Drinking a cup of hot tea has always been relaxing for me. I especially love taking afternoon tea. TeaTime magazine’s new book, Taking Tea, is a celebration of this art. I have experienced afternoon tea at several of the establishments featured in the book, such as the Willard, Windsor Court Hotel, the Peabody Memphis, and the Grand America Hotel. Lorna Reeves, the editor of TeaTime, is also a lover of afternoon tea. She sat down with me recently to share about the book.
Phyllis: What was the inspiration behind Taking Tea?
Lorna: We received many inquiries from TeaTime readers about which tearooms to visit on their travels. Those letters led us to compile this book which features 9 independent tea rooms and 9 luxury hotels from across the contiguous United States. For each establishment featured, there is an article as well as several recipes from their tea menu. The book is perfect for planning afternoon tea in your own home. Each recipe has been scaled down to the appropriate serving sizes for an afternoon tea and has been tested multiple times in our test kitchens. The measurements have been converted from weight to volume whenever possible. There are also several gluten-free recipes, as well as a tea steeping guide.
Phyllis: What are the benefits of going somewhere for afternoon tea rather than simply drinking tea at home?
Lorna: One of the most enjoyable benefits is that you do not have to do any of the work! It is a way to relax and savor the tea, the food, and the people you are with. Most afternoon tea experiences are designed to last around an hour and a half. The food will either be served on a three-tiered stand or in courses, which causes you to slow down and take the time to enjoy it. You are going to receive delicious food, wonderful tea, and incredible service. Going to a tea room allows you to see the unique personality of each establishment. Even within the same state, no two tea rooms are alike.
Phyllis: How did afternoon tea originate?
Lorna: The practice of afternoon tea began with the Duchess of Bedford. She would get sinking spells in the time between lunch and dinner. In order to prevent this, she began having tea and sandwiches in her boudoir every afternoon. She would invite friends to join her and this became a time for them to chat, gossip, and enjoy each other’s company. Once people realized that this was a practice of the royalty, it began to catch on and has been around ever since.
Phyllis: What are some of the benefits of taking afternoon tea?
Lorna: Tea is second to water for the most-consumed beverage worldwide and third in the United States to water and coffee. It has significance worldwide. Afternoon tea is a delightful way to stop for a few minutes and relax. Drinking hot tea is a calming experience. Taking tea with friends is a perfect way to spend time together and build relationships. TeaTime readers attest that afternoon tea is a valuable practice to implement in your life.
What are some of your favorite tea houses?