The Tea Timing Bit

View from the tea room at the Huntington in San Marino, California.

Happy New Year!  So has everyone survived the holidays?  My season was full to the brim with planning, shopping, parties, events and a week-long road trip – plus two get-togethers that gave me a much-needed opportunity to slow down and appreciate life in the midst of very hectic times.

I attended two teas.

Tea and Sweets

The first time I think I recognized the benefit of sitting down to tea was – not surprisingly – in England.  During two college-aged backpack trips, I was persuaded to trade my long-time companion coffee in for tea with my breakfast.  And while not everything I considered essential was available en suite in the bed and breakfast rooms I stayed in, pots for heating afternoon tea water always were – and I embraced them.

And boy do I love the goodies that go along with a proper tea!  My personal favorites are cucumber sandwiches and any pastries with berries in ’em!

Chado Tea Room, Los Angeles, California. Mmmm!!!

But I’ve discovered from my travels that many other treats go along with taking tea!

Tea and History

Pausing for tea when traveling has sometimes proved a hard sell – especially to an active guy like my dad was.  I suspect he viewed it as losing daylight when there were places to go and things to see in favor of some pastime for little girls – and it really didn’t match his restless style.  (Even while enjoying some new sight, I think part of him was always already wondering what excitement might be brewing just around the corner.)

But when Mum and I had the pleasure of traveling with Dad, I’m afraid we outvoted him at tea time – resulting more often than not in what I used to call Dad’s “tea face”:

The “tea face”.

This picture just says to me: “Yes, yes, this is nice – but I’d like to get going already and what I’d like even more is a scotch…”

We did try to find ways to help Dad accept the results of our democratic process – like on a time when we were traveling in Finland.  We’d spent a glorious day in the southern city of Lappeenranta, taking a boat ride around the region’s island-studded lakes and wandering the Cavalry Museum.   But Mum and I were ready for a tea break.

Tea at the Cavalry Museum in Lappeenranta!

Dad balked like a horse at a high fence over the idea – until we discovered that Marshal Mannerheim, who helped guide and defend Finland through World War II, was said to have used that very room back in the day to smoke cigars and strategize.  When Dad learned he was drinking tea in a place so steeped in history, he decided he could hang there after all!

Tea and Sweet Music

Another elegant touch I’ve savored along with my tea is live music!

I’ve been lucky to make a couple visits to the English city of Bath where I enjoyed viewing its stately Royal Crescent, impressive Roman ruins and have had tea twice in the Grand Pump Room.  (I enjoyed visiting even though I was snickered at for pronouncing the city too much like a sheep would…)

Pulteney Bridge, Bath.

The Royal Crescent, Bath.

Along with the “medicinal” waters one could taste which used to be part of the locale’s attraction (upon tasting, I think there are illnesses I’d rather have), there’s a long-standing tradition of treating patrons to an infusion of either a music trio or piano’s playing while they dine.  During one of my backpack tour visits (hence, the old pictures…), the refined strains of classical violin music were almost enough to transport me away from modern times (and from the weathered jeans, wrinkled t-shirt and sneakers I’d been wearing almost exclusively for weeks) into a much more gentile day.  Although the illusion wasn’t quite complete, it did improve my posture for a time.

And as if the exotic destinations where two Mediterranean cruises the folks took me on weren’t enough, our ship also offered afternoon tea complete with chamber music – enough to coax a smile even from Dad who was always ready to appreciate fine music and dessert!

Shipboard tea and chamber music!

Cruising with pinky up past the coastline of Crete!

Tea and Sweet Time

My two youthful backpack trips had been of the “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” variety where I rarely spent more than a night in any European city or a week in any country.  I raced around Britain and the Continent with the desperate conviction that I may never pass this way again – and in most cases, that’s been true (so far, anyway – but give me time!).  I was seeing an awful lot but did come to wonder if, in my haste, I wasn’t still missing out somehow.

One day, after my travel companion Sophia and I had dashed around England’s charming Cotswolds and historic Blenheim Palace, we thought we just had time to grab some tea and shortbread before catching the bus back to our B and B.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.

