“Tea tempers the spirits and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness, lightens or refreshes the body, and clears the perceptive faculties.”
Whenever my college roommate Dorene hosted a gathering of college friends, there would be two certainties: Tea would be served, and I would be offered something different to drink. While I would not equate tea with coffee, which leaves me with an almost unbearable aftertaste, I never found the pleasure in drinking tea that makes so many people devoted to it. Not until the terrible flu season of 2010-11 did I even buy my first box of tea bags. I understood the health benefits of tea and drank the occasional cup as part of a successful effort to avoid illness that winter.
I had another reason for wanting to get accustomed to drinking tea. In the spring of 2011, Dorene and I would be taking our first overseas trip together to London, where, obviously, there would be tea.
Dorene’s story is different. To know Dorene is to know that she loves tea. When I asked her how old she was when she became a tea drinker, here’s how she replied:
I don’t remember NOT drinking tea. I remember telling my very young – maybe toddler – sister to try iced tea because she’d love it. (She drinks it but I wouldn’t say she loves it!) My mom and grandmother always drank tea, so it was the beverage of choice. I also remember one time when I was very young painting, and instead of putting the paint brush in the water to rinse it off, I mistakenly put it in my tea! Tears ensued, but mom to the rescue, and a fresh new cup of tea was procured.
So basically, how long have I been a tea drinker – pretty much always!
If ever there was an American born to experience afternoon tea in London, it was Dorene. With an eclectic array of interests, including European (especially British) royalty, nineteenth and twentieth century British history and culture, and the Art Deco movement, Dorene was in her element in London, and either afternoon tea or cream tea became part of almost every day’s itinerary.
At a gathering of college friends the weekend before we left for our second trip to England in June 2013, our friend Paige suggested that Dorene blog about tea. By the time I arrived at the airport a few days later, the idea of a blog had taken hold, except that I would be the writer. On our first trip, I had noticed that Dorene would make comments about the quality of the scones and compare the places where we had stopped for tea. I was hopeful that she would not mind my turning her afternoon tea experiences into blog posts, and I was right. She was generous in providing her commentary and analysis.
As for me, writing about our experiences has deepened my appreciation for tea and brought me closer to understanding tea’s many devotees. And so the Tea and Scone Hop begins, with thanks to Paige for suggesting the blog; Beth, whose idea for a future group vacation (an alternative to a pub crawl) gave this blog its name; Sara for her presence; and, of course, Dorene for her insight, patience, many wonderful photos, and for deciding that it was time for us to start traveling overseas!
First up – our visit to Selfridges.