Every Friday during the entire month of February my library is hosting Tea Time; a four part series for adults on the cultural, historical, and political aspect of tea during various times and locales. It runs from 3 to 5 pm. The first installment was High Tea concerning the Victorian/Edwardian etiquette, British culture, and history of the High Tea. Participants were instructed to wear fancy hats. We arranged a Skype Session with a one Mr. Christian Elsing, Lobby Restaurant Manager of the Fairmont Empress Hotel, British Colombia, Canada as our guest speaker. He. Was. WONDERFUL! Very bubbly and highly informative! He also discussed the Empress Tea Experience and gave us a quick tour of the Lobby Restaurant. My family and I have first hand knowledge of the Empress Hotel Tea Experience which is why I reached out to them in the first place. If you ever get the chance to go, GO! It is marvelous! These folks managed to get my red-blooded, meat-and-potato, American-football-loving father to drink FOUR cups of tea, try every little sandwich and pastry available, as well as purchasing no less than a dozen boxes of Empress Tea to take back home to friends and family. I learned from Mr. Elsing’s discussion “only peasants took milk with their tea,” as one of the lady’s surmised. In effect, only royalty could afford bone china which can withstand the scalding heat of the hot water, china and porcelain would crack and break under the stress, so cold milk was typically poured to cool the beverage and salvage the cups of non-royals.
Indian Tea Company was the second installment of our Tea Time series and we had three ladies from India come to speak and demonstrate how to make Chai tea. It was fascinating! Indian Tea is considered “young” and did not really catch on as a daily thing until the 1920s, years after British colonization. Different areas of India, take their tea differently some with black pepper, others with brown sugar, etc. To cool off the tea, Indians pour it highly elaborate manners or constantly switch the liquid from one cup to another. There is actually am Indian tea ceremony tied into the vetting process of arranged marriages. All of it was so interesting. Nobody wanted to leave! The presenters nor the audience!
This Friday, in partnership with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), we will be having American Tea Party: Politics and Tea during the American Revolution. The DAR Ladies will be in costume to talk about the atmosphere leading up to the Boston Tea Party as well as give a brief history on different types of tea pots. Next week, we will be sitting in on For All the Tea in China: Chinese medicinal tea.
Family and friends have asked me why I decided to offer this at the library, to which I replied with a shrug “Why not?!” While I am not a huge tea drinker, I will drink it on occasion, I honestly just like the pageantry and etiquette required for these daily ceremonies. As far as I figure, if I like something, then there is at least one other person on the planet that shares my interests. So far this approach to library programming has served me well. It makes it fun!