Above: seated, Melissa, me, Peyton, Kaitlyn, Laurel.
Austin is standing.
Austin, Peyton, and Kaitlyn
Glenn and I will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary in 2014.
Melissa, Tim, and Peyton
Laurel, Kaitlyn and Josh
I am often asked about how and why I began on my tea journey.
Growing up in the south, everyone drank sweet iced tea or "ice tea" in the summer.
My mother kept a box of Lipton tea bags in the kitchen cabinet,
and gave me hot tea to drink when I was sick.
She kept that box of tea bags for years. She wasn't a tea drinker,
but I was. However, back in those days,
I didn't know about the quality of hand picked loose leaf tea.
In February, 1993, I visited Bruce and Shelley Richardson's
lovely Elmwood Inn Tea Room in Perryville, KY
for my first "formal" afternoon tea experience.
In July, the same year, we traveled to Denmark with our
younger daughter's teenage folk dance group.
During that trip we stayed with host families.
We learned that everything and everyone in Denmark
stops at three for a break with either coffee or tea.
Since I drank tea, our hosts provided me with tea at three.
When we arrived home after that 17 day trip, I had a major three o'clock tea habit.
The 1994 book, If Teacups Could Talk, by Emilie Barnes,
was the first "tea book" I purchased.
I read that book from cover to cover, several times,
studying the menus and recipes, and enjoying the stories.
My Aunt Ida gave me my first English Bone China Shelley teacup
in the 1980's along with about a dozen prized teacups
she had collected while out "antiquing" with lady friends.
Her gifted teacups were the beginning of my "tea cup collecting."
I began "seriously"collecting English teacups during
our first trip to England, Scotland and Wales in 1995,
again traveling with the teenage folk dance group,
and staying with host families.
Our first homestay, on that trip, was with a family in Evesham,
on the edge of the Cotswolds.
Our host family took Glenn and me to the Small Talk Tearoom
in the beautiful village of Broadway for our first ever "English Cream Tea."
We purchased my first Chatsford English teapot
and several teacups that day.
My Tea Journey continued with several more trips back to England,
Scotland, and Wales. We have been known to visit
22 tea rooms on a 17-day trip.
In addition, we have enjoyed many afternoon teas across America,
actually planning our travel itineraries around tea room locations.
Through the years, I have participated in several tea education classes and seminars,
including the memorable 2007 Tea in London Tour including the UK Tea Council's
Tea Master Class with Jane Pettigrew and Tim Clifton.
I attended Tea Room 101, a three-day seminar in 2001 at Elmwood Inn in Perryville, KY,
with Bruce and Shelley Richardson.
Our older daughter, Melissa, a home economics teacher at the time,
accompanied me to that fabulous weekend tea seminar.
We learned about owning and operating a tea room,
about the grades and quality of tea, the difference between hand-picked and produced
tea compared to machine cut and produced tea. We learned
about tea grades, single estate teas, tea blends and flavored teas.
We learned the difference between the Camellia sinensis and herbal infusions (tisanes),
and so much more!
I became even more interested in learning about tea and the delightful
ceremony of afternoon tea.
I purchased and read every tea book I could find, every article in tea publications,
and attended tea talks by Norwood Pratt, Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson.
In addition, I've participated in several online tea classes.
The tea education, the teacup and teapot collecting, and tea travels eventually led to this blog.
I began blogging on January 16, 2008, with no real expectations or goals.
Blogging has been therapeutic at times and stressful at times.
I have finally realized I am blogging for me and not for anyone else's schedule.
The best reward from blogging has been the friendships
developed with other bloggers and blog readers. I am
so happy to have met several of those folks in person during travels.
My tea journey will continue, but since Melissa was diagnosed with Celiac disease,
and I have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance,
finding Afternoon Tea venues has become a challenge.
I really appreciate the tea rooms, hotels and venues which recognize and
provide for gluten free, vegetarian, and allergy diet requirements.
My tea journey will continue, but not at the same pace as before becoming GF.
(I should note, our health has improved tremendously!)
From the book, If Teacups Could Talk, Emilie Barnes says:
"It's not the tea...that makes teatime special.
It's the spirit of the tea party."