Destination Tea’s 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party

Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party attendees

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.

table settings at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
yellow and gold tea table at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
pink and green table at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
green and ivory table at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
creamer and sugar bowl at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
beautiful teapot at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
flower centerpiece at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
blue and gold flowers at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party

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.

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.

just add honey on restaurant tea menus

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 of Tea Leaves & Thyme at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party

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.

Angela and Doug of Destination Tea at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Angela invited a VIP: Douglas Martin, who you may recognize from Destination Tea’s YouTube channel.
Todd and Lynn of Southern Roots Spice Shop at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Todd McKinley and Lynn Brewington of Southern Roots Spice Shop can always either be found laughing or making someone else laugh. Kim Jordy of Tea Leaves & Thyme was very happy she sat at their table because their energy is contagious.
Elena Wittman and Susie Tran at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Susie Tran of Peachy Corners Cafe catches up with Douglas Martin, and Elena Wittman of ArtofHats Studio (left) who glamorized her look with one of her creations.
Olivia and Michelle Fergusson at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
It was a delight finally meeting Olivia and Michelle Fergusson of Fergusson’s on the Square, who are chatting here with Renata Dennis. Renata diligently made sure to collect everyone’s business cards, because JASNA Georgia celebrates Jane Austen’s December birthday every year at an afternoon tea she helps organize.
Inez Boothe and Angela Kang Cole at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Inez Boothe, a founding member of Dunwoody Preservation Trust’s Annual Tea, reunites with Angela Kang Cole of Nabi, both of whom are wearing her fabulous creations.

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.

Everyone seated at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Angela gets the party officially started, asking everyone to introduce themselves.
Jakkie Naude of Bluebird Tablescapes at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Jakkie Naude of Bluebird Tablescapes explains that she caters tea parties because we need these moments in our busy lives, to give us time to share what is on our hearts.
Dr. Karl and Angela of The Ginger Room at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
Husband-and-wife Dr. Karl Walbrook and Angela Avery explain that The Ginger Room grew out of their first business – Ginger Yums (fresh ginger juices) – and had to serve a proper English afternoon tea to honor Dr. Karl’s British upbringing.
Teresa Eubanks, Ashlynn Davis of The Emerald Chandelier at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
The newest teahouse owner at the event, Teresa Eubanks of The Emerald Chandelier in Griffin, (pictured here with Manager/Daughter Ashlynn Davis and Chef April) came with questions for her colleagues. Teresa told us that for every challenge she faces in the running of her teahouse, God sends her a Godsend (for example, her chef, April), and so she knows this is work she is meant to do.
Dottie and Ralph Ray of Chelsea's on Thornton at Destination Tea's 2nd Annual ATL Tea Party
It was a touching honor to hear from several teahouses that guests are coming to them from out-of-state because they have read about them on Destination Tea. This is our mission! The more folks we connect with afternoon tea venues, the more tearooms will thrive in the U.S., and in turn, the more folks will be able to experience the wonder of afternoon tea.

However, the best story we heard for the first time was told by Ralph Ray (pictured here with wife Dottie) of Chelsea’s on Thornton in Dalton. Before they were tearoom owners, Dottie and Ralph worked in retail merchandising, so they were familiar with the “mystery shopper” (who is secretly there to review the customer experience in the store). We first met Ralph after attending Chelsea’s Mother’s Day Tea. He was kind enough to answer some questions afterwards, and remembers we bought several items from the gift shop. Then, as Ralph tells it, I gave him my business card and we took our leave. He saw we were from Destination Tea, and thought, shoot me! He hadn’t realized we were us! We had had such a good time though, he had nothing to worry about. He says now he has groups on tea tours plotting his teahouse into their itinerary because they’ve seen our write-up. Wonderful!

Special thanks to Michael Bradley, our photographer for the event.

Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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