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'Tea and Laughter' program set for Sept. 25 in Clear Spring

September 09, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING -- Cindy Downs once saw "The Tea Lady" at Hagerstown Community College and thought her presentation was terrific.

So Downs approached her after the program to see if she would come to a meeting of the Clear Spring Garden Club and she agreed.

"We are starting our garden club season off with a bang," Downs said.

Judy Larkin, aka The Tea Lady, will give a program titled "Tea and Laughter" Thursday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at St. John's United Church of Christ on Cumberland Street. The public is invited to attend.

"We will be serving tea and other traditional tea fare at the event," Downs said.

By telephone, Larkin said she and her husband have been living in Falling Waters, W.Va., since 2005.

A native of Manchester, England, Larkin said that after moving to the United States, she realized many people, although fascinated with the ritual of afternoon tea, had no idea how to prepare "a decent cup of tea."

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Although she admits her family members weren't real tea drinkers, her mother was quite traditional.

"I used to joke about my mother because she immediately offered everyone who came to the house a cup of tea," Larkin said.

A businesswoman for much of her life, Larkin said she also did a lot of networking for other small-business people and women especially.

"I took a break from that and people encouraged me to speak on tea customs," Larkin said.

She studied tea and is one of only about 15 people in the United States who joined the Specialty Tea Institute.

Her program in Clear Spring will include preparing and drinking tea.

"In addition to drinking tea, there is looking at it, savoring the aroma," much like wine tasting, she said.

Then the group will learn about tea leaf reading.

"It's not serious, but it's a good time and a laugh," Larkin said.

In 2003, she was part of an American delegation to study tea production in Sri Lanka. She also was invited by the India Tea Board to visit Darjeeling and Assam in 2004.

She is currently compiling an "easy-to-use" afternoon tea recipe book and is researching tea customs from all over the world to share in future presentations.

Tickets forLarkin's presentation cost $10 for guests or $12 if they pay a year's dues and join the club. Clear Spring Garden Club members can view the program at no cost.

Those wishing to attend need to contact Downs as soon as possible at P.O. Box 173, Clear Spring, MD 21722. They also may call 301-842-3789.

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