of Earl Grey Different?

Posted by asad1775 on January 29, 2017 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

What Makes Shades of Earl Grey So Deliciously Different?


When you picture tea leaves, large petals of blue flowers don’t usually come to mind. But that’s what makes Shades of Earl Grey so special. Since this tea is one of the most popular in the shop, I thought I’d introduce it to anyone who’s not familiar with this rich, robust, unusual tea that’s become a staple in my house as well as many of my regulars here at Mad Hatter.


What’s Earl Grey Tea, Anyway?


Even without the addition of those mysterious blue flower petals, Earl Grey tea is already something special. Start with premium black tea from the best tea-growing areas in the world. Then, oil of bergamot is added for an intense, citrus flavor. Finally, it’s the cornflowers that make this tea different- that’s where the blue color in the loose tea comes from – actual cornflowers! 

But hold on- back to that second ingredient – the one that makes Earl Grey tea what it is in the first place: Oil of Bergamot. That might need some explanation, too.


And… What’s ‘Oil of Bergamot’?


A bergamot looks like something between a lemon and an orange and tastes that way, too. Some might rightly compare the bergamot to a sour orange but it’s actually a hybrid of sour orange and lemon.¹ They grow in Morocco, France, and Italy but most of the bergamots grown for commercial purposes come from a specific area of Italy (Calabria) on about 7,500 acres known to produce high-quality bergamot fruit.¹ 

They grow in Morocco, France, and Italy but most of the bergamots grown for commercial purposes come from a specific area of Italy (Calabria). There, they are grown on about 7,500 acres known to produce high-quality bergamot fruit.¹ 

Bergamot is what gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive unusual aroma and taste: slightly exotic, pungent, and simply wonderful on the taste buds.


Finally, About Those Blue Flowers

They’re cornflowers, actually, and they are the ingredient that separates this tea from other Earl Greys. The cornflowers give this tea a “creamy” taste, according to For Tea’s Sake, the folks who blend and distribute this specialty tea for the Mad Hatter. I just think the cornflower petals make it the smoothest cup of tea ever. How about you? Have you tried Shades of Earl Grey yet?




  1. Bergamot Sour Orange Hybrid. University of California Riverside. College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved 1/27/2017 from


Photo by Mad Hatter

7 Reasons to Celebrate: January is National Hot Tea Month

Posted by asad1775 on January 13, 2017 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Each January we celebrate National Hot Tea Month and invite you to join us in the month-long appreciation of the wonderful, pleasing effects of a good cup of premium hot tea.

If you love tea, I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of all the wonderful benefits: from the calming effects of a nice chamomile to the delicious, robust flavor of a good Earl Grey, there’s a tea for every mood.

In fact, there are seasonal teas as well, and if you were around the shop during the Holidays, you might have picked up some of our Chocolate Peppermint Tea. If not, no worries: it’s not too late. We plan to carry this flavor well into 2017.

Don’t forget the other reasons to celebrate hot tea this month: this ancient beverage has proven health benefits, too. Here are seven of the ways hot tea is good for the body, mind, and soul:


  1. Green tea has been shown to reduce chance of stroke by 35% and reduce risk of heart attack by 20%.¹
  2. Since all teas have less caffeine than coffee, you can enjoy a good hot cup more often throughout the day without so much of those annoying jittery effects that come from drinking too much coffee.
  3. Green tea may ward off periodontal disease- it’s the polyphenols, which inhibit growth of pathogens in the gums.²
  4. Tea contains a super-abundant supply of antioxidants, which help protect the body from cellular damage (and helps keep us young!).
  5. It appears that drinking tea may help ward off cancer, too. While more hard evidence is needed, anyone with a family history might want to take up drinking hot tea just in case.
  6. Tea may even help reduce cholesterol. The USDA conducted a study and found that Black Tea reduced LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in just 3 weeks.³
  7. L-theanine is an amino acid unique to tea, and may boost certain brain functions.


These are just 7 of the ways tea is great for you. For me, the pleasure I get from sipping hot tea and settling into a good book (when I find the time!) is reason enough to go all out celebrating National Hot Tea Month. Join me, and stop by the shop for some premium tea for your home (and your health!)




