Saturday, February 21, 2015

Teatime Tale #8 — A Taste of Wisdom

 A Taste of Wisdom

           Susan and Marleen had two o’clock reservations at the Wisdom Tea House, the new tearoom downtown. Susan was eager to try it out, but Marleen wasn’t so sure. This tearoom offered a “contemporary” tea experience, and Marleen feared it would be one of those hippie tea rooms she’d read about, one where middle-aged ladies wearing crystals and Birkenstocks came to plan their peace rallies.
            Marleen vastly preferred the English afternoon tea experience. She liked seeing English bone china and perhaps some doilies on the table and vintage hats on the wall. Susan, however, was weary of those pink-and-chintz tearooms and eager to try something new.
            The moment they entered Wisdom Tea House, Susan’s eyes lit up. Finally! Susan loved drinking tea, especially Japanese greens, but she wasn’t into the little-old-ladies-and-white-gloves mind-set. This tearoom seemed designed for modern sensibilities.
            As they were seated, Marleen tried to conceal her disappointment. Everything was so simple and stark, with plain white cups and saucers before them, no rose-patterned china in sight.
            A young woman in black slacks and a white blouse approached to take their tea order. Marleen tried not to be distracted by the blue streak in their server’s jet-black hair. Caitlyn was the young woman’s name, and Susan asked Caitlyn which green teas she recommended.
            “Are you familiar with Japanese greens?” Caitlyn asked.
            “They’re my favorite,” said Susan. “I like most senchas.”
            “In that case,” Caitlyn said, “I’d recommend the Organic Sencha. We got in a new shipment yesterday, so it’s quite fresh.”
            “Perfect,” said Susan.
            “And you, ma’am?” Caitlyn asked Marleen.
            “I’ll have the English Rose tea,” she replied.
            “Good choice,” said Caitlyn, surprising her. “Some people find the rose taste too perfumey, but I’ve always loved it myself. With a nod of her head, she was off, and Susan and Marleen studied the rectangular ivory menus featuring a graphic of two leaves and a bud.
            “I’m ordering the full afternoon tea,” said Susan. “What about you?”
            “Why not?” said Marleen, trying to get into the spirit of the place. The server had encouraged her by actually liking the rose-flavored tea.

            When their tea arrived, Marleen noticed that Caitlyn placed each small brown earthenware teapot onto a beautifully quilted and padded fabric square.
            “How lovely,” she said. Marleen had quilted for years, and needlework always caught her eye.
            “Aren’t these great?” Caitlyn said. “The owner’s mother makes them just for us, both to use and to sell in the gift shop. There’s some sort of special fabric on the bottom that keeps hot teapots from scorching the tables. We had so many requests, she started making them for us to sell. She splits the proceeds between her church’s food pantry and a girls’ school in India. It’s located near Darjeeling, and the owner learned about it at a tea conference.”
            Marleen was impressed.
            Soon the first course appeared, and the two friends couldn’t wait to start enjoying it.
            “Our quiche today is a vegetarian asparagus quiche. If you need any refills on your tea, just let me know,” Caitlyn said.
            Both women still had plenty of tea, so they tucked into their quiche slices with great gusto.
            “This is divine,” said Marleen.
            “Mmm, I agree,” Susan mumbled between bites. “I was starving!”
            Next came a black wrought-iron stand containing their savories, scones, and sweets. There was a beautiful array of foods that included turkey and arugula finger sandwiches, curry chicken salad bites rolled in almonds, plain and hazelnut scones, and scrumptious dessert offerings that had them both drooling.
            Susan reached for a sandwich, and Marleen sat admiring it all.
            “This is pretty tasty,” said Susan, nodding at the egg salad sandwich in her hand. “Eat up!”
            By the time they’d polished off the last scone, Marleen was stuffed. She ate a bite of an apricot square and half a white chocolate truffle before announcing she was done. Caitlyn brought her a box for the leftovers.

