Lately I have been armchair-traveling around the world, planning tea vacations. Tea vacations? you say. The fact surprised me, too, but given second thought it is a perfect idea—a vacation for people who love to travel and love to drink tea. At the moment, I prefer the comfort of my armchair, tea in hand, and virtual travel, without all the unpleasant details, such as going through customs and squeezing onto airplanes.
It all began with my recent fondness for Devonshire Tea—I’m speaking of the Devonshire Tea Company, a fairly new tea merchant located in the county of , England. The Devonshire Tea Company bills their tea as: “the taste of Devon from the first sip right through to the very last.” Whatever the taste of Devon is, I like it! (see a review here.)
While sipping Devonshire Tea and traveling the county Devon in my armchair, I discovered that ‘Devonshire tea’ is also a traditional term for a way of serving afternoon tea. Another wording is ‘cream tea’. It is, very simply, tea served with an abundance of warm scones or slices of bread heaped thick with clotted cream and jam. (I am told I can even get gluten-free scones in England!)
Devon is also the home of one of my favorite writers, the famous Agatha Christie. I pulled at random seven of Dame Agatha’s books off my shelf. In five of them, the characters are drinking tea within the first two pages. In the first paragraph of one of my favorites, , is drinking tea and reading the paper. The mystery in is not all that compelling, but I was captivated by the old hotel, where everyone comes for the afternoon teas, described as “…the best Indian, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Lapsang…” It is quite evident that Dame Agatha loved her tea.
A little known fact is that Agatha Christie was half American through her father, Frederick Alvah Miller. This explains her clearly drawn American characters. She was born in Torquay, a seaside resort in Devon, known as the English Riviera. She used the villages, hotels, and homes of the area in many of her mystery novels.
Ashfield, the home of her birthplace is now gone, but Greenway, the villa she and her husband purchased later, remains and is open to the public. There are gardens at Greenway, a gift shop that sells Devonshire Tea, and a café that serves afternoon tea.
I imagine sitting there at Greenway, enjoying Devonshire Tea served at Devonshire tea in Devonshire, and discussing novels with the spirit of Agatha Christie.
Visit CurtissAnn’s Web site to learn about her wonderful fiction.
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