We’d taken in so much at our breakneck pace – including on this day when we’d wandered the storied University of Oxford and seen the splendid estate where Winston Churchill was born!  But too soon we found we’d have to cut our conversation short and inhale our tea and cookies if we were to stay on track.

This time though, we decided to check the schedule and see if there wasn’t a later bus to be caught.  There was.  And instead of rushing our tea time, we settled back to continue chatting about all we’d seen that day with time to spare to discuss Sophia’s Greek ancestry, our boyfriend prospects and our post-college plans.  A quick afternoon of tea and sweets turned into a sweet afternoon spent recognizing the richness of our recent adventures and pondering those to come.

It was probably the first time I realized that tea could be about so much more than a beverage.

On a later occasion, the folks and I were traveling together in Wales where we planned to take a series of trains from the enchanting town of Betws-y-Coed (which Dad preferred to pronounce “Betty Co-Ed”) to the coastal town of Porthmadog.

Destination Porthmadog, Wales!

With only a day in the area, we were disappointed to find at our first transfer point that the next train was running considerably late.  Rather than stand stewing beside the tracks, we spotted a place up the nearby hillside where we could have tea.  Still grumbling over the hitch in our plans, we hiked to the little establishment and carried our tea and snacks outdoors to dine amid the spectacular Welsh countryside (again, to which my older photos don’t do justice…and okay, some of us chose coffee that day but, you know, it’s the concept!).

View of the countryside in Wales from our tea house!

There, our moods brightened as we went over the highlights of the grand time we’d just had in Ireland and on our ferry ride over.  I also shared some of the fun I’d had and lessons learned while roaming Wales before on my own (which I chronicled in “The Zen at the ATM Bit”), and we mused about what kind of lives the Welsh ancestors on Dad’s side might have had.

It turned out to be a delightful delay and another example of how special it can be to pause – whether by accident or design – to absorb the full flavor of where we are, what we can see and who we’re with!

Another smile from Dad!

Tea and Sweet Memories

So, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn through traveling that even in the midst of busy and exciting times, it’s important to take that break, breathe and reflect – and I’ve come to love doing so over tea!  This holiday season, I got to attend an annual tea hosted by my dear friend Danielle, and I took Mum to the Huntington for tea and a stroll around its amazing gardens and exhibits.  Very special times!

Stopping to smell the roses at the Huntington in San Marino, California.

Wishing everyone a happy 2018 and many such chances both to reminisce and create new memories with friends and loved ones – perhaps over a spot of tea!

Cheers!

42 comments

  1. Having tea with you at Huntington Gardens is a cherished memory! Happy New Year!! Wishing you a wonderful 2018! xoxo

    1. Aw, me too, Carol – and a wonderful 2018 right back at ya!

  2. I appreciate how much you appreciate your parents! My folks are in their 80’s and we just left their home where we spent new years eve, ending at 9pm instead of midnight, but that’s just fine!

    1. How nice! And I’m with you – afraid I’m happy celebrating the New Year in earlier and earlier time zones!

  3. How lovely post. My parents are dead many years ago, but memories stay in my mind to the rest of my life. How nice it was to read that You have visited Cavalry Museum. I have not visited this museum. Maybe next time when I go shooting photos from sand sculptures , which can be seen all the long summer. When I was young man, I spent three months in non-commissioned officer school in Lappeenranta. We made our first lake cruise in Lappeenranta.

    Happy New Year 2018.

    1. Kiitos paljon! And great to hear of your connection with Lappeenranta! That’s a beautiful area – and, yes, it was very special to get to share those times with my parents! All the best to you for a special 2018!

  4. Great post!

    1. Why thank you!

  5. Lovely post. There is always time for tea. It makes us stop, savoir and appreciate all the good things. Happy 2018.

    1. Thank you – and you’re so very right! And a Happy 2018 to you!

  6. Well, i’m British so you would expect me to vote for tea! You need to keep hydrated when travelling and tea is much better at that than coffee. However, it needs to be brewed in a proper pot – i’m not a fan of the habit in some countries of presenting you with a cup of no-longer-bowling water and a teabag on the side! All the best for 2018.

    1. Thank you – and a happy and healthy 2018 to you! Practical advice on staying hydrated while traveling! And I imagine I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to preparing a proper cup of tea. Years ago, I was a waitress at a place where a British couple came quite often for breakfast – and every time, I was admonished to make the tea “hot in the pot” and not with a tea bag on the side!

      1. Exactly! It’s quite scientific: the water has to be freshly boiled or it oxidises and the tea doesn’t taste as good.

      2. Very good to know!

  7. As another Brit, I’ll vote for tea every time too. The full Afternoon tea is a lovely treat now and again.

    1. Indeed! And yes – indulging in a full afternoon tea is a wonderful treat! Happy 2018 to you!

  8. Enjoyed this celebration of life through tea times. And hoping your new year is filled with rich flavor and much enjoyment.

    1. Thank you so much! And best wishes to you too for a rich and pleasant 2018!

  9. I LOVE an afternoon tea – I don’t drink tea but am more than happy to swap for champagne!

    1. Ah, now there’s a brilliant mind! I love to have both tea and champagne at an afternoon tea. Truth be told, I’m happy to add champagne to almost any occasion! Best wishes for a “sparkling” 2018!

      1. Right back at you Amy!

    1. Many thanks – and Happy New Year to you!

  10. Great post and lovely family insights. Am also British so will always vote for the joys of tea much as I also love coffee. Tea is versatile in all kinds of situations and places but there’s nothing so wonderful as trekking with a little stove that you can use to sit down and make a brew. Bliss – especially when you have a great view to enjoy while drinking tea. Love the smiles and resigned expressions of your dad!

    1. Thank you so much! And I love the idea of hot tea and a nice view while you’re off trekking! Hope 2018 has many more treks in store for you!

  11. Hoping 2018 brews up a perfect year for you, Amy!

    1. Thank you so much – and best wishes back to you for a great 2018!

  12. Immanuel Spira · · Reply

    I still love getting these and reading them. I hope you (and your mom) are doing really well and that 2018 brings you health happiness and more travels and writing!!

    Manny

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Thank you so much, Manny! We’re doing fine, thanks – hope you and yours are as well and that 2018 is a great year for you!

  13. All the best to you in 2018!

    1. Thanks – and to you!

  14. I’m not the biggest fan of some of the traditional elements of an afternoon tea (like the sandwiches and fruited scones), but I do enjoy having some tea and cake when the opportunity presents itself, and it looks like you’ve gotten to take tea in some lovely places over the years! Happy New Year!

    1. And a Happy New Year to you! Yes, I’ve been very lucky to have had tea in some truly special spots!

  15. Happy New Year to you!

    1. Thanks – and to you!

  16. Enjoyable post. I think I’m like your dad. However the late afternoon tea does refresh and ensure that you can last until later in the evening for dinner.

    1. Yes, I find it’s refreshing in a lot of ways – and, perhaps grudgingly, I think Dad did too. Thanks for reading!

  17. I love tea, but generally find bought tea in a cafe/hotel is too weak. So I take tea at home frequently, and almost always coffee when away from home. Happy memories of Bath. so long since we went there last.

    1. Interesting. Afraid I don’t know my way around types and brands to know a good robust tea which I’d probably prefer – but I do enjoy the experience! And yes, Bath is a lovely place isn’t it? Thanks for reading!

  18. I love your post & your sites name, really very creatuve. I can’t travel physically long distances any longer due to chronic health conditions but I live armchair traveling with you!
    Please drop by & join me in a cup of tea & add a treat of tasty deliciousness for a time of reflection together, at Tea with Jennifer you will be most welcome!
    Jennifer

    1. Thank you very much! Just enjoyed a cup of lemongrass tea on your site! At the spa I go to once in a while, I believe they serve lemongrass tea with vanilla and it adds something really nice to the whole experience! Thanks for the tea break – and for reading!

      1. What a great idea, I will try that next time I make it.
        Glad you enjoyed our time together :), drop by again soon.

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