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Please view our Autumn - October 9, 2010 - Newsletter - for reviews of

Tea by the Sea: Late Summer Fun September 22 - September 25, 2010,


Please view our Summer - July 8, 2010 - Newsletter - for reviews of

Virginia International Tattoo and Williamsburg April 30 - May2, 2009


AND

Capital Gardens Tour and Tea Thursday, May 6, 2010


Please view our Winter - January 23, 2010 - Newsletter for reviews of

Christmas 2009 in Asheville, NC, and the Biltmore


Please view our Autumn - October 19, 2009 - Newsletter for review of

London and the British Isles: A trip to Remember


The following links provide reviews of more past tea trips

Hopsewee Plantation Tour and Tea
Lunch Tea and Tour of Adcote Acres - April 25, 2009
Charleston SC Tea - May 15-20, 2008
National Cathedral - December 12, 2007
New Port, Rhode Island - October 18 - 21, 2007
England - April 26 - May 7, 2007
Philadelphia - October 20 - 22, 2006
Inaugural Voyage - Georgia



HOPSEWEE PLANTATION TOUR AND TEA
by Roxanne Batterden, Royal-tea Roving Reporter

A group of tea-loving friends and I discovered a real "tea-lightful" find on our travels to Surfside Beach, South Carolina for our annual "Girls Gotta Have Fun" week.

Hopsewee Plantation is located on Highway 17 at 494 Hopsewee Drive, about 12 miles south of Georgetown, South Carolina, a short drive from Myrtle Breach and Charleston. The plantation house is a private home and national treasure. Since the home has been owned by only five families since constructed in 1740, it has remained essentially the same for three centuries. Hopsewee Plantation is the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr. who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Oak trees draped with Spanish moss welcome the visitor to the plantation grounds. The home is a typical Colonial style plantation house with porches overlooking old rice fields and the North Santee River. We toured the home from cellar to attic. In the cellar, there is a door which is constructed from a tea shipping crate!

We enjoyed tea in the River Oak Tea Room which is situated in a remolded barn close to the plantation home. This unique tea room has its own ambience which reflects the owner, Raejean Beattie and her husband's style. Appropriate tea music at an appropriate volume was playing in the background.

Raejean served our Lady Londonderry, Buckingham Palace Garden, and Black Currant hot tea. It was soon followed by a beautiful tray of mini cucumber rounds with cream cheese and dill. My taste buds were tickled by a curried chicken salad on gingersnaps which were sprinkled with toasted coconut. I loved this flavor combination! We also were served a spinach and cheese quiche and a salmon mousse on a wafer cracker.

The scones were light and fluffy and served with lemon curd, clotted cream, strawberry, and raspberry jam. The sweets were "tea-delicious." A unique chocolate sushi was served with a lemon tart, flourless chocolate cake, raspberry cheesecake and a tea cake with fondant icing.

Raejean not only prepared and served the tea, she also entertained us by playing hymns on the hammer dulcimer. What a perfect way to end a perfect tea and day! This multi-talented lady was so excited to learn about our Royal-tea Club that she became our newest member that day! So, Diane Hughes and Wanda Nash, the Southern Branch of the Royal-tea Club has grown again!

An added cultural benefit at Hopsewee was the sweetgrass weaver on the plantation grounds. She was weaving a basket and had a large selection of basket styles on display. I bought an adorable basket which has become my newest tea jewelry receptacle!


Lunch Tea and Tour of Adcote Acres
By Diane Huges, Royal-tea Roving Reporter, Southern Branch

On Saturday, April 25, the College of Coastal Georgia, Department of Continuing Education held another tea event. This trip was to Sylvania, GA, about 2 1/2 hours from Brunswick. The Director of Continuing Education is Dr. Douglas Ann (Dougie) Taylor, sister-in-law of Janet Taylor, owner of Adcote Acres. There were thirteen in attendance.

We arrived at Adcote Acres, an organic farm, shortly before lunch and promptly stretched our legs! Janet and her husband live there on six acres, and it is a working farm. Lunch was set up on the front porch, overlooking the farm and chicken pens. Several small dogs and cats joined the visitors, settling in for naps under the tables.

Janet welcomed us to her home and gave us a brief overview of how she came to be involved in tea (through her grandmother) and about the name of the farm (from the town in England that her family hails from). She also gave us some history about the art of tea-taking.

Lunch was delightful - bright sunshine, a slight breeze, and joyful table companions. Presented on 3-tiered servers, Janet offered mini quiches, chicken salad tartlets, and egg-salad sandwiches. (It was cholesterol heaven!) With the savories, Janet served a black tea called "Nine to Five." She served an Amish bread and scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves. For the sweet course, there was pound cake strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream! There was a green tea to go with dessert. Janet told us that all of the food had been grown on the farm or grown locally. And yes, you really can taste the difference.

After lunch, the farm manager, Ariann, gave us a tour of the farm. She told us that while the farm is not completely organic yet, it is moving in that direction, and they buy from organic suppliers. She pointed out a large blueberry patch and spoke about the need for pollinators and the decline of pollinators. She said that the blueberry patch was covered with bees in the early spring. Under an oak tree, she pointed out what looked like a weed called lambsquarters. It is a weed, edible, and was used in the mini quiches that we ate at lunch. Who knew? Everyone thought it was spinach! We walked toward the pecan orchard and Ariann told us that they were having the trees identified this year so they could sell the pecans. On the back side of the farm, she took us into the chicken yard. They raise chicken (about 600) for the eggs and for meat. They have Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. The chickens are free range. We were allowed to personally gather eggs to take home. I brought home a dozen brown eggs!

