Reviewed by Lydia E. Harris
From the red and purple hats and teapots on the cover to the memories, recipes, and ideas within, Hats off to Tea! by Alda Ellis celebrates fun and friendship. So join the fun! Brew a pot of tea, don your favorite hat, and savor a few tidbits from this charming 64-page gift book.
Alda, a gracious Southern lady and tea aficionado, grew up drinking iced tea her mother made by the gallon. Years later, after sipping tea in noted tearooms from Chicago to Hong Kong to New Delhi, her favorite tea remains the orange pekoe her mother brewed in the battered enamel pan.
Not only did Alda learn to brew tea from her mother, she also learned to offer heartfelt hospitality. She recalls one tea party that made a big impression on her. Alda’s mother transformed a humble card table into a beautiful tea setting. When the guest of honor arrived and was seated, she placed her thin, white cane under the table. Alda wondered why her mother had prepared the lovely table for someone blind. From this childhood experience, Alda learned that “with all things seen and unseen, friendship is felt with the heart.”
In the five short chapters, Alda shares snippets of her love for tea, tips for gracious hospitality, and brief glimpses from her tea travels. She also infuses the book with personal stories, tea history, practical tips, and inspirational quotes. Whimsical artwork by Kathy Hatch adorns each page and complements this lighthearted, quick read.
A tea book is seldom complete without recipes. Alda includes about 20 delectable ones-some traditional, some unique. She shares her secret for making scones and a recipe for Southern Devonshire Cream to serve with them. Menus and recipes for three fun tea parties will stimulate your taste buds and creativity. How about hosting a “Girl’s Night In Tea” with Rosemary Chicken Salad and other goodies. Or celebrate a special occasion with a “Sweet Memories Tea” and serve Herbed Cheese and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches, Chess Cake, and more. Or perhaps you’d like to share teatime with a new generation as you host a “Children’s Legacy Tea” using Alda’s recipes for Cambric Tea and other quick, easy treats.
Hats Off to Tea! is a fine blend of serious and silly, practical and whimsical, touching and creative. This book might inspire you to fill your bathtub and float candles and rose petals for decorations when friends arrive for tea. Or you may decide to freeze an ice ring filled with flowers to float in your punch bowl when serving Alda’s Southern Tea Punch. But mostly, this book brims with ideas for serving love and friendship and encourages us to open our hearts and stir up sweet memories of our own. For after all, as Alda writes, “A cup of tea with friends can transform the everyday into a richer, more memorable occasion.”
Lydia E. Harris, M.A., writes “A Cup of Tea with Lydia,” and enjoys serving tea to family and friends in Seattle, Wash. © 2009 Lydia E. Harris.
|Hats Off to Tea! A Celebration Brimming with Fun & Friendship