I’m a bit of a tea snob. I don’t know everything about a proper cuppa, but I like to think I know more than the average Tennessean, who typically drinks this elixir iced, a virtually tasteless amber color, and as sweet as diabetes.
I don’t prefer my tea like that. I like it hot, brewed as black as Satan’s soul, with just a touch of honey or sugar and a splash of milk — in other words, enjoyed English style (which, incidentally, is good and proper since I found out last year, via DNA test, I am 80% English).
Me: Does all of that read okay?
My Husband: …. it’s kinda dark …
Me: ‘Cause I mentioned Satan?
My Husband: … and you put down Tennessee tea, which is Jesus’s tea.
So imagine my excitement when I learned that Epcot’s UK Pavilion now offers a Tea Experience. Touted as a “Time Honored British Tradition”, my tea snobbery was positively aflame with the possibilities. I had to go — I just had to.
So I did!
Upon check-in at the main Dining Room kiosk, I was whisked into the dining hall, past the pub-style bar, past the late (great) Queen Victoria, through glossy wood and sparkling glass, to my table — where a delightful assortment of teas and things awaited me.
Just as soon as I sat myself down, the delicious Tea Experience began! Our hosts introduced themselves, one English, the other Scottish — with the dreamy accents to prove it — both Twinings-trained Cast Members and shop keepers at The Tea Caddy, the local tea shop there in Epcot’s UK Pavilion.
And then we were introduced to the first two of our teas, classics in the world of Tea: English Breakfast and Chai. We learned the difference between blends, and the secret to making the perfect cuppa (Hint: use a kettle, not your microwave).
We learned about the history and origins of tea. We learned the science and chemistry behind tea. We learned that the word “chai” means “tea”.
(Note to self: stop ordering “tea tea latte” which is effectively what I order when I ask for a “chai tea latte” …)
And then —
We got to brew some tea!
We each enjoyed sipping our lovely teas — with beautiful cubes of crystalline sugar and milk, of course!
I particularly liked the English Breakfast, a hearty black Assam with distinct tannic notes and that trademark taste of English pragmatism. This is, actually, my usual morning tea of choice, if I’m not opting for Earl Grey.
Speaking of Earl Grey, did you know he has a sister? Her name is Lady Grey — and much to my surprise, she’s is just as delicious served chilled as she is hot!
Me: Perhaps Tennesseans are on to something after all?
My Husband: … perhaps …
Just as soon as The Lady arrived — whilst my charming table mates, Carolyn and Christine, and I enjoyed our early morning sips — we were treated to the addition of more tasty provisions: tea sandwiches!
We were each treated to a plate of four different finger sandwiches:
- Cucumber Sandwich with Boursin, diced arugula, and pickled cucumber
- Irish cheddar with Branston Pickle
- Coronation Chicken Curry or Coronation Tofu Curry (for myself)
- Egg Salad with Chives
They were all delicious — except for the one with the Branston Pickle, which apparently my tastebuds didn’t care for. I found the pickles too “puckery” and acidic for that early in the morning.
Bonus: even the hibiscus were edible! My table mates and I rather enjoyed trying those as well.
Up Next: more tea.
Our knowledgeable tea guides gave us the low-down on herbals and digestive teas. These are typically teas made of herbs, flowers, and roots, devoid of the usual tea leaves, but nonetheless every bit as delicious. Our selections for this day were two that can be purchased only in England — or there in Epcot, as they import these particular teas for Walt Disney World guests to enjoy.
This was the point at which we were instructed on proper brewing times for these non-tea herbal teas, which take far less time, usually only 2-3 minutes. We had a handy little tea timer there on our table to help us out.
Lastly, it was time for scones!
This was, of course, my favorite part. I mean, I love tea … but it’s not a proper tea until the arrival of scones, berry jam, and real clotted cream.
Apparently there are two ways to enjoy your scone:
- The Queen’s Way: jam spread first, then cream
- The Barbarian’s way: cream spread first, then jam
Our last lovely surprise was the gift of a takeaway: we were each given a little pouch with four additional teas to enjoy at home.
Overall, I thoroughly loved this experience and would absolutely do it again. I learned new things, tasted new concoctions (along with some of my comforting favorites), and was treated to absolutely delicious treats.
(Those scones, y’all. I need more of those in my life.)
Know Before You Go:
- The Tea Experience takes place at the Rose & Crown Dining Room
- begins at 9:45 AM; check-in at 9:30 AM
- onselect Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
- $35 per person
- Reservations required
- Disney Dining Plans are not accepted for this dining event
For Reservations, contact your Travel Agent, specializing in Disney Destinations (that’s me!): firstname.lastname@example.org