By Lori Bosworth
The chill is in the air as we are now well into the fall season. As many retreat indoors, a Toronto afternoon tea may be on the minds of people who want to escape the brisk winds and cool temperatures. Imagine enjoying an English Breakfast tea and cranberry scones with your friends in the cozy comfort of your living room. We spoke to Sharilene Rowland, who is a frequent blogger on Torontonicity, about her company, Tea Celebrations, which offers afternoon tea catering in your home in Toronto and the GTA.
LB: What types of events do you cater?
SR: Pretty much every kind of celebration can be enjoyed with an Afternoon Tea Catering service. Bridal showers and baby showers are definitely our number one request, followed by birthday parties for all ages. However, we have also catered retirement parties, Mother’s Day events, engagement parties, celebrations of life gatherings, Mommy groups, get-togethers for friends, or families (grandmother, mother, daughter, granddaughters). In the past year, our corporate requests have also increased. We have set up many GTA boardrooms for an Afternoon Tea for occasions such as employee baby showers, retirement parties and client appreciation events. We will be partnering with a Tea Leaf Reader who can offer tea readings at tea celebrations.
LB: How many guests can you accommodate?
SR: We are able to accommodate anywhere from 6 to 100 guests.
LB: What type of experience can guests expect?
SR: A worry-free, hassle-free event with excellent customer service. We take care of everything needed for an Afternoon Tea experience from the linen and lace, to the china and cutlery, to the food and of course the tea. We do everything from setup, to serving to clearing. All the hosts need to provide is a space, a kitchen area, tables and chairs. We hold tea celebrations in homes and businesses in Toronto and the GTA.
LB: What made you decide to open your own business?
SR: I’d been thinking about opening a tea room since 2000 before the current tea explosion we are seeing today. However, as a single mother, life got in the way and I had to put my ideas on hold. In 2009, after treating a friend for her birthday to an afternoon tea at The Windsor Arms Hotel, I had an “Aha” moment. Although the tea was lovely, it was in a room full of strangers sitting very close to one another, giving the feeling of being in a restaurant as opposed to a delightful, relaxing friends’ tea where we would be able to share our lives’ moments, not to mention that it cost me $135 for the two of us including parking, the tea service, taxes and tip.
In 2010, I started Tea Celebrations tea catering service where I could bring this experience into people’s homes, gardens, and businesses. I decided on the name Tea Celebrations because I felt that an Afternoon Tea service would be perfect for a variety of special celebrations, as well as for no special reason except getting together to laugh and share with one another.
LB: What was the most enjoyable event you catered?
SR: I truly enjoy all the events we have had the pleasure of being a part of and am actually honoured that we were able to play a role in such important celebrations. I do, however, feel extra special when it is a group of longtime friends who, due to life in general, rarely get a chance to spend quality time with one another. In particular, there is a group of eight women who have known each other for over 50 years. Each year, they have a tea at one of their homes and get together to talk about all the things that have happened over the last year. Their ages range from 70s to late 80s now and they so much enjoy sharing stories, laughing, and enjoying their tea in the privacy and comfort of a home, especially when they do not need to do anything except show up.
LB: Why is an afternoon tea in one’s home better than going out to a restaurant?
SR: For me, being able to entertain or celebrate any special occasion in the comfort of my home with little-to-no work involved is a bonus. As the hostess, you do not need to worry about travelling, parking costs for yourself or others, or rushing and hoping everyone is on time because the venue has a time restriction you must respect. You and your guests feel more comfortable and relaxed, privacy is a big bonus and it is a wonderful way to showcase your home or garden.
LB: Why do you enjoy hosting tea catering events?
SR: I feel good knowing that our company has enriched the experience of that particular celebration, whatever the occasion may be. I enjoy bringing the experience of an Afternoon Tea to more people and at a reasonable cost.
If you’re interested in any of hats featured in the photos, they were provided by Anne Livingston of Hats by Anne.
If you’d like to get in touch with Sharilene Rowland about having a tea celebration in your home, you can email her at Sharilene@teacelebrations.ca, call her at 647-999-4458 or find her below: