Just look at all these wonderful tea people. For Destination Tea’s second annual tea party, we welcomed tea business owners from Griffin to Dalton and in between. We love to host the hosts of afternoon tea! In addition to tearoom owners and tea party caterers, we also had local milliners, tea shop owners and the regional coordinator for the Jane Austen Society of North America. One of the best things about this group is how readily they jump into getting to know one another.
Beautifully, the tearoom owners gathered had a wide range of experience in the business: less than 5 years, 10+ years and 17+ years. (This may have been my favorite thing about the guest list). They spoke openly about the ups and downs of owning a tearoom, and consulted with each other on best practices.
A Gorgeous Scene
The tea party caterers, Valerie and Gabriela of The Cheeky Teacup, decorated each table in a different color scheme, using vintage teacups, table linens, teapots and glassware that Valerie finds at estate sales and thrift shops. The end result was stunning afternoon tea tables in pinks, blues, greens and yellows. (It didn’t escape me that the folks from The Emerald Chandelier chose the green table.) China vases held beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers that went home with the guests. Scroll for some excellent tea party table setting inspiration.
The Who’s Who of Tea People
We are very thankful to each of our guests for managing to slip away from their obligations, some driving more than an hour to attend the tea party.
- ArtofHats Studio – Elena Wittman
- Bluebird Tablescapes – Jakkie Naude and Brenda Kuhn
- The Cheeky Teacup – Valerie and Gabriela Barendregt (catered the event)
- Chelsea’s on Thornton, Dalton – Dottie and Ralph Ray
- Destination Tea – Angela Renals, Douglas Martin, Jr., Michael Bradley (photographer)
- Dunwoody Preservation Trust, Annual Tea – Maria Gabor (of Pearls & More Jewelry), Suzanne Boothe, Inez Boothe and Kristin Simons
- The Emerald Chandelier, Griffin – Teresa Eubanks, Ashlynn Davis, Chef April
- Fergusson’s on the Square, Hoschton – Michelle, Jim and Olivia Fergusson
- The Ginger Room, Alpharetta – Angela Avery and Dr. Karl Walbrook
- Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), Georgia Region – Renata Dennis
- just add honey, Atlanta – Brandi Shelton
- Nabi – Angela Kang Cole
- Peachy Corners Cafe, Peachtree Corners – Susie and Long Tran
- Southern Roots Spice Shop, Chamblee, Decatur – Todd McKinley and Lynn Brewington
- Tea Leaves & Thyme – Kim Jordy
Two Very Special Guests
We all have our heroes, and two of mine were able to make this year’s tea, after having to miss it last year. Please indulge me as I take a moment to point the spotlight their way. Brandi Shelton of just add honey and Kim Jordy of Tea Leaves & Thyme are both extraordinary women, but you’d never guess at the long list of their accomplishments without doing your own research, because their humility is just one of their beautiful qualities. Both of these veterans of Metro Atlanta’s tea scene embody human qualities that shine a light for the rest of us. Honest, real, hard-working and loving, Brandi and Kim show us that a successful business owner uplifts everyone around her.
Ten years ago, when Destination Tea was only a dream, both Brandi and Kim enthusiastically encouraged me to make it a reality. Then when I did, they signed on as Destination Tea’s first two advertisers, and I still remember Kim telling me, “I love to see other women’s businesses succeed.” Similarly, at the tea party this week, Brandi said to me, “I am so happy at all this for you.” Thank you, Kim and Brandi, you are wonderful, and I am very fortunate to call you friend.
Ahem, however…when they introduced themselves to the room, they barely touched on their vast resumes in the tea industry…so please allow me to fill you in.
Brandi started just add honey in 2006, and in the 17 years since, her operation has shifted to meet demand, weathered the pandemic, moved locations, and expanded many times over. just add honey blends its own teas using natural and organic ingredients, selling them online and in their Eastside Beltline Trail location, where they also offer tea parties and classes (see our review here). Their teas are now carried at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, WeWork and ROAM co-working spaces, Loews Hotel, Spa at InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta and many more locations in Atlanta (look who was on my tea menu today!). Brandi also has presented and emceed at World Tea Expo. Folks, she is a phenom.
Kim Jordy would likely prevent me from including this paragraph if she could (sorry, Kim). In October 2021, Kim joined her husband in retirement, after more than 20 years running the grand dame of Georgia teahouses: her Tea Leaves & Thyme in Woodstock (click to see our past review). In a beautiful historic home with tempting gift shop, Kim’s iconic teahouse served lunches, afternoon teas, parties and special events, always making her guests feel special and cheered by the experience. I’m thankful she agreed to be interviewed for the teahouse’s 20th anniversary, so you can read her story. When she closed the tearoom (note, they are still selling loose leaf teas online) the outpouring of emotion was palpable on the teahouse’s Facebook page. Here’s one of my favorite comments that captured what Kim created:
“It was a tea house of the old ways, where gathering times with others were special occasions, dedication of time and attention while the world marched on. It was common to see not only friends there, but very often mothers and daughters, often several generations together. It was wonderful to see the faces of family lines together, like a track of time…. a timeline of life.
It was life in motion, and life standing still. It was a place of fine teas and good light food, but was mostly about relationships. It was about the honoring of life, that for a little while, all of their time was dedicated to each other. It was a place that created gentle special moments and smiles, and that touch of hearts knowing they were important.”
Let the Mingling Begin
We opened the party with a glass of champagne and time for networking. Returning guests enjoyed their reunion and effortlessly wove this year’s newcomers into the conversation.
A Royal Tea Menu
For our royal tea menu, in addition to Ahmad loose leaf tea and champagne, we enjoyed a scrumptious three-course menu of homemade treats (thank you Valerie!):
- Savories: Mushroom Vol au Vents, Cucumber-Bacon Tea Sandwiches, Sweet Pea Leek Tartlets
- Scones (perfectly done!): Sultana and Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed served with Homemade Clotted Cream and Jam
- Desserts: Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes and Bailey’s Basque Cheesecakes with Whipped Cream
Hearing from Tea Business Owners, Veteran and New
As we did last year, while we poured and sipped our tea, we went around the room introducing ourselves and our organizations. When you consider that there are fewer than 50 afternoon tea venues in Georgia, to Destination Tea’s eyes, this was a room full of Very Important People. As they often say, hosting afternoon tea is a labor of love. Knowing the work that goes into setting the table, food prep (of 10 to 15 recipes for the tiered tray), tea service and clean up of all that teaware, tearoom owners know they must have a passion for the job. The heart that goes into afternoon tea service is felt and amplified throughout a tearoom. Read on to hear some of our favorite comments and stories shared.
Special thanks to Michael Bradley, our photographer for the event.