Sunday we attended the English Tea hosted by the Heritage House in Riverside, CA.
Shortly after arriving we took a tour of the house and learned A LOT about the history of the house, the period in general, and the city of Riverside. Much of the house is original including some of the beautiful tile work. One thing I found interesting was that the materials used upstairs versus downstairs were dramatically different. Only the fancy tiles and best woods would do in areas where the family would be entertaining, but upstairs, in more private rooms, the style and materials were much more modest. Do you find that you decorate in the same way?
After the tour had a few moments to check out the gift shop while they finished setting up for the Tea. We of course took that time to take pictures of ourselves with our fascinators on!
Once we sat down for the actual Tea we were served with Earl Grey Tea and fresh fruit. From that moment on, we were served one yummy bite after another: small tea sandwiches (poppyseed with cream cheese, cucumber, and chicken salad), scones with devonshire cream and strawberry preserves, cherry tarts, ginger cookies, and a hummingbird cake in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday.
Just before cutting into the cake we toasted (or “bumped”) to Queen Victoria herself.
We were told that all the food was prepared by one woman! No wonder they only do this Tea twice a year! It was a lot of fun. Can’t wait for next year!
Tea Time Green by Erin Jane Shop at Etsy.com
I have read* that other culture has celebrated tea “with the diligent fervor of Japan and England.” From that same reading I learnt that Zen monks of Japan cultivated the Chinese tea plants to keep them awake during their moonlight meditation sessions, which later led to a more formal tea ceremony called chanoyu, encouraging guests to savor the moment while sipping. The mood is quiet and every “movement is prescribed, from palming the tea bowl just right to murmuring a few compliments on the decor as the tea master serves his guest.”
Now, if that sentence didn’t run on long enough for you let’s hop continents to Europe. The ceremonial tea service was based more on delicacy rather than Murata Shuko’s (the monk who founded the humbling chanoyu ceremony) destitution. Ann Stanhope, seventh Duchess of Bedford formalized the England’s traditional afternoon tea. She would invite ladies to her boudoir for tea and thin toasts by 5PM each night. Tea was very expensive due to high taxes during the 1600s.
By the 1830s India brought tea prices down to reasonable cost but it was still kept as a precious commodity. The china of a “true Victorian lady was ‘dainty,’ noted one etiquette guide, ‘and the tea-cozy should be pretty and handsomely decorated with embroidery.” The duties of the tea master was set to precise rules from always asking, “Do you take sugar with that?” to instruction on how to brew and how to pour.
Both Japan and England has made tea service a form of art and lucky for Californians we have plenty of venues prepared to serve:
Crown and Crumpet in San Fran
Paddington Tea Room in Los Angeles
Scarlet’s Tea Room in Pasadena
Afternoon Tea in the Living Room in BevHills
Heritage Tea House in Riverside
*Jessica Kerwin Jenkins wrote Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights. Your cup will runneth over with elegance and beautiful illustrations of histories about luxuries to the perfect omelette.
In honor of English Tea week at WhoopieCookie, I’ve scoured Etsy for the proper, the pretty and the tea party….
StayGoldMaryRose takes real tea cups (you can even send her one of your own) and turns them into beautiful, wearable bangles. Seriously, its like very delicate magic!
Thisilk‘s earrings are made of vintage ivory lace. Rock these to tea time to elevate the whole affair.
PRRINT sells prints on vintage book pages. I was recently gifted a similar item (Thank You, Summer!) and love it. They are both beautiful and interesting. I love that there is literally a story behind it.
Whimsyandspice went ahead and efficiently combined your tea and your cookies! These Earl Grey Sandwich cookies are filled with white chocolate…a personal favorite of mine. What’s not to love?
Braggingbags makes your pies look even more beautiful. These lovebird cake/pie toppers can be engraved with whatever your little heart desires. Imagine your tea time tablescape with these. Too cute!
I live in Southern California. And in Southern California we are pretty laid back. Most days I don my favorite pair of jeans and flip-flops and yes on occasion I say “dude.” So when I have the opportunity to attend an event that can be construed as even slightly formal I like to go all out!
This weekend when I attend the English Garden Tea at the Heritage House I will do so in style.
English women often where hats at formal events and fascinators have made a come back as well. Recently at the Royal wedding I saw a couple of princesses who looked like they had raided a closet backstage at Lady Gaga’s last concert.
Using this tutorial as a general guide, we created our own fascinators for this weekend’s tea.
We might look like little girls playing dress up at a pretend tea party, but who couldn’t use a fun trip back to their five year old self?!
I know the Royal Wedding has ended… Mother’s Day is over too.. but it is still Spring and the flowers are in bloom! It’s the perfect time for an English Garden Tea. As an annual tradition, we will be attending the Garden Tea at the Heritage House in Riverside, Ca on Sunday.
We are celebrating our anticipation with tea time posts this week! What would Tea Time be without scones!
I have a slight obsession with these tastey pastries! I made my scones with dried cranberries (un-sweetened) and orange zest! What are your favorite types of scones?
mother’s day is less than a week away. what better way then to celebrate by painting a bird house with your kids… or not! every year for the past too many years we, as a big mexican family of girls, drag our husbands to the renaissance faire in the name of mother’s day (and we throw in may birthday celebrations as well), we have tea (adults only) at the heritage tea house in riverside, and we also use the entire month as an excuse to get pampered with visits to the salon and massages. After all, WE deserve it.
how will you be celebrating mother’s day this year?