Where Do Great Tea Shops Begin?
The things that we do weave together into the story of my life. One of the reasons I started Hummingbird Tea Room was to give people a space to share their stories and form new connections. All around the world, different cultures use tea and snacks as a way to connect with one another.
In the countries where I was raised, there is a tradition of weekly visits with friends during tea time. It was a special time set aside to share with each other what happened during the week. That’s rare in America! Americans, by and large, like to stay wrapped up in their own worlds, or have our noses buried in our phones, rather than reach out to one another.
But we need connection, and we aren’t getting it through our phones. The rituals of tea, pouring tea for each other, commenting on the skill of the snacks, these are tiny ways to form relationships of reciprocity. The kindness of helping each other relax and enjoy the moment gives us the space to open up further about our lives.
Why did I choose a British style of tea service? There are other styles, like the dim sum of Southern China, the formal ceremonies of Japan, or the all-day chatter of tea in Burma. Part of it is cultural since I was raised in Britain and a former British colony. But there’s just something so classy about a traditional afternoon tea service. You get just the right amount of food to tide you over between lunch and dinner and the conversations are classy.
And in the spirit of doing things the right and proper way, I took things a step further. If you’ve never tried British teas, you’ll find they are far and away better than what you normally find in the generic tea aisle. Their secret is that they’ve done their research on which tea plantations and processing methods bring out a tea that’s to their taste.
Today we have access to teas from all around the world, and so I did my own search and found plantations in countries around the world growing tea that was up to my standards. I purposefully chose small plantations so I could directly support the growers where I could. This is where our single-origin teas come from. A connection between one grower and my tea room. If we ever have the opportunity to share tea together, I could tell you such stories about them!
As for the ingredients in our food and the tea sets, I’ve done my best to find local sources for those as well. I love finding a new local farmer and trying their ingredients out. You’d be surprised at how much it changes the food for the better. I’ve also made it a point to use USA-made products for our décor and equipment.
Hummingbird Tea Room is all about connections between the food and the tea, the suppliers of my products and my business, and the connections between my visitors. If you can feel this connection after your visit, then I’ve done my job right.