As of September 28, of this year a new experience was introduced at the Rose and Crown Pub at Disney’s Epcot. I like to try new things, and the description sounded very interesting, and the price seemed reasonable. So I made a reservation for October 19, to give it a try, and I am very glad I did.
At this time the Tea is offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9:45 AM. You are asked to arrive at 9:30. When you check in at the podium, you are directed to an outside area to wait to be called in to begin the experience.
At about 9:40 they start calling guests in and very friendly cast members lead you to a room in the rear of the Rose and Crown, known (due to the way it is decorated) as the Country Room. The room has tables for 4 and 6, so if your party consists of less than that, you will be seated with other guests who have small parties. This was a plus IMHO, because it was a lot of fun to discuss what we were eating and drinking with our table mates. I was very lucky to have an extremely friendly group of folks, from 3 different areas of the USA. Not only did we talk about the tea, we chatted about where we were from and shared our interests and professions.
When you are seated at the table you will notice it is beautifully set with 4 types of tea lined up in a pretty wooden holder; a glass for each type of tea; cream and sugar in porcelain holders; hourglass timers (more about that later); and of course utensils and (cloth) napkins. As a final touch, each guest has a little card holder with his or her name on it, with a tiny flowered teapot on the bottom of the holder to keep it upright. They really do a nice job of making it visually appealing.
Soon a Cast Member appeared and introduced herself and began to discuss the history of tea. I was told the Cast Members rotate this position, so I can’t speak for all of them, but the young lady who was “in charge” the day I was there was great.
She first talked about the Twinings Company, as that is the brand of tea they serve at the Rose and Crown, and who made the tea we would be sampling. The company is a family business and has been in existence since 1706; I had no idea! We also learned about the history of tea itself. We were told that there are four main types of tea: green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and white tea. I was surprised to learn that all tea comes from the same plant, the final product depends on how and where the tea is grown and processed. Twinings gets its tea plants from all over the world. The servers also introduced themselves, told us where in the UK they were from and shared their favorite types of tea. And then it was time to start our tasting! The Cast Members involved in serving brought individual ceramic pots of hot water to each guest. We were told to open up the first two packets and put each tea bag into one of the small glass cups in front of us.
We started with English Breakfast tea and Chai Pumpkin Spice. Here is where the timer came into play. After putting the tea bags into hot water, we were instructed to turn the timer over. The timer was actually a set of three separate hourglasses, one next to the other. Depending on how strong you liked your tea you would wait for the sand to run out of the smallest, medium or largest hourglass before removing the teabags and drinking the tea. I expected to like the English Breakfast, as I was familiar with it, but I was a little leery of the Pumpkin Spice, that was new to me. Happily, I was pleasantly surprised; I really enjoyed it very much.
Next, we were all presented with a glass of Lady Grey Iced Tea, as I didn’t expect tea that wasn’t hot, this was a nice bonus. While we were enjoying this, a Chef from the Rose and Crown appeared. He spoke of how he matched the foods we were going to be served with the tea we were drinking. The servers came around and we each got to sample four different finger sandwiches: Salmon Salad with Pickles, Irish Cheese and Pickle, Egg Salad, and Curry Chicken (my personal favorite). All were quite tasty and came with a beautiful edible Hawaiian Orchid that I enjoyed very much. Some guests opted not to eat the flower, but I highly suggest you trying it if you do this tea. It tasted sort of like lettuce and was nice and crunchy without an overpowering flavor.
We chatted amongst ourselves while enjoying the sandwiches and iced tea. Soon it was time for the next tasting course, and servers came around with a second round of individual pots of hot tea for each guest. This time we tried Green Tea with pomegranate, raspberry, and strawberry, as well as Chamomile Honey & Vanilla, an herbal tea. I was really impressed with the fruity Green Tea, it was a first for me, although I have had green tea many times, I never had it with fruit, it was delicious. I often drink Chamomile Honey and Vanilla but from a brand made by a different company. I can’t say Twinings was better, but it was certainly as good, and I enjoyed it very much. By the way between “courses” the servers removed our used tea bags and the dishes they were laying in and replaced the dishes with clean ones. It was very lovely; they kept the table looking neat and fresh the entire time.
The chef appeared once again just prior to us being served scones. He stayed a short time and spoke about why he chose the particular scones for the tea we had just enjoyed. As soon as he departed the servers came around with two types of scones, one plain and one with fruit inside. They were both fine, but I particularly enjoyed the one with the fruit. To make this even better, each guest received individual servings of clotted cream (very much like a rich butter) and strawberry jam to spread on their scones. Both were very yummy toppings.
We all talked a bit more as we relaxed and ate our scones. Then a Cast Member came to pass out sample bags made of mesh, containing one each of the four hot teas we had sampled during the experience. We were thanked for trying the experience and asked if we had any questions. It felt like longer, but it lasted just over an hour.
I would certainly recommend giving this experience a try. It is an adult experience, I don’t think there is an age minimum, but I can’t imagine children enjoying this. There were no kids there the day I went. But for adults who enjoy tea and the accompanying foods, as well as learning about brewing, history, and growing of tea, this is a lot of fun and the tea and accompanying food was quite good. I highly recommend you make a reservation, the room is small, and the experience was completely full the day I went. At $30 per guest, it is reasonable. You can book online or call 407-WDW-DINE to book. There are no discounts of any kind offered at the time of this writing.