Tea rituals, like taking tea at the same time each day, watching the leaves steep, inhaling the aroma, and pausing to enjoy tea unencumbered, are growing in popularity. Many have a defined, physical space for their ritual. Some have tea time playlists, some read poems, and some meditate. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a wrong, or right way to do the ritual, only a feeling that tea time and coffee time are antithetical. One invites its drinker to take time, the other to hurry up and get on with the day. Think of all the fidgety twitchers waiting for the barista to call out their name (I’m often enough among them).
Tea is full of possibility. Its flavor options appear to be endless. As I write this, I’m sipping on a cup of Blueberry White that I picked up while at the Solvang Spice Merchant, along with a jar of Whiskey Tea and Cinnamon Orange Spice. The Blueberry White is a blend of peony, jasmine green tea, white tea, blueberry and peach flavors. With a thin lemon wheel slice in my cup and no other sweetener, its taste makes me think of walking through an orchard on a dewy morning.
Beyond tea’s taste, there are so many ways to take tea: hot, cold, formal afternoon tea, high tea, personal tea ritual, formal tea ceremony, and so on. Like water it’s good for you and can be enjoyed morning, noon, and night. Tea and tea time is such a personal experience. “With tea in my cup, I can feel a connection to the unseen realms that are entwined with our own. Tea to me is what books might be to other people, a chance to travel to a new place without having to pack a bag, or to visit a life you had in another time or place. Tea is magic,” my dear, tea-loving friend, Melinda Mauskemo wrote when I asked for her thoughts on tea.
Fabulous Formal Afternoon Tea
Decadent, luxurious, loved-it-so-much-that-I-must-do-it-again-soon, wondrous formal afternoon tea. For the first time in our lives, back in November, Melinda and I went to a formal afternoon tea. I think it’s safe to say that we both fell head over heels in love with it. We went to the English Rose Tea Room located on Easy Street in Carefree, Arizona. Could there be a better town and street to relax and enjoy a cuppa?
Lavish flowers, chandeliers strung with teacups, and pretty place settings set the mood. Gracious greetings and warm service set us at ease. Since we’d never been to a tea room before we were prepared to feel self-conscious about everything. We ordered the Formal Afternoon Tea, plus one extra pot of tea. I had English Rose Petal tea. Melinda chose the Organic Lavender Earl Grey. We poured our respective teas into our pretty teacups with care. After some conversation and a few sips of tea, our three-tiered tray of treats and finger sandwiches arrived.
As we sat there enjoying every moment of the experience, I thought about the attention to detail and the care that went into creating each part of the formal afternoon tea from the atmosphere to the treats. During our drive back to Phoenix, we talked about making a trip to NYC during the holiday season to visit The Russian Tea Room and to ice skate at Rockefeller Center. I hope we manage to make the dream a reality sometime in the next couple of years.
Creating a Tea Ritual
Once back to Chris and my Phoenix apartment, I wanted to experience the formal afternoon tea again. I looked up teapots and teacups with fancy saucers, tiered tray stands and pretty plates, but my hosting tea party dreams are on hold for now. We’re on a Living in 12 Cities in 12 Months adventure. Every month our kitchen and how it’s equipped changes. When it comes to enjoying tea as we travel, I have my go-to, perfect-for-loose-leaf teacup from Teavana and the teas I bring along. As I write this we have five months left of this moving to a new city every month madness.
Thankfully, our current kitchen is well-stocked with pretty plates, elegant teacups, and matching saucers. The other day, I treated myself to a cup of tea accompanied by (healthy) sweets plated with care that took a bit of time to create. Banana slices topped with cashew butter, berries, walnuts, and coconut flakes. I was cleanse-prepping on the day I made them. Once my cleanse is done, I think I shall treat myself to a more complete (though still healthy-ish) formal afternoon tea. Maybe I’ll even break out my Better-for-You Raspberry Scones recipe. Tea invites all sorts of possibilities, doesn’t it?
As a traveling foodie, I’d like to make my tea time ritual a little extra with some sweet treats, or a full-on afternoon tea for myself, just because. These indulgences show care for oneself. Partaking in them shows appreciation and gratitude, right? Perhaps it’ll be a Friday Hap-Tea Hour. Those Friday afternoons always feel the longest while working from home!
Do you have a tea ritual? Or favorite tea? I’m always looking for new ones to try!
Pro Tip for visiting a tea room: Make reservations! My dear friend and I did not and were nearly out of luck at the English Rose Tea Room because they were booked for the entire day ON A TUESDAY!
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