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Isle of Rollins: Tea at the Bookmark Café

When I think of a traditional high tea, I think of vases of roses on white lace tablecloths, brass tiered trays of cakes and cucumber sandwiches, bowls of raw sugar with matching sugar shells, and women in modest black attire and comfortable shoes, pouring cups of tea from silver tea pots. On Oct. 5, from 3 to 6 p.m., Rollins hosted a high tea of its own.

Isle of Rollins Tea was the brainchild of Barbara Burke, who most often can be found behind the coffee stand at the Bookmark Café in Olin Library, whipping up customers’ favorite drinks with flair. Burke decided to bring some of high tea’s class and sophistication to Rollins. When asked what the special occasion was, Burke exclaimed, “We’re celebrating tea!”

Tea is underrated and often takes a backseat to the more popular coffee. In the Bookmark Café, a selection of loose-leaf teas and other tea accompaniments, such as rose petals and cinnamon sticks, are available for students, faculty and staff to brew their own cups of deliciousness; so what better place to celebrate tea than the Bookmark Café? Last year, Burke launched Rollins’ own blend of tea, Pearl of the South. A hit with customers, it was also highlighted at Rollins’ high tea.

High tea was traditionally held in England to tide one over until a later dinner. Burke explained, “It is named ‘High Tea’ because traditionally the tea was served on a high table,” not to be confused with low tea, which was served with lighter fare on a lower coffee table.

Burke hosted this high tea to “introduce Rollins to a different way of life.” On the big day, a white tablecloth-covered buff et stood against the wall to the right of the Bookmark Café, complete with London Fog and China Green Tip teas served hot, sweetened Rollins Pearl of the South served cold, and a spread of sandwiches and sweets.

Much to the dismay of many students, this lovely mini-feast was not free. For $10 — cash, credit or TarBuc$ — students, faculty and staff could fill their cups and plates with tea and delicacies to enjoy a Rollins spin on a traditional high tea. Although the turnout was small, Burke looks forward to having a second high tea in the coming month.

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