18 December 2008
Tea for T, M & I
It's rare to stick TMI into a discussion about tea, but corny lady as I am, I found the opportunity. Actually, taking tea with Gata usually includes a bit of TMI (too much information) no matter what, so long as I'm drinking something with the slightest hint of caffeine. Motormouth resumes - though that's preferable to my alcohol-fueled litanies.
Anyway, Chesterfield Hotel in Palm Beach is a cozy place to take Afternoon Tea - especially for a hotel. They had me at "seating in the library". There, Teresa, Melinda and I were ensconced in couches, books, and finger sandwiches. We had an older gentleman pour the tea for us, and share some information about the hotel's sister properties in London. Moments like that make me wish I had a butler.
The sandwiches were typical (not much for a vegetarian, which I'm not really) but quite nice. There were a bunch of tiny sweet pastries on top. The tea selection wasn't vast - no Darjeeling! - but I find most hotel teas don't have scores of teas to choose from, so no surprise there. We all had Earl Grey. What made the tea were the scones. They were what scones should be, warm from the oven and fluffy yet substantial, and a bit of powdered sugar on top. We had strawberry jam, marmalade and clotted cream to choose from. My only (slight) disappointment was the one scone per person offering. Personally I like to be satiated with scones, and to roll out the doors afterwards, but otherwise it was a wonderful tea.
The whole experience reminded me of why I devote a whole room in my apartment to being a library in the first place. There's nothing like a cheery inner sanctum, surrounded by books, to sip a favorite cup of tea in. I enjoy that even more than travel. My thoughts are similar to Anna Quindlen's in "How Reading Changed My Life":
"I travel today in the way I once dreamed of traveling as a child. And the irony is that I don't care for it very much. I am the sort of person who prefers to stay at home, surrounded by family, friends, familiarity, books. This is what I like about traveling: the time on airplanes spent reading, solitary, happy. It turns out that when my younger self thought of taking wing, she wanted only to let her spirit soar. Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home."
Of course, in my case you'd have to insert tea in there somewhere. And I do like traveling: I'd like to get out of town more frequently. In the absence of funds, though, I'm happy in my library, and take afternoon tea with good friends whenever possible, whether in NY or South Florida.