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 to bring everything.
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 that 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 that 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. Usually, I boil the kettle, warm the pot, add the tea leaves, and while the tea steeps, I place the cake on the plates. I put the 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 to pack teaspoons or milk and sugar. I packed everything into a 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, which I had sewn, and hand painted back in 1975. It was already late morning, so we shared one piece of cake, leaving another for her to enjoy later. As we sipped the tea, both of us sighed, because it was 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. It was lunchtime, and we walked toward the dining room. 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. 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.
I have written about Isabelle in several past blogs, but, likely See and Be Seen sums up our relationship the best.
I enjoyed my tea party in the tree house.
In From the Cookie Jar Blog, I will be sharing recipes, ideas, and memories gathered over decades. Sign Up Now!