Sunday, September 19, 2010
A Properly Improper Tea
Tea was brought to Great Britain by Catherine of Bragança from Portugal when she married Charles II in 1661. The custom evolved over the centuries into a light repast between three and five in the afternoon, a slight meal to tide one until a late dinner. As customs continue to evolve, tea became an intimate gathering, more for socializing rather than sustinance. Servants were banned from the room to encourage conversations that would not be repeated through staff. Tea became important enough that how to manuals were written, even one by Emily Post.
An evening meal for laborers was served between five and six in the evening. It was called high tea* or a meat tea. There is a rumor that high tea meant they didn’t have time to sit and therefore took tea on high.
These days a tea can be many things. High tea has been assumed to be more special that just tea, especially in the US. Also it is served any old time you feel like it.
Today I went to a Mad Hatter Tea Party put on by the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild. It was held in a park, out of doors and had the required white bread crust trimmed sandwiches cut into quarters. There were the customary cucumber sandwiches, a fish sandwich and egg salad, scones, sweets and savories. There were some delightful cupcakes, as good tasting as their looks. Kudos to Phil and Kathe Gust who made most of the food. We did have the required parlor games, a bit of Alice trivia, a caucus race, and some poetry reading. Croquet was set up with flamingo mallets.
We all felt delightfully decadent, true to our costumes in an attitude of playful fun.
(C) 2010 Sandy Vrooman
Phil added this quote this am:
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible
things." "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
"When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why,
sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before
breakfast!" -- Lewis Carroll.