Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tea and Books Saturday #28 - "Tea-Time at the Inn"

Tea-Time at the Inn
By Gail Greco
Rutledge Hill Press, 1991

"Tea-Time at the Inn" by Gail Greco is one of the first teatime cookbooks I ever purchased. It was recommended to me many years ago by the talented woman who wrote the local food column in the newspaper. Since she was a serious, Le Cordon Bleu-trained cook, I took any of her cookbook recommendations as gospel. The recommendation was a good one. The tomato-cheese spread I wrote about earlier this week is a variation on a recipe in this book, and I have probably made hundreds of lovely, tasty Victorian Chocolate Lace Cookies from this book. Although I'd certainly read through the recipes on numerous occasions, I don't believe I had ever sat down and read the text from cover to cover. This week I did, and it was like discovering a whole new book!

Although I've been to events in B&B's, I don't recall ever actually staying at one overnight, although the idea does have its charm. (Are any of you B&B fans? Taken tea there?) But whether you frequent these lovely establishments or not, Greco pays tribute to one delightful aspect of these businesses, saying they are "proliferating the art of afternoon tea" and are "largely responsible for the resurgence of tea-time in America because its spread coincides with the growing popularity of small inns." This book is almost 20 years old now, and we still associate tea with B&B's.

The book is organized by inn and by type of tea event. Since I was reading more than just the recipes this time, I found dozens of great ideas for creative teas, such as a Butler's Tea, a Chamber Music Tea, a White Linen Tea and a Book Lover's Tea. Over and over I found myself thinking "Yes, I'm going to try that idea next time I have a tea!" Greco's tips for teatime decor were helpful and sound easy to achieve.

Although I'm not really a Civil War buff, I was still delighted to come across some interesting history in the section on a Civil War Tea. A Gettysburg Battlefield guide shared this tale: "In the summer of 1864, Confederate Major General George Pickett and his wife announced the birth of a baby girl. Upon hearing the news, Union generals -- all fellow graduates of West Point (as was Pickett) -- did, under a flag of truce, cross into the Confederate lines, carrying a gift of a silver tea set for the general and his wife. After sharing a spot of tea, friendly congratulations and small talk, the Union generals departed, crossed back into their own lines and began an artillery bombardment of the Confederate fortifications." I also read that tea was a favorite drink of Robert E. Lee!

I imagine that a number of you, like me, already own this book. If you haven't *read* it, or you simply haven't read it lately, I suggest you give it a try!


  1. Just tried to send you an email
    but it was blocked. Please check out the Aug/Sept issue of Country Woman. Back cover has a wonderful "tea" garden art design. Story on page 48 about the gals who make these.

    Always fun to fine anything new that's "tea".

  2. Thanks for the review. I think its time to go dig out my copy and give it a thorough read.

  3. Sounds like a lovely book. I've stayed at 2 B&B and neither one of them offered tea! But they were fun to stay at, more like staying at home than a hotel.

  4. Oh, I love this book. It was my first teatime cookbook ever. Haven't actually tried any of the recipes though, just love reading it.

  5. Oh, you have inspired me to add SO many books to my tea book wish list! Thank you for this review.

  6. Hello, Angela - thank you for this review! I remember buying this book (the cover photo really drew me in!) but haven't yet read it, I will now. Have a great weekend, Joanie

  7. The B&Bs in Savannah are amazing! I've stayed at the Bed and Breakfast Inn and I've chatted with the owner of Joan's on Jones, who is a very sweet lady. In fact, I look at B&Bs before I look at hotels if I know I'm going somewhere....
    I also think Robert E. Lee had tea in Savannah, because he stayed at the Mackay house often!

  8. I do have it and haven't looked at it for a long time. Love the civil war story. Thanks for re-inspiring me to take a peek into this book.


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