Thursday, September 13, 2018

Afternoon Tea at the Whitney

Today was my one week anniversary at The Whitney.  Every day I feel more relaxed and at home at the mansion.  Annie, one of the servers, has taken me on a tour of the entire mansion.  I've been up to the pastry kitchen on the third floor and watched the chef in action, and I've been down to the basement where the large walk-in refrigerator and other storage areas are. My goal is to make Afternoon Tea at the Whitney the best it can be.

My youngest son oversees Human Resources at his company, and he recently posted this motivational message that's a great 'recipe' for success.

Afternoon Tea is presently served in the Drawing Room on the first floor.  This is the room where Mr. & Mrs. Whitney would have received and entertained guests.  I'm sure many cups of tea were enjoyed in this room when the Whitneys were residents.  Look at the detail on the ceiling.  The top portion of the large windows are leaded glass.

The fireplace in the Drawing Room is one of 20 fireplaces in the mansion.

I took these pictures on Monday when we had 10 guests for Afternoon Tea.

The tables were set with the first course - two scones with Chantilly Cream and Preserves.

Two ladies wrote me off-list to ask what my responsibilities as Tea Director entail, so I will attempt to briefly answer that question.

I am responsible for making the tea for the guests to enjoy, and I pour their first cup. I check their teapots throughout the tea meal to make sure they have as much tea as they want.  A rule of thumb is 3 cups per person.  Some will drink more, and some will drink less, but that gives me a good starting place.  

Presently the guests have their choice of a Tisane [herbal] which happens to be the Whitney's signature tea called Garden Blend.  It's made with hibiscus [steeps into a beautiful rose color], Egyptian chamomile, rosehips, ginger, cinnamon, and peppermint. It is very popular.  For those who want caffeine and tea from the camellia sinensis plant we offer a black tea called Gentle Earl Grey.

Once the guests are seated I do a little presentation with the Garden Blend, explain how to steep tea [temperature and time] and give the origin and ritual of Afternoon Tea.  Below is my demonstration tray.

When the guests are almost done I give them an opportunity to sign a guest book [e-mail address only] where I can contact them about future tea events, as well as sending them a thank you note for choosing The Whitney for their Afternoon Tea experience.  If they are agreeable, I also take their picture and send it with their thank you note.  Both the e-mail and photo are an idea I asked to implement.  

I am responsible for washing the teacups, teapots, and warmers and putting them away before I go home.  

Last week I eased into my new job with 6-8 guests on Wed. thru Friday.  This week has been busier with 19 guests yesterday and 13 guests today.  Almost every day there's been at least one lady celebrating her birthday over Afternoon Tea.

I don't have to wear a uniform, but whatever I wear has to be predominately black.  Kind of like what Henry Ford told his customers about his Model T - they could buy it in any color as long as it was black!  ;-)  I'm on my feet from the time I walk into the mansion until I get into my car to go home, which is anywhere from 3-5 hours, so comfortable shoes are a must. After wearing four different pairs of uncomfortable black shoes, I stopped by Designer Shoe Warehouse [DSW] on Monday after work, and purchased a new pair - they're dressy black flats by Skechers with memory foam.  If you want a comfortable pair of shoes, try these.  They were $49.99 and I had a $20 off VIP coupon, so they turned out to be affordable as well as comfortable.

I'll end this post with the photo of a lovely figurine I purchased last Saturday.  It just seemed to coincide with the time period of the Whitney mansion.  It's hard to tell in the photo, but the figurine is holding a teacup in one hand and a book in the other.  I like to think she's Mrs. Whitney or one of the three daughters - Grace, Katherine or Flora Ann.


  1. Your tea and tea room sound lovely
    I have been researching the Whitney and the menus are just scrumptious! What a lovely place.

  2. What a beautiful place to have tea! They are indeed lucky to have you there.

  3. Hi Phyllis,
    Sounds like your first week was very successful! I can't wait to book a day to come and have tea at the Whitney.

  4. Sounds like you're the hostess with the mostest! Very interesting reading about your work.

  5. Please do not worry on my account regarding too many posts of your new tea expert experiences! You always put great thought into telling us a story, a unique, interesting story all the time! Keep enjoying this experience at the Whitney. All the guests will have the best experience as they anticipated when choosing to go to the Whitney, now because of your presence there. With or without the ghostly namesakes! Again, thank you for sharing your experience with us!


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