tea and crumpets

The speaker at the spring retreat mentioned planning an old fashioned Victorian tea party. Images of fine linens, delicate china and tea food: Cucumber sandwiches, crumpets, scones and tea cakes grew into a determination to have our own tea.
No one knew how to do it all. But we had a book that described teas in detail.
No one knew how to make tea cakes or scones. But we all knew how to read a recipe.
No one knew how to make a proper cup of English tea. But we knew someone with a strict English mother who had drilled her in the proper way to make a cup of tea.
No one had enough linens to cover the number of tables we anticipated setting. But we discovered a family in the church had inherited a huge selection of linens from their catering grandmother.
No one had the dozen or more card tables we thought we needed. But more than enough volunteers loaned their tables for a coupe of days.
No one had matching tea sets, services and platters for five or six dozen women. But delicate bone china, hand painted tea sets and Sears and Roebuck specials were voluntarily hauled to the church in boxes and left for others to handle.
The Victorian tea committee studied the books. They asked several women to prepare tea food for six dozen guests. The committee made sure the volunteered tables, linens and china made it to the church on time. A couple women decorated arranged tables and spread out linens on tables set for four.
At ten on a Saturday morning ladies from elementary to retirement age sat down to an early elevenses. The younger one sat stiffly, prim and proper in their party best. They carefully unfolded their linen napkins and gently touched the flowered tea cup and saucer. A glass bell rang, the party began.
We were a genteel party with readings about the origin of tea and the expression “tea for two” framing our all-important introduction on how to make a proper cup of tea.
Alexandra Bell explained all the minute details. Her English mother had insisted she learn and always make tea correctly: From the warming the pot with hot water to pouring without splashing while gently holding the lid in place. The sugar cube had to slide into the cup of tea without splashing tea up on the sugar tongs. And absolutely no clinking of spoon against cup while stirring the tea to dissolve the sugar cube.
The 14 hostesses served the tea. I tried and still clinked.
Sugar cubes take forever to melt. While they melted, we talked, which is the real reason for tea. Whether at a party or at home: Tea is a time for friends and family to sit down together ad put the pieces of their lives into perspective. Tea is one of the many times to talk and listen, as Jana Tolbert explained in a closing presentation.
We had our tea and talk. We went home and I made sure I had another more personal tea party within the week. I highly recommend it.