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It’s almost always tea time at Epcot garden fest

Posted on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 11:22 am

By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

If you are looking for tea at Epcot, we’ve got just the spot.

With the return of the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, and all of the exotic food and beverage that goes with it, there might be nothing more soothing than a cup of tea. You can get away from the crowds and sample some of the newest flavors and take a tour of the tea garden at the United Kingdom Pavillion.

Several times a day, the free tea garden tour is offered. It’s a great way to find out just where the delectable brew comes from and how tea leaves become tea.

The Twining’s of London Tea Garden (they also operate the tea shop at Epcot) hosts the informal gatherings. And you will learn a lot about tea, including a matter of pronunciation. Most Americans usually talk about the Twining company like its multiple birth event, as in twins. But the reality is…well think of it is a pining for a cup of Twining. Getting the name right seems quite important when you realize that Thomas Twining opened the first known tea shop in London in 1706 at 216 Strand, and it is still in operation today.

The tea guide on this particular Saturday afternoon was UK native Abigail, and her assistant Abby, also from England. It seems fitting if you are going to talk about England, and that country’s fascination with tea, that you go down that road with Abby.

You can, of course, take the walk along the tea garden yourself. The tea, and associated plants are clearly marked. But who knows more about tea than a Brit?

Some of the things you will learn is that pretty much all tea, as we know it, except for the herbal varieties, comes from one of two kinds of camellia plant. So whether it is green, black, white or oolong, it all comes from same plant. The only difference is whether they are allowed to oxidize and how they are infused. White tea, for example, is harvested only once a year, and it is withered and dried with no oxidation. White tea also has the most antioxidents.

You will also see some of the other ingredients in the garden, like jasmine, is used to flavor the various teas. Twinings has some 300 tea varieties, many of them available in the tea shop nearby.

The tour also explains how such classic British teas like Earl Grey and others came to be.

The tour takes about 20 minutes and you can register for it at the Tea Caddy gift shop. Tours are held Monday through Thursday at 4 and 6:30 p.m. And Saturday and Sunday at 2, 4 and 6:30 p.m.

Participants also get a nice little sample packet of assorted teas at the end of the tour, and there also is nice, flavorful sampling of a cold-brewed tea at the end as well in the shop. It’s a perfect break during a busy day.

New this year is the Royal Tea Garden Tour, a ticketed tour that is held before World Showcase opens to the general public. It begins at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $15 and advance reservations are recommended.

This is a more in-depth version of the complimentary tour, with an even better ending: there will be scones and teas served in the outdoor garden.

For reservations call 407-WDW-TOUR. Admission to Epcot, of course, is required.