This Mother’s Day, give Mom something she will always treasure—a reservation for a delightful afternoon tea. Enjoy a few leisurely hours with close friends or family, taking in the tea room atmosphere, the petite courses and the fine conversation.
Highly sought-after Food Historian and Certified Tea Specialist Judith Krall-Russo knows quite a bit about tea. Her love of tea education has taken her around the globe to such places as Japan and Taiwan. Krall-Russo’s work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in many magazines, including Gastronomica.
Here Krall-Russo shares her helpful tips for prepping in advance so you can help your Mom savor her tea experience:
“The whole tea experience is leisurely. It is not rushing—time to turn off the cell phone and disconnect. You have your tea, and you are sipping, and servers are bringing you things. You’re talking and admiring what is around you. You are sharing news with friends, you are laughing, you are savoring the tea and the food. It is two hours set aside for you and your guests.”
If you follow the Queen’s rules, women should hold their cups and saucers above cleavage level with their pinky finger held straight out. A doily under the cup prevents spillage down the front of the guest. The spoon should be placed on the doily of the saucer at the front of the cup, never on the table linens. The handle should be on the right hand side for right-handed people and on the left side for left-handed individuals. When stirring the tea, guests should move counterclockwise and avoid making a clinking sound against the cup. And most importantly, absolutely no tea slurping.
The Tea Tastings
Krall-Russo suggests that newcomers try a variety of high-quality teas at home first to see which ones they prefer. She recommends picking three different teas—perhaps a black tea, a green tea and an herbal tea–and suggests such brands as Harney & Sons, Tazo, The Republic of Tea and Twinings. Prepackaged tea bags are easier for beginners to handle than loose leaf teas. Add bottled water to your tea kettle and bring it to a full rolling boil (200-210 degrees) for black or herbal teas. For green tea, due to its delicate nature, the water should be 160-180 degrees. Once ready, green tea should be brewed for 2-3 minutes, while black and herbal teas usually take 3-5 minutes.
Afternoon tea is a wonderful opportunity to get dressed up so save the jeans for another time. “Perhaps you wear a special skirt, a piece of jewelry, a nice blouse. I love getting dressed up and wearing a hat and a nice suit. Afternoon tea is a special occasion and should be treated as such,” says Krall-Russo. Make Mom happy by wearing your Sunday best.
The Table Setting
Table settings can be overwhelming so familiarize yourself with the components in advance. At afternoon tea, you’ll often find fresh white linens, bone china cups and saucers, a sugar basin, a milk jug, a small dish of lemon slices, a honey jar and the proper serving pieces, including an English sugar spoon, as well as cake and pastry forks. A tea cozy will keep your tea at the proper temperature while you enjoy your courses of sweets and savories.
Many places offer a wide array of goodies with your tea. Scones are a typical first course, with delicious flavors such as cinnamon chip, cranberry orange and currant. The scone is served with lemon curd, clotted cream or fresh butter, and homemade jams such as raspberry or strawberry. Then there is the tea sandwich course—dainty treats including chicken salad, cucumber, egg salad or perhaps cream cheese with freshly sliced strawberries. Last but not least is a selection of tiny desserts. You might get a brownie, a chocolate mousse cup, a teapot butter cookie or a lemon square. Sometimes a Mother’s Day menu will have expanded offerings like a garden salad or homemade soup.
The Special Touches
For Mother’s Day, many tea rooms will add extra-special touches. The table includes a bouquet of fresh flowers. You’ll find soothing classical music playing and perhaps even a guest harpist. Many times there will be a small special gift just for Mom. These little details all add up to a unique and memorable outing that Mom will never forget.
Ready to make your Mother’s Day Tea reservation? Judith Krall-Russo suggests one of the following four New Jersey tea rooms:
High SocieTea House
Location: 20 Old Newark Pompton Turnpike, Wayne
Mother’s Day Hours: Seatings from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, 12:30 to 2:30 pm, 3:00 to 5:00 pm
More Info: www.highsocieteanj.com or call 973-696-8327.
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