  1. Tea Drinking Linked to Better Heart Health. American Heart Association. Retrieved 1/12/2017 from
  2. Kushiyama, M. et al. Relationship between intake of green tea and periodontal disease. US National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 1/12/2017 from https//
  3. Davies MJ, Judd JT, Baer DJ, Clevidence BA, Paul DR, Edwards AJ, Wiseman SA, Muesing RA, Chen SC. Black tea consumption reduces total and LDL cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults. J Nutr 2003 Oct;133(10):3298S-3302S
  4. 8 Kelly SP, Gomez-Ramirez M, Montesi JL, Foxe JJ. L-Theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. J Nutr 2008;138:1572S–7S.


Have You Tried Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea?

Posted by asad1775 on January 1, 2017 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

If you love the warm scent of cocoa and the refreshing zing of peppermint, you owe it to yourself to try Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea. It’s one of the newest additions to the tea collection here at Mad Hatter and definitely one of my favorites here already!


Delicious is Only the Half of It!


I could wax eloquent forever on the special joy that comes from sipping tea with the flavorful blend of chocolate and peppermint. Amazingly, though, there’s even more to love about this new tea. That’s because it’s not your average tea. It’s actually rooibos tea (pronounced roy-boss).


If you’ve never heard of rooibos tea then you’re in for a surprise (a good one, I promise!). It’s from South Africa, where they’ve been enjoying the a mild, aromatic taste for years. It’s made from a shrub (Aspalathus Linearis) that’s found in only one place in the world: the mountains near the Cape of Good Hope.


But what makes it so amazing, besides smooth taste and its relative scarcity? It’s the supposed health benefits.


The Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea


For starters, rooibos tea is said to have 50% more antioxidants than even green tea, which is known for its high antioxidant content. And in case you didn’t know, antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can damage cells and perhaps even lead to cancer.


The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website dedicates a whole page to rooibos tea(, where they state it contains compounds that “may prevent tumor growth and aging processes”. They also cite the tea as a treatment for acne, wrinkles, and eczema. People also seem to get relief from insomnia and asthma as well.


Finally, the rooibos tea in Mad Hatter’s Chocolate Peppermint Tea is organic. That may mean the antioxidant levels are even higher than average.


I’m no doctor or nutritionist, but I do know one thing: this tea is currently my favorite one in the shop. On taste alone, it’s a winner, but add in all those possible health benefits and this is one amazing tea. I’m very proud to offer it to all my customers- stop by and treat yourself to some post-holiday bliss!

Baby, It's Cold Outside- Tea Holiday Gifts Just in Time for the Holidays

Posted by asad1775 on December 11, 2016 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

If you haven’t yet started your holiday shopping – perhaps it’s because you don’t like malls? Or maybe you’re annoyed & frustrated by internet shopping? Hate paying shipping? These are all good reasons to shop local, but the best, from Mad Hatter’s point of view, is our new line of teas- come in and check them out: they make fantastic holiday gifts.


Introducing ‘For Tea’s Sake’ at Mad Hatter


This is a new line for Mad Hatter, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have this tea in the shop. The flavor combinations are fresh, new, and delicious and the quality is superb. Take a look at some of my favorites:



  • Sour Apple Martini: safflower and sunflower petals, apple, & lemon pieces
  • Let’s Chai: Ancient spices: cardamon, star anise, coriander and more
  • Earl Grey: Hints of citrus flavor with black tea, incredible aroma.


Get Your Tea Kettle Ready…


Stop by and pick out a few flavors for yourself to enjoy while you decorate your tree. Things can get hectic around the Holidays but a hot cup of tea helps it all go smoothly. Fill your cup, put on the holiday tunes, and let the merriment begin!


Find Your Gifts Too


For Tea’s Sake has a holiday gift line that makes giving fun and easy. The sets include loose leaf tea and cookies – was there ever a better combination? Choices are Earl Grey (one of my favorites) or Breakfast Tea.


