Sunday, April 19, 2009

London Afternoon Tea in an Unlikely Place

Afternoon tea at Starbucks?!! Surely, Barb's TEA Shop has not exhausted all tea room visits!

Well, in answer to these questions, it's "yes" and "no", respectively. But, tea snobs, hang in there (rest assured, we draw the line at tea time served at McDonald's drive-through) and please allow me to explain . . .

Last weekend, to celebrate my birthday, my daughter and I were going to have afternoon tea together. Because it was the day before Easter, I thought some tea rooms may be closed or booked. So, late Saturday morning, I called what looks to be a very urban, very hip tea room in Ferndale to see if they were open. Although, I was told they would be closing early (6:00 pm) because of the holiday, they were, indeed, open now. Rachel and I were looking forward to trying out this newer tea room and sharing some quality chat time.

We got ourselves ready and drove down Woodward and turned west on 9 Mile. We found a spot in the public parking lot (remember to bring quarters when patronizing Ferndale) and made our way to the front of Karma Tea and Tonics. Only one problem - the door was locked with a sign taped to it that read, "Will be back at 1:30". It was about twenty after one when we got there, so despite the brief let down, we decided to sit on a sidewalk bench and wait. Meanwhile, the meter was sucking down our quarters while we were doing nothing more than watching for a door to open.

Shortly after 1:30, we looked back at the darkened storefront and, discouraged, decided to hold out no further. There was no indication if we'd be waiting another two minutes or forty, so we cut our losses and jumped back in the car.

Moving north on Woodward, we thought we'd check another tea room on the way back home, but they had a sign posted on their door as well - they were closed for the holiday. No misleading message there, so we were left to consider our few remaining options.

Rachel suggested Starbucks. She had been to one near campus lately and knew they had enhanced their tea and food offerings. We were guaranteed they would be open and what they may lack in tea room ambiance and other delicate accoutrement's, they would make up in surety.

We swung by the familiar Starbucks sign and, seeing cars in the parking lot, and no sign posted on the door, we ventured in. I requested a London Fog Tea Latte made with Tazo tea. To borrow from Starbuck's own description, it's a black tea "with citrusy Italian Bergamot and a hint of lavender. Sweetened with vanilla syrup and topped with steamed milk and velvety foam".

I must say, not too bad at all. Accompanied by a Starbucks scone and my college sophomore across the table, I had a very enjoyable afternoon tea. Not exactly London or Ferndale, but convenient and quite tasty. And, you have my word, if Barb's TEA Shop's next tea time visit is to White Castle, I will voluntarily retire my tea etiquette consultant status.

Yours in tea (no matter where!) and friendship,