Time for tea

love-opera-victoria-bakerThe autumn season is upon us and with that comes cozy, indoor amusements. One of my favorite indoor treats is a real high tea ritual.

That means the finger sandwiches, the elegance and the civilized nature of it all!. Fortunately for me, high tea is becoming ever more popular and one of the local places that relishes in having made it a tradition is the Caramoor Center for the Arts.

Caramoor’s October High Teas begin with a tour of the historic Rosen House.  The tour is followed by a formal tea, served in the beautiful summer dining room. A copious spread of tea sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and preserves and a variety of teas will be served.

This is an excellent activity to involve the whole family in. Everyone will enjoy it from the kids all the way to the grandparents. Tickets are $31, but hurry because they are selling out so fast that wait lists are forming.  For more information log onto www.caramoor.org

Lady Fredericks, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is widely credited as being the first to establish the ritual of afternoon tea in the 17th Century to entertain her female guests while the gentlemen attended to the issues of politics and business.

The Duchess recorded details of hosting delightful tea parties to allow women an elegant social opportunity to meet and discuss issues that were usually unsuitable to discuss in the company of gentlemen. Since this time, the practice of afternoon tea, or high tea as it came to be known in Britain, has become a beloved tradition.

In the 18th century, tea had heavy import duties therefore consumption was limited to the higher classes. Among the higher classes, tea was the only item customarily made in the drawing room by the mistress of the house.

The tea caddy was locked and the key belonged to the lady of the house. Tea was a distinct trapping of wealth and with that, came all the accoutrements and accessories. Tea urns were expensive and displayed on specially designed tables.

While tea was imported from China, it was expensive. The possibility of growing tea in India was not seriously pursued until the East India monopoly expired. Indian tea arrived in limited quantities as early as 1839. As the tea harvests in India improved, the availability increased and the price dropped sufficiently to make tea an affordable commodity for all classes.

I’m a very picky tea drinker myself. If it’s not the finest quality tea I’d rather just drink coffee. But it isn’t the drink itself I enjoy. It’s the ritual of high tea, the cups, the saucers, the three-tiered cake stands. It’s taking the time to slow down and enjoy the afternoon.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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