The presentation is half the fun: the tea canister is gorgeous on its own (great packaging is one of For Tea’s Sake’s trademarks). Tea sits in the upper portion, and the cookies are neatly packaged underneath, just waiting to be enjoyed with a wonderfully rich cup of hot, premium tea.


Don’t you feel ready for the holidays now? All you need is a kettle, your favorite cup or mug, and some holiday cheer. See you in the store!

New Fall and Winter Teas for Every Mood

Posted by asad1775 on November 20, 2016 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)

No matter what your mood this Fall and Winter, Mad Hatter NC has a tea for you.

It’s official: Halloween is over and you know what that means: the Holidays will be here soon. To ring in Fall and to help you transition to Winter and the Holiday season, we have four new teas just in time for all the festivities: whether you’re celebrating a holiday or just a good cup of tea with friends or whenever you can grab a solitary moment for yourself and a cup of tea, these teas all those moments special.

Proud to Sell Tea from Tea Forte


These new teas are from Tea Forte, which is a premium quality tea company out of Massachusetts. They use the finest tea leaves and many of their blends are organic and/or fair trade. I’m proud to offer their teas here because I believe they are truly among the best teas in the world.

Here are the New Flavors


These four new teas represent everything we love about this time of year. They invite warmth, coziness, good times around the hearth and table, and spending time with friends and family over a good hot cup of incredible-tasting tea. Look… there’s one for every mood:

When you’re all about Fall…


Pumpkin Spice tea blends the best of Fall, transitioning nicely into Thanksgiving for a great pick-me-up with just the right amount of spice. You’ve got a black tea base for a hint of caffeine, then ginger, cinnamon, clove, and finally: pumpkin. All the goodness of a pumpkin pie!

When you’re headed out into the cold…


Ginger Snap offers a zesty zing of energy with a moderate caffeine level plus bursts of flavor from organic orange peel, cinnamon, peppermint, ginger, clove, vanilla and ready for this last one? … goji berries!

When you come in from the cold…


Rum Raisin Biscotti warms the heart as well as your senses. Contains a surprisingly unusual blend of ingredients: sweet blackberry leaves, raisins (yes, real raisins!), and barley malt. It’s the barley malt that makes this tea so unforgettable. If you try only one new tea this season, make it this one.

When you’re missing Summer or you need something completely different…


Chai Trio offers you a choice of Chakra Chai Coconut, Raja Chai Rooibos, or Maya Chai Macaron. Which exotic flavor should you try first? You won’t have to choose because you get all three together in three neat little stacking canisters. Great for Sunday afternoon watching football or cozying up with a good book while the weather howls away outside your window.

When Elegance is Called For, Fascinators do the Trick

Posted by asad1775 on November 3, 2016 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Elegant, unusual, and always pretty, fascinators are an easy way to top off a formal outfit for a dressed-up look that always impresses.


From Ginger Rogers to Coco Rocha, all uber-stylish women women of their day have at one time or another sported an elegant fascinator.


But what, exactly, is a fascinator? More accessory than hat, more hairstyle than head covering, they work with your outfit, whereas a hat might dominate your look. And no matter what, fascinators always make you look incredibly exotic.


Famous Fascinator Fans


Princess Kate Middleton likes to wear them low-set on her forehead. Her cousin, Princess Beatrice, enjoyed her 15 minutes of fashion fame when she wore an outlandishly huge and loopy Philip Tracy fascinator to the Royal Wedding. That piece now has its own Facebook page!


Ginger Rogers sported a netted version in the movie Swing Time, and Sophia Loren made them utterly fabulous in the 1960s, usually with feathers. These days, everyone from Dita Von Teese to Lady Gaga wears them, and they all have this in common: their fascinators create an alluring, mysterious, sophisticated look that’s hard to achieve with any other single accessory.


They Work for Celebrities… They Can Work for You, Too


There aren’t many celebrity fashions that work for everyone. Perhaps the one exception is the fascinator. Although they work best with perfectly coiffed hair, they can be made to accommodate any style. Take a look at the fascinators we have in the store right now. From demure black to punchy watermelon and green, there’s one for every personal style.


