Destination Tea Throws Its First Party for Atlanta’s Tea Professionals

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.

Destination Tea Throws Atlanta Tea Party, thank you note

Partying with Atlanta’s Tea People

Angela, Angela and Valerie, hosting Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Valerie Barendregt
The ladies behind the party: Nabi’s Angela Kang Cole, Destination Tea’s Angela Renals (me!) and The Cheeky Teacup’s Valerie Barendregt. Angela and Valerie were instantly on board, giving me the courage to make this tea party happen!

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:

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?”

mingling at Nabi pop-up shop at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Chatting and browsing Angela’s pop-up tea fascinator shop
angela of Nabi at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Though Angela’s fashions are haute couture, her personality is down-to-earth, she loves helping her customers.
Angela and Karl of The Ginger Room at at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Beautiful Angela Avery of The Ginger Room tries on a vibrant green fascinator. Husband and co-owner Karl Walbrook sporting a dapper pinstripe suite with U.K. flag pin (a nod to his British roots).
Angela's fascinators at at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Angela doing what she does best
tea fascinators on display at at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Eye candy!
Nabi tea fascinator at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Angela’s delicately handcrafted designs come in all colors.

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!

group photo at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Pictured left to right: Loli McMahon (Mary Lucille’s), Lou Souders (Teacup Traditions), Jill Harris (Mary Lucille’s), Maria Gabor (Dunwoody Tea/Pearls & More), Angela Renals (Destination Tea), Lisa Boalt Richardson (World Tea Academy/Author), Gillian Millard (just add honey), Angela McRae (Tea with Friends/Author), Nicole Outler & Tammy Johnson (Ivy Tea House), Mariyah Sabir (Jayida Che), Long Tran (Peachy Corners Cafe), Aleathia Saleem (Jayida Che), Ginny Kelley (Ivy Tea House), Karolyn Hawley (Mary Lucille’s)
group photo in tea garden at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Pictured left to right: Suzanne Booth (Dunwoody Preservation Trust Tea), Angela Renals (Destination Tea), Inez Boothe (Dunwoody Preservation Trust Tea), Prima Lewis (Atlanta Tea Society), Valerie Barendregt (The Cheeky Teacup), Angela Kang Cole (Nabi), Karl Walbrook & Angela Avery (The Ginger Room), Todd McKinley & Lynn Brewington (Southern Roots Spice Shop), Sylvia Pace (Tea Writer), MJ Thomas (Dunwoody Preservation Trust Tea)

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.

tea tables at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Three long tables were set in the model living room of Temmer Marble’s showroom.
vintage china at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Note how Valerie thinks of details like mini clotted cream and jam jars on perfectly sized crescent plates at each setting. Originally crescent plates were used as salad plates in Britain, but eventually served a variety of functions, such as a bread and butter dish.
floral teacup at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
As one does, some guests picked their seat based on their favorite teacup. We totally get it.
blue and gold teacup at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
The trouble is choosing which is your favorite.
blue floral teacup at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
This blue floral pattern was popular.
floral centerpieces at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Loving these fresh flowers
Valerie and Gabriela of the Cheeky Teacup at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Valerie and Gabriela began their work in the early am to make sure no detail was overlooked.

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.

Atlanta's tea professionals at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Everyone awesomely complied with my request to stand up and introduce themselves and their work. This might have been my favorite moment, looking at all these wonderful people gathered together.

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.

champagne at at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
We began with champagne for the guests as they entered.
antique teapots at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Valerie prepared printed cards to label the tea types, which included Darjeeling, Earl Grey and Ceylon in bone china teapots.
Earl Grey with strainer at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Strainers are at the ready to pour out each pot of tea as it’s done steeping.
three tiered tray at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Valerie stocked all the tiered trays with her homemade goodies before everyone arrived. I wondered if items would grow stale before we sat to eat, but they were perfectly fresh, proving Valerie knows her timing!
afternoon tea at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Delicious fillings and breads made the tea sandwiches a hit: Chicken Salad Croissants, Garden Feta Eclairs, Brie and Red Onion Marmalade on Persian Bread with Toasted Sesame Seeds, and pillowy Cucumber Sandwiches.
cucumber sandwiches at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Valerie prepared two scone flavors: plain and lemon, served with clotted cream and jam.
tea desserts at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
It was my preference to trade one dessert for a fourth savory, (so 4 tea sandwiches, 2 scones, 3 desserts) which I think balanced the meal. The desserts were SO scrumptious, including Almond Tea Cakes, Rose Champagne Mini Bundt Cakes, and Persian Cream Puffs (not pictured).
rose cakes at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley

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.

happy 85th birthday at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Surprise birthday party for Inez! Pictured with daughter Suzanne Boothe

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.

Ivy Tea House ladies at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Nicole Outler, Tammy Johnson and Ginny Kelley of Ivy Tea House had so much enthusiasm for this event, their support touched my heart. They said we should do this every year as a check-in….
Lisa and Lou at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Author Lisa Boalt Richardson talks to Lou Souders of Teacup Traditions. Later on, when Lou introduced herself to the group, she said that after several decades in her business (vintage china/linen gifts), she had thought interest was dying down, but that this event has made her realize that tea culture is alive and well, and on the rise!
Lisa and Angela at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Angela McRae
Angela McRae made me laugh when she snapped this shot of Lisa Boalt Richardson and myself, “the two tea celebrities.” Angela’s a renowned writer herself!
Gillian Millard of just add honey at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
just add honey Store Manager Gillian Millard representing the younger generation. I had time to speak with her and learn that she is gracious, and a true fan of just add honey owners Brandi and Jermail Shelton (we are too). We hope next year the Sheltons can join the party too because their business has served Atlanta tea lovers for more than a decade – they have much to share!
fast friends at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Many of the guests were fast friends. These three would likely be the life of any party: Lynn Brewington and Todd McKinley of Southern Roots Spice Shop with tea writer Sylvia Pace
Mariyah Sabir of Jayida Che at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party
Photo Credit: Michael Bradley
Another of the younger generation, Mariyah Sabir of Jayida Che works with her Aunt Aleathia Saleem (pictured at left) to make their own powerfully aromatic and flavorful teas. Sold in their East Atlanta location, these teas would also be a great addition to Atlanta tearoom tea lists.

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.

tea bombs at Destination Tea's Atlanta Tea Party

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!

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

4 Comments

  1. What a beautiful gathering of Atlanta’s tea tastemakers. I wish I could have attended. I definitely would love to attend a party by The Cheeky Teacup when I come to Atlanta! Loved the tea cups, the fascinators and the lovely crowd. Congrats to an amazing job!

  2. A wonderful, feel-good event in the middle of some trying times on our planet. And…four ladies named Angela? What are the odds?

    Kudos to all -particularly the originator of the whole idea, Angela Renals of Destination Tea!

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