(photo by Joeff Davis)
Tea aficionada Carmelle Killick has hosted a Victorian-style tea ceremony at her home every spring for a decade. The Alpharetta resident invites friends and neighbors for a formal sit-down steeped in tradition, with international teas, waltzing and hat contests.
"We make tea every night, practice tea etiquette every night, so it becomes second nature. I try to keep that tradition in the family, and try to keep it as formal as possible."
She's a tea-totalitarian. "There's no such thing as coming here and not having tea. If you come here I'm giving you tea."
"I went to Catholic school in Haiti. You know how Catholics are. You have to sit straight, can't talk, can't laugh. I guess all this stuff stayed with me. I'm not a loose person at all. Even in a relaxed situation, I sit straight and am very formal."
On sweet tea: "Southern tea is excellent. ... But I see Southerners like their tea sweet. To me the sugar kills the taste of the tea."
Killick's French grandmother introduced her to tea and to her favorite tea, basil lemon honey.
She's versed in a wide array of tea etiquettes, including English, French, Iranian, Turkish, Japanese and Arabian. "It's something that, when you get into the practice, the etiquette, the tradition, the china, the settings, you can fall in love with it."
"We travel a lot. Everywhere we go we bring tea back with us. Some of them we can't pronounce, but we know if it's good."
Killick says she's addicted to buying teacups and saucers on eBay, adding that some cost more than $500. "Some tea parties are like weddings. You can go broke if you're not careful."
On the tea party's turnout: "You never know how many people will show up. You send out a lot of invitations hoping not everyone will show up."
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