My favorite at the moment is the largest one: it’s a deep pink center framed by a crisp, white, textured outer ring, topped off with a double bow and a flouncy white feather. The best part is: you don’t have to be a duchess to wear it! It’s in the store right now, waiting for someone who requires elegance for her next occasion.

Fall Fedoras in Felt

Posted by asad1775 on October 24, 2016 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

For Fall Fedoras in Felt: Go Wide!


Summer’s over, but the wide brim is here for the duration of 2016. Consider a wide-brimmed fedora in felt for Fall that’ll transition into Winter right along with you.


Not quite fedora, yet not really a “floppy hat”, either, the wide-brimmed fedora is the perfect blend of two iconic hat styles. And for Fall, it’s done in wool felt, which gives the hat a wonderfully soft, rich, textured look that’s perfect with your heavier Fall fashions.


What is Felt, Exactly?


When you’re choosing fedora hats for the cooler seasons, you’re likely to run across lots of felt. You may be familiar with felt from your childhood crafting days, but a good felt hat has nothing to do with that material.


True felt, which is what you’ll find in any high quality fedora hat, is actually wool. While it can also be fur or a blend of wool and fur, usually what you’ll see in a shop like the Mad Hatter will be wool.


Felt is pressed wool (or fur) that’s extremely durable and light and difficult to simulate using artificial materials. It’s said to have been invented when a monk, a Native American, or an Egyptian (according to the legend you believe) stuffed his shoes with fur (or camel hair, flax, etc) to soften his steps. The weight of his body and the heat of his feet compressed the fibers and the world’s first insole was created.


You’ll be glad to know that today’s felt is created using hot water and steam, not feet!


How to Wear a Fall Fedora


Right now, the wide-brimmed fedora can be seen dressed up and dressed down, but the majority of women sporting them favor neutral colors. Indeed, this is not your summer show-stopper. The fedora is the toned-down cousin of the summer garden party hat… but it can be equally dramatic and always stunning.


Brims from 2.5″ to a glamorous, extended brim of 4″ can be found, and colors like taupe, winter gray, and dark hunter green are fetching with any outfit. Expect a fine quality grosgrain ribbon, and your ensemble is complete. You won’t need another hat until Spring!

Feathers, Flowers, and Fur - Oh My! The Incredible Hats of the Edwardian Era

Posted by asad1775 on October 3, 2016 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Glance around any fine hat shop and you'll see Edwardian influences everywhere. The pre-flapper era was one of history's grandest times for startlingly beautiful hats, and here's why.


I recently came across an old issue of "The Delineator", THE fashion magazine for American women who lived in the Edwardian era. They closed their doors in 1937, but if you can get your hands on one of these iconic historical magazines, consider it your lucky day.


The edition I was lucky enough to browse was from 1903- right in the center of the Edwardian era (think Downton Abbey). While it was amazing to read about the fabulous embellishments women put on their best hats in those days, I couldn't help noticing how many style elements on today's modern hats must have been "borrowed" from these wonderful Edwardian-era hats.


First and Foremost: Feathers!


Edwardian ladies' hats were, if nothing else, all about the feathers. And not just any feathers. Women poured over The Delineator to find out which feathers were in vogue each season, and for Winter of 1903 it was Bird of Paradise...especially if they were purple. But really, any feather would do, in a pinch, as long as it qualified as a "plume"!


"Plumes are to have a triumphal career during the entire season."

The Delineator, Winter 1903

Generous Display of Flowers


After feathers, flowers were the most desired embellishment that winter (and if you watch Downton Abbey, you'll know that flowers were a big item on hats for all of the Edwardian period).


The Edwardian milliners made their hat flowers out of velvet and used realistic colors, which may be where today's modern hats differ. Today's hats are liable to sport any flower color imaginable, the more to match your style, mood, costume, or outfit.


Fur: It's Not What You Think


Finally, some Edwardian hats featured "fur", which was actually felt with very long fibers. Felt with a "rough or hairy surface" was called "camel's hair" or mohair felt. Looks like that's yet one more way Edwardian hats are making an impact on today's hat fashion for ladies- they were animal friendly!


