Everything is quiet outside. There is no one driving on the streets, there is not one person out walking their dog. It seems that even birds and squirrels are staying out of the frigid winter weather.
A Book And Banana Bread
A winter storm is descending upon the region that I live in. In fact, a large percentage of the United States is under a winter weather advisory of some kind or other. The blah days of winter are still upon us. In anticipation of the forecasted abundance of snow we are supposed to receive, I made sure that my family and extended family had the necessities; canned food if we lose electricity, paper products, some chocolate and of course tea. An extended family member knows I am a voracious reader and set aside one of their books for me to borrow. It is a book regarding table setting, which they thought I might enjoy perusing through just in case we get snowed in.
I started to look through the book and the charming table setting photos and the descriptions of proper table etiquette made me long for a formal tea party. The type of tea party with white linen on the table, cloth table napkins, silver tea service, little pots of jam and clotted cream, freshly baked scones and a fragrant pot of hot tea. Then an idea came to me. I have tea and bananas. I can have a snowy winter day tea party!
I made the banana bread and secured a piece of the bread for the tea party before the rest of the loaf was devoured. The house smelled wonderful; like baked bread. I rooted around in the refrigerator for something else to serve besides banana bread. In hand, I had a handful of strawberries, cream cheese, cucumber, and bread. After the strawberries were washed and drying, I set about making the cucumber sandwich. As a final touch on the sandwich, I spread cream cheese on the crust less edges of the sandwiches and then pressed them into dried parsley. I had a little bit of chocolate to complete the plate of tea treats. On to picking the tea and setting the tea table.
Setting The Tea Table
Setting the table was a bit formidable even though it was just my dogs and I for tea. The book that was leant to me sparked my creativity. I chose to set a low table in front of the couch and next to the window so I could enjoy the tea while watching the snow fall. The table is a replica of a Queen Anne’s tea table, but with shorter legs in order to be coffee table height. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, during Queen Anne’s reign in England (1702-1714), tea drinking was a social event and dictated small tables that could easily be moved to various locations. A common feature of a Queen Anne tea table include gracefully curved table legs called cabriole legs. This style of furniture leg can be described as the top part of the leg having an outward curve (convex), and the lower part of the leg having a concave curve.
In the book The Complete Book Of Table Settings, it was mentioned that ideally a “Table cloth should not be used to conceal the polished wood of the entire tea table, but…. leaving the rest (of the table) to view.” The book also suggested that the principles of scale, design, and balance be applied to setting a table. Evidently the height of items, the scale, pattern and theme of items need to blend, meld, and tell a cohesive story. Ummmm… Challenge accepted! I built a table display using items on hand around my house. I frequently have fresh flowers in a vase tucked somewhere in my house and this snowy day was no exception. The flowers on hand were white flowers. I couldn't have planned it any better! I had fun thinking about what tea cup to use (I have been blessed with giftings of teacups, tea pots, and plates from friends and family alike). It was a terribly dreary day and flowers on the tea table, along with a candle and coordinating teacup, would be the perfect touch.
The tea table was finally set and it was fast approaching tea time. The time it took to set a tea table was minimal. In under one-half an hour I prepared the food (with the exception of the banana bread), arranged the tea table, and steeped the tea. After everything was ready, I corralled the dogs, and we gathered around the tea table to enjoy our treats.
The Tea Party
Maple Black tea seemed ideal for a snowy afternoon tea party. The maple tea had a comforting maple aroma, a balanced sweet, creamy and slight brown sugar flavor profile with a medium mouth feel. Milk or creamer would be a fantastic additive to the hot tea. I, however, prefer to have my hot tea without milk or creamer. The tea and banana bread were a wonderful pairing.
My two tea companions were not allowed to partake of my tea table treats or sip the hot tea. In fact, they were not even allowed to sit on the couch next to me; they had to remain on the floor. They had their own doggie reward treats for sitting quietly without whining or begging for food. All in all the tea party was a fun way to while away a blah, dull, snowy winter day.
May this post find you safe, warm and enjoying hot tea,
The Editors of Encylopedia Britannica, and Kathleen Kuiper. Queen Anne Style. Britannica. Hill, Amelia Leavitt. The Complete Book Of Table Settings. The Greystone Press, 1949.
About The Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!