It is January and yet I find myself on a cold afternoon, sipping a warm cup of tea thinking of one of my very favorite events of the past year. The event is the annual Tea-Quila Rose club’s Christmas tea.
What makes this holiday event so special is all the care and attention that is paid to turn our ballroom into a beautifully decorated, warm and inviting tea room for an afternoon.
Club members volunteer to host a table decorating it with beautifully ornate or very simple holiday china and silver. The beautiful centerpieces are as individual as the hostesses.
This event is a huge undertaking requiring many, many volunteers. Some volunteers chose the wonderful tea menu, some prepare all the delicious dishes, some decorate the ballroom, some pour endless pots of tea and some of the ladies husbands serve as our wonderful butlers.
“The Holly and the Ivy” was the theme for this year’s wonderful and highly anticipated holiday tea. When asked how she came up with the idea for the tea chairman, Beth Houtz explained that she and husband Jim had been on a long road trip and was experiencing too much windshield time and just came up with the theme.
“I am part English, on my dad’s side of the family, and so the theme lends well with my heritage,” Beth said.
“Also, I just like the song, “The Holly and the Ivy,” a traditional English Christmas carol, and envisioned a quiet afternoon of tea and conversation,” Beth continued.
Our tea started with a wonderful cup of tea filled with an aromatic combination of fruit and spices called Sugar Plum tea. My tablemates for the afternoon were hostess Dolores Holroyd, co-hostess Susan Smith, Sharon Ashmore, Eileen Jones, Christel Galvin, Judy Davis and Rosemary Crowley.
Once again Connie Cunningham and many volunteer cooks and kitchen helpers prepared a menu filled with wonderfully delicious dishes.
Our first course was Merry Christmas scones and Gingerbread with lemon curd. I loved the gingerbread it was so very moist. What would have made it perfect for me was just a small dollop of whipped cream. I enjoyed my lemon curd with the mini scones filled with wonderful little pieces of pecans and dark and light raisins.
Our salad course lived up to its name ‘Heavenly Delight Salad’. We were presented with a small plate with this beautiful pink mound of delicious sweetness filled with maraschino cherries, miniature marshmallows and pineapple.
There were four sandwiches for the savory portion of the tea. We enjoyed: Ham and Boursin Pinwheels; Turkey and Cranberry Sandwiches; Zucchini Squares; and Creamy Dill Cucumber Toasties. They were all good but the cucumber toasties were my favorite.
Oh, my, the desserts were just perfect. There was a mini pumpkin pie, a chocolate raspberry bar and mini peppermint meringue cup.
During the afternoon we were entertained with a wonderful video presentation filled with beautiful images and music of the holiday season prepared by Carol McQuilkin. Linda Morello, accompanied by pianist Peggy Morton, treated everyone by first singing “The Holly and the Ivy” and then several times during the afternoon leading guests in sing-alongs of many Christmas carols.
Tea cups empty, sweets and savories finished it was time to enjoy one last delicious treat before leaving. Beth invited everyone to raise their glasses filled with a wonderful liqueur called, Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream as she said:
“Christmas is not about tinsel, lights and outward show
It’s friends gathering,
Friends of Tea Quila Rose
Tea and friends, how devine
We got together and had a good time
So, I lift my glass to you and say
Merry Christmas as you go on your way”.
Attending the annual Tea-Quila Rose Christmas tea has become a holiday tradition that I look forward to each year. For two hours I am whisked back to a gentler time when ladies would dress up in their finest gowns and pearls and while away the afternoon sipping tea and eating sweet and savory delights.
I loved all the dishes at the tea but the Gingerbread was my favorite so I will share the recipe that was supplied by the club.
1 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
½ cup honey
4 large eggs, beaten
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
¾ teaspoon allspice
Pour boiling water over the butter, sugar, molasses and honey. Stir until butter melts. Cool slightly, add beaten eggs and beat well. Stir in dry ingredients gradually and beat until smooth.
Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes to 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 24 – 2”x2” squares.
I will be making this several times during the winter months to enjoy with my afternoon tea.