Sunday, February 26, 2017

Downton Days at Meadow Brook with Barb's Tea Service (Part I)

Barb & Rachel (BTS), part of Downton Days at Meadow Brook

Last week, Barb's Tea Service was part of Meadow Brook Hall's Downton Days Afternoon Tea. After our presentation, guests were scheduled to tour the mansion. However, we provided a tour of our own that covered the history of tea, its introduction to England, the invention of afternoon tea and "Cora's Story", the prequel to Downton Abbey.  A lot of ground was covered in thirty minutes!

BTS "tour" included history of tea & more!

Starting where it all began, we traced the history of tea from China to Japan (brought to the latter by Buddhist monks) until it finally made its way to England in the 1600's.

BTS' display table and some of the guests at Meadow Brook

As England embraced tea, it elevated it to the fancy affair we refer to as "afternoon tea" in 1840. (For Victoria fans, it's a delight to note, it was that Queen's lady-in-waiting, Anna Duchess of Bedford who is credited for that spectacular creation.)

Gothic Room at Marble House where Lord Marlborough proposed to Conseulo

Afternoon tea was not the only event to shake up England in the 1800's! There was also the invasion of the "American Heiresses" or "Dollar Princesses", as they were referred to -  daughters of the American noveau riche who married British aristocrats in  "cash for class" transactions. Downton Abbey's Cora married Lord Grantham in such an arrangement.

Alva V. who pulled the strings on the marriage

A true life Cora, Conseulo Vanderbilt married Lord Marlborough in 1895, at the insistence of her mother, Alva, and became a Duchess at the age of 19. Lord Marlborough proposed to Conseulo in the Gothic Room at the Marble House, one of the many Gilded Age "cottages" we toured last October.

Attired in our own Gilded Age gowns, we were thrilled to be part of Downton Days afternoon tea at Meadow Brook Hall. It's a beautiful venue and we had the event captured by our cousin, Karri B., who is a professional photographer. We'll be sharing those photos very soon!

We also met a great group of ladies at the tea, dressed in gorgeous period dresses, who graciously consented to be part of our photo shoot. We'll share those pictures soon as well!

Stay tuned for Downton Days at Meadow Brook with Barb's Tea Service, Part II!! 

Great fun at Meadow Brook. More pictures to come!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! Give Dark Chocolates to your Sweet-tea: It's good for them!

Students of chocolate at Hershey's Chocolate Lab in PA

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love . . . and chocolate!  We at Barb's Tea Service take both quite seriously and are thrilled to share that the latter can now come with less guilt, according to a recent article in the  Huffington Post. Here nine reasons are listed as to why you should eat dark chocolate every day.

In the classroom waiting to work on our project.

Among the reasons cited for making dark chocolate part of your daily diet:  it  reduces stress and makes your brain sharper.

Making our own chocolate bar  to make our brains sharper!

We at Barb's Tea Service are devoted to the study of chocolate. We have studied at the Chocolate Lab in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Went to the head of the class in this course.

We've also taken classes at Bon Bon Bon, the amazing chocolate company in Hamtramck.

Delicious bon bons at Bon Bon Bon

Bon bon bon are good, good, good for you!

With Alex, owner of Bon Bon Bon

In addition, we have participated in several taste testings with Mindo Chocolate, to create  delicious chocolate/tea pairings for our special events.

Chocolate and tea pairings.  Not a bad assignment.

Devoted students? Yes! Hard work? Well, truth be told, not exactly! 

Dark chocolate with sea salt makes me happy!

Other benefits of eating dark chocolate, per Huffington Post, include lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol. And, because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin in the brain, it makes us happy.  (I did not need a research study to tell me that one).

Happy Valentine's Day and, remember, giving your loved one dark chocolate is not only a good idea, it's good for them.  And, even better, it is sure to make them happy!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dining Etiquette Series begins at Birmingham's Townsend Hotel

Bar'b's Tea Service presents Dining Dos and Don'ts

There are many dining dos and don't's, but there is only one "do" in regards to the Etiquette Series at the Townsend Hotel - do come and join us for an afternoon of fun, education and delicious tea time fare!

Last Sunday, Barb's Tea Service kicked off the first program of  its  Etiquette Series at The Townsend Hotel. Every month (or so) a special etiquette topic will be featured. This past month, we started with, "Dining Dos and Don'ts".

Beautiful tablescapes: flowers, crisp linens and beautiful china

The etiquette programs provide important information for young people and a refresher for those of us who are veteran social diners. We're a lot more informal in everyday life in the "new" milenial than society was in the 1920's when Emily Post wrote her guide to etiquette. However, as we at BTS like to say, good manners never go out of style! And, there are some issues Emily Post would never have been able instruct on, such as what to do with your cell phone at the dining table. (We've got you covered there, too!)

Guests enjoy tea and scones during the program 

During the program, guests are served excellently brewed tea and delicious scones.  Guests are also treated to a full afternoon tea menu after the formal presentation, complete with tea sandwiches and pastries.

Delicious savories and tea are served

Beautiful and scrumptious pastries, too!

We had a wonderful group of guests for "Dining Dos and Don'ts".  It was a great gathering of friends and moms-and-daughters. Two of the young ladies in attendance each won a "Michigan Tea Rooms" book as they were both celebrating birthdays!

A delightful group of friends partake in afternoon tea and talk

Mom and daughter, celebrating a birthday.

Three generations come together for tea and etiquette.

Barb's Tea Service presents Etiquette programs at The Townsend (almost) every month

The next program in the Etiquette Series at The Townsend is "The Dining Tutorial" on March 4th!

Don't wait! and Do come and join us for an afternoon of tea and etiquette fun in the world's most beautiful classroom.  Those are dining do's and don'ts that will never fall out of fashion.

The world's most beautiful classroom - Townsend tea lobby!

For more information on the Etiquette Series at The Townsend, see The Townsend Hotel Afternoon Tea page or, (events page!).