That little tea pot I got as a Christmas gift from my dear friends Kathy and Karen started something. I started drinking tea and enjoying the nuances between the different varieties. And I started reading about tea and reading Tea Party Girl and thinking about having my own tea party. For a first tea party, it wasn't bad. I'm sure I didn't do some things exactly as they should have been, but I think I did a lot of things right. The big thing is that we had a wonderful time and stirred up some admiring glances and some tea party envy. We heard a lot of "Why didn't WE think of that?" and "We should do this next year." And this is how it happened.
Last year, Karen and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It's a huge festival, held the first weekend in May each year, that celebrates everything there is about keeping sheep, wool and silk fibers, yarns, spinning and knitting accoutrements, and the beautiful things you can make from the fibers. There are a few plant vendors thrown in, and all sorts of food products, including lamb. There were many, many sheep there. There also were angora goats, angora rabbits and alpaca there - live ones you just had to touch. And yes, they were soooooooo soft. There were already made knitted garments and felted slippers and bags. There were beautiful spinning wheels and all sorts of looms and every kind of knitting needle you can imagine, from bamboo to ebony to glass. There were even yarns made from yak fiber. For a non-knitter, it is still a great way to spend the day.
When we went last year, and had to park about a mile away (you wouldn't believe how far people come for this thing), we decided we'd tailgate this year and bring a table and chairs and food. As the date got nearer this year, I thought it would be the perfect occasion for a tea party. Yes, it posed some challenges - a card table and lawn chairs out in the middle of a field surrounded by automobiles. Everything had to be transported, and there would be no electricity or running water. But I figured out how to do it, and do it we did.
I wish I'd taken more photos, especially of the table before we started eating, but even without them, I have great memories. Will we do it again next year? Oh, yes we will. And I'll bet we won't be the only ones.
Here we are, just as a passerby captured us.
I don't have a three-tiered server (yet), and one would have worked better for this table. Still, I made do with what I had, and it was lovely. We had chilled carrot-ginger soup, complete with sour cream and mint garnish, in depression glass teacups. We had an assortment of finger sandwiches, including chicken salad, ham salad, olive and cream cheese, cucumber, and apple and boursin cheese. We had cranberry scones and we had a lovely assortment of little pastries from Desserts by Gerard.
With the soup and tea sandwiches, I served Samovar Blend Tsarina tea from The Tea Table. I didn't know in advance that Kathy and Karen weren't big tea drinkers, but they loved this tea. With the scones and pastries, I served a blend of Bai Hao oolong and Pearl Jasmine from Sensational Teas. I had to brew the teas just before we left for the festival, but they did fine in my carafes. I'm sure we violated "proper table setting" rules by having a plastic bear on the table, but it was the best way to get my tupelo honey to the table. Next time, we'll go a bit more fancy. We had pink depression water glasses and my little collection of mismatched china teacups. We didn't light the candles because it was windy, but we had them, and flowers from my garden, too. For a first tea party, I'm thrilled with the outcome. We all enjoyed it so much, even if Karen and Kathy were doubters up until the first bite. I think I won them over, and they are already talking about next year.
Here is another photo of my favorite little teacup.