MODESTO – You need your porcelain. You need your finest china. And you absolutely need your tea.
But if what you’re going for is a true English tea party, there’s a whole lot more involved than the place settings and the hot, steeped water that’s served up to the guests in a classic and iconic fashion.
And that’s where services like the Dragonfly Tea Room come into play.
A true tea party – those that are rooted in the traditions that have come over from England – is modeled after the concept of “afternoon tea” which is as much about food as it is what is served up in a silver pot.
Small sandwiches. Miniature quiche. Delicate desserts.
The idea of “tea” itself evokes the idea of snacks in those who grew up with it as part of their daily routine.
But what do you do if that’s what you’re going for – if what you want are those tiny sandwiches to go with the ornate place settings and the traditional tools that turn just a small gathering into an official party?
You call in the experts.
For several years, Dragonfly Tea Room owner Judy Robinson-Gaeda has been traveling throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley attempting to recreate the feeling that she had when she walked into her first tearoom for people who are interested in the experience.
Her location isn’t permanent – she hopes to one day have a brick-and-mortar location – so for the time being the operation involves hauling everything necessary for a full-scale, complete tea party to anywhere in the Stanislaus County area that’ll have her.
Ripon. Oakdale. Escalon. Ceres. Turlock.
Robinson-Gaeda says that she’s willing to travel beyond those locations – further than 20-miles from home – but it’ll cost those having the party $1 for each mile beyond that radius. And it takes three weeks to put in a reservation to ensure that the party can be appropriately booked.
Then it’s teatime.
That’s when its time to break out the tea strainers and the butter knife holder – an etiquette item that allows the diner to lean their knife over a raised, ornate table item that prevents it from touching the often delicate and equally ornate tablecloth. Butter is oily. Butter stains.
And making sure you have the proper utensils is important when the owner of the company that is serving you is as focused on the food as she is on the tea – making sure that the pairing is perfect and the customer gets the full experience and walks away happy.
So far that has been the case.
Although its only one review, Dragonfly currently has a five-star rating on Yelp and has been expanding its customer base through selling its own tea at the Modesto Farmer’s Market.
“If it just did tea parties or I just sold tea then I probably wouldn’t do very well, so combining the two kind of balances things out,” Robinson-Gaeda said. “Although the tea parties have started to pick up in the last month or so. It’s primarily something for bridal showers and things like that. It’s definitely for women.”
For more information about the Dragonfly Tea Room or to book a party of your own visit www.dragonflytearoom.net or call 209.996.7506.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.