Tea Time

High tea. Photo by blentley Used under a Creative Commons license.

High tea.
Photo by blentley
Used under a Creative Commons license.

I follow all my local papers on Facebook and an interesting item caught my eye on the Pasadena Patch page.

On June 10, the Langham Hotel in Pasadena is celebrating the opening of the first Langham Hotel in London, England in 1865 by serving their Tiffin Afternoon Tea for its original price of 1 shilling, 6 pence (15 cents). Guests were chosen at random, and I filled out the online request and figured nothing would come of it, but tonight I received an email stating that I had been selected!

According to the Langham Pasadena website, the Langham Hotel in London was the first luxury hotel to serve afternoon tea. I have always, Always, ALWAYS wanted to attend a tea. I imagine that it is beautiful and elegant and graceful and all the things I’m not. It always looks glorious on Downton Abbey, and every English movie I have ever seen.

I was super excited by the 15 cents price, but when I discovered that this tea normally costs $39 per person, excitement turned to fear. The Fear of Not Belonging and Not Being Good Enough to attend such a lovely event filled with beautiful people who attend teas.

Help me get ready.

I need your advice. What should I expect? What should I wear? I certainly can’t wear my standard uniform of jeans/t-shirt/Toms (archery range) and jeans/t-shirt/flip-flops (everywhere else), but what should I wear? What is the proper etiquette? I don’t want to embarrass myself, so I need you to help me get ready. Share your comments and advice and I’ll post photos and tell you all about it.




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    • quiltzyx/sue on June 6, 2013 at 6:06 am
    • Reply

    From “Lady Victoria’s Place” (http://ladyvictoriasplace.blogspot.com/2011/06/proper-attire-for-tea-party-and-other.html )
    “Formal” Afternoon Teas (in tea rooms, for showers, etc.) would require dressier types of clothes. For men a suit is the proper attire. For women a dress is definitely preferred, but it must not be a miniskirt. The idea is to strive for elegance. Knee length to ankles are the style dresses that are acceptable. A dressy pantsuit (not business style) is also acceptable, but you are also striving for femininity, so dresses are more appealing for that purpose. Hats are not only a nice touch, they really are indispensable for having the real Tea experience, and essential for garden teas. Some tea rooms have hats which they keep for guests to wear, but personally I do not care to put a hat on my head that has been on dozens or possibly hundreds of other women’s heads.”
    From Elegant-Lifestyle.Com: “The dress code for traditional afternoon tea is still smart. Ladies don’t have to wear dresses, hats and gloves anymore, but gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie in most places.”
    So, I would say, nice trousers & blouse or dress/skirt (but not too short), no tennis shoes, but nice sandals OK & if you have a great hat, go for it, especially if the tea would be held outside.
    Most importantly, have a lovely time!!! Oh, and after a peek at the menu, try the Vanilla Bean tea for me. 🙂

    • Terri MacQuarrie on June 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks so much, Sue! This is very helpful. I also enjoyed the writer’s other posts about etiquette.

    • Michelle Javan on June 7, 2013 at 3:57 am
    • Reply

    Oooo my favorite thing! I have a whole cupboard for all my tea’s! And my lovely husband brought with him his wonderful tea brewing skills. I would highly recommend your Sunday Best for tea. Think Baby Shower on a spring day, or a nice wedding where you get to dress up! Trousers simply do not appreciate a proper tea and they definitely do not understand the reverence that is deserving of the lovely ritual that is High Tea. No my dear a proper tea, deserves your best! (I am channeling my inner Hyacinth Bucket here). A hat is most appropriate but if you do not have one to hand, at least do your best with your curling tongs and a bit of spray to spruce up your hair a bit. This is a magnificent opportunity and should be savored with all the pomp and elegance you can put into it!

    As far as etiquette, you will have milk available for your tea, not cream. A properly poured tea means you put milk in the tea cup first – this avoids staining the beautiful china. But the truth is most people add it after you have poured the tea. Unless the Queen herself shows up, I wouldn’t worry about it. Do not slurp your tea, gently sip and nibble small bites slowly and savor every moment. This can be difficult, especially if you are drinking lovely strong black tea and are overly caffeinated – which frequently happens to me! You just charge away, chatting furiously and eating all the rich scones piled high with clotted cream and lemon curd or fresh strawberry preserves!

    My personal British Tea’s Maid says to remember the following:
    Knives are there to be used.
    Speak in hushed tones.
    Remember the sugar tongs.
    Do not EVER apply a faux British accent, ESPECIALLY one modeled on Dick Van Dyke.
    Do not ask personal questions of others, just talk about the weather.
    Keep your pinkie up!

    On a personal note when J and I lived in Cambria, we would make time to visit our favorite tea room. We always relaxed and breathed in every moment as if it were the most magnificent thing we ever experienced. And truthfully, I always felt like we’d taken a bit of a holiday, a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of the world.

    So in short…Just luxuriate in every moment of this experience and report back!

    • Terri MacQuarrie on June 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm
    • Reply

    I love hats, but only own baseball hats and visors which certainly won’t do! The location could not be lovelier and I hope to snap a few photos – discreetly, of course. Thanks for these really helpful suggestions, Michelle.

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