Tea Time at the Morrin Centre is steeped in history

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Photo: Lorie Pierce

A group of colourfully attired ladies – Ann Power Paré, Linda West, Roxane Royer and Martine Robert – enjoyed Tea Time at the Morrin Centre library on July 15.

There’s something enchanting about sitting in the Morrin Centre library sipping tea, watching warm summer light stream through the windows, surrounded by books and steeped in history. This is Tea Time, and the Morrin Centre pulls out all the stops to make it an enjoyable party. The library is elegantly decorated with tables covered with rich burgundy tablecloths, set with china cups and saucers, linen napkins and ceramic teapots.  
 The Tea Time event has been offered at the Morrin Centre since the summer of 2014. With sittings on selected Sundays throughout the summer, many find that making reservations early is the best way to avoid disappointment.
Though flowery summer dresses and straw hats are not a requirement, several women chose this look at a recent event. Many people took this occasion to reconnect with friends and family by booking as a group. Tea Time is also an opportunity to meet new people while sharing a pleasant few hours. At one table of eight, a merry group included three American tourists, two Quebecers, an American about to become a Canadian and two Canadians transplanted from other provinces. Between pourings of tea and courses of finger sandwiches, macaroons, miniature cupcakes and chocolate-covered strawberries, the conversation was light and engaging.
This particular Tea Time was skilfully presented by the Morrin Centre guides, Simone Baron Bonneau, Sarah Bellemare and Max Pienitz. The 90-minute event was a fascinating bilingual excursion through the history of tea, including international and local references.
One green tea and three black teas, provided by Sebz Thé & Lounge, were served. The scent of jasmine tea wafted through the library as teapots appeared and the first pouring began. This was followed by an Indian Assam tea, a Chinese Bai Yin Hong tea made from the first new buds of the tea tree and a black Lapsang Souchong tea with its smoky flavour. The sandwiches and desserts, provided by Traiteur Buffet Maison, were appealing to the eye and the taste buds. As the tastings proceeded, our hosts offered tidbits about tea etiquette. For example, sticking your pinky finger in the air while drinking is actually considered rude.
What is often called “high tea,” a small break in the afternoon for tea and a light snack, is more accurately known as “low tea.” An early form of tea imported from China was pressed into bricks which were sometimes nibbled as food. Also, two of the men hanged over the front door of the Quebec Gaol, now the Morrin Centre, were convicted for stealing tea (see 1818 item in “Memorials and Things of Fame” in the July 18 edition of the QCT). 
Tea Time at the Morrin Centre reveals that there’s more history to tea than many people realize. As one leaves and glances up at the thousands of books that line the library walls, one wonders how many different tea parties in different places and times might be described in their pages. 
Tea Time is being held again on July 29, Aug. 5,  Aug. 19 and Sept. 2. To register, contact the Morrin Centre at 418-694-9147 or visit morrin.org/en/tours/teatime. 
Reservations for groups of eight or more are offered all year, but must be made a minimum of two weeks in advance.
72518_tea_time_food.jpg (Photo by Lorie Pierce)
Tiered dessert trays with sweet treats were provided by Traiteur Buffet Maison.