Today my mother and I took Little Lovely to her first tea. As a little girl, going to tea was a special occasion. Dainty sandwiches and sweets, delicate cups and saucers holding the tea of your choosing- it all seemed so ceremonious and glamorous.
I remember the summer before I started second grade, my mother took me on a trip to New York City to visit her aunt and cousins and to see where she had grown up. A highlight was going to The Plaza for afternoon tea in The Palm Court where we nibbled on Black Forest Cake and got to see the famous Eloise painting in the lobby. After that experience, I became even more interested in tea and relished an opportunity to partake when we stayed in hotels where it was offered. In fact, last year around this time, my husband and I spent our “babymoon” at the iconic Round Hill Resort in Jamaica, which offers a traditional tea every afternoon, so it’s no surprise that Eloise would develop a fondness for it. According to Fortnum and Mason, a British institution with a long history of serving afternoon tea, it was the Duchess of Bedford, who made high tea a formal occasion in 1840 as she became quite hungry in the late afternoon since many households were adopting electricity and pushing back the dinner hour. Many hotels began offering tea as an event, and it was one of the first socially acceptable events for women to attend out of the home. Eloise had a wonderful time with the ladies at the Mother/Daughter tea. She squealed with delight seeing other little girls, many of whom had brought their own baby dolls,and watched with great interest as we prepared our cups of tea. The room was full of mothers, daughters, and grandmothers, sharing conversation, laughter, and of course tea. Hopefully it will become an annual tradition for our family.