We did it!! Destination Tea has hosted its first (and possibly inaugural?) ATL tea party, where we all had a blast. The guest list brought together a who’s who of Metro Atlanta’s afternoon tea scene, including tea room and tea shop owners, tea bloggers, authors and more, for a delicious royal tea catered by local vintage tea party caterer The Cheeky Teacup, with pop-up tea fascinator shop by Nabi. My heart is full thinking of all I witnessed at this event, and I thank everyone who attended for making Destination Tea’s first tea party a happy success.
Partying with Atlanta’s Tea People
Blogger/Author Angela McRae of Tea with Friends said it best, you meet the kindest people in the world of afternoon tea and tea. The guests arrived with smiles on their faces, and dove right into getting to know one another. Here’s who attended:
- Atlanta Tea Society – Prima Lewis
- The Cheeky Teacup (caterer) – Valerie Barendregt
- Destination Tea – Angela Renals
- Dunwoody Preservation Trust, Annual Tea – Maria Gabor (of Pearls & More Jewelry), Suzanne Boothe, Inez Boothe and MJ Thomas
- The Ginger Room, Alpharetta – Owners Angela Avery & Dr. Karl Walbrook
- Ivy Tea House, Norcross – Owners Nicole Outler & Tammy Johnson, Tea Lady Ginny Kelley
- Jayida Che, Atlanta – Owners Aleathia Saleem & Mariyah Sabir
- just add honey, Atlanta – Manager Gillian Millard
- Mary Lucille’s, Cumming (opening Spring 2022) – Owner Jill Harris, Manager Loli McMahon, Investor Karolyn Hawley
- Nabi (tea fascinators)- Angela Kang Cole
- Peachy Corners Cafe, Peachtree Corners – Owner Long Tran
- Southern Roots Spice Shop, Chamblee – Owners Todd McKinley & Lynn Brewington
- Tea with Friends Blog & Author – Angela McRae
- Tea Writer – Sylvia Pace
- Teacup Traditions (vintage china/linen gifts) – Lou Souders
- World Tea Academy & Author – Lisa Boalt Richardson
8 Awesome Things That Happened
1. Angela Kang Cole of Nabi millinery helped guests break the ice while shopping her amazing pop-up shop of tea fascinators.
Angela has a special talent for helping you choose the perfect piece to complement your coloring and fashion. Someone commented to me, “Did you see how that woman in the beige dress was completely transformed when she tried on her fascinator?”
2. We captured the occasion in a giant “tea garden” shower.
Temmer Marble graciously provided the event space for our tea party in their Buckhead showroom. When I spotted their model shower, I thought, “tea plants!” This giant shower fit half of our tea party at a time, so we captured our fabulous group in two shots, and I tucked myself into both!
3. Valerie and her daughter Gabriela of The Cheeky Teacup set gorgeous tea tables.
Fresh flower centerpieces, vintage china and depression glass graced cutwork white tablecloths to create an elegant and beautiful scene that instantly impressed each guest entering the party. Having attended one of her teas, I knew giving Valerie complete creative license would result in a lovely tablescape design, and the guests’ reactions confirmed my faith in her.
4. We saw that Atlanta’s tea people are beautifully diverse.
Anyone who knows the history of the global tea trade [in short: white Europeans broke up the centuries-old Chinese monopoly on tea production through colonization, corporate espionage, drug trade and war, which still today results in poor quality of life for many Asian and African tea workers] — has got to smile at the sight of the multicultural, multigenerational group of tea professionals in Atlanta today. As we went around the room to introduce ourselves, I realized an unintended goodness had come out of this event: everyone else saw for themselves what I already knew from my work with tea owners across the country. Tea in America is a unifier. Afternoon tea may have begun as a British custom, but today American people of all ethnicities love tea and serving and attending afternoon teas. And why not? It’s a delight no one should miss.
5. We feasted like proper lords and ladies.
Valerie, our caterer extraordinaire, likes to travel, and her husband is Persian, so her homemade menus reflect a variety of cuisines. Working with Valerie to create the menu was a cinch because Valerie offers direction, but is open to changes. She gave me a sample menu, and once we knew our guests’ food allergies, she quickly suggested substitutions that would be delicious and work for all the guests, letting me have final approval of the menu.
6. We celebrated an 85th birthday.
After learning that Inez Boothe, a founding member of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust Annual Tea, was celebrating her 85th birthday, Valerie led us all in a round of singing “Happy Birthday to You” and Karl of The Ginger Room added on the customary British salute in triplicate, “Hip hip, hooray!” Inez told her daughter Suzanne she wants all her birthday parties to be like this one from now on. That’s quite a compliment from a woman who has been hosting elaborate teas in her home for decades.
7. We sparked a sense of community.
For the first time, Atlanta’s tearoom owners and tea makers met one another. I heard talk of a cross-promotional tea tour, and enthusiasm to begin featuring locally made teas at Atlanta’s afternoon tea services. I made a new connection as well, finally meeting renowned tea author Lisa Boalt Richardson, a longtime dream of mine, and we began discussing how Destination Tea might partner with the World Tea Academy. We can all learn from each other and root for each other, so these connections are priceless.
8. Our favors were the bomb, literally.
As her gift to the event, Valerie of The Cheeky Teacup made tea bombs for favors. The heart- or sphere-shaped sugar outsides encapsulated a bag of tea to produce one sweet brew for each guest. She presented these in gift boxes with gold ribbon, which made for an elegant parting gift.
So Much Gratitude
Not only did so many of our invitees show up, but they came with open hearts. When Valerie of The Cheeky Teacup introduced herself, she commented on how much she appreciated this event happening in the spirit of community rather than competition. Exactly. Valerie and Gabriela worked so hard to attend to every last detail of the royal tea, and as a perfectionist, that was a huge weight off my shoulders, to be able to rely on them. When Angela Kang Cole offered to sell her fascinators, I didn’t realize what a perfect ice breaker that would provide, helping guests ease into mingling – Godsend! And last but also first, Michael Bradley agreed to be the photographer so I wouldn’t have to capture the event for this post. Michael is not only a talented photographer, graphic and website designer, he is also a dear friend, who always has pushed me to overcome my doubts, and make Destination Tea a reality.
Thank you all!