Friday, December 21, 2012

Constant Curiosity | A Spot of Tea

Years and years ago, in almost another lifetime, I went to England with my mom and my sister.  We had afternoon tea at Harrod's, after a long, chilly tramp around London, and at the Pump Room in Bath, (and discovered that Bath buns referred to a type of roll and not a condition resulting in taking the baths...) and came home with a fascination for and an addiction to "having tea." This resulted in our having tea for any excuse whatsoever--Mother's Day, a new tea room to try, or just as an excuse to get out the bone china teacups.

 I've visited a lot of tea rooms, but tea at the Empress in Victoria, BC, sticks in my mind, because we visited during a very warm July, so...proper attire being required in the tea room, it looked sad for a moment until the hostess found an unoccupied dining area and the day was saved for my friend and me, as we had tea in lonely shorts-clad splendor. 

Afternoon Tea Victoria

Afternoon Tea in Victoria

Another memorable afternoon tea was at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco after the Bay to Breakers race (we walked...all 9+ miles over hill and dale and along Castro St., a story for another time.)  My friends and I were all cold (very foggy day,)  and starving and still in our walking clothes when I decided tea at the Ritz would be just the thing (I never said I didn't dream big) and although there was a fancy party going on, the very gracious hostess found us a table and we had a lovely tea.  Talk about hitting the spot! 

I have also been treated to a fabulous birthday tea at the Ritz in San Francisco; you may be surprised to learn that I was in my best bib and tucker that time.  One of my fondest dreams is to have tea at the London Ritz at Christmas time.         

There is something inherently comforting and oh, so cozy, about sitting around a fragrant, steaming pot of Earl Grey tea, (my fave, oil of bergamot adding that little extra,) milk and sugar at the ready, beautiful bone china cups and saucers arranged just so on a tray or tea table, silver spoons, lacey linens and a tier of scones, cucumber sandwiches, cake, tarts, lemon curd, strawberry preserves and Devon cream.  High tea, with more substantial fare, can be a fine meal all by itself. 

If you have just come in out of the cold, say, after tramping the moor, a good, strong cuppa can be as bracing as a shot of good Scotch whiskey.  Not that I'm a devotee of Scotch, but I have a good imagination and a gift for hyperbole.


If the tea table is near a fireplace with a crackling fire going, and one has friends to share the tea with, there's no better place on earth.  This is especially nice during the holidays, because unless you live in the southern hemisphere (not southern California,) December can be oh so dark and dreary. 

So, if you suffer from that mid-afternoon "sinking feeling" (as the Duchess of Bedford said) and you're interested in having your own tea party and not sure where to start, visit your local public library:

This blog is dedicated to my dear friend Laura, who is a brilliant tea companion and with whom I've murdered more than a few cups of tea.

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