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The graceful art of tea: Serving others

Nan Taylor spreads the love of tea

Posted: October 5, 2008 7:43 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Nan Taylor wrote a book about tea titled "The Graceful Art of Tea," where she gives the reader insightful ideas, information and recipes on the subject of tea drinking and party planning.

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There's more to being a tea enthusiast than just drinking tea. Anyone can make a cup of tea and drink it. What most people don't realize is that there's a complete tea culture out there. A culture not only filled with a variety of teas, but also of etiquette, hospitality, good conversation, and of course, delicious little tea sandwiches and scones.

Nan Taylor is a part of this culture. In fact, she's an expert in it, and has been the queen bee in educating people in everything tea related.

Taylor has been a resident of Santa Clarita for 12 years. She is the founder of Tea Graces and a member of the Royal Ladies Tea Society. She has also been involved in Women's Ministries at her local church, mentoring and teaching practical arts, and leading a Bible study group for over 20 years. She is a speaker for churches, tea rooms, community organizations, women's events, and mini seminars.

Tea has always been a part of her life, but she didn't get into the business aspect of it until the 1990s. Taylor was invited to several "Bridal Shower Teas" and "Baby Shower Teas" back then that were celebrated in an antique, victorian way.

"The setup was just very elegant," Taylor said.

She fell in love with the atmosphere instantly. The victorian, elegant decorations, the little tea sandwiches, and of course, all the different and tasty teas. The entire experience sparked such an interest in Taylor, she started to read and study about tea parties and how to throw one.

After reading up on the subject, and even taking a few classes on it, Taylor said, "I could do this."
So she did.

She taught her first seminar at her church to a group of women who were interested in throwing a tea party themselves. It turned out to be such a hit, Taylor decided to hold seminars on college campuses to open up her knowledge to entire communities.

After calling a few schools, Taylor opened up her tea education to the community of Glendale at the Glendale Community College, to Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Mission College, and to Santa Clarita at the College of the Canyons.

She gives a three hour long seminar once a semester at each campus, typically on a Saturday, to teach those interested on how to properly throw a successful tea party, including other information such as how to set up a