It was a wonderful day in the country - a good lunch, learning something new and tea to wash it all down.

 



Charleston SC - tea
May 15-20, 2008

by Roxanne Batterden, our Roving Reporter
(With contributions by Diane Hughes Southern Branch RTC Reporter)

Please enter here for great review of Charleston Tea Trip

File is large. Please wait for file to load. Review is worth the wait.

 


Washington D.C. for the Holidays
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

by Roxanne Batterden, our Roving Reporter


Group at Mormon Tabernacle Visitors Center, Washington, DC, December 12, 2007.

 

The Royal-tea Club's first day trip to Washington, D.C. was a waiting list event. I feel lucky that I was able to travel with the group on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007.

With the help of Krouse Travel, Sharon Hart did a phenomenal job organizing the trip. Our itinerary was fabulous and we had a memorable day during the holiday season.

We departed from York, PA and Timonium, MD via an Elite Coach arriving at the Washington National Cathedral just after 1 PM. We had good travel and minimum traffic. We were blessed! The travelers were treated with snacks and bottled water. We had a lunch stop enroute.

Tour docent Kathleen Smith, a retired nurse and Navy Captain, shared her vast knowledge with us. If you have never been to the Washington National Cathedral you are missing the extraordinary art and architecture. Also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the Gothic cathedral is the sixth largest in the World and the second largest in the United States. The building is shaped like a cross. The long nave is one tenth of a mile.

The Cathedral's centennial has been celebrated during 2007. The first cornerstone was laid on September 29, 1907. President Theodore Roosevelt was in office. The last finial was placed on September 29, 1990, during the elder George Bush's presidency!

I have been in awe of the 231 stained glass windows each time I visit the Cathedral. The Creation Rose and the Florence Nightingale windows are two of my favorite. Others enjoyed the Space window which includes a piece of moon rock. Windows depict the beautiful stories of the bible. They are phenomenal.

We toured the various chapels and bays and heard the famous pipe organ. We saw the beautiful tapestries and prayer kneelers. We learned much about the Cathedral's history and care takers.

We had "Tea in the Tower" which is served in the St. Paul Room of the Pilgrim Observation Gallery on the seventh floor. Spectacular views of the city were enjoyed. The Cathedral is located on St. Albans Hill which is the highest location in the city. Our tea was served on three tiered servers and featured sandwiches of salmon and cream cheese on rye, chicken salad in phyllo cups, egg salad on wheat, cucumber on round white sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning and zucchini bread with cream cheese. The scone was a delightful mini currant scone served with clotted cream and jelly. Our sweets were fudge brownies, cream puffs and cayenne sugar cookies shaped liked angels. The featured tea was an Earl Grey from Taylors of Harrogate.

As is the tradition with all of our teas, a door prize was presented. Donna Lerew was the lucky winner of a very appropriate gift which Sharon Hart purchased while on the Newport trip in October. It was a Washington Cathedral Flying Dragon gargoyle statuette.

After tea we visited the Museum Shop and the Herb Cottage. Shopping bags were filled with books about the Cathedral, CDs featuring the choirs and pipe organs and holiday music, miniature stained glass sun catchers, and other great gift items. It is worth the drive to Wisconsin Avenue to browse and shop in these 2 great shops

Many of us enjoyed the crèche exhibit. Over 500 creches from around the World are in the Cathedral's collection. One hundred were on display from countries as varied as Kenya, Ecaudor, Thailand, India, Madagascar, Peru, Mexico, Bangladesh, Ireland, Bolivia.... I was fascinated by them. I was drawn to the crèche from Cameroon. I had just arranged transport of a Johns Hopkins Medicine International patient to her native country of Cameroon. I delighted in seeing the primitive tiny crèche from this country.

Time at the Cathedral was far too short. We boarded the coach and had a driver's tour of the City. Vance from Elite Coach was fabulous. He provided a verbal tour as we traveled to the White House to see the beautiful National Christmas Tree. As we drove down Massachusett's Avenue he pointed out the Embassies, the Naval Observatory, the Vice President's home, and the Winston Churchill Victory statue. We saw many famous buildings and structures as we drove through the Mall including the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building and many more.

We arrived at the Washington D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints to see the 30th Annual Festival of Lights. The display was breath taking. Over 450,000 lights illuminated the temple grounds in a brilliant colorful display.

We toured the Visitor Center which featured holiday trees decorated with International dolls from countries around the World. There was an International crèche exhibit which featured crèches from over 20 countries. These were larger crèches than the ones at the Cathedral and were beautifully displayed. We also enjoyed a live Nativity and Christmas music by vocalist Todd Thatcher, a pianist and flutist.

We were inspired by the lights again as we left the grounds for our trip home. We stopped at the Arundel Mills Mall for dinner and then continued to our stops in Timonium and York. We watched the video, "The Nativity Story" which was a perfect way to end this special holiday season day.


Newport, Rhode Island: A Trip to the Gilded Age!d
By Roxanne Batterden, Royal-tea Roving Reporter

If you were not among the tea club members who traveled to Newport, Rhode Island from October 18 through the 21, then you missed another great trip!

We had a rough start Thursday morning. The fog caused one of our travelers to miss the exit to our departure site. She almost made it to Cecil County before she realized she needed to turn around! Not to worry, the muffin baskets were passed around by Sharon Hart, as we had our first food of the trip! John, our coach driver from Krouse Travels, made up the lost time on travels. Just ask the "young" New Jersey patrol man who stopped our bus! Well ...I am not exactly being truthful. We were stopped for being in the wrong lane of traffic, not speeding. (but it made a better story!)


