French tea offered at gardens

  • Friday, March 14, 2014

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will serve a “French tea in the Lowcountry” on April 6 amid colorful azaleas and a stringed classical trio, reminiscent of a bygone Southern tradition but with a French twist.

Magnolia’s 21st century-version of a “French tea” will support the newly formed Friends of André Michaux Charleston Garden Project, named for the French botanist who collected plants and other biological materials in colonial South Carolina for the French government.

Tea drinking was popularized in France around 1636 following the tea plant’s arrival from China, about two decades before it was imported to England.

Enshrined in Southern culture, stylish high-society teas in the 1920s and 1930s were common at Magnolia during the cultural renewal dubbed the Charleston Renaissance.

Magnolia’s historian Lisa Randle said these high-society gatherings in Magnolia’s main house attracted socialites and celebrities such as industrialist Henry Ford, poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay and British novelist William Somerset Maugham.

Tickets are $65 per person for a “French Tea in the Lowcountry,” beginning promptly at 1:30 p.m. near the horticultural maze. The tea ends at 3:30 p.m. Advance tickets are required. Tickets can be purchased at www.magnoliaplantation.com. No rain checks or refunds. Seating is limited.

Flutist Jane Oddo, violinist Asako Kremer and cellist Damian Kremer of Musique Joyeux Trio will perform French classics during the serving of a four-course meal prepared by Wendall Edwards, owner and chef of Fork. The menu includes, scones, cool roasted spring carrot soup, a spring garden Napoleon followed by a fresh berry salad. The desert tray will consist of an array of sweets, including mini chocolate tarts and a pate de fruit.

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