There’s no better way to connect with someone than to sit down face to face and share a beverage, some nourishment and good old one on one conversation. Sharing a cup of tea with a good friend is a special treat.
Getting together for a latte is not to be underrated and wine is a given for a girls night out. That being said, I believe it’s worthwhile to focus some attention on “the tea”. Besides being a wonderful way to slow down and spend time with dear friends and family, it really is an art form.
I have a friend who is a gracious hostess and tea connoisseur. To my delight, she often extends invitations to tea after our exercise class. I teach the class, she serves the tea! And the scones, muffins or perhaps a creative egg dish or whatever she has in mind that day!
I am completely entranced by her collection of teas and tea apparatus, not to mention, her display of traditional and whimsical tea cups. Her cupboard is filled with dozens of varieties of teas and each time I am a guest, I am given a choice from a variety of hot teas or an iced tea.
As someone who has become addicted to that morning cup of coffee, I thoroughly enjoy switching to a cup of herbal or green tea mid morning. I usually choose hot tea and the soothing, fragrant blend instantly relaxes me and ushers in the perfect mood for a friendly chat.
Our conversation ranges from exercise to health concerns, from fashion to travels, from children to careers, from aging parents to spoiled pets. We find so much in common and share opinions and advice as we sip our tea and nibble our scones or whatever delectable treat she is serving. As the conversation progresses, her dog Gracie senses that I am a pet lover and eventually hops into my lap for some affection. It’s a wonderful break in the day and a perfect entree into the tradition of the more formal afternoon tea.
I recently attended one of those fancy afternoon teas at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale at the urging of my friend and tea expert, Merredith Dodds. As promised, the experience did not disappoint. From the fine china and tablecloths to the quietly elegant service with delicate tea settings and the requisite finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. Joining me for this special Holiday tea was my daughter and mother-in-law and it was a truly memorable experience. It’s hard to beat an afternoon tea at an elegant hotel for a special mother, daughter or girlfriend activity.
I recently asked Merredith if she would share some tips for serving a tea as well as some of her favorite blends and sources for tea and tea accessories and her favorite spot for an afternoon tea.
When asked what she loves about “having tea,” she answered “What I love most is that it allows us to slow down and connect with another person in an intimate way. In the age of technology we frequently make the trade off of texting or even face-time versus one on one conversations face to face. The delicious treats that traditionally accompany tea aren’t bad either. Whether it’s a casual cup with a neighbor around the kitchen table or a special occasion in a unique setting, tea is best when shared with friends.” I wholeheartedly agree with her.
As far as what her favorite spot for tea is.. “I have had the pleasure to enjoy Afternoon Tea in many different locations around the country as I travel. But my ALL TIME FAVORITE PLACE to enjoy tea is, and may always be, The Phoenician Hotel in Scottsdale Arizona. The tea is unique, the food is abundant and creative. The china is beautiful, the service is exceptional and the setting is serene.”
Meredith added “My favorite teas are usually enhanced with fruit or nut flavors. I drink so much tea, both iced and hot, that I try to stay with green whenever possible for the antioxidant value and slightly lower acidity. My go to tea is usually Harney and Son’s. I was introduced to John Harney and his son’s many years ago and their family business model was endearing not to mention their wonderful quality at a reasonable price. Locally I usually shop at Walnut Street Tea Company, the new owner is vivacious and is in process of refreshing this charming store. For tea on-the-go I have been known to run into Atlanta Bread for their Green Iced tea …maybe too regularly.”
She also told me that she recently discovered a new source for all things tea while attending her son’s track meet in California. “Look at these portable tea steepers and these do it yourself tea bags!” She enthused as she showed me her tea haul from David’s Tea (also available online: http://www.davidstea.com). After visiting the site myself, I had a lengthy wish list and many items in my shopping cart.
And finally, she assures me that “chocolate covered strawberries” are a perfect accompaniment for tea. “It’s chocolate of course. And fruit which is healthy.” Like myself, she has a healthy respect for all things chocolate and also bakes the best chocolate chip cookies, hands down.
A special thank you goes to Merredith for graciously sharing her views and knowledge on the subject and especially for inviting me into her home and serving her amazing tea and treats!
Take time for tea with someone special, or even just by yourself today. You’ll be glad you did!
Striving and thriving, with a little tea perhaps?