Sunday, February 28, 2021

Afternoon tea in the age of Coronavirus

Hellenic News
Hellenic News
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By Aurelia

Mozart’s Piano Symphony 21 is playing on my favorite internet radio station, “Beautiful Classical Music from Venice,” the kettle is rapidly boiling, a small bouquet of bright red roses is at the center of my table, and …… everything I need for my afternoon tea has been carefully arranged. This is my time now. I am about to enjoy the most precious and the most rejuvenating ritual of my day

I find my pleasure in my afternoon tea break.  I enjoy this every afternoon, between three and four, after spending the morning writing. I pair one of my favorite teas from Simpson and Vail with a choice of Mrs. McNab’s ginger-lemon scone, a blueberry muffin, two small English, all-butter biscuits, or a Brittainy Blueberry Welsh Cake.

First, I perform my tea-making ritual.  The music is soothing and the water is boiling.  It is time to warm the teapot and my cup (bone china); for my scone, I select a small, delicate, china plate that I found among the treasures in the market in Greenwich, London.   The tea is carefully poured into my lovely china cup and I carefully prepare my scone with clotted cream and Frank Cooper’s famous marmalade.  Then, I place it on my hand-painted dish where I have arranged a tantalizing mixture of fresh fruits.

I sip my tea slowly, savoring the refreshing nectar, and take small bites of the scone, reminding myself to add Red Raspberry  Preserve’s from Simpson and Vail’s collection of spreadable fruits in my next order.  (Delivery is free with a $50 order.)

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Selecting my tea, warming the pot and cup, and spreading the marmalade on a baked treat is performed daily.  It has become  a refreshing and welcome break from the cautions I take throughout the day in this “Age of the Coronavirus.”  I take pleasure in selecting which tea will be my daily treat.   I like to order small samples of black tea, Ceylon, and Oolong, along with teas from Japan, India, Kenya, Nepal, Vietnam, and Rwanda. (Simpson and Vail offers over 350 quality teas).  I rate each tea and then order larger amounts of the ones I favor.

Sundays are very special and the centerpiece is a large pot of tea.  The pot is surrounded by freshly squeezed orange juice, a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion and capers, and a plate of fresh fruit.  This is savored while reading The New York Times and Hellenic News of America and listening to “Beautiful Music from Vienna.”

All of my teas are from Simpson & Vail, Inc., described as

“one of the oldest Tea companies in the USA.”  I buy one or two ounces of a variety of teas that sound appealing and have a different blend each day, giving me a new surprise.  When I find a tea I consider exceptional, I order a larger amount.  Right now I favor China /Cangyuan Organic, Tippy Yunnan Organic, Formosa Fancy Oolong, and that old stand-by and favorite of many tea drinkers, Golden Monkey. For my next purchase, I look forward to exploring the green teas from Japan.

Simpson & Vail is a family-owned business dedicated to offering quality teas from around the world. The company has over 350 teas (black, green, oolong, decaf, flavored, flowering, white and blends) from China, India, Japan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nepal, Indonesia, Taiwan and Colombia.  It offers a herbal section that includes the basics, such as chamomile ans peppermint, as well as its own specially formulated blends & complete line of Yoga Herbal tisanes & Herbal Benefits blends.

Since Simpson & Vail has its origins in the coffee industry it offers a fine representation of high-quality Arabica beans from the various coffee regions. Jim Harron, the founder, says that in the early 80’s he and his wife, Joan, decided to expand not only the teas and coffees but also include some of the best gourmet foods in the world. The Harron’s offer English marmalades, creams & curd, Mexican chocolate, French sugar cubes, and many delicious American made products.

Give yourself a treat during this “Age of Coronavirus” and browse through Simpson & Vail’s catalog.  You will be at a loss to choose from so many excellent teas, but you may want to start with “Namaste,” a much loved “yoga tea.”  “Namaste” means “the light in me bows to the light in you.”  It is described thusly:

“This blend for universal love and acceptance contains birch bark, chamomile flowers, jasmine blossoms, wild cherry bark, vanilla beans, damiana leaf, oatstraw, rose petals, honeysuckle, and lavender blossoms.  It brews to a deep floral taste with a lingering earthiness.”

Now, tell me, how can a mere mortal resist that?  Give yourself a daily treat during this “Age of the Coronavirus” and come back to face the world fully refreshed. You will thank me for introducing you to these wonderful teas from Simpson & Vail. Please visit its website at

As you sip your tea, take your mind off the virus and please know that “the light in me bows to the light in you.”


Aurelia is a professional travel writer specializing in articles about the Greek islands and its mainland. She is the author of two novels.  A Lone Red Apple is set on the Greek island of Mykonos and Labyrinthine Ways unfolds on Crete.

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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