Saturday, March 5, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Florida

I love-love-love Florida! It was the favorite vacation spot for my family when I was growing up, and to this day, I get excited at the mere mention of a trip to the Sunshine State. Give me fifteen minutes to pack some flip-flops and a bottle of Coppertone suntan lotion, and I'm ready to roll. I've even enjoyed afternoon tea in Florida, at the Magnolia and Ivy tearoom in Sandestin and the Glass Slipper Tea Cottage in Fort Walton Beach (both now closed, alas). What else is there to learn about teatime and Florida?

• I am always intrigued when I see period photos and artwork of women dressed up for teatime. Comfort is such a huge part of enjoying the tea experience that I can hardly imagine taking tea while wearing a corset, petticoats, and a full-length gown. But then I remind myself that if that had been my daily fashion, I would have thought nothing of it! Still … what do you think of this photo of some women enjoying tea at a table by the courtyard of the Burt House in St. Augustine, Florida? According to its Library of Congress entry, this photo was created/published in 1936 or 1937, but it was obviously taken long before it was published, and I wonder about the relationship between the women. Mother and daughters? Aunt and nieces? Neighbor ladies? Mentor and mentees? (What are your thoughts?)

• I’m still enjoying looking up old images on the New York Public Library’s new digital collections site, and one they feature is this old postcard of “Afternoon Tea at the Royal Poinciana, Palm Beach, Fla.” According to Wikipedia, the hotel was a Gilded Age hotel in Palm Beach, built as a winter retreat by oil, real estate, and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler. My favorite fun facts about this huge hotel: “Its hallways totaled more than three miles in length. Bellhops delivered messages and packages from the front desk to guests’ rooms by bicycle.” The hotel was closed and torn down during the Depression, but I’m pleased that images from the hotel’s past teatimes remain!

• And to bring us up to a more modern tea image from Florida, I will forever associate the Mad Tea Party spinning teacup ride at Walt Disney World with tea in that lovely state. It’s been many years since I was last at Disney, but here’s a video to remind you of what the teacup ride is like! (And I must admit it makes me kinda dizzy to watch!)


  1. I'd hate to have to wear all those cloths in Florida - but maybe it was January. :-)

  2. Both my Maternal Grandparents were from Florida. My Grandmother was from a family of 8 and I remember going to some of their peanut farms, etc in the panhandle. One had an outhouse which scared me silly! Lovely images and fun photos!

  3. I do remember the teacups and my love of riding them at Disneyland. What fun! Always wished I could have had tea at Magnolia and Ivy in Destin. I did have tea with them in Georgia. Miss them! Love the vintage photos, especially of the women in the courtyard. It almost looks like mama giving a lesson on etiquette to her daughter on tea time.

  4. I've enjoyed vacationing in Florida many times too, and had tea at Magnolia and Ivy while they were in Sandestin, the Garden Gate Tea Room in Mt. Dora [now closed], and the Grand Floridian on Disney property. Missed out on the Glass Slipper Tea Cottage in Ft. Walton though. It must have opened after my parents moved back to Michigan. Our family vacationed in Florida in 2014 and spent a couple of days at Disney - we rode the spinning teacup ride. What fun!

  5. I think you are right about the clothing. If it was our normal everyday wear, we would think nothing of it. Thanks for another lesson.

  6. Great tea review about Florida, love those photos, Angela. So many streets and parks are named after Henry Flagler - there's a 'Winter Cottage' of his in Palm Beach that you can tour, it's gorgeous!

    There's so much to like about Florida, so many beautiful beaches on either coast and of course, the beautiful Keys! I'm enjoying this series Angela, have a great week, Joanie


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