If I had not met my friend Stella at an OLLA (Opera League of Los Angeles) meeting a few years ago, I probably would have remained merely an opera zealot, unfamiliar with the various volunteer opportunities.  That day, being the League’s gathering chair and board member, Stella was quite busy greeting and conversing with the guests; nonetheless, she patiently described the tasks involved in organizing a regional gathering, encouraging me to take part.  I look forward to continuing my volunteer work in the 2012-2013 season.       

A few weeks ago, Stella and I met up at her lovely residence for afternoon tea.  In addition to delectable homemade bread and cookies, Stella had me pick a tea from her collection, stored conveniently in her spacious kitchen cabinet.  While sipping the freshly brewed lime flower tea, Stella reminisced about the open markets in her birthplace, Greece, where myriad buckets of spices and herbs filled the air with botanical aromas, and the liveliness and energy found only in time-honored bazaars was palpable.

After retiring from her surgical nurse position, Stella embarked on a new career as a tour manager, specializing in custom-designed tours and cruises; past projects included guiding tours to clients’ ancestral homes abroad and producing detailed, theme-based itineraries on demand.  Her most recent adventure was a leisure one on board Uniworld Boutique River Cruise in Eastern Europe during the festive holiday season.  Stella and I pondered the idea of designing a European tea tour.  T Ching posts often feature those to the Far East and the Subcontinent.  Wouldn’t it be fun to go on a tea-focused vacation?!   For a region where tea cultivation is scarce, tea culture has certainly flourished.  Magnificent tea rooms, some operated within castles, chateaus, and villas, should not dictate the journey, for tea estates do, in fact, exist in Europe.  Gorreana on the Azores islands and England’s Tregothnan Estate noted in Pearl Dexter’s post will definitely enhance the passage!
 
I can’t wait to research further!