Coral Tree Tea House

The 3rd Victorian Tea Society Tea of 2013 was hosted by Lady L. at the Coral Tree Tea House, a Victorian house that has been converted into a gift shop and tea room.  It is named for the magnificent coral tree that graces the front of the house.

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Photo by Lady J

Photo by Lady J

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Whimsy in the tea shop

Whimsy in the tea shop

There are 2 tea rooms in the house, each with its own entrance, separated by the largest and heaviest set of pocket doors (floor-to-ceiling sized) I have ever seen!

Really cool pocket door hardware!

Check out the exquisite pocket door hardware!

The other tea room

The other tea room behind the pocket doors–there’s something charming about the wallpaper in this room!

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We were lucky enough to get a private table in the bright and breezy front tea room

Hat on a wall

There were lovely hats all over the house, for sale and for borrowing!

DSC02170 (Small)The theme of the tea party was summer flowers.  The ladies were all dressed in their floral best, complete with hats and fascinators with flowers!  The tea party favors consisted of a die-cut flower placecard and a bag of sugar flowers and leaves created by a local teenage artist.  The packaging was finished with a beautiful edible blue gumpaste flower.  Everyone loved the sugar flowers and we all wished we had such ambitious entrepreneurial spirit and creativity when we were teenagers!

Tea party favors

Tea party favors

To start off our afternoon tea, the friendly wait staff poured us a cup of their Coral Tree Tea House blend of black tea, coconut, and chocolate which was accompanied by a teapot shaped shortbread.  🙂  This was my favorite tea of the day.

A teapot shaped shortbread to accompany the house blend tea

What a nice way to start off afternoon tea!

All in all, we sampled 6 pots of tea! (descriptions taken from the Coral Tree Tea House tea menu)

Dancer’s TeaEarl Grey classic with a new twist of mango
French blendCombination of melted chocolate and other ingredients to produce a creamy truffle taste
Nancy’s favoritea delicate mixture of apple, vanilla & cinnamon.  Some say it tastes like mom’s apple dumplings!
Lucy’s favoriteCoconut and cherry and other ingredients (herbal tea)
SunshineGreen tea with sage and tangerine
Friends teaTea to share with a friend: Green & white tea with a blend of pineapple, passion fruit & strawberry

Tea caddy

Tea caddy

Dessert

Top tier: Mini cheesecakes with blueberry compote, Marshmallow stuffed brownies, and mini apple turnovers

Raspberry and peach scones

Middle tier: Raspberry scones, peach scones, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream

Sandwiches and savories

Bottom tier: Sandwiches and savories

Egg salad, Ham and cheese pinwheel, onion corn puff, spanakopita, chicken salad, and cucumber with dill cream cheese.

Left to right, clockwise from top: Egg salad, Ham and cheese pinwheel, onion corn puff, spanakopita, chicken salad, and cucumber with dill cream cheese.

Okay, get ready for this … Oh my, the sandwiches and savories were all good!

Egg salad: I like egg salad sandwiches in general and have never had a “bad” one.  The recipe for egg salad doesn’t vary much from tea house to tea house.  I judge quality by the bread and here, the bread was fresh, not dry!

Ham and cheese pinwheel: This pinwheel was a puff pastry with concentric rings of razor-thin slices of ham and Swiss cheese.  The surprise was the subtle kick of jalapeno which elevated this savory to something special.  🙂  Definitely my favorite of the bunch.

Onion corn puff: This was a very interesting savory consisting of a corn bread base with a very thin layer of onion and cream baked on top.  The savory onion complemented the sweet corn bread nicely.

Spanakopita:  The pastry of this spanakopita was not traditional phyllo dough but puff pastry.  I liked the puff pastry though it did not hold as much of the spinach and feta filling as traditional versions with phyllo dough.

Chicken salad: This was a good chicken salad.  It had apples and cucumbers which I really enjoyed.

Cucumber with dill cream cheese: Finally, a decent cucumber sandwich!  It is one of the few cucumber sandwiches I’ve had where I could actually taste the dill.  The cucumbers were appropriately sliced and I think they were marinated too!  This is the best cucumber sandwich I’ve had to date.  Thank you, Coral Tree Tea House, for making it right!

Raspberry scone and peach scone

Raspberry scone and peach scone

Surprisingly, the afternoon tea menu included not one but 2 scones per guest!  The scones were okay, neither the best nor the worst.  I preferred the raspberry scone for flavor but it was quite sweet and contained dried raspberries.  The peach scone was less sweet and had less flavor but contained fresh peaches.  I wished these were served warm as they were a little dry and too sweet to enjoy with jam or curd.

DSC02221 (Small)I enjoyed every one of the desserts!  The cheesecake was very creamy and more like a cheesecake-flavored mousse.  However, since it was so light and airy, it was the perfect cheesecake for summer.  I really enjoyed the marshmallow stuffed brownie even though it was a bit sweet for me.  The texture was right on!  Chewy, just the way I like it!  The marshmallow stuffing was ingenious.  I once tried to make mochi stuffed brownies and failed.  The marshmallow stuffing succeeded where the mochi did not.  Bravo!  Can I just say … this is the best tea house I’ve been, to date!

Tea drip catcher

Butterfly tea drip catcher

Towards the end of our afternoon tea, as we poured Friends tea, Lady K. proposed a toast to friendship and we all raised our teacups to each other.  Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, and clink!  Lady K. then lamented that it was a shame we could not toast with alcohol but that was okay and “cheers” to that!  Again, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, and clink!

Lady ML regaled us with stories about teaching her granddaughter how to toast and proceeded to teach us how to make a toast in Chinese, “Gam buy!”

(Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, and clink!)

Lady MH then jumped on the bandwagon, “Okay, now let’s toast in Japanese!  Kampai!”

(Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, and clink!)

Lady L. quickly followed suit, “Oh, oh!  Now in Irish!  Sláinte!”

(Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, and clink!)

” … and in Italian we say, ‘Cin cin!'”

(Clink, clink, CLINK, clink, CLINK, clink, and CLINK!)

I watched with amazement as the ladies got louder and LOUDER and more enthusiastic with each toast!  I was certain we would soon have a pile of broken china and a couple of ladies on the floor!  I quickly studied the situation, “Heeey, you all seem pretty ‘drunk’ to me!  What did you put in this tea?!” whereupon much laughter ensued.  As Lady MH put it so aptly, “That was SO much fun!”  😉

In total, each lady clinked her cup 42 times for a total of 294 clinks in the span of 2 minutes (hurrah for random statistics!).  I wonder what the guests in the next room thought of all the clinking?!  So, to my VTS ladies, who get such natural highs from Life, I give you this gift:  How to toast in 50 languages!   Enjoy!

Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, and clink!

Thank you Lady L. for hosting a delightful and delicious afternoon!

P.S.  On toasting etiquette …

  • Always make eye contact with whomever you are toasting.
  • When you make a toast at a large table, you don’t have to be crazy like us and wobble over tables in an attempt to make contact with every single cup/glass across the table.  It is appropriate to raise your glass, make eye contact, and nod at someone at the far end of the table.
  • It is considered impolite to cross glasses/cups across others who are also toasting.  Wait until they are done before clinking your glasses.
  • Never, ever, pour your own drink!

“There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.”
— Benjamin Franklin

[Update April 11, 2016: On a sad note, the magnificent coral tree in front of the tea house is no more … :(]

Photo by S.

Photo by S.

[Update: April 10, 2017 — One year later, the coral tree has been replaced!  Yay!]

Photo by S.

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