I am comfortable transporting a tea party to almost any location. Once, I even took a tea party, up a ladder, into a tree house. I have a dear, tea-loving friend, who recently moved to a new place, where she can receive more care. On my first visit, I wasn’t sure what the facility had to offer. I didn’t know if there would be boiling water, dishes, treats, or table space, so I decided it was best to be prepared.
I made tea in a wide-bottomed thermos that I knew would travel well sitting on the floor of my vehicle. I filled the belly of the thermos, leaving neck room for splashing inside the container. I steeped two fine-quality teabags, filled with green tea leaves, for 3 minutes, and then removed the bags. I screwed the lid onto the thermos, guaranteeing that the perfect infusion would remain hot.
My friend, Isabelle, loves cake. I always bring a delicious treat when I visit. This time, I had a fresh-baked, Boiled Raisin Cake with Caramel Fudge Frosting to share. I individually packed two pieces into inexpensive containers, so I could leave her the leftovers. I wrapped two fine-china tea plates with matching cups in cloth napkins and further wrapped them in a cotton tea towel. Next time, I might use a small tablecloth for wrapping, so I could enhance our tea table.
Before leaving my house, I thought about the steps of our usual tea parties, making a mental list of what we might need. I normally boil the kettle, warm the pot, add the tea leaves, and while the tea steeps, I place the cake onto the plates. I place napkins on our laps, pour the tea, and then we eat. Oh yes! We would need forks. Isabelle and I drink our tea clear, so I wouldn’t need teaspoons or cream and sugar. I packed everything into a strong, canvas bag, with a flat bottom, and drove the 30 minutes to her new location.
I learned a great deal about her new level of care and met some of her caregivers. We enjoyed a delicious tea party, discussing the china, and the napkins I had sewn, and hand painted, in 1975. It was late morning by this time, so we shared one piece of cake, leaving another piece for her to enjoy later. As we sipped the tea, both of us sighed, because it was absolutely delicious and still piping hot.
When it was time for lunch, I packed everything back into the bag. There was no mess for Isabelle to tidy. We walked toward the dining room, where lunch was being served. I met her tablemates, and the conversation was immediately lively. They are a well-matched group.
Isabelle is much more than a friend to me. She was my professor, mentor, and role model in the late sixties, when I attended university, and she has remained in my life for almost fifty years since. We began having tea together then, and we continue the custom. Isabelle is in her mid-nineties, and I love hearing stories about life in her day.
Having taken a tea party to her new place, once, I know it will be easy to repeat the process. I will pack different china each time. What a lovely way to collect new memories for old friends and old china.
Isabelle is featured in several of my blogs but likely See and Be Seen sums up our relationship the best.
Flashback to my tea party in a tree house.
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