Group at Clouds Hills Victorian House Museum, Warwick, RI, October 21, 2007.

We were not amused by the delay however, as we had a date for tea in Darien, Connecticut at T-Party Antiques and Tea Room. We had the Full Grand Tea. Each person selected a pot of tea which was served in cute pastel teapots. Ladies at my table chose Pumpkin Spice, Lavender Lace, Assam, Vintage Rose and Earl Grey. A unique feature was that a timer was placed at each table so we could time our tea readiness. Our three tiered servers were filled with assorted fruit and blueberry and cherry scones sprinkled with powdered sugar; five different tea sandwiches including cucumber on white, chive egg salad on marble swirl, basil chicken salad on croissant, cream cheese and pumpkin butter on raisin bread and a smoked turkey and cranberry mustard swirl wrap; and the dessert tier included mini pumpkin cheesecakes, mini sweet lemon cupcakes, Chai cookie swirled with chocolate, and frosted brownies. We spent time exploring the tea shop and the thrift stores. (shades of our England trip! A few tea hats were purchased!) A few brave ladies visited a very expensive department store and some enjoyed the porch at the tearoom!

We had a pleasant ride in New England as the trees were in full Autumn color. The further north we traveled, the more brilliant the colors. We played a few games of bingo and our winners went home with great prizes. Thanks to Monna Hormel, we viewed a DVD called Newport Mansions which whetted our appetite to see the homes on our tour. We arrived in Rhode Island about 5 PM. Just in time for more fog as we crossed bridges over the water ways into Newport. We had dinner in our hotel and a few ladies visited the Grand Casino, which happened to be right across the street. Ask Patsy Sauer about her winning ways! She was the lucky member of our group!

On Friday, we visited three of the Newport cottages, as they are called. These mansions were remarkable. The amazing fact is that during the Gilded Age during the 1890's to early 1900's, these million dollar homes were used for 6 - 8 weeks during the season as summer homes for the wealthy. Our first stop was at the famous and magnificent The Breakers, the former home of Cornelius and Alice Vanderbilt. It is an 11 acre estate on Ochre Point, which overlooks the ocean. It is hard to describe without seeing it but the word opulent comes to mind. The cottage features over 70 magnificent rooms!

Our second stop was at Rose Cliff, which was built for lavish entertaining. This home was built for Tessie Fair Oelrich and her husband. Many movies were filmed here including The Great Gatsby, Amistad, Evening and 27 Dresses, which will be released in 2008. This home had a more feminine feel as compared to the more masculine The Breakers. There were beautiful rose gardens and statuary on the grounds which sloped down to the ocean.

We took a break from home tours, to spend time at The Brick Market Place for shopping and dining. A large group went to the Brick Alley Pub for New England fare - lobster rolls and clam chowder were among our luncheon choices. The shops ranged from tourist stores with souvenirs to high end shops. Many of us returned with shopping bags filled with teapot lamps to pirate regalia and smiles on our faces!

The third home we toured was called The Elms which was built for Mr. and Mrs. Edward J. Berwind from Philadelphia and New York. We had a behind the scenes tour with a tour guide who asked that we view the home in the eyes of the servants and staff. We climbed the stairs and corridors which were used by the servants. We could not imagine working the long hours (17 hour work days) and running up the steps from the sub-basement to the servants quarters at midnight to rest for the next day. There were amazing features in the home for the time it was built including a laundry room with 3 full time staff members to do the laundry for 7 wardrobe changes per day, a light bulb tester, a huge boiler room with coal furnace, an ice room, root cellar, wine cellar, pastry room, Victorian kitchen for the French chef, the Butler's pantry, the dumb waiter, the safe for the silver, and water tanks on the top floor. I was amazed! We were then able to take a walking tour of the beautiful rooms of the mansion.

Our very full day ended with a most enjoyable and raucous dinner at Busker's Irish Pub and Restaurant at The Brick Market Place. We had a relaxing and fun dinner in our private dining room! Need I say more? We laughed and there was some dancing and singing, too! We had our choice of Irish fare and we dined on Irish Stew, Shepherd's Pie, Fish N Chips and McDonnell's Fisherman's Pie. Delicious! There was an argument over which dessert was best, the creme brulee or the Irish apple pie with ice cream. Back to the hotel for rest before day 3!

We enjoyed our second breakfast Saturday morning at the hotel, didn't we ladies? (We are not sure the waitresses enjoyed us!) We boarded our coach and headed to the Astor's Beechwood Mansion. The mansion was purchased by William Backhouse Astor, Jr. in 1881. We were entertained and educated by delightful young actors who portrayed members of the Astor family and staff, as they conducted the tour of the home. I think we all agreed that the footman would have been hired by any of us. Don't we agree? I loved this home and agree that the Mrs. Astor did have impeccable taste. Anyone with a purple bedroom, a yellow Morning Room, and a blue and white French room must have good taste. I also loved the expansive back yard which looked onto the ocean. A wall of multi-colored hydrangeas camouflaged the fence. The famous Cliff Walk was at the foot of the grounds. Many of us took the opportunity to walk part of the trail. I enjoyed seeing the back of the Marble House and grounds (another Vanderbilt home) and the Chinese tea pavilion which overlooks the ocean. We had an interesting trip to our next venue. We were side tracked by the Newport Marathon which allowed us to see some unique area of Newport as we made our way to Belcourt Castle and Museum. This home was built by the owner of Belmont race track who was an accomplished equestrian. It featured elegant stables within the castle at one time. The home has a medieval and Gothic presence. We were quite surprised when the owner of the home, Mrs. Tinney, actually took us on our tour. Her husband*s family purchased the home to save it from the wrecking ball and filled it with their wonderful antiques. This home was filled with history and beautiful artifacts which ranged from coats of armor, to Chinese pottery, beautiful furniture, to mirrors which moved! We heard stories of ghosts which haunt various rooms. We were treated with a wonderful luncheon tea buffet in the huge banquet hall. Mrs. Tinney insisted on serving our tea and hot cider. We enjoyed delightful sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit, and yummy desserts including cheesecake with fresh strawberries, Boston cream pie, pumpkin and apple pies. No one left hungry.

