Tea is a beverage I’ve enjoyed for much of my life. I grew up adoring the sun tea that my mother would make, poured over ice on a hot, summer’s day. As an adult, discovering tea lattes was something of a treat as well. Side note: Did you know that an Earl Grey Tea Latte, also known as a London Fog Latte at Starbucks in the States, is called a Smoggy Foggy if you order it at a Starbucks in The Big Smoke? The funny things you discover whilst abroad…
I also drink green tea, in the hopes of taking advantage of its health benefits. Hurray for antioxidants and flavonoids! In addition, I used to sing with a women’s a cappella group, and I often used Throat Coat tea to soothe my voice before performances. I’m also a big fan of the flavoured iced teas at some of my favourite restaurants.
When I visited London last October, some friends took me to The Tea Box, a modern tearoom in Richmond, on a Sunday afternoon. It was not unlike the modern tea establishments I’ve been to in America (the musician Moby’s teany in NYC is one that comes to mind), with a vast selection of loose leaf teas and delicious baked goods to nosh on. During that trip, I found out that not all English people enjoy and drink tea, which, while being a silly notion to have had in the first place, did come as a bit of a surprise to me. I’d liken it to believing that all Americans drink Coca-Cola, which, of course, we do not.
When I visited London this past April, my travelling companions and I discovered a wonderful tea haven: The Tea Palace in Covent Garden. We quickly became smitten with their fabulous Madagascan Vanilla loose leaf tea (it smells divine!), and we purchased some to bring home with us.
I dig tea. A lot. And there is a point to all this tea talk.
I recently visited an English tearoom, but it wasn’t in England. Actually, it wasn’t anywhere near the UK. It was here in my own backyard. The English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, Arizona is situated in the heart of the desert, and is owned and operated by Jo Gemmill, herself a transplanted English Rose. Her lovely establishment was my Anglophile dream come true from the moment I approached the entrance and saw the life-size, cardboard versions of William and Kate welcoming me. It’s also worth noting that this visit took place during the weekend following the Royal Wedding, so I was even more chuffed than usual to be amongst such things.
A good friend of mine accompanied me (it was her idea, actually), and we even dressed up for the occasion. We were delighted to discover that the tearoom had a selection of hats for us to choose from, and this added even more charm and humour to the experience. It was a tea party for grown-ups, and I loved every minute of it.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch served atop fine English bone china, and of course, a pot of tea accompanied by some tasty scones with jam and clotted Devonshire cream. But my favourite part of the afternoon was after we finished our lunch, and did some shopping in the adjacent tearoom boutique. The English Rose has an incredible selection of tea accessories and memorabilia from the UK, and I did a bit of retail damage with my credit card. I am now the proud owner of proper tea accessories, so I can attempt to replicate the experience at home. However, my scone baking skills still need some work.
With my next trip to London slated for October of this year, I reckon I need to take my tea appreciation to a whole new level. Afternoon tea at the Ritz, perhaps? I’d better remember to pack a posh dress and hat.
Where is your favourite place to take tea?