We've received our fair share of questions about afternoon tea over the past few years. As a tea shop with a lounge area like ours, it's certainly understandable. Who wouldn't want to spend an hour or two conversing with friends old and new over a few cups of tea and a delicious meal?
However, when a small crew like ours was spread over two locations, hosting events on such a grand scale would have been very difficult. We didn't want to shortchange our tea family by offering them an experience that wasn't up to our high standards, so in the past, we've had to answer those questions with a regretful, "no, I'm afraid we don't do afternoon tea here."
Now that we're all together in one place at Discover Teas in Newport News, we knew one of the things we wanted to start was something people have been asking us for since day one: Afternoon tea! We're happy to announce that starting February 24th, 2017, we will be hosting afternoon teas on a monthly basis. You can check our event calendar each month to see when that month's afternoon tea will be, or, of course, follow us on Facebook or sign up for our e-mail newsletter!
What will a Discover Teas Afternoon Tea look like? Glad you asked! In the U.S., many people think of "high tea" as a swanky affair involving fancy china, little sandwiches, and assorted sweets. In the U.K., however, high tea is actually a more casual affair more akin to what Americans would call dinner or supper, with much heavier fare such as meat pies, potato dishes, and sometimes roasts. A British afternoon tea is closer to what Americans think of as "high tea," and so we decided to go with that term in order to avoid excess confusion.
At our monthly Afternoon Teas, you will find a selection of our delicious loose-leaf teas, paired with a variety of courses from our catering partners. Our inaugural afternoon tea will be catered by our friends at Thank Goodness It's Homemade, who will provide us with a delectable display of delicacies to enjoy!
Since our Afternoon Teas are a catered event, a prepaid registration of $35 per person is required to attend. In order to get an accurate head count, our registration deadline for the February Afternoon Tea will be 6:00pm on Tuesday, February 21st. You can register by giving us a call at (757) 320-4033 or by stopping by the shop to pay. Bring a friend and enjoy Afternoon Tea with a Discover Teas twist, and don't worry—you can keep the pinkies down!
Steeping tea is a very personal experience. While we're always happy to provide brewing and steeping recommendations for those new to loose-leaf or looking for new ideas, each of us steeps in our own ways at home. Step into our tea cabinets and take a peek at how we steep at home!
Chris' Home Brewing
My tea brewing ritual at home is a bit eclectic and nothing fancy, but it works for me, has for years. The equipment set up: a temperature control electric kettle, a 12-oz tea press, a 36-oz tea pot, and an electric cup warmer.
My electric kettle has adjustable temperature control so that I can heat the water to exactly the temp most favorable for the tea I’ll be drinking. My preference is to use a tea press for steeping since it allows optimal room for a thorough infusion of the tea leaves. Depending on the tea, I typically measure about 3 teaspoons of loose leaf into the press. I like to get the most out of my tea so I do three rounds of steeps in my 12-oz press. Once each steep is done, I pour it into my tea pot. The benefit of doing that is a well-balanced combination of all three infusions of that tea together in one pot—appreciating the top, mid and low notes of the leaf all in one cup. I serve from my tea pot and keep it nice and hot for hours by setting my tea pot on the cup warmer.
I love using my double-walled glass cup to sip my tea. It keeps it hot for longer; I enjoy the delicate nature of the glass; plus, I can appreciate the color of the liquor as it oxidizes throughout the day.
How Ken Does Tea
My morning starts with me crawling out and starting a kettle of water. I like to stand and watch it heat up. As my water heats I do my morning gratitude prayers and plan out the day ahead. While it is finishing heating I will choose a tea, (sometimes I choose the night before knowing I am not a morning thinker ha ha ). I use a press frequently as I enjoy the full flavor from the unlimited access to the leaves a press provides. Although different days, different ways sometimes. If it is a day off, I am just as likely to pull out my Chinese porcelain teapot set and spend the whole day steeping a tea multiple times and reading a book from cover to cover. I often do not even use an infuser; just leaf in a cup and add the perfect temped water, and my world is complete.
Mai-Anh's Steeping Strategies
As many of our customers know, one of my favorite things to do is play around with different custom blends. When I steep at home, I'm no different. My first step in picking a tea to sip on at home is to figure out which teas I want to experiment with. I probably have at least 20 of our teas at home at any given time, so there's always a lot to choose from! Once I've chosen a blend, I take out my pitcher of filtered (not distilled) water from the fridge, for a consistently delicious truly smooth and best-brewed cuppa. I pour the water into my hot pot, which has served me faithfully since my college days (in decades long past) and plug it in to heat up. This is the trickiest part; since my hot pot is so old and no-frills, there's no temperature gauge, so I have to rely on my senses to tell me when the water is ready. Because that means I have to stay close to the pot, I usually use that time while the water is heating to measure out my tea, put it in my trusty Folding Handle Infuser, and choose which shark mug I'll be drinking from that day. Once the water's at the right temperature, I pour it over the tea leaves, set my oven timer, and wait for the polite beeping to tell me when I can finally enjoy my cup of tea!
Emily: How I Tea
At home, I often have several things drawing my attention at once—usually, some combination of taking care of my daughter, doing laundry and housework, and my herbalism studies. Time isn't something I always have, unfortunately! As much as I'd love to heat water in a pan on the stove and spend a few mindful moments watching my tea steep, having an automated tea brewer is nice. It was a birthday gift from my mother-in-law, and it has different programmable settings for different kinds of tea. All I have to do is fill the carafe with water, put my tea in the automated infuser basket, press a couple buttons and let it do its thing! One of the best birthday gifts ever, I think. (I shudder to think of the Before Times, when I used a coffee machine to heat the water and frequently oversteeped it because I had to chase down a toddler.)
Now that you've seen how we like to steep, if you're interested in what we like to steep, step on over to our Staff page for more about us, and a breakdown on some of our favorite teas!