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Etiquette, scone finesse and treats delight at Townsend's tea last weekend

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What is the proper way to eat a scone?

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Guests learned the answer to that question along with other fun tea facts as part of The Townsend Hotel's Afternoon Tea and Etiquette event held last Sunday. In a tea adventure that was grounded in the luxury hotel's dedicated tea lobby, attendees went back four thousand years ago to the first cup of tea in China, making their way to 19th century England when the popular hot drink made its way to the celebrated afternoon tea ceremony that is still being enjoyed today.

The Afternoon Tea and Etiquette program was presented by Barb Gulley of Barb's TEA Shop Seminars (and tea writer for The Examiner) with the aid of business partner and daughter, Rachel.

Along with the Townsend's delicious three-course afternoon tea fare of scones, savories and miniature pastries, guests enjoyed cups of earl grey and herbal decaf tea while watching demonstrations of proper tea etiquette, learning not only what to do, but, perhaps more importantly what not to do (the dreaded "tea faux pas").

The tea etiquette program was what initially brought in guest Ewa Obertynski. A Berkley resident, she was born in Poland where, Obertynksi notes, tea is the national drink. "This was my first time to the afternoon tea at the Townsend. I have always been intrigued with the pomp and circumstance surrounding tea etiquette. When I found out [about] the presentation I thought that it would be a great opportunity to learn about tea and its etiquette."

Obertynski says she enjoyed the variety of finger sandwiches and desserts as well as the tea.

Other guests found the tea event an ideal occasion to spend with family and friends. Several mother/daughter pairs came together as well as a few couples and one three-generation family.

In addition to the program and tasty treats, all attendees received a tea room guide book to New York, Paris or London.

And, for those who are still wondering about the proper way to eat a scone, there are many acceptable ways to do so. It can be treated as finger food or, if you feel more comfortable employing flatware, a knife and fork are perfectly fine to use as well. Only caution - don't cut it in two, spread with cream and jam and reassemble like a sandwich. It's not meant to be a Big Mac.

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