Monday, August 11, 2014

Afternoon Tea in the Colonial Quarter, St. Augustine

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea," said American writer Henry James. While Americans usually think of the British taking time for a spot of tea, our country's early settlers arrived with a fondness for the beverage and also enjoyed the respite it provided. Most of us have given up this lovely afternoon tradition.

Abigail and Rose host teas in the Colonial Quarter

Now, residents and visitors can indulge again at Abigail and Rose's Tea, a recent addition to the activities of the Colonial Quarter in St. Augustine. Dressed in colonial attire, Rose and Abigail explain afternoon tea through a living history lesson, a delicious one at that. This tea time does not require you to dress up, nor dine on fancy, high tea cucumber sandwiches and decadent desserts. Rather, Abigail and Rose serve more modest fare with scones, real clotted cream, jam and chocolates in a friendly environment.  The specially blended  tea comes from the St. Augustine Spice and Tea Exchange and is brewed as in colonial days, right in your cup.

Tea is poured for groups of eight in the de Mesa-Sanchez House at 1:00 and 3:00 on Fridays and Saturdays or by special appointment. The storyline is that Rose is a newcomer to town and Abigail is teaching her proper tea etiquette.

Tea and Treats

Participants sit around a table in the original 1741 house, now renovated, in a room normally roped off to tourists. The experience becomes authentic when you sip afternoon tea where others did hundreds of years ago, during the British occupation of the town. Abigail provides instructions on the proper way to stir - never clink your spoon on the side of the cup and where to place silverware to indicate you are finished. Since tea was a social hour, discussion is encouraged as long as it is not religion or politics. Giving compliments are also part of the lighthearted lesson.

Mother and Daughter enjoying Tea Time

I enjoyed slipping back in time to chit chat with other ladies and especially enjoyed watching a mother and young daughter take tea together. Boys would certainly be welcomed as are dads.

Walking to Tea
Of course, while you are at the Colonial Quarter, why not immerse yourself in the rest of the St. Augustine's historical sights, sounds and smells. Meander the Colonial Quarter's shell lined paths,  climb to the top of a 17th century watchtower replica, listen to interpreters, engage in a musket drill, and see a printing press. The past is still alive in St. Augustine, America's Oldest City.

Colonial Quarter Interpreter


Tea Time at the Colonial Quarter
 33 St. George Street
(904)342-2857
Fridays & Saturdays at 1:00 & 3:00 pm or by appointment.
$10 per person