We find today's Disney Vacation detail hidden "across the pond" as they say in the UK...but first, let our journey begins in the United Kingdom the one that is located over in the World Showcase at Epcot.
Unless you are a tea totaller, you might nonchalantly stroll right past this Epcot shop and simply consider it as part of the beautiful scenery. On the outside, we see the epitome of a tudor style English cottage. When many of us think of Great Britian, our imaginations turn to a tiny little rose covered cottage like one set amongst the deep greens of the English Countryside. This is what we see in our mind's eye.
As an admitted anglophile and avid tea drinker, I always appreciate a "proper cuppa" as the Brits say. Actually this little thatched cottage in Epcots is home to the Twinings tea shop. Tea lovers will certainly recognize the name of Twinings Teas. Inside you'll find everything tea...every variety, pre-packages flavors, dry tea leaves, tea pots, tea cups and of course, a choice selection of Brit bisquets to go along. If you're lucky enough, certain times of the year you can join a twinings tea tour where a guide will share insights and knowledge about the history and varieties of tea.
If you don't have time for a Tea Taster's tour, do take a minute to take a closer peak at the cottage's front gardens. Disney imagineers not only reproduced an idyllic English cottage but it's been planted with a delightful herb and flowering garden. Here you'll find different varieties of mints and herbs that can be used to flavor your favorite tea as they have done in Britian for centuries.
My recent visit coincided with Epcot's annual Flower and Garden festival. Stunning flowering Teapot displays adorned the cottage gardens. Alice was busy making new friends under the shade of an arbor. There was even a baby bunny posing amongst the flowers. See if you can spot him in this fairy tale scene. It felt like a vision of England had escaped from the covers of my storybook.
The Disney Imagineers have cleverly recreated our vision of a fairy tale England. The UK is the setting for so many Disney movie memories...Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins to name just a few. When I saw the Disney's version of Twinings Tea Shop it made me smile because...
This tiny white building tucked between two modern downtown buildings is the REAL Twinings Tea Shop of London. I consider myself fortunate to have visited many times in my travels. It's my favorite spot in London to shop for souvenirs for friends, family and myself, of course.
Twinings has been operating in this same exact shop, in this same exact location since 1706. It was actually the "starbucks" of it's day. It technically began operations as a coffee shop. This was THE gathering spot where the powerful men of Westminster and the City of London would gather to talk business (never women). The Strand, this street in London, was a very happening address to have at that time in history. It was the home to many of the aristocracy and gentry that were displaced by the Great Fire.
Despite shop owner Thomas Twinings marketing efforts to the contrary, he realized that he sold more dry leaf tea to his customers than fresh brewed coffee. Tea drinking was becoming a very fashionable passtime for the rich in the 18th century. And the rest they say...is history!
So although the original Twinings shop doesn't have a fairy tale thatched roof and a rose covered arbor, Epcot's Twinings Tea shop is "steeped" in tradition and historical significance. Whilst your pardoning my pun, would you please and pass the scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam...Cheers Darling and enjoy this Disney Vacation detail!