It's become a holiday tradition over the past few years for all the females on my dad's side of the family to enjoy tea time together at the Ritz Carlton at Tyson's Corner.
This is always a fun event. The afternoon tea service includes a variety of interesting teas -- from classic Earl Grey to fun blends like Pear Caramel and Mint Chocolate Truffle -- along with traditional finger sandwiches, scones and other baked goods.
The Ritz does a beautiful job decorating for Christmas, with trees and garland scattered throughout and a gorgeous array of twinkling lights and faux snow. Add to that live music and a roaring fire and you have a cozy afternoon as snow falls outside.
I'm lucky to have two cousins close to my sister and me in age, which makes family get-togethers even more enjoyable. Growing up (and still today), it was fun to have built-in buddies within the family. Even though we're all in our 20s now, somehow we revert to being about 12 years old when we're together.
I stuck with a traditional organic Darjeeling tea and liked that it was naturally sweet enough to drink without milk or sugar. The nice thing about having big pots at the table is being able to share, so I also sampled cups of Vanilla Bean, Pear Caramel and a spicy Chocolate blend.
Next came around a plate of sandwiches: cucumber, prosciutto with asparagus, smoked salmon and caviar, and pear with walnut.
And finally, la pièce de résistance, dessert.
This huge three-tiered platter was for two people and included blueberry scones (which obviously must be eaten with clotted cream and jam), chocolate-dipped strawberries, raspberry tart, red velvet cupcakes and other goodies.
Oh my gosh. Too much good stuff. Even between my sister and I, we weren't able to finish it all off and took home a little doggie bag. I promptly ate a scone for breakfast this morning and can attest that it was just as good the next day.
Three hours passed quickly and we finally realized we were the only people still sitting in the dining room, the rest of the tables having been cleared and reset for the next tea seating. After taking the obligatory family photos, it was back onto the icy roads and home again.
Does your family have any annual holiday traditions?