Some ladies chose to spend time walking along the Cliff Walk while others traveled to Wickford to see Smith's Castle. We had a beautiful drive across the same bridges we traveled on into Newport but had a much different view without Thursday's fog! It was absolutely gorgeous. We saw the Naval War College, light houses, sailboats and cruise ships on the waterways, and beautiful waterfront homes and more brilliant foliage. When we arrived at Smith's Castle, we were surprised to find an historic farm house. Our tour guides were dressed in period costume and provided an informative tour. We learned that in the 17th century, any fortified structure could be called a castle, hence the name of the property. We learned a lot about the history of the area which included a massacre of Indians by settlers of Plymouth and Boston.

We returned to the hotel to ready for our evening event which was dinner at the Newport Playhouse. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and desserts before seeing the play "The Miss Fire Cracker Contest", followed by an amusing cabaret!

On our final day we toured one of Rhode Island's hidden treasures. We left Newport and headed to Warwick to the Cloud Hill Victorian House Museum. This home is loaded with treasures of Victorian times and is owned by one of the original female family members. It is a living museum as Anne Dietrich Holst and her adopted family reside in the home and conduct the tours in period costume. Some of the rooms are virtually intact as they were built in the 1800's. Original receipts and embroidered linens featuring family monograms are just some of the items that denote the historical importance of this home. We were served refreshments in the kitchen area. I would love to return here for another tour and an opportunity to visit the stables to see the horses, as well as the gazebo and gardens where weddings are held.

On our trip back to Maryland, we stopped at Olde Mistick Village in Mystic, Connecticut for lunch and shopping. We had a long ride home as traffic around New York City and New Jersey was quite heavy. We were entertained by another movie, more bingo and tales of our time in Newport. We also voted for Miss Congeniality and Amy Easley was recognized by the tea club travelers. Our very own Sharon Hart served as Krouse's trip representative as well as our fearless leader! We all thanked her for her wonderful hospitality and generosity.

Royal-tea travelers are looking forward to our next overnight excursion to Charleston in April. Have you signed up yet? I have!

 


A Truly Royal- tea Journey to England
By Roxanne Batterden, Royal-tea Roving Reporter

A group of nineteen Royal Tea Club members journeyed to England from April 26th through May 7th, 2007. It was a wonderful trip coordinated by member Patty Suchy. Patty is a Great Britain Travel expert and is owner of Novel Explorations. The trip's focus was visiting tea rooms across England! (For more trip detail, visit her website, www. Novelexplorations.com)

A review of travel highlights was published in the summer edition of the club newsletter. This article will focus on the various tea experiences we shared. I personally experienced eighteen teas and hot tea with every meal!

The very first tea was served on our British Airways flight from BWI to Heathrow! The tea, served by our flight attendants consisted of a fruit muffin, yogurt, and black tea. It sure hit the spot at 5 AM!

Our first official tea in Great Britain came following our tour of the amazing Windsor Castle! The Crooked House of Windsor served a cream tea, featuring English Breakfast Tea and our choice of cheddar cheese scones or sultana scones. Sultana scones are very popular in England and are our version of raisin scones! The scones were served with clotted cream and jelly. This was a great afternoon treat! While we were taking tea, we were privileged to see the Windsor Castle Parade, guardsmen in full dress marching and playing instruments. It was quite a sight!

On Saturday, April 28th we enjoyed morning tea at the elegant Pump Room in Bath following a guided tour around this "spa town" with guide Jane Tapley. We were entertained by a trio of musicians known as The Pump Room Trio, featuring a pianist, cellist and violinist. Our menu consisted of strong black tea, which required dilution by hot water, light and fluffy croissants and "Bath Buns", served with cinnamon butter and various jellies. Delectable sweets included chocolate profiteroles, fruit tarts and almond pastries. Bath Buns are light and fluffy buns filled with currants and a sugar cube, which melts in your mouth. Delicious! We also were able to taste test the spa water, served by the "pump man", who was dressed in period costume. General consensus - the water tasted "salty" and it did not cure Marion's aching knees! After the tea, we enjoyed a tour of the Roman Baths and learned the history of this fascinating sight.

On Saturday afternoon, we had "Tea with Mr. Darcy" served at the Jane Austen Center in Bath. This buffet style tea's menu included cucumber and butter and cheese and butter on white bread tea sandwiches; fresh raspberries and strawberries; plain and sultana scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam; and choice of sweets: poppy and caraway seed cake, a rich fudge brownie topped with powdered sugar, and short bread topped with chocolate and almonds. A representative from Gillards of Bath, the tea specialist at Guildhall Market, provided us an overview of tea practices during the time Jane Austen resided in Bath. Gillards provides the tea for the Jane Austen Center including the special Jane Austen blend of China teas, green Gunpowder, Oolong and Keemun. After tea, we were able to explore the museum and the gift shop!

