Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Southern Tea Time Getaway - Day 7 Part II

After leaving The Tea Room we walked a short distance through Madison Square for our 11:30 a.m. reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Gryphon Tea Room at 337 Bull Street.

The Square is named for American President, James Madison.

Savannah has 24 beautiful squares [parks], and is known as Georgia's 'First City.'  While walking from The Tea Room to the Gryphon [pronounced Griffin] Tea Room, we had to pass through Madison Square, which meant stopping to pose for a group picture.  ;-)

There's a monument in almost every square, along with beautiful old Southern Live Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.  The Southern Live Oak is Georgia's State Tree.  In the group photo above we were standing in front of the monument of Sergeant William Jasper, a three-time Revolutionary War hero who was fatally wounded in 1779 near his monument.

Across from the monument on one corner was the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD] store. It was the first building SCAD acquired in 1979 - the old Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory built in 1893.  Inside the SCAD store fine art, jewelry, clothing accessories, and home décor are available for purchase made by students, alumni, and professors.  Across the street on the other corner was the Gryphon Tea Room. 

I immediately spotted a tea display inside the store!  The teas are blended by The Captain's Daughter - a tea business founded in 2017 in Provincetown, Massachusetts, by SCAD alumni Dani Niedzielski and Meghan O'Connor.

The Gryphon Tea Room is located on the corner of W. Charlton and Bull Street in the Scottish Rite Building [Masonic Temple] constructed between 1913-1926.  Solomon Drug Store [one of the oldest drug stores in the country] leased the ground floor when the building was completed.  SCAD acquired the lease for its café/tearoom which is staffed by students, and kept the carved mahogany bookshelves and other antique furnishings, 14 original stained glass-panels, and tiled entryway. 

~ Front Reservation Desk ~

It was bustling with patrons when we arrived.

~ Our student server ~

Since we didn't have very many group pictures taken during the trip, we tipped him well to take the picture below.  ;-)

~ Fresh flowers on the tables ~

~ Blueberry Green Tea ~

We all ordered Afternoon Tea but there were menus with other options had we wanted them.

Sandwiches:  Cucumber and Cream Cheese on White Bread and Chicken Salad on Wheat Bread.

Blueberry Scone with Devonshire Cream and Jam, and Fresh Fruit.

Assorted Desserts:  Mango Tart, Coconut Macaron, Lemon Poppyseed Cake, Apricot Cake with Strawberry Window Topping, Chocolate Walnut Pie, and Blueberry Cream Puff.  [Not all three-tiered servers had the same desserts.]

~ Cheryl H. and Judy ~

It was a lovely atmosphere for Afternoon Tea and we enjoyed the Gryphon [a mythical creature] tearoom very much.  After our tea we toured the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts of America.   Next post...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Blog Giveaway - Southern Tea Time Getaway

There are only four days left of the trip to blog about.  I hope you've enjoyed traveling along vicariously.  Day #7  began with with a lovely breakfast at the Ballastone Inn.  Guests sign up for a designated time the night before, along with their menu preference.

Jerry ordered the Chef's Special [Belgian Waffle, Bacon, Eggs, Coffee, and Cranberry Juice].  I ordered the Continental Breakfast [Homemade Granola and Yogurt, Fresh Fruit, Quick Breads, Hot Tea, and Cranberry Juice].

Jerry - Our wonderful bus driver, valet, photographer, and my hubby!

Group traveler, Ann, took the picture of Jerry and me and had it enlarged and framed and sent it to us when we got home.  Thanks, Ann!

With full tummies we checked out of the Bellastone Inn [our second night in Savannah was at the Hampton Inn also in the Historic District], but before we departed we took a group picture on the front steps. I can't praise this Inn enough.  If you're planning a trip to Savannah, consider staying at the Bellastone.  You'll be glad you did! 

Monday was a full itinerary, with our first stop at The Tea Room, located in the E. Shaver Book Seller, 326 Bull Street on Madison Square, in downtown Savannah.  They sell fine loose-leaf teas and tea equipage.  Isn't a book store a great place for a tea shop?  It reminds me of the quote by C.S. Lewis "You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me."

