“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
This month I have already had several opportunities to share and experience tea! It all began on April 2nd with a presentation on “Tea Traditions” - A tour of tea customs in a dozen countries around the world – with a group of ladies at Polly's Place – a tearoom at the River Lily Inn!
Polly’s Place offers a traditional 3 course afternoon tea the 1st Sunday and the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month in the awesome setting of their Bed & Breakfast and its an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Polly changes the delicious menu items each month and included some of the traditional English Afternoon Tea items in April to go along with my presentation. The first course was a creamy tomato basil soup with chicken salad on health nut bread. Traditionals such as cucumber and egg salad tea sandwiches plus my favorite – fruit bread topped with peach preserves and a thin slice of apple, raisin & walnut scones and lots of special sweets – shortbread with fresh strawberry, almond pastry and chocolate Belgium cookies were all served on a tiered stand with an English favorite - Earl Grey tea. I also brought along two teas for tasting the way they are traditionally prepared in their countries . . .
African Mint – an herbal version of the traditional Moroccan Mint including spearmint and lemongrass prepared with lots of sugar
Vanilla Chai – an herbal version of the traditional Masala Chai including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and freshly ground black pepper prepared with milk and honey
. . . and gave away some samples of American Classic Tea which is grown in Charleston, South Carolina and is the official White House tea.
Tea customs are defined by three things: the way tea is brewed and consumed, the way people interact with tea and the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking. You can learn more about some of the customs here as well as see these links for more information on available free presentations and demonstrations for your groups!
This past week, my husband and I spent time on the gulf coast of Florida for some much needed rest and relaxation. I had scheduled a couple visits to tearooms, but was pleasantly surprised that the week included numerous opportunities that included tea and tea related items as we explored the area.
Our first experience was in Johns Pass which was very close to the Madeira Bay Resort where we were staying – The Spice & Tea Exchange where we found a wall of organic teas to choose from along with several walls of herbs and spices – it truly smelled divine!
Since we had left home without our tea, we each chose a favorite!
Mid-week we had our first Afternoon Tea at the Camellia Rose Tea Room & Gifts which is located in a historic building in the heart of the downtown antique district of Plant City, Fl.
to our personal selection of tea
and the delicious savories (curried chicken salad, dilled cucumber & goat cheese, bacon & fig flatbread), scones (lemon lavender) and sweets (swan cream puffs, strawberry mousse, macaroons & chocolates) served along with a soup (French onion). Very sophisticated, but also very relaxing!
Of course a little shopping in the numerous antique shops also resulted in the purchase of three cups and saucers to add to my collection! Originally I was collecting any favorites, but now I am specifically looking for cups with a design in the inside as well as the outside and fell in love with these from Germany, England and Japan.
The next day after spending time in the Herb Garden at the Florida Botanical Garden in Largo, FL, we found a Thrift Store with lots of treasures including this teapot with a raised design from England. Even though there is a slight chip on the spout, it was destined to be among my blue teapots!
Finally on our way back home, we stopped to have another Afternoon Tea at Simply Country's 'Southern Belles Tearoom'. It is also in Plant City, FL and is tucked away in a lovely English Tudor situated under large Southern oaks. Linens and lace adorn each of the tables and hospitality abounds.
I chose a lovely Rooibos Provence blend and my husband had a Strawberry Black Tea to accompany our tea time in this Winter Strawberry Capital.
Served on a strawberry decorated stand, the savories included chicken salad croissant, cucumber & scallion sandwiches and a cheddar cheese combo topped with a jalapeño jelly. Two types of scones were served warm from the oven – buttermilk with warm lemon curd and Devonshire cream plus a glazed strawberry scone – and both were amazing! Mini strawberry shortcakes, cheesecake bars and Coca-Cola cake were a sweet finish to our vacation.