Take time for Afternoon Tea

Despite sub-zero April temperatures in Southern Ontario and with a dusting of snow on the ground, I joined a group of interesting women at a local golf club yesterday for a springtime tea celebration. For winter-weary Canadians, this festive event brought a feeling of the freshness of spring despite uncooperative April temperatures.

While it wasn’t Downton Abbey, the local golf club set the scene with bright floral arrangements in the food and bar areas of the clubhouse.  Centrepieces of beautifully arranged spring flowers in china teacups on white tablecloths with brightly coloured cloth napkins welcomed us to our tables.

Staff members greeted us, helped us with our coats and graciously ushered us into the areas reserved for our group. These small kindnesses created a welcoming atmosphere and set a festive mood.

Tea time -- Photo courtesy of Erol Ahmed on Unsplash
Afternoon Tea Celebration –photo courtesy of Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Everyone attending wore something special for the event. Spring outfits abounded with a profusion of floral dresses and pretty tops in vivid colours providing a glimpse of fashion trends. I noticed a couple of women wearing Fascinators; perhaps such headgear was a nod to British traditions for afternoon tea.

We ate a variety of crustless sandwiches, fresh scones with clotted cream. and various sweets.  We swooned over both the sweet and the savoury scones served with plenty of clotted cream, butter, and jams. Endless cups of tea from selections that included black teas, green tea, white tea, and various herbal blends helped to wash down the goodies on offer.

Afternoon Tea Memories

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to attend many delightful, decadent, boozy and otherwise special tea events.

On a trip to British Columbia, my husband and I took a ferry to Vancouver Island to the beautiful Empress Hotel in Victoria. One afternoon, we enjoyed a traditional tea served in the lobby.  The menu included lovely open-faced sandwiches with local smoked salmon accompanied with glasses of a dry sherry and many cups of tea.

A few years ago, while staying for a weekend at the restored Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, I joined a boisterous group of friends for flutes of champagne and afternoon tea.  Seated on the comfy couches in the lobby, we laughed and gossiped while wallowing in food along with countless cups of tea until we were booted from the area as it was booked for an evening event.

During trips to the United Kingdom, I’ve sampled various styles of afternoon tea including tea served at busy bake shop counters in Cambridge, formal tea in the homes of friends, a tea tasting at the grand Fortnum & Mason department store in London, and various cakes with tea on offer at historic National Trust properties.

The most memorable afternoon tea experience happened years ago when a friend and I indulged in a traditional tea at the Savoy Hotel in London, England.  I recall perfectly groomed waiters in formal attire who poured endless cups of steaming hot tea from silver pots. I also remember that the delightful afternoon tea along with the real Devon clotted cream for the fresh scones cost us more than we paid per night for our nearby bed and breakfast room!

Except for retirement teas, bridal shower teas, and mother’s day events, Canadians seldom pamper themselves with a formal afternoon tea. Instead, we take rushed coffee breaks, often at a local coffee and doughnut shop where we sit on hard chairs at Formica tables, drink from paper cups, and eat mass-produced sugar-laden pastries or muffins in plastic wrappers.  Coffee selections usually include extra large double/doubles, single shot expressos, lattes, and straight black Americanos.

Making time for afternoon tea in a busy schedule reminded me about the importance a break in routine.  Afternoon tea with friends meant time for conversation, laughter, and renewal of friendship. I came home with a new perspective along with a resolve to take time for a ‘cuppa’ more often.

Yesterday’s springtime tea celebration provided a break from the lingering winter cold.   Sometimes indulging in a pleasant environment with good vibes is a welcome tonic that re-sets thinking. Here’s to more time for afternoon tea!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’m interested in your memories and ideas for afternoon tea celebrations>  If you like my blog, please forward this post to others and please consider becoming a subscriber to receive posts from my irregular posting schedule.




8 Replies to “Take time for Afternoon Tea”

  1. It is strange the way we think that all the niceties of tea is only enjoyed by women – The Golfer (my aptly named husband) enjoys delicately served ‘tea and cake’ as he calls it as much as any other person so we often take a drive to his 2nd home for just that.
    And on this coming Wednesday morning I’ll be gathering with some of my Ladies Probus branch for a Morning Tea. Best held in the morning because of the distance some travel but with all the niceties of an Afternoon Event.. Because of the large size of the branch each person is invited at least once during the year with a maximum of 24 ladies per tea. It’s a way of getting to know each other iand form friendships in a different manner and style than at monthly meetings where little groups form and sit together. The committee ‘knows’ who are in those groups and to ensure that ‘getting to know each other’ takes place make sure they are invited separately.
    I will just say I agree with Lynn in that the Afternoon Teas served on a Holland America ship are just delicious. Take it from a confirmed HAL cruiser

    1. I hope that you enjoyed your Wednesday morning tea with Probus colleagues and friends. How unfortunate that so many pleasurable activities have suffered a gender bias. I know from attending an afternoon tea in the homes of friends that men are usually avid participants. After all — everyone in a household gets hungry! I’m told that the tradition of tea began when a British monarch decided to have a snack and a cuppa in the afternoon to stave off hunger pangs before a late dinner. When visiting the UK I’ve noticed that many people have afternoon tea after a hearty lunch — quite similar to the light supper that many North Americans eat. I’ve decided that I love all the traditions, foods and flavours of traditional afternoon tea. I’ll indulge whenever the opportunity arises!

  2. What fun! It sounds like a wonderful afternoon! Having awoken once again to fresh snow today, April 9, I can certainly understand the need for a break from an endless winter season. Perhaps I’ll fix myself tea today at 4 PM and think of you and your colleagues enjoying yourselves too!

    1. There’s been a skiff of snow here every day. It melts by noon. Rain is predicted for tomorrow with moderating temperatures. I can’t wait for some real spring weather. Back to tea — I’m learning from my friends that there aren’t many tea shops in London, Ontario. I may just have to invite some people and have a tea at my house!

  3. Thanks for this reminder of the English Tea. Jeanette. You may recall we serve an English Tea every year at our church lunch. The next one will be on Monday, May 7, and will be Spring Tea this year. We, too, will serve a variety of teas in china cups and saucers, scones with strawberry jam and cream, crumpets and cakes on elegant cake stands, mini quiches, sausage rolls. cheese and pickles, vegetable trays and fruit. The tea and the Christmas meal are usually the lunches best attended. Perhaps because, like me, many people appreciate the way we served beverages in days gone by. As you so rightly point out, these days it’s coffee or tea in a thick ceramic, or paper, mug, often on the run.

    1. The English tea you are planning sounds scrumptious! I’m resolved to attend more tea events. There’s an elegance in life that we need to cherish and preserve. Perhaps we need to choose how we take our coffee and tea breaks with more discretion! After the event on Thursday, I found a few of my mother’s lovely china cups that were not donated when we downsized. I’m determined to use them!

  4. Did you know Holland America features a variety of tea services onboard their cruise ships? I attended a Royal Dutch High Tea on a Panama Canal cruise and it was lovely. And believe it or not, English tea rooms are popular in Central Florida! Partially, I suppose, to accommodate British tourists … but we Americans are fans, too.

    1. I’ve heard from others that formal teas are popular on many cruise lines but that’s a future experience for me! I did attend an English tea in a hotel in West Palm Beach many years ago. At that time it was a bit of a novelty. I’m happy to hear that tea rooms are becoming more popular. The last time I visited the UK I noticed that more Brits were drinking coffee rather than tea. There is something lovely about taking some time for yourself — regardless of which drink you choose!
      Be well,

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