Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Commemorative AfternoonTea

This week, Friday between 3 and 5 pm, will be the commemorative afternoon tea which I am hosting for my friend who died recently. Although I am ordering most of the food I do have to get my house in order, so that people do not think that I spend all my life online, either with blogging or trotting around in Second Life. Which as you all know, I do.

No, I am not serving scones with jam and clotted cream, for I haven't made scones in years and probably have lost my touch. But in most other ways it will be a traditional English afternoon tea. Well the sandwiches will not be watercress, but there will be absolutely no coffee served I can assure you and there will be no teabags used, only loose tea. I don't have an elegant silver teapot either, but I do seem to own many teacups and teapots. I wonder how this happened. I own too much stuff!

In my part of the world which has a strong British heritage there has been a resurgence of the service of an English style afternoon tea in special tearooms which have sprung up around the city and at all the elegant hotels. The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is famous for its traditional afternoon tea which has been served there every day since 1908. In fact this is such a popular event that it is advised to reserve up to two weeks ahead of time and if you just appear it is quite likely that you will be disappointed. Oh did I tell you about the dress code for the Empress Tea Lobby where the tea is served? And the fact that it costs between $49 and $60, plus taxes, plus gratuity, which is very expensive indeed but does not seem to affect its popularity? They do present you with a complimentary canister of their special Empress blend of tea so I suppose that helps to offset the cost a little. Twenty dollars is more the going rate which I think is still rather expensive for this event.

When I was a stay at home mother with my two young children, afternoon tea was a very big thing in my circle of friends. We got together regularly for this so that my friends and I could enjoy some adult conversation and our children could play together. It wasn't a traditional tea as such, just a cake which the hostess had baked and cups of tea and lots of fellowship. I remember these times quite fondly and although things changed and they fell by the wayside, the friendships forged over those cups of tea have not. Now we seem to do lunch.

So hopefully with this traditional afternoon tea I will bid my friend a fond farewell with some of his other friends. I have no idea how many people will be attending. There are some definites with a lot of I'll try to make it's, so we shall see. Either I'll have lots of food left over or run out and be scrambling for cheese and crackers but I'll never run out of tea, I can assure you of that. Earl Grey, Keemun, Oolong, Assam, Pu-erh, Darjeeling, Jasmine, green tea, different kinds of flavoured Rooibos teas, herbal teas all find a place in my tea cupboard. I'm sure that everything will go well but for now I have to go make my house presentable.


Anonymous said...

Well I live in Kent now - the most English of English counties and I dont even like tea much. I would liven things up with a hip flask of vodka myself...Oh I can make scones though - I make some most weeks.

Janice Thomson said...

If that's your table it looks smashing JMB. I'm not a tea drinker myself though I don't mind the odd cup. A wonderful idea to commemorate your friend - hope it is an enjoyable time and not too sad.

Crushed said...

i wonder how much 'Englishness' in Canada is a response to what lies to the South and what lies in it's own Eastern margins.

When Canada adopted the Maple Leaf flag in 1965, Ontario decided that the province needed it's own flag. Which, surprise, surprise, turned out to look suspiciously like the pre 65 Canadin flag- but with the arms of Ontario rather than the arms of Canada.

Its generally agreed the thinking was to ensure that Americans looking across Niagara Falls still saw the Union Jack flying.

Tea- well, I'm afraid Typhoo and tetley is as posh as you get in my flat!

Eurodog said...

Sounds wonderful jmb.
I am a great tea drinker and Mr Eurodog, who is a Brit, drinks coffee. Vive la différence!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you've lost a friend.
I'm sure the Afternoon Tea you'll be holding will turn out fine. :)

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Commemorative afternoon tea - lovely.

Dr.John said...

I drank a lot of tea in England but I seldom drink it here.
I think it is great that you are doing this to remember your friend.

MedStudentWife said...

It will go well :) My thoughts are with you considering the reason you are having the "tea". It will all be be good.

leslie said...

I will pay my respects here and now and wish you all a lovely remembrance tea.

My favourite is still Red Rose...only in Canada, eh? I plan on taking several small boxes with me as gifts next time I go to the UK.

Nunyaa said...

I just have good old Lipton tea bags which isn't the same I know. Hope your afternoon goes well for you and am sure there will be lots of good memories to share.

Carver said...

Your table looks very beautiful. I love tea parties. That's what my daughter had for her senior year of high school party. When I was in England the summer before my last year of high school, I developed a taste for tea complete with scones and other tasty treats. I think a commemorative tea is a great way to honor your friend's passing.

sally in norfolk said...

hope all went well and you enjoyed your tea... i love assam myself.

when my boys were little i often met up with my freinds for tea and cake in the afternoons...

jmb said...

Mutley, I thought all English people liked tea. You could send scones if you are so good at them.

Janice it's not my table as the tea is still to come. I hope it looks as nice.

Crushed I think the original settlers were all British although it is an very diverse community now. I confess I do use the teabags sometimes myself. Twinings! Tetley is good for herbals though.

Fancy Mr Eurodog not being a tea drinker. Another like Mutley.

Napboaniya, thanks, I'm sure it will too.

James, the best I could do without going against his wishes but I think he would like this.

Dr John, I am brought up on the British traditions, being Australian.

MSW, thanks I'm sure it will go well.

Leslie, do you know I have never bought Red Rose tea or tried, unless unknowingly. What makes it special?

Nunyaa, teabags are very convenient for a single cup but once I do a pot then I go for loose tea. Thanks for the good wishes.

Carver, not my table. It will be today. Afternoon tea is a great tradition especially for those of British heritage.

Sally, places to have tea in Britain are wonderful and everywhere. I like all teas except Lapsang Souchong which is too strong for me.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Shades said...

You don't seem to be receiving my replies but Colin is.

No problems.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I'm sure the tea will go well, jmb and it's good to know that the English afternoon tea tradition is being revived there. This seems a fine way to honour your dear friend.

Nunyaa said...

Do you have one of those little egg shaped things that tea leaves are put in and then immersed in hot water?

the teach said...

jmb, thank you for that description of a commemorative tea. Here in the U.S. of course we have memorial services or a memorial at home but we seem to have lost with our British heritage - maybe because of the Boston Tea Party, I don't know... :) And if anyone would maintain her connections with Britain and tea it would be me because my grandparents, both sides, came from Ireland and one grandfather came from Northern Ireland. But it seems that coffee has me in its clutches and there just isn't anything I can do. But I do understand the idea of tea and I guess that's something... :D

Cathy said...

I hope you had a good turn out and that everything went fine? You were truly a good friend.