I recently received an email from a disgruntled reader of Tea with a Twist. Here is what she wrote:
"I was quite disappointed with your book, I'm sorry. I too love tea and was raised around Tea Parties, etiquette and traditional tea parties of which salads and salmon steaks were never on the menu. Why do you and so many other "Tea Experts" not stick to the right information about tea and turn it into such a travesty. No wonder "High Tea" is so misunderstood in the USA."
I thought the reader's comments would create a great blog and an opportunity for explanation, education, and hopefully great feedback and discussion! Now, I don't think anyone loves a traditional English afternoon tea party like I do! In addition, early on in my tea career, I was trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington in Tea and Etiquette and teach classes still to this day on the subject matter. I do think proper protocol and etiquette is very important and varies on the level of formality! For instance, there is a difference between a BBQ dinner at your local rib shack and a dinner at a five-star restaurant.
Having fun with tea was my inspiration for writing Tea with a Twist-hence the word "Twist". I wanted to create tea parties that were a little outside-the-box as some might consider me to be-especially my kids! My inspiration was "a tea party can be all sorts of things as long as you are sipping tea". I also wanted those that didn't own china and silver to still feel like they could entertain with tea without the expense of having to buy those items! My philosophy on teatime is that it is anytime so, creating parties for all different events and incorporating tea in them was exciting! I realize this is might not be everyone's "cup of tea" though.
My love of learning about this beverage took me on a quest to discover traditions in other countries other than my own. That is why I wrote The World in Your Teacup. Culturally speaking, I would be remiss if I stated that there was one "right way" to have tea as each country celebrates tea differently. However, for most Americans, a tea party is fashioned after the English tradition of finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts which is properly called an "afternoon tea" not a "high tea".
To help get the message out about the proper terminology on tea in the "English style", I purposely did a high tea menu for my second book in the England chapter. A high tea is a "meat tea" or a "supper tea" served in the evening and it is much heartier than an afternoon tea. I also featured many "high teas" in Tea with a Twist, just with a little "twist" of course. If you want to learn more about a traditional English high tea or how tea is celebrated around the world, you can read more about it in The World in Your Teacup.
Well, salads or scones, salmon or sencha, travesty or twist, I do hope we all just enjoy TEA!
Tea Travesty or Tea Twist? I guess it is up to the reader to decide. What do you think? I would love to hear!
Happy Sipping, Lisa