(Originally posted on Love, Justine)
Twinings is a must visit for any visitor (or anyone for that matter...in my humble opinion) in London Town, and especially for any tea lover. On my last trip to London, I discovered that at Twinings, you can take a masterclass and learn all about the history of tea while tasting fine and varied teas. You can book a private class for a minimum of two people, or a regular class for a minimum of six people, and you can also book a bespoke blending experience for a maximum of six people. So for Londoners, I recommend this as a fun company outing or outing with friends and family. Call ahead or email to reserve your spot! You can check out the details here.
One of my favorite places to visit in England is Bath. It's so full of history and charm, and as a Jane Austen junkie, I like to think I'm walking amongst her spirit there. It's a perfect day trip from London or other nearby cities like Oxford or Bristol, but it's also a great little weekend getaway. Bath is a small city, so there are a few tourist staples one must do in Bath (other than walk around and enjoy the quaint town): 1) visit the Roman baths (duh), 2) visit the Jane Austen Centre, and 3) have tea or a meal at Sally Lunn's for the famous Bath bun.
While it has become common to refer to afternoon tea as “high tea,” especially in the US, the two are not synonymous and they actually refer to two very different meals. Afternoon tea started off as a light snack between lunch and dinner before it turned into a fashionable social event, which you can read about here. While Americans mistook the phrase "high tea" to mean something more high society, the only thing "high" about high tea are the tables. So what is the difference between afternoon tea and high tea?
My favorite time of day is tea time, which is really all the time for me. Tea makes everything better and it brings people together. When you think about any culture where tea is prevalent, it's a symbol of hospitality. Guests are welcomed with tea, and everyone sits around enjoying the company and little treats to go with the tea and banter. You can't be angry when you're drinking tea. Like the monks who used to meditate with tea (and still do), tea brings us peace. Plus, you don't want to accidentally spill all that hot liquid peace on yourself or anyone else for that matter. Can you imagine being angry over tea and chucking your tea cup at someone? No, save your anger for your cocktails. But where does the afternoon tea tradition come from?
I had the honor and privilege of being invited to a special tea ceremony at Hsi Lai Temple, a Chinese Buddhist temple located in the greater Los Angeles area, ahead of their annual interfaith prayer for world peace. As the interfaith representative of my church, I was already planning on attending the prayer, which is open to the public; but when Fr. Alexei Smith, the head of interfaith relationships for the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, invited myself and my friend and colleague to the private tea ceremony, all he had to say was "tea" and I was there.