Hope you've enjoyed my little exploration into hat history. Do you have any interesting tidbits about Edwardian hats you'd like to share with me here? Let me know- I'd love to learn more!

Best Hat For Fall? Clearly, the Clever Cloche

Posted by asad1775 on September 14, 2016 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

For face-framing glamour, nothing beats the cloche hat. Labor Day has come and gone- it's time to bring out the cloches!

It's hard to wear a cloche hat and not feel elegant. Named for the French word for "bell", the cloche shape rests close to the head, forming a tight little frame around the face. They offer a sleek silhouette for when you want a no-nonsense approach to hat-wearing fashion (no giant space-hogging brims here!), yet you still want to feel utterly stylish and in vogue.

Here's why, apart from their wonderfully flattering style, cloches make the perfect hat for fall.

The Cloche Silhouette is Perfect for Fall

Once Fall sets in, you may no longer need the wide sun-protecting brim of a big summer floppy hat. You can pare down and cast a sleeker silhouette now, which coincides nicely with the season where you'll be wearing heavier clothes.

You see, a cloche is trim and elegant, tidy and proper. When Autumn rolls around, a tidy little cloche hat balances out the extra layers you'll be wearing for cooler weather. A big floppy hat, after all, is best worn with the skin-baring fashions of summer. Paired with layers of dark fabric typical of a Fall wardrobe, well... it's easy to appear a little too "artistic".

The Cloche Fit is Perfect for Fall

Another reason we love cloche hats for Fall is that by the time winter hits you'll want a warmer snugger hat. A cloche is like a bell placed on your head- it's not tight and it is susceptible to being lifted off by heavy winter winds. Therefore, grab the opportunity to sport a clever cloche during Fall, when you don't require the ear-hugging warmth of a knit winter hat.

Try These Two Beauties, In-Store Today

I have in the store now a black and white checked cloche hat, reminiscent of Jackie-O. Although cloche hats were made famous in the 1920s and early 1930s, they had a comeback in the 1960s when Jacqueline Kennedy made them incredibly popular.

My other favorite cloche this Fall is the gorgeous, understated maroon cloche with a classic floral embellishment on the side. This one is especially face-flattering, since its slightly rolled brim casts a slight shadow over the face for dramatic effect. What a great way to feature your eyes- come in and see for yourself!


Hold On to Summer With a Lampshade Hat (it's not what you think!)

Posted by asad1775 on September 3, 2016 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The last few weeks of summer are here- but that doesn't mean you have to let go just yet. Hold onto these last weeks by treating yourself to a stylish new lampshade hat and a pair of chic shades to go with.

Summer may be officially starting to wind down, but we still have plenty of sunny, hot days ahead of us - especially here in North Carolina. There's no reason to put away the summer hats just yet! In fact, since the sun's still shining bright, why not consider a stylish, face-protecting lampshade hat?

Really, a Lampshade Hat?

Forget party jokes and actual lampshades worn on the head. Lampshade hats are real, originally made famous by stylish famous ladies in the 1950s. Christian Dior first made them popular, and Audrey Hepburn made them stylish. Here's what an authentic Dior lampshade hat looks like- I found one on an auction site recently.

Pretty much any size hat can be classified as "lampshade", as long as it starts small at the crown and flares outward at the bottom. It's longer than a pillbox and stiffer than a bucket hat. An old dictionary of costume and fashion defines the lampshade hat this way:

lampshade hat: stiff, flared, deep-brimmed hat with a small flat crown. Usually worn straight on the head.


According to one source I dug up, lampshade hats were en vogue from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

Today, anything goes, and even this velvet masterpiece is considered a lampshade hat.


But we're here to "hold on to Summer", so here's a straw variety. You'd never think to classify these two hats together, but they're both lampshade hats: wide brims and an overall conical shape, albeit loosely interpreted in both examples.


So what's stopping you? The sun's still burning down on us as strong as ever, and lampshade hats are a beautiful way to hold on to these last weeks of Summer.