Sunday morning we were fortunate to join Jane Tapley at her Bath townhouse for a "Very Private Public Tea". Jane provided an informative lecture about Food in the 18th Century with many references to Jane Austen's book characters! She served a tea based on the 18th century breakfasts which were often taken at The Pump Room or Sydney Gardens. Jane Tapley is a woman of many talents, including baking! Her homemade items included little brioche rolls, hot rolls, mini currant buns, all served with stem ginger, apricot and plum jelly; and lemon, coffee and cherry cakes. She also served the Jane Austen tea blend from Gillards. Quite a few of our tea travelers came home with this tea blend and stem ginger jelly. Delicious!

Following a tour of No. 1 Royal Crescent, a historic Georgian style town home, we had tea at Sally Lunn's 1680 Refreshment House. This house is Bath's oldest house, built c. 1482 on a site which is believed to be a Roman Inn. We had the Jane Austen Cream Tea which consisted of a toasted Sally Lunn bun served with locally made clotted cream and raspberry spread and the Sally Lunn house blend tea, a subtle blend of Indian, Ceylon and African teas.

In the 1680's, Sally Lunn baked a rich, round and generous bread. This bun was a very popular delicacy in Georgian England as its special taste and lightness allowed it to be enjoyed with sweets and savories. The recipe for these buns was found in a secret cupboard over a fireplace in the 1930s and has been a popular item on the menu.

On April 30th, we left Bath and traveled to the majestic and pastoral Cotswolds. Our first stop was the quaint village of Lacock, where we visited the Lacock Abbey and had tea at King John's Hunting Lodge. Margaret Vaughan served an "English Garden Tea" in the beautiful gardens of her bed and breakfast and tea room. It was a quintessential English tea experience. The setting was beautiful, complete with spring flowers and chirping birds! If you ask the ladies, I bet most will say this was their favorite tea!

Mrs. Vaughan was a humble hostess who could not believe we traveled all the way from America to have tea with her! Her menu consisted of smoked salmon and cream cheese on wheat and cucumber on white sandwiches; whole meal and plain scones served with delicious clotted cream and rhubarb with ginger or raspberry jam; and a selection of sweets - fruit tarts, chocolate pastries, petit fours, and a chocolate cup filled with clotted cream and topped with a fresh strawberry and a candied flower. We were served the King John's Hunting Lodge tea blend of second cut Darjeeling and Assam.

Mrs. Vaughan took the time to pose for pictures and to sign more than 30 copies of her book of recipes called "Tea with the Bennetts of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice". She is well known in Britain and has appeared on TV for the BBC.

Later that day, we stopped in the picturesque town of Burford for refreshments at Hufkin's. We had an afternoon cream tea consisting of English breakfast tea with a choice of sultana or plain scones, served with clotted cream and raspberry jelly. This tea room featured a delightful bake and gift shop!

On the first day of May we toured the magnificent Cotswold countryside with guide Ann Bartlett. Highlights of this day included visiting Stow On The Wold, Bourton on the Water, Hidcote Manor Garden, Chipping Campden and a host of small, quaint villages.

We had a marvelous Afternoon Tea at Badger's Hall in Chipping Campden. The savories and sweets kept coming and coming along with a black tea. We were served prawns (shrimp) in pastry cup, cucumber on brown and white bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese on a cracker, sausage roll on pastry with sesame seeds, rarebit on crumpet wedges, delicious English trifle, fresh fruit with whipped cream, ginger shortbread with chocolate mousse with strawberry; coffee flavored profiteroles, and scones sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Katie Jarvis, author, and Mark Fairley, photographer, from Cotwolds Life magazine met us at the tea room. Our group members were interviewed and photographed for an article about why tourists want to come to the Cotswolds. We are waiting to see the outcome! Chipping Campden is known for the arts and crafts movement in England. Right next door to the tea room in the Old Police Station building was a marvelous shop called Jola Glass Studio, featuring hand crafted jewelry and glass works. (A great find!)

On May 2nd we traveled to Worcester by way of Stratford-Upon-Avon, viewing the birthplace of Shakespeare as we drove by. After touring the beautiful cathedral and the Royal Worcester Factory and Museum, and shopping at The Royal Porcelain Works, we had a Quintessential English tea at the Royal Worcester Café! We were served tea with Royal Porcelain china and teapots.. A beautiful presentation! We had another delicious tea featuring smoked salmon and cream cheese on whole grain, ham and tomato on white, cucumber and cheese on white sandwiches; plain or fruit scones served with clotted cream and rhubarb jam; a small plain scone with Worcester white cheese with ginger chutney topped with a cucumber slice; and sweets of pecan brownies, mini chocolate éclairs, and a lemon drizzle with marscapone cheese. A delicious black tea was served.

As we left the Cotswolds on Thursday, May 3rd, we toured the magnificent Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. We were served a luncheon tea in the Terrace Restaurant. The delicious and filling tomato basil soup was served with whole meal rolls and a chocolate mousse parfait. We had a choice off Earl Grey or Darjeeling teas. Then we were off to the gift shop to purchase books on tea and other goodies!

Friday, May 5th was all about tea in London! We shopped at the famous Fortnum and Mason after hearing a talk about the store's history in the tea business from their tea buyer, Mr. Hayes. The store was filled with teas, tea biscuits, tea accouterments, and china. Lots off filled F & M bags left the store! Several of the travelers enjoyed the "Elevensie Tea" in the fourth floor café. This tea featured the F&M scones and the Royal Blend tea.

We were served Twinings Lady Grey tea as we heard Linda Howe, curator and shop manager, speak about the history of Twinings in London and in the tea industry. We learned that the shop in Strand is the only Twinings store and museum in the World. She shared that Twinings supplies the Queen of England with tea but could not divulge the blend! She did tell us that the Queen is not fond of Earl Grey tea! Lots of purchases were made in this charming shop!

