A Traveling Teacups Tea

One of the nicest ways to share tea is with an elderly lady or a shut-in, someone who is recovering from an illness or maybe just doesn’t get around as she used to. You bring the tea to your guest’s home and spend time pampering her there.

This is a light, simple tea. The biggest chore is making certain you have everything packed with you. You’ll need not only the tea bread or muffins, a couple tea sandwiches, some sweets and the tea to serve but also the cups, teapot, napkins and plates. While your guest probably has the hardware in her own kitchen, you can’t expect her to provide this.

The food should be rather light, simple to eat and not require a knife and fork. Highly seasoned food, food containing large pieces of nuts or fruit and food that is sticky should be avoided. Older folks who aren’t well often have trouble with their digestion and their teeth so make it easy for them.

I carry my food to the tea in a market basket and take the tea, already prepared, in a thermos bottle. I use throw-away containers for the food and surround them with a couple ice packs. Everything is cut into serving size pieces when packed. I wrap my teacups and plates in pretty tea towels to protect them.

Plan on keeping the visit short if your guest is recovering from an illness or surgery. Even the best intentioned, most welcome visitors can be tiring. If your guest is feeling pretty well but is a shut-in, plan your exit strategy in advance. I don’t mean that to sound harsh but sometimes it is difficult to get away as your guest will want to talk and talk and not let you out the door. Assure your guest that you’ll be back another time but that you have to get to an appointment. You don’t need to reveal that your appointment is dinner with your family.

Sometimes the elderly friend has a husband or other person residing in the home. You’ll naturally want to include this person. The only exception might be paid help but even then, you should bring enough for her too. A nurse or housekeeper won’t necessarily join the party but she will appreciate having a special treat for her lunch break.

A special case for traveling teacups is taking tea to a person in a nursing home. The staff is usually very accommodating and genuinely happy their resident is having a special day but clear it with them first. You wouldn’t want to arrive only to find your guest is out for a doctor’s appointment. You’ll also want to find out if the tea can be served in the guest’s room or if you’ll need to set up in an activity room or even the cafeteria during off hours.

If your guest is in a private room, just close the door and no one will even know what you’re doing. If your guest has roommates, you’ll probably want to bring enough for them. If you are serving tea in a public room, look out. Chances are you’ll have curious folks coming into the room to investigate. They are lonely too and it is nice to be able to offer a little muffin or cookie.

You really don’t need any decorations for this tea since you won’t know exactly what kind of serving surface you’ll have. A single rose in a little vase would be the only thing I’d bring. Pretty paper napkins make clean up easier as you won’t have to carry them back home with you. Do use pretty china; it makes the tea especially festive. Plate the food for your guest so you won’t need any serving pieces.

If you have leftovers or extras, leave them with your guest to enjoy another time. You might bring extra fresh fruit to leave behind as it is so expensive and older folks often do without. On the other hand, don’t leave a large amount of anything. Being frugal, your guest might feel obligated to eat the leftovers even after they have gone past their prime.

For some guests, conversation is all the activity they want but you might want to offer to read. The Bible, old fashioned poetry and short stories from magazines like Guideposts or Readers’ Digest are always favorites. If your guest has a piano in her home, you could offer to play for her. Old hymns, songs from her childhood or school days work well.

Some older ladies love being around children, perfectly behaved children. If your guest asks to see your kid and you know she can sit calmly without demanding your attention, go ahead and bring her along. Often children make older folks nervous though. Don’t ask to bring your kid or even hint. Do this only if your guest asks.

Traveling Teacups is a very rewarding way to share tea. Your tea guest will be so delighted and you’ll feel happy that you were able to do this for her. I especially love the stories about my town that my older ladies can tell, as well as, stories about how they raised their families in long ago days. I promise that you’ll get more from this experience than you’ll give.

Tomorrow: Traveling Teacups Menu