            After seeing a poster about the tearoom’s upcoming tea tasting, Susan headed to the office to make her reservation while Marleen browsed through baskets of quilted hotpads. Susan quietly handed the owner a twenty-dollar bill and said, “This is for your mother’s church food pantry. Please tell her I admire what she’s doing.”
            In the gift shop, Marleen looked around to make sure Susan couldn’t see her handing over a check and hear her telling Caitlyn, “Please add this to the fund for those girls in India. I love that you support education in this way.” Marleen pondered the fact she’d been quite wrong about this “hippie” tea room. She was so glad they’d come.
            As they left the Wisdom Tea House, a young college student wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt and jeans entered, her ragged gray backpack hanging off one arm. She glanced at Marleen’s decorative pink jacket with teapot appliques on it. Just the sort of woman I expected to find here, she thought.
            The young woman requested a table and sat down before unzipping her backpack, pulling out her laptop, and opening it.
            She typed, “As a sociology class assignment, I am sitting here in a tearoom watching a bunch of middle-aged ladies have tea and crumpets. I doubt they’ll have much that’s good to eat here, so I texted Dave and told him I’d meet him for sushi in an hour. Hope I can survive that long.”
            “Hi. I’m Caitlyn. Do you know what kind of tea you’d like, or would you prefer to see a menu?”
            “I usually drink oolongs,” said the young woman, fully expecting the tea choices to be Tetley and Lipton.
            “Terrific,” said Caitlyn, pointing to the back of the tea menu. “Here are the oolongs, and our latest order included some Taiwanese oolongs that are excellent. Let me know if I can help you select one. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
            They serve oolongs here? thought the young woman. Maybe this place won’t be so bad after all …


  1. Beautiful example of how we are quick to judge and how often we are wrong. My favorite Teatime Tale so far.

  2. The thought that ran through my mind as I read this week's Teatime Tale, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Fun story with practical meaning!

  3. Another great story! I love the name you picked for the tea room, which underscores the message of the story.

  4. What a wonderful story to start my day! Many times are first impressions are not always accurate.

  5. Such a thoughtful and well written piece! Thank you! Isn't it amazing how our first impressions are often wrong? I love how so many assumptions were challenged in this story and each woman grew a little with their visit to the Wisdom Tea House. I wish I could visit there myself!

  6. I agree with Phyllis' comment above. This is a very special story.

  7. Just goes to show that a tea room has something for everyone. I just had lunch but darn it, I was getting hungry reading the description of the food on the tiered tray. :-)
    Another fun Saturday story thanks.

  8. A lovely reminder to open our minds and hearts to different experiences!

  9. BRAVO!

    This is excellent - a perfect reminder and so wonderfully written.

    Oh how I loooove Saturdays at Tea With Friends! ♥

    1. Loved it! My fav is the comment on the pink appliqued teapot jacket! Hahaha! Also the "brown" teapot" - I'm with Marlene I prefer pretty china teacups & teapots. I love Saturday's stories. Let's meet for tea! I know I'd enjoy your company. Isn't it funny how full you can get from eating tea sammys & mini sweets? So creative & fun read.

  10. Hello Angela,

    What a wonderful story and so true to life! Being open to new experiences, expands the richness of life.

    Thanks for sharing, Darlene

  11. Delightful! I like the way that your characters were able to have open minds despite preconceived notions about the tea room.I would like to read the rest of the novel about Marleen and Susan's friendship and the new young woman. I think I'd like to read about Caitlyn, also! You will have to get busy on this!

  12. Another great story to bring a smile. Thanks for these weekly stories.

  13. This story just made me smile. It is so revealing of the way so many think of visiting a tearoom. I recently told my sister she should take her husband to a new tearoom in her town, but she couldn't imagine any guys liking tearooms and insisted it would be for the girls in the family. Oh for preconceived ideas may they somehow go away.

  14. Good story, Angela - love your attention to details! A perfect opportunity to 'keep an open mind,' you just might surprise yourself....Enjoying this Saturday series, it's great. Hope you're keeping warm, Joanie


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