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July 20, 2024

Window on the World Column | The Annual English Tea Party Is Back

It has been a very long time since our last tea party — 2019, if I’m not mistaken. Prior to Covid, the annual tea parties were very popular. Then Covid came along and sucked all the fun, drove our traditions into the ground. Somehow it has taken us all a while to think about resurrecting the events we loved so dearly.

Who dresses up and learns how to drink proper English tea out of proper English china? But why not? The people loved it, I enjoyed making English tea for everyone, folk actually paid to come to the event, and we even made some money for local charities! Is there a better way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon? I think not.

The tea party concept was born back when Deborah was the reporter for the local newspapers and the Soledad Bee had their office next to mine. Deborah was very partial to a cup of English tea — with milk and sugar — and, most days, would race into my office and collapse in a chair. That would be my cue to put the proverbial kettle on and make a brew.

She loved a decent cup of Yorkshire tea. It was normally easier to make a pot because one cup was never enough for Deborah. I would cover the china teapot with a hand knitted tea cosy (like a coat for your pot) so that we could chin wag about the world and right things a little bit, whilst still keeping the tea hot. There is a little china teaspoon holder in my office that reads “Where there’s tea there’s life,” and a lot of English people would agree with that.

Having a bad day? Here’s a cup of tea. Someone died? Have a cup of tea. Baby is born? Tea … you get the idea! My friend Sheryl too would love to share a cup of tea and a natter at the office back then and then she introduced her grandson to the tea-sharing concept, and they would enjoy little tea parties together. I like to think I have bought a little bit of England to these tiny farm towns.

So, the annual tea party grew and evolved from tiny little tea parties all over the valley. I realized how much people enjoyed the tea party — even if it was mostly just a conversation between two people over a hot cuppa — and thereby the concept moved into the bigger leagues. The Soledad Museum seemed like a great location to hold a neighborhood tea party and we decided to host it there as a benefit for the museum and the animal rescue together — maybe not two charities you’d put in the same room, but why not. Small towns have to work together for the common good.

Local friends got right behind the idea and started looking for china teacups and saucers in antique and charity shops. The ticket price would include the choice of china teacup and saucer to take home. It’s amazing what lovely finds there are out there. Nobody buys china teacups anymore, it seems, so there are many to be found. My friend Paula Sarmento used to have quite the collection of them in her home on River Road, but I think they were more to feast your eyes on than to use. We did have some lovely tea parties at her home with her husband Bud and normally the much-coveted macaroons from the local bakery.

The tea party fundraiser was developing into quite the event. We would have local people make baked goods to serve with the tea and young people to serve the teas and top up people’s cups. We would also have silent auction baskets and gifts so that people could give up just a little bit more money than they would otherwise for the token entrance fee. The youth cross country teams came to help out and they also learned how to serve and drink tea and got to take china cups and saucers home with them.

So, you’ll be delighted to hear our event is back! On Saturday, Oct. 14, from 2 to 4 p.m., we will be gathering in our finest teatime outfits at the Soledad Museum to enjoy some hot English tea and baked goods, conversation and silent auctions. Tickets are $20 and are available in advance from either group or on Eventbrite. The entry price includes your own choice of china cup and saucer to take home with you.

I’m hoping our ladies of the valley will remember this event fondly and gather their glad rags together and come out to support two worthy local charities. It has been hard putting events back together after the emptiness of Covid, but here we are. Teatime is back and she cannot wait to see all of you.

For my part, I’m happy I shall be returning to the homeland prior to the event so that I can buy fresh Yorkshire tea and be well prepared for the masses. I’ve already donated several sets of china from my own collection, gathered up my extra electric kettles and teapots (along with tea cozies), so I am nearly ready to be your pouring host on the day.

We’ve said it before, but it does take a village for local charities to be successful. SCAR does an incredible job of rescuing, homing, rehoming and transferring dogs and cats in our local areas, as well as ensuring that all animals that are homed are spayed or neutered with up to date shot records. They are all volunteers who spend much of their own time working for the animals, so we appreciate all your help. As their co-founder, I could not be prouder of the charity and how far they have come since their inception in January of 2016.

The Soledad Museum is a fine jewel in the crown of this valley and well worth a visit. While you sip your tea, you will be encouraged to peruse the exhibits and feast your eyes on the forefathers and their accomplishments within this beautiful valley we call home.

I look forward to seeing you there and pouring a delicious cup of English tea for you.

Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen
Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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