Tea, Snow, and Memories of an Autumn Tea Party

When I was a kid, snowstorms always promised a cup of hot chocolate after what seemed like hours spent shoveling the driveway. Now, thanks to living in an apartment building as well as enjoying a car-free life, shoveling snow has become a distant memory.

Blizzard of 2015 - glad to live car-free!
Blizzard of 2015 – glad to live car-free!

And while a cup of hot chocolate often tempts me on days like today, my drink of choice was of course tea, or rather “herbal teasan”: Moroccan Mint from Numi Organic Tea.

This snow-day tea also brought back more recent memories of a lovely autumn tea party hosted by my friend Sara.Sara's Tea Party

Within days of our visit last year to Tea at the Belvedere in Bristol, RI, (which, sadly, closed in November), Sara was inspired to recreate the experience, adding her own twists. On a late October day at her Central Massachusetts home in a quiet neighborhood, Dorene, Beth, Paige, and myself joined Sara for the quintessential tea party: leisurely companionship over tea, scones, and an irresistible afternoon tea tier.

From left: Sara, Paige, Dorene, and Beth (wearing gold shoes!)
From left: Sara, Paige, Dorene, and Beth (wearing gold shoes!)

Sara’s two youngest children, her then 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, occasionally lingered around the edges of the tea party. Both have already developed an appreciation for tea, especially the girl, and joined us for the first cup. Numi Moroccan Mint is their favorite, which is understandable given its sweet aroma of peppermint. Sara gave me a few samples, and I was glad that one remained for me to enjoy during the blizzard.

The amount of time, effort, and care that Sara put into creating the perfect experience still amazes me. Here’s a look at the results.

Sara’s Tea Party

Scones and the afternoon tea tier

  • Tea – I had mentioned to Sara that David’s Tea had opened near my office, and while she had a medley of tea options, Rooibos was missing from her selection. So with my first visit to David’s Tea, I discovered Pure Vanilla Rooibos (organic) and Coco Chai Rooibos, and then couldn’t resist adding Coconut Oolong and David’s Breakfast Tea (organic). Sara enjoyed the Pure Vanilla Rooibos, which her 11-year-old geometry student renamed “rhombus.” However, we could not tempt him to taste it.
  • Scones – Almond and cranberry. Both received rave reviews. Sara had hoped to start with the scones according to the Tea at the Belvedere tradition, but when most of us reached for the savory sandwiches, she did not mind.
  • Tea sandwiches – Cucumber with cilantro on white bread; ham and mustard; and chicken salad with grapes and pistachios. All were excellent, with the chicken salad as the favorite.
  • Pastry tier – Sara’s second tier had a cookie and cupcake theme. In addition to Raspberry Thumb Cookies, Sara made mini-cupcakes based on Paula Deen’s pound cake recipe. Delicious.
  • Top tier – At Tea at the Belvedere, the top tier was all about chocolate. Sara’s tier, which I saved for last, was worth the wait: Chocolate Peppermint Brownies and Peanut Butter Buckeye Balls.
  • Soups – We had learned at Tea at the Belvedere that by pacing ourselves, we could extend afternoon tea and eat more than we thought possible. After a leisurely walk on a sunny autumn day, we returned to enjoy two kinds of homemade soup: squash and split-pea. And to truly test our limits, the afternoon tea tier was replenished.

Sara was kind enough to share several of her recipes, and I am looking forward to adding them to the blog over the next few weeks.

Although I love New England weather, even snow, the photo I took while riding the train back to Boston after Sara’s tea party offers quite the contrast to the blizzard. Thanks to Sara for the wonderful experience and memories, as well as my snow-day tea!