We traveled to the Tea Palace in the Westbourne Grove area of London for the Afternoon Palace Tea. This tearoom and shop featured distinctive purple tea bins with the letter "T". A unique feature of our tea at the Palace was that the tea leaves were shown on small "T" plates as the tea was served. We were able to smell the aroma of the leaves. Quite a nice touch! We were offered a tea menu of five selected teas, including Afternoon at the Palace, Palace Earl Grey, Bancha, Jasmine with Flowers and an Organic Immune Boost tea.

Our food menu included egg and water cress, chicken tarragon, smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches and raspberry chocolate torte, strawberry cheese cake and lemon tart. We had plain and sultana scones served with clotted cream and jelly.

While we were having tea, a young lady from New York City stopped by to greet us. Jody Holiday is the owner of a tearoom called "Sympathy for the Kettle". She gave each of us a postcard with information about her tearoom and invited us to New York for tea.

Saturday was museum day! Several of us visited the Florence Nightingale Museum while others shopped at the famous Portobello Road Markets where I hear some unique teapots and jewelry were purchased! We then toured the Linley Sambourne House, home of the famous artist and cartoonist, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Several ladies enjoyed tea at the museum café. There were many types of teas to choose as well as an assortment of cakes and muffins and other sweets. Quite a few ladies made time to shop at Harrod's and many of us are now proud owners of the famous Harrod's shopping bags. Of course, we selected the style covered with tea cups!

Our last day in London was a highlight of the trip for many of our tea enthusiasts. World renowned tea expert and author Jane Pettigrew met with us at our Thistle Victoria Hotel and gave a presentation called "What Would London Be With Out Tea". She shared her expertise with an interesting and historical presentation. She also autographed books! (4 books for me and 10 book plates!) As part of our trip, we received two of her books - "The Tea Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide" and "Tea In The City: London". Jane joined us for a tour of Spencer House, ancestral London townhouse of the late Princess Diana's family (formerly Lady Diana Spencer). Jane also had tea with us at the Palm Court at the London Ritz.

Our group made quite a "show" at The Ritz in our fancy clothes and hats! We were photographed by other guests at the Ritz and tourists on the London streets! Our Tea with Jane Pettigrew, the Palm Court Afternoon Tea, was divine! Background piano music played as we were served our tea in silver teapots by handsome servers in tuxes!

Choice of teas included Ritz Traditional English, Lapsang Souchong, Earl Grey, Ceylon Orange Pekoe, Darjeeling and Jasmine. The menu featured the following tea sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese on rye, smoked salmon on wheat, ham on white, egg salad on rye and sliced turkey on white. Our scones were sultanas or plain served with Devonshire clotted cream and organic strawberry preserves, along with fruit cake. Featured sweets were carrot cake with icing, fruit tarts, Neapolitans, shortbread cookies with raspberries and powdered sugar and a chocolate pastry with chocolate mousse topped with hardened dark chocolate - a chocolate lover's delight! Dessert was a small custard with blueberries and raspberries served in a small ramekin. Tea was truly an afternoon delight as evidenced in the following poem:

Tea at the Ritz
By Jill Rundle

I'm feeling sublime
For I've passed back in time
Surrounded by glamour and glitz
As I sip my Earl Grey
All Life's cares pass away
For I'm having tea at the Ritz.

It's friendly, no fuss,
But it's luxury plus
Cocooned in a creamy gold light.
There's a "tea for two" mood
As the waiters bring food,
Displayed on three tiers of delight.

There are scones jam and cream
Straight out of a dream
And sandwiches minus the crust.
Pastries good to the eye
So they can't be passed by,
And a fruity fruit cake - that's a must.

To accompany this,
Is a Pianist, what bliss.
As music of old fills the air.
One fancies that it's
The right theme for the Ritz
And a nightingale's in Berkeley square.

And all good things and wonderful trips must come to an end! Our final tea was served on our British Airway flight from Heathrow to BWI. The chicken on wheat roll, berry crumble and black tea was a perfect way to end our trip as we watched Beatrix Potter and Harry Potter movies on our flight home, savoring a bit more of our England experience. What "tea-lightful" memories we all have to share..



Philadelphia Freedom and Fun Trip!
By Roxanne Batterden, Royal-tea Roving Reporter

The tea club's second trip - this time to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was a huge success and another adventure filled with amusing anecdotes! Just ask the 30 folks who traveled on the weekend of October 20th! Even the dreary, rainy day did not dampen the spirits of the merry travelers!

The trip started out with a prayer for safe traveled by our very own Sharon Hart. Patty Suchy, tea club member and tour planner, reviewed our trip itinerary and provided an informative video about the Charleston Tea Plantation. We played a couple games of bingo en route to our first stop in Yardley. Dottie Hughes is not allowed to bring husband Bill again! He won the first two games of bingo, which almost caused an uprising on the bus. He even won the Charleston video!

By the way, Bill was not the only male who made the trip. Joel Clements, male member extraordinaire, and "Missy" Sanford also came along for fun Missy, you ask? Well, the real Missy could not accompany her mother, Annie, so Missy's Dad, Sandy, came in her place. He wore her name tag and was exceptionally good natured about being called Missy all weekend long!

Our tea at "Tea with an Accent" in Yardley was enjoyed by all. The tea room was charming with lots of light and beautifully decorated. Our ladies also enjoyed the gift shop filled with unusual tea related items!

Tea room owner, Shari Titterton, shared the history of her tea room and demonstrated the use of slop bowls in her native British accent Those of us going to England next April feel primed for our trip. Shari enjoyed her time with the Royal-tea Club so much that she is now an official member!

