Meetup Report: Formal Tea

Meetup Report: Formal Tea

Whoops! It’s been a while~ My school and my job appear to have been conspiring to keep me quite busy, and whenever I have some free time I cannot put down Pokémon White! (I’ve literally spent hours wandering around Route 6 trying to catch Emolga. I haven’t even seen one. My husband thought I was being overdramatic until he tried to help me. After fighting the tenth Audino, he exclaimed, “Alice, what have you done to piss off Emolga?!?!” I’ve logged seven more hours of gameplay than he has, most of those hunting for that flying electric squirrel.)

I’m sure it’s already very apparent that I looooooove tea. I don’t just like buying and drinking tea, but I also like going to other locations to partake of tea–particularly afternoon tea. (Afternoon tea is often called “high tea,” which is incorrect. High tea is an early dinner with meats, cheeses, and breads. Afternoon tea is an late snack with daintier fare and pastries.) I particularly enjoy afternoon tea at fancy hotels. They have such wonderful ambiance; I adore the beautiful settings and china. There are several hotels in the city that offer afternoon tea, all for roughly the same cost, and this time I opted for The Drake.

The enormous bouquet at the hotel’s entrance was so beautiful that I thought it had to be fake until I saw someone water it and trim off a few wilting blossoms!

The lolita community in my area tends to prefer long meetups–rarely does anyone really want to say goodbye. The reservation was made for the earliest available time; it wasn’t a very “authentic” time for afternoon tea, but it gave us the most time to sit around, chit-chat, and enjoy each other’s company. (We probably would have stayed even longer if the hotel hadn’t needed that area for another large party.)

Everyone assembled right on time~ Several girls came into the city from suburbs or other more distant areas, so they were early thanks to the train schedule. I was quite happy that no-one was lost on their way to the hotel! I tried to arrive early, but I was actually one of the later guests to arrive. I didn’t even realize it until someone came and told me, as I had been waiting by the door so I could spot people coming in from outside, while those who were already there were waiting in the lobby.

One of the things I particularly enjoy about the Drake is that they have a large complimentary coat check situated conveniently near their Palm Court, where the tea is served. It was so much nicer to have everyone’s heavy winter things and large bags checked rather than piled up at the table with us. (Especially for me–I move around too much and I’m always knocking my coat off the back of my chair and onto the floor! It’s safer when kept out of my way.)

Teacups and More
I like the china at the Drake–the design is very classic.

Everyone ordered their tea individually, and thankfully the list of available teas was long enough to allow everyone a choice of something they’d prefer. I chose Pear Caramel, which I really enjoyed~ It had a strong pear taste with a smooth sweet note of the caramel, backed by a rich black tea blend. It thought it went quite nicely with scones and desserts, and it wasn’t overpowering with the savory sandwiches.

Food Service
I think tea-trays are so pretty and elegant! If I had more kitchen storage I would own one for my own use.

The full service consisted of scones and banana bread on the bottom tier, a selection of tea sandwiches on the middle, and an assortment of miniature desserts on the top. The sandwiches were very good–I particularly enjoyed the pear and watercress with bleu cheese mousse even though I normally dislike bleu cheese. I also rather like that the Drake doesn’t only serve scones, but also fruit bread. The miniature desserts were adorable–there were miniature tarts, cheesecakes, cakes, and (my favourite) cream puff swans~ ♥

There was plenty of food, which I was thankful for. Afternoon tea is supposed to prevent that “sinking feeling,” not make you wish you had something else to snack on. (Aaaaaand I was able to sneak a few more abandoned desserts and scones after everyone left the table to take pictures. Waste not want not, right?) One member of the party arrived after we had already been served, and our waiter re-appeared shortly with another plate of offerings so that she would have the full menu of options. I thought that was very good service.

The Crowd
I wish this hadn’t been so blurry, but my camera doesn’t respond well to low light. It’s very old and quite finicky.

As the tea came to a conclusion, most of the group went into the lobby to take pictures. I didn’t get to take many pictures of everyone at this point–I stayed at the table because I was paying the bill; I didn’t want the hotel to think I had disappeared. I did hop over after settling, but I was too distracted talking to people I hadn’t sat near to really be that interested in pictures.

Soon it was time to part ways. Several girls headed out to catch their trains back home or hurry off to meet other obligations. I originally planned to head home, but I was having a nice time with everyone. A group decided to go to a vintage fair in a different part of the city, and I was easily persuaded when I realized it was near an ice-cream shop that I adore. (I’m unable to resist the siren’s song of sweets…even if I’ve just had some. u_u)

Ghost of Lolita
I thought this picture was very neat–it’s a reflection in the train’s window.

So we hopped onto the bus (after giving brief directions to others who would be meeting us via car) and headed over. It’s always amusing to travel on public transportation with several lolita. Everyone on the bus was very confused, and everyone on the L was very suspicious. No-one was brave enough to talk to us on that trip, not even to ask if we were in a play or crack a “Little Bo Peep” comment.

At the Market
It was fun to browse through everything at the market, even though I don’t know much about vintage and wasn’t really looking for anything in particular.

The vintage fair was upstairs in a large area above a furniture store. It was filled with lots of different people selling clothing and accessories. One of my friends knows some of the sellers, so she had suggested that we stop by. Most of the sellers were in awe of seeing a bunch of girls all dressed up like we were, and lots of cameras were brandished and pictures snapped. It was fun~

I spent some time running up and down the stairs to try and find the others that were driving to the area. When I finally headed back upstairs with them and was looking around again, a stranger tapped me on the shoulder. She told me that she had seen me around and followed me “like the white rabbit” into the sale. I always think it is neat when random people comment that they have seen me elsewhere in the city. I’m sure it’s kinda confusing to see me once, but I wonder what they think when they notice that the girl in weird clothing wasn’t a one-time occurrence.

Science Ice Cream in Action
This is a shot of the mixers as they prepare the ice cream! The billowing fog is from the liquid nitrogen.

When we were done with the vintage sale, we headed over to iCream. It is an ice cream shop that makes your ice cream from scratch while you wait. When you order, you select the type of milk you want used, pick your flavour(s), colour, and any mix-ins or toppings. Then, the liquid mixture is added to a standing mixer that automatically dispenses a quantity of liquid nitrogen to insta-freeze the milk into ice cream. I like to call it “science ice cream,” and I think it is amazingly fun to watch!

Everyone who ordered chose a very interesting and personalized combination of flavours and colours. I’m predictable and unimaginative, so mine was pink cake ice cream topped with rainbow sprinkles~ ♥ It was wonderful. I’ve tried quite a few combinations at their shop, and I think some of the flavours are not very accurate,
but the cake flavour really does taste like cake. Mmm, cake~ ♥

Lolita Take Over iCream
The front of the shop was very full of lolita trying crazy ice cream. (There were other people behind the girl with my camera–there were maybe ten in our group, total.)

After that it was getting late and time to head home. I was really sleepy when I got back to my house, but I was also very happy to enjoy such a wonderful day. I’m hoping to organize another formal tea later in the year–maybe it will be even better!

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