As an American, I can say that the closest thing to experiencing a tea party was watching Alice and Wonderland as a kid. Tea was always something I had before bed, while the regal tea parties of my imagination played out only in my mind. And so, to my delight, I found myself not only attending my first proper tea party this winter, but also hosting one to mark the final class, "English over a cup of tea", of my Conversation Club's first module.
Just as any proper British tea party, for this was indeed my model, the setting was perfect: surrounded by books; seated on comfortable sofas; a stone's throw away from a lovely kitchen; and, of all places, in the heart of Bucharest, at a wonderful bookstore called Diverta Acasa. My company was superlative, some of the best English students in the country, fully prepared to dive into a tea party (fara limba romana). We began by learning about the origins of tea in a wayward leaf that fell one cold winter day into the hot water cup of the emperor of China several thousand years ago and went on to learn about the importance of tea around the world, from Britain to Argentina.
I must admit that we strayed somewhat from my Victorian image of the tea party...there was Wii on two giant flat-screen TVs..but as any good Victorian, my students occupied themselves with chivalrous fencing competitions.
The tea was delicious, we all sat down and told stories of our winter holidays and the upcoming vacation (Boy, would I like to go skiing in Austria for vacation, or spot the rare Great Bustard in the Romanian mountains!) and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the cookies really hit the spot.
It was a new experience for all of us and I am sure we all had a great time. I can only hope that the next time I host or attend a tea party it will be as marvelous an experience as this one was!
Adam Cernea Clark