Being in the midst of winter, there is nothing more warming to the heart and soul than a good cup of hot tea. Not being a coffee drinker, this is where I get my warmth during this chilly time of the year and it is a great supplement to the iced tea that I drink year-round as most true southerners tend to do. I had a fun opportunity to go to a special, socially distanced “Nutcracker High Tea” at the historic Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville, during the recent holiday season, and it did not disappoint!
I went to the high tea with a dear friend who has a second home in Europe and appreciates European culture, along with her precious young niece who enjoyed her first high tea experience. We dressed in our finest attire, including fascinators and Sunday hats, and stepped out in style into the spectacularly appointed Hermitage Hotel. As a Nashville native, I wish I had visited this hotel many years ago, as it is simply amazing.
Our hostess brought over a box of tea selections, with several teas to choose from. Black teas included Earl Grey, Darjeeling First Flush, and Cacao Chai, green tea included Thunder Dragon Green, and herbal teas included chrysanthemum and Linden. We each chose our first tea and proceeded to sip and savor as we waited for a delectable and beautiful tray of cream cheese and cucumber, egg salad, and prosciutto, fig jam, and goat cheese sandwiches, sweet cream and savory herbed scones served with Devonshire cream, whipped butter and a variety of jams, and a sampling of festive desserts.
I particularly enjoyed the Linden tea, one of the herbals, with a delicate floral aroma and honey, fruity taste. According to the history which was provided by our hostess, and which she did for each of our teas, this tea is known in Europe as tilleul. It has been popular for centuries and is naturally caffeine-free. Another favorite was the Thunder Dragon Green, with origins from Tronsa, Bhutan and is a bright, sweet green tea. This green tea has never been exported, which made it even more special to try. The tea fields are located at the summer palace of the second king, originally planted in the 1950’s, and which is currently part of a working 43-acre farm ran by 26 women. This tea can handle multiple steepings – four or five – unlike other green teas. Oh – and if you are not familiar with Bhutan, it is officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan, located in the Eastern Himalayas, and bordered by China to the north and India to the south. Nepal and Bangladesh are located near Bhutan but do not share a land border. I got quite the education learning about these teas while enjoying food and drink. Our hostess was indeed a wealth of knowledge.
If you are not familiar with the history of “High Tea” – which is the most common term used in America, though it really doesn’t match the definition and menu overseas- and “Afternoon Tea,” it is interesting to explore. High Tea is not something that only the European upper class participates in, it is actually a practice of many Europeans, including centuries ago the working class. And WHY is it called “High Tea”? Interestingly, one explanation is that it was eaten at a table, while Afternoon Tea was taken while seated in low, comfortable chairs or sofas. There are multiple variations of these teas that have evolved over the years, but one fact remains and that is that teatime can be a lot of fun and quite tasty! Check out this great article from Afternoon Tea Co. UK to learn more about the history of tea time, and next time you are in Nashville, check out the Hermitage Hotel to see what kind of tea events they have on their schedule throughout the year.
Wow, I did not even get into the health benefits of tea. Another time, perhaps! Drink up, and enjoy!
Afternoon Tea Co UK. What is High Tea? Retrieved 1, 1/2021 from https://afternoontea.co.uk/information/what-is-high-tea/