It was fun to browse around the shop and look at the unique décor and merchandise.

Several teas were available for sampling.  I purchased two teas and one book.  I've made the peach iced tea since I've been home, but the Emperor's Bride, recommended by my tea and blogging friend, Angela M., is still waiting to be opened.

The Tea Room used to be a full-service tearoom at 7 E. Broughton St.  The décor, both inside and out, was inspired by Mrs. Cranston's tearooms in Glasgow, Scotland designed by architect/artist Charles Rennie MacIntosh.  His 'new art' style of geometric patterns and clean lines led to the Scottish Arts & Crafts movement.   Bruce Richardson featured The Tea Room in his Great Tearooms of America book [pictured below].  Unfortunately I never made it there before it closed sometime between 2012 and 2016.

Elizabeth Ruby and her mother, Rebecca Wright, owned the tearoom with two other partners.  They had one unique tea offering that set them apart from all other tearooms - flaming oolong tea.  I first read about flaming oolong tea from 'tea lover Denise' on her now defunct blog, Uniquely Tea. She had visited the tearoom and ordered the specialty. 

I was so intrigued that I called the tearoom and talked to Becky.  She said it had been on their menu since they opened in 1997.  It all began when she found "Broulee Spoons" in a catalog and ordered them. She explained that Broulee Spoons are used for flaming tea while Café Royale spoons are used for flaming coffee, but the spoons are interchangeable. Flaming Oolong tea was prepared tableside, and the presentation was so lovely that it became very popular and sold for $5.50 a cup.  Below is a photo from their old website.

A sugar cube is placed in the bowl of the spoon along with heated cognac, and then ignited. The melted sugar and brandy are then poured into the cup of oolong tea.

I have collected several of these spoons over the years, and decided this is the perfect time to offer one in a giveaway.  

If you would like to win a never used Reed and Barton silverplate spoon [still in its original plastic bag and box], simply state that you would like to be entered in the drawing in the comment section of my blog.  I will announce the winner on Friday.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Southern Tea Time Getaway - Day 6 Part IV

When I coordinated the Michigan Tea Tour in 2016, Teresa [a travel companion on that trip too], volunteered to do a tea and chocolate pairing/tasting for the ladies at our hotel one evening.  The ladies loved it, so she volunteered to do it again on this trip.

It was initially scheduled for the second evening of our trip, but due to a very full itinerary where we didn't get back to the hotel until later in the evening, it didn't happen until the sixth evening of our trip.  Conducting it in the parlor of the Ballastone Inn, however, was the best setting that could have been chosen.  The ambiance was perfect.

To conduct this pairing/tasting while traveling was no small task for Teresa.  When she did it in Michigan, she drove up from Ohio and had the spaciousness of her car to transport everything.  Traveling in one vehicle with 12 people limited her transportation space significantly, but she still made it a lovely event.  She could [and should] do these pairings for tearooms for compensation because she does an excellent job.

The parlor was ready and waiting for us when we arrived. Tia, an employee at the Ballastone, was very congenial about letting our group use the parlor, and was willing to help Teresa in any way that she could.  This type of event may have been a first in their parlor.

~ Teresa ~

The mahogany drum table with a glass top [behind Teresa, but featured in the first picture of this post] was her tea station.  There were three chocolates from Stella Leona artisan chocolates [which Teresa keep in a cooler until the night of the tasting] to go with six different teas. Two teas per chocolate.  You can see in the two photos below she had her tea station well organized and ready for the pairing/tasting.

We each had our own tray [photo below].  In the black velvet bag [upper left hand corner] were our two tasting cups, which we got to keep.  Oyster crackers [lower left corner] were our palate cleansers.

We began with a dark chocolate truffle.  We cut the chocolate in thirds, and tasted the chocolate by itself first.  It was very smooth.  Then we tasted it with a green tea, Caramel Sesame Cookie from Tea Haus in Ann Arbor, MI, and a black tea, Fireside Nights from Monarch Tea Company in Canada.

