WEST JEFFERSON — Two tea demonstrations were held on Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Bohemia to celebrate local business Highland Tea, which will offer tea parties and etiquette courses for all ages.
Founder and owner Ciara Rash said that this was part of her business model as she brings the party to her clients.
During both demonstrations, Rash shared a brief history of serving tea and addressed some simple etiquette such as the proper way to stir honey. A common mistake is to stir the tea using a circular motion, but the proper and more effective way to dissolve the honey is to slowly move the spoon back and forth.
Regular tea parties are held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. After 3 p.m. they are referred to as High Tea parties.
High Tea parties are considered to be more casual since they are held at dinner time.
High Tea was the original first tea and Queen Victoria was the one who invented the regular 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tea parties.
“A normal tea party is about two hours, that’s normally the time I give to people. Because I feel like you should never rush tea,” Rash said.
Rash also shared that the most notable tea party dish, Victoria Sponge Cake, is named for the Queen.
Guests, were encouraged and welcome to ask any questions they had about tea or etiquette while Rash spoke.
Those who attended the demonstration were free to mingle and continue sampling any of the teas, which were all by the brand Harney & Sons.
Flavors available for guests to enjoy were Paris which was a black tea; White Vanilla Grapefruit which was a white tea; Japanese Sencha which was a green tea and one that was a mixture of both green and peppermint tea.
Highland Tea also provides meals as an option for clients and has menus available to fit any of their themes offered.
Rash uses the commercial kitchen at Family Central to cook any meals she serves at parties.
Those interested in catering would contact her for two appointments. During that time, Rash allows clients to taste the different foods offered, check out her many tea displays and look through the booklet of available themes.
As far as her work with Highland Tea, Rash has been professionally hosting tea parties for four years.
The business was inspired by her grandmother, who gave her 12 years of etiquette and finishing school training.
“I’ve always loved china. My grandma, who taught me everything that I know about tea, she had 12 functioning sets of china,” Rash said. “And she used them all for different days and guests and times.”
Rash owns 18 functional sets of china herself and uses them all, housing them in her multiple china cabinets. Her bedroom and dining room are both designed to resemble a tea room.
Her first big hosting of a tea party was at Wilkes Community College in Kim-Noel Gill’s American Woman’s Studies class.
“We were reading in this book about how tea was the only way that woman could have their moment of power,” Rash said.
The class had more than 30 students and the tea party lasted four hours.
After her initial gig, Rash began working behind the scenes and focused on gaining additional expertise for her business venture. She completed a $200 online course on extreme etiquette, which lasted for six months via video chat from The Ritz. She also visited a tea house in New Orleans.
Rash is also a seamstress and offers handmade vintage aprons for sale.
The aprons are typically $30 or $35, with prices depending on the style. Some feature pockets while others do not.
Three aprons were available for purchase during the tea demonstration at Bohemia. All of the aprons are named after her favorite historical women including the “Antoinette” named for Marie Antoinette and “Rosie” for Rosie the Riveter.
All of the money collected from the Rosie aprons will be donated to the World War II museum in New Orleans.
For a three-course tea party, with the food and atmosphere provided, the cost is $25 per person.
Specialty menus and tea party themes will vary the price.
Highland Tea’s specialty events available for this year are Alice in Wonderland, American Girl, 1940’s, Victorian Tea Party, Revolutionary War tea education and a High Tea dinner experience.
More information about booking a tea party or details about any aprons for sale is available on the Facebook page for Highland Tea.
Any additional inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in learning more about the business may also send a direct message to Highland Tea’s Facebook page.