The wonderful tea menu consisted of pumpkin soup; tea sandwiches including smoked turkey with raspberry chive dressing on whole grain bread, chicken salad on raisin bread, and roast beef with horse radish on mini rolls; mini quiches scones with preserves and Devonshire cream; and desserts of chocolate dipped coconut shortbread, Earl Grey tea cookies and lemon cake squares. We were served Tea with an Accent's very own house tea, called Lily's Delight, a very smooth black tea with vanilla and bergamot as well as decaffeinated Apricot tea with flowers. Shari explained that the house tea was named after her calming arid soothing dog Lily! Everything was delicious and the tea travelers were quite happy!

We arrived in Philadelphia about an hour later and got settled in our Best Western Center City hotel. Some of us chose to explore Philadelphia and some chose to nap to rest up for our dinner at the historic City Tavern: A Triumph of Tradition. City Tavern opened its doors in 1773 and was frequented by members of the First Continental Congress, including George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The current tavern is a reconstruction of the original tavern located on 2nd and Walnut Streets.

Our dinner was served by wait staff dressed in period costume who also provided us with a verbal history of the tavern, traditions of 18th century dining, and described shrub and Jefferson's ale. We enjoyed Sally Lunn and Anadama breads, sweet potato biscuits, delicious cream of mushroom soup, tavern country salad with raspberry shrub vinaigrette, a choice of prime rib with Yorkshire pancake or fillet of salmon with beurre blanc sauce, and apple cobbler with a crunchy, nut topping. Divine!

Saturday morning was a cool and brisk day for a "Duck ride" in downtown Philadelphia! We enjoyed the land and water sightseeing tour in our World War II amphibious vehicle. Our driver, Fred, was quite the "quacker" and provided us a memorable tour and an historic overview. We saw such sights as Congress Hall, Washington Square, Mother Bethel AME church, a stop on the underground railroad, Philadelphia Merchant Exchange, Betsy Ross house, Dolly Madison house, Ben Franklin Bridge, Elfreth's Alley houses, Independence and Constitution Halls, Ben Franklin's statue, and Penn's Landing on the Delaware River.

One highlight of our duck ride was Margie Milliner's reaction as we hit the water of the Delaware River ride! A little surprised that our duck floated, huh, Margie?? Quack on that!

Afternoon in Philadelphia was enjoyed in various places by various people. Some folks went to the City Market for the famous roast turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwiches. Others went to Antique Row and downtown to shop and a group of ten went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Lunch was enjoyed at the museum's restaurant. The Artist's Table buffet was a hit! Yummm.

One of my personal favorites on the museum tour was the Asia display. It featured a real Japanese tearoom from Tokyo known as "Sunkaraku" which means evanescent joys. The video described chado - "the way of tea" and demonstrated a tea ceremony. We learned about the two aesthetic principles of cha (tea): wabi and sabi. Wabi is the rustic and plain, yet precise and elegant. Sabi is the subtle, but rich patina that comes through age and wear, an expression of harmony and simplicity.

Saturday was a beautiful day in Philadelphia. Several weddings were held and pictures taken at the museum. Some of us even did the "Rocky" run on the museum steps, except we ran down, not up! Rocky's statue was a popular tourist sight!

Our fun day ended with dinner at The Melting Pot. We enjoyed multiple courses at our fondue delight! Our bread and cheese fondue was followed by the main course with chicken, shrimp, salmon, marinated beef and vegetables - all cooked in the steaming fondue pots! The white, milk and dark chocolate dessert pots were perfect for dipping of the strawberries, pineapple, bananas, marshmallows, brownies, cookies, and cakes. A delicious way to end a perfect evening.

Sunday's adventures started at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we picked up our three tour docents Ann, Denise and Beth, who accompanied us on our tour of Fairmount Park. The 9,100-acre Fairmount Park has a rich history and contains over 2,000 statues and seven gorgeous 18th and 19th century historic homes. All of the homes are located near the Schuykill River. Some served as working farms, while others provided elegant, fashionable retreats from Philadelphia's urban environment, summer heat and periodic epidemics.

Our docents provided us with the history of Lemon Hill, Sweetbriar, Cedar Grove, Mount Pleasant, Laurel Hill and Strawberry Mansion. We toured the beautiful Woolford House. This house was originally built in 1756 by Benjamin Franklin's close friend William Coleman. We were fortunate to be touring this home as it was badly damaged by fire in 2003 during renovations.

Which house will our travelers remember the most? I venture to say it will be the Strawberry Mansion Not for its size or two additions, but for what happened there! Our bus had difficulty maneuvering around the circular drive and became stuck in the mud of recent rains. Our driver, Mike Garland, from Golden Ring Bus Company tried valiantly to get us out.

Our three male travelers contributed to the effort. But alas, a tow truck was required! We needed transport to the Ritz-Carlton for our afternoon tea! The Ritz-Carlton concierge to the rescue! Taxis were sent to take us to tea! And, a delightful tea we had in the grand hotel's lobby.

We had our choice of four teas: Chamomile, Earl Grey, Passion Fruit and Yorkshire Gold. Each person received a rolled tea menu featuring our treats of herb tuna spread with black sesame seed dust on brioche; smoked 'salmon with caviar, dill, ginger cream on pumpernickel; turkey ham with pecan dust, dijonnaise on wheat bread; watercress and egg salad on marble rye; two varieties of scones with lemon curd; and the chefs selection of divine French pastries, including coconut macaroons, vanilla shortbread, old fashioned chocolate cake, hazelnut cake, lemon raspberry tartlets.

A highlight of the tea was that our gentlemen travelers served tea to the ladies. Joel added a bit of flair by folding his white napkin over his arm. You just had to be there! We all carried our blue and gold Ritz Carlton bags down the street with smiles on our faces. Another happy time and fun adventure!


Inaugural Voyage - Georgia
By Roxanne Batterden, Royal-tea Roving Reporter

A group of 25 adventurous tea club members and friends traveled south to Georgia for the club's first "road trip" from April 1st through 8th. Gorgeous weather, beautiful cities, Spring foliage and flowers, and great venues added to the trip's success.

Our first "official" stop was in Weldon, North Carolina to have tea at Cicada Jane's Tea Room. We were welcomed with Southern hospitality to the 1938 brick home where owner Jackie Green lived as a child. It was a beautiful place for tea! Our menu featured a tropical fruit dish; chicken salad, cucumber, pineapple and pimento cheese tea sandwiches and two varieties of mini quiches; an assortment of scones, including white chocolate raspberry, apple cinnamon and blueberry served with lemon curd and Devonshire cream; key lime pie for dessert and three different teas, Palm Court, Lemon Herbal and Sencha Green Tea. Afterward Jackie hopped on our bus and gave us a guided tour of Weldon. There was even a photographer from the local paper!

We arrived in Savannah on Sunday and many of the group headed to River Street to visit the eclectic shops located on the Savannah River. We then boarded the bus and traveled to Tybee Island where we had dinner at The Crab Shack. This was a "low country" culinary and cultural experience.

Monday's travels were dedicated to experiencing Savannah. Our tour guide, Wendy, helped us take a peek at the life of Paula Deen in Savannah before and after her fame on the Food TV network. She added humor to our adventure and great information about the town. We saw lots of Savannah's sights while we headed to Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House for lunch. Bubba is Paula's brother. We had a great lunch and those charbroiled oysters were divine!

Horses Charlie and Dell pulled the carriage as we had an up close and personal tour of Savannah's beautiful squares! For those of us who read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," we were delighted to see some of the sights featured in the book! The day was completed by an invigorating gospel dinner cruise down the Savannah River on the "Georgia Queen."

On Tuesday our tour guide, Sue, gave us another glimpse of Savannah as we toured three beautiful homes: the Stephen Williams House, the George Baldwin House and the Purse-Thomas-Levy House of Dr. John Duncan. Each home was different and special! A delicious lunch, catered by Gaston's, was served at the Baldwin home.

We had tea at The Tea Room Savannah, a tea room of sophisticated elegance. Our tea menu included finger sandwiches of cucumber, egg salad, smoked salmon and tomato. Scones were cranberry and mandarin orange and blueberry served with clotted cream and raspberry jam. The dessert plate consisted of spice shortbread, lemon petit fours, cake slices and chocolate covered strawberries. The house tea, Emperors Bride, a black tea with pineapple and orange slices was served.

Many of the travelers enjoyed dinner at "The Lady and Sons," Paula Deen's downtown Savannah restaurant to experience authentic Southern cuisine.

On Wednesday, we boarded the Conestoga Coach and headed to Atlanta after stopping in Vidalia, Georgia at the Onion Factory and Gift Shop. Lunch was at the delightful Steeplechase Grill and Tavern. The feature of this day was dining at Emeril's Atlanta. We all enjoyed excellent meals!

Thursday was dedicated to touring Atlanta. Local guide Martha filled our brains to the brim with information and sights. We experienced the 1864 Battle of Atlanta at the Cyclorama; saw the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Fox Theater, Uptown and Midtown Atlanta architecture, and Oakland Cemetery. We drove through the Buckhead area with a stop at the beautiful Swan House Mansion Museum. We also lunched at "Underground Atlanta," toured the Coca Cola Museum and the CNN building. The day ended with a tour of the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum and a buffet dinner at Ryan's.

On Friday we were headed North towards North Carolina but stopped first in Atlanta at the wonderful Lenox Square.

Wonderful Lenox Sqaure Mall and Teavana. Many of our ladies enjoyed tasting the specialty teas and brought home Teavana bags full of teas and accoutrements. We enjoyed a full afternoon tea at Tea Leaves and Thyme in the Dawson Home of Woodstock, Georgia. This tea room had a fantastic gift shop and the shoppers among us were very happy! The tea was delicious and was voted as the "best" tea room we visited. Our menu included sweet potato pear bisque a nd a savory choice of a sun dried tomato tartlet or chicken salad on croissant or lettuce with slivered almonds. The beautifully presented tea tray included cranberry, nut and vanilla scones with fruit, Amaretto cream and lemon curd; tea sandwiches of pumpkin cream cheese on pumpernickel; a Mayflower sandwich (cream cheese with orange zest), cucumber mint, curried almond chicken roll and a ham stripe; and five desserts featuring lemon squares, carrot cake muffin, creme de menthe brownies, raspberry chocolate bar and a lemon tartlet with almond. Each table selected their own teas. My table sipped on Berry Patch, Emperor of Japan and a peach tea.

We arrived in North Carolina late Friday evening after eating and shopping at a Cracker Barrel. On Saturday, we hit 1-95 and headed towards Maryland and Pennsylvania. The bus was filled to the brim with tired travelers and shopping bags! It was a great trip! Thanks to our very own Royal-tea er extraordinaire, Sharon Hart, and Krouse Travel for organizing our Georgia adventure. Our travel escort, Marilyn Brown, kept us all on task and provided friendship and kindness and our superb driver, Don Kohler from Conestoga Motor Coach, provided safe travel to and from!

 

Club Email Address - TheRoyalteaClub@aol.com