Teresa provided us with tasting sheets so we could write our impressions.

She also passed around trays of the dry uninfused tea leaves for us to see and smell, and the infused leaves after we had tasted the tea.

The Fireside Nights tea was a very smoky tea even though it wasn't a Lapsang Souchong.  It was flavored with safflower petals, natural organic flavors and real maple syrup.   I wrote in my notes that the smoky taste wasn't as pronounced after eating it with the candy, and the infused leaf didn't smell as smoky as the dry leaf.

The second pairing/tasting was an Orange Milk Chocolate paired with Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong tea from Teavivre.  It had a light, mildly vegetative taste that paired very well with the orange flavored chocolate.

The second tea paired with this chocolate was a  decaffeinated French Creme Brulee, purchased at the Swan House tearoom in Findlay, Ohio.   It too was very good with the chocolate.

Our third and last chocolate was Lavender Mint - a dark chocolate mint truffle infused with essence of lavender topped with lavender flowers.  It was first paired with Baozhong Wenshan oolong tea from Happy Earth Tea Company in Taiwan.

I liked the tea better after eating the chocolate.   The second tea was Triplemint Herbal Tea from Sweet Remembrances tearoom/Rosemary House in Pennsylvania.

The dry leaf had little to no smell of mint, but the infused leaf had a very minty aroma.  The steeped tea had a very minty taste.

The pairing/tasting was lovely.  Heartfelt thanks to Teresa for providing this wonderful experience for us!  It was the perfect activity for a group of tea-lovin' ladies on a tea themed trip.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Southern Tea Time Getaway - Day 6 Part III

Even though five hours had lapsed, I was still full from lunch at The Lady and Sons restaurant, but it was 4:00 o'clock and time for Ballastone's complimentary formal Afternoon Tea. It is served daily to their guests and was beyond lovely!

When I attended a World Tea Expo session taught by Alda Ellis several years ago, she made a statement I never forgot  - "Silver is the table's jewelry."  Some hostesses feel it's too formal and a bother to keep polished, but they don't realize the ambiance it creates. Ballastone is definitely attuned to silver's elegant eye appeal, but even more so the message it conveys, 'I'm serving you with my very best.'

Beautiful silver honey pot.

They serve Harney & Sons fine teas.  The sign below was in their elevator.

The tea was served buffet style, and I loved how they used their vintage silver toast racks as napkin holders.  Isn't that a great idea?

A silver basket for forks - another great idea.

Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz China.  It made me think of sister bloggers Angela [Tea with Friends] and Sandi [Rose Chintz Cottage] who have this china.

Scones with Peach Preserves and Devonshire Cream.

Mini BLT Tea Sandwiches.  Notice how they covered half of them with a damp linen napkin to keep them fresh and not dried out.  I really liked that idea.

Pineapple Tea Sandwiches.  I also liked how they used china place holders for writing the names of menu items.

Strawberry Cream Tea Cakes.

Desserts on tiered server were Chocolate Biscotti, French Macarons [Lime], and assorted cookies [including Viennese cookies and Cheese Wafers].

I said I wasn't hungry, but you'll notice a plate in my hand!  ;-)

I didn't take either of the tea sandwiches - but I did take a Scone, Chocolate Biscotti, French Macaron, and Strawberry Tea Cake.  As I type this post and look at the pictures, I'm wishing I could have a couple of those tea sandwiches right now!  ;-)

We took our plates into the dining room and others went into the parlor.

[L-R:  Ann, Cheryl K., Me, and Lori]

It was a wonderful Afternoon Tea.  At 7:00 p.m. they offered complimentary hors d' oeuvres with Port and Sherry.  I didn't attend that, but those who did said it was lovely. When the evening wine and hors d'oeuvres ended and all the guests departed for other activities, Teresa - one of our travel mates - treated us to a Tea and Chocolate Pairing in the parlor. Next post...