I’m writing this, in particular, today for one of my dear cousins because she asked me the question. And I was just going to answer her in a text message but then decided that first of all, I can type a heck of a lot faster than I can text and secondly, I can easily share it with anyone else who might just be interested in reading it. After all, we all have our own tea story to tell…
I can remember that I first started drinking tea many, many years ago with my beautiful mom (or Mima as we call her), who is now our angel in heaven.
We were not a traditional tea-drinking family–even though Mima did enjoy her cup of hot tea now and then. It was always from a pre-packaged teabag like Lipton’s or something similar. I’m sure she had no idea in her earlier years that loose leaf tea was even a thing.
Probably even more than drinking the tea and enjoying it as a beverage, she loved all the pretty things and experiences that came along with the tea. And shopping! Yup, definitely the shopping.
As you know (but some may not) we live in Miami, Florida and there is a place here down Old Dixie Highway called Cauley Square. It’s a beautiful, quaint, historic village that was founded in 1903 by William Cauley as housing for all of the railroad workers during that time. It has a lot of history and whenever you want (if you feel like it) you can click this link to read about the details.
Those historic small railroad worker homes and some other little pioneer cottages that had been crafted by hand from the surrounding area known as the Redlands were brought in and turned into small individual businesses. Wonderful little boutiques, shops, and a stunning tea room called “The Tea Room Restaurant” opened for business in the late seventies.
Mima and I loved going to Cauley Square on the weekends, to stroll along the streets that were lined with these majestic trees and incredible foliage. We had so much fun going in and out of every single one of those tiny little shops. They were (and still are) so very unique. We would always come home with a treasure or two from those special days.
Now, as wonderful as the shops were, our main reason for going and our most favorite thing of all was the Tea Room Restaurant! There is where I truly fell in love with everything tea.
This was before I was even married and definitely before my girls. It was just my mom and me sharing tea in a magical place surrounded by beautiful china, lace, crystal, prettily decorated rooms, delicious food, and great service. It truly was like stepping back in time.
Did you ever watch that movie “Somewhere in Time” with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve? I’ll bet you probably have but if by chance you haven’t, please watch it! That is exactly what stepping into that tearoom felt like. Time stopped still for a little while and your soul felt at peace.
Just like my mom, I not only enjoyed drinking some truly delicious teas but I also inherited her love of the delightful things that came along with it. The pretty tea sets, tea pots, kettles, the delicate linens, the crystal chandeliers, the utensils, and on and on! Oh, and of course – the shopping!
Many years went by after our first visit to Cauley Square and The Tea Room Restaurant. But even after my marriage, three wonderful little girls, hectic full-time jobs (for both my mom and me), and busy lives, we still made the time to have tea and lunch at The Tea Room Restaurant. Now, of course, we would take the girls with us and it was even better!
And it just kept getting better. As those wonderful little girls grew up and made great friends of their own, there were memorable mommy & daughter days that would take us back to Cauley Square. I will never forget the very best one of those days; it was my three and their very most special best friend and her mom (which had become my own sister-friend).
One of those little cottages happened to have been turned into a “Beanie Baby” shop and we were right smack in the middle of the Beanie Baby phenomenon! It was pure heaven for four adorable little ladies and so much fun for their moms. And of course, after the latest Beanie Babies were carefully chosen, ogled over, and purchased, it was teatime for all of us!
Hurricane Andrew came along and devastated the area, but they rebuilt. Cauley Square is not exactly the same now, but it is still a magical place. A “hidden little gem” and The Tea Room Restaurant is still there and still perfect. I just don’t go as often as I used to anymore.
The Tea Room Restaurant opened up my eyes (and stomach) to the wonders of tea. It also opened up my mind because I’ve learned to appreciate the diversity of tea and its health benefits as well.
I’ve continued trying all different types of tea whenever possible and I will take pre-packaged teabags because of their convenience or the unavailability of loose-leaf but for me, loose-leaf is definitely the way to go. I usually try to have on hand those little paper tea bags that you can buy and fill with your own tea. Thank you to whoever invented those things!
One special thing that not just I, but the entire family loves to do is go to afternoon teas whenever we travel and whenever it’s possible. The luxury and elegance of it all is just so much fun!
A few years ago, we all went to Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed at the Inn on Biltmore Estate and booked their afternoon tea. What a great experience that was!
During our trip to Ireland this past summer, we so wanted to book an afternoon tea in one of the many great tearooms they have, but sadly ran out of days. Hopefully next time. And God willing there will be a next time because we absolutely loved Ireland and did not get enough of it.
So, in response to the question as to how I decided to start blogging about tea… This is pretty much it. There is so much to learn and experience about tea. It brings back beautiful memories and makes me look forward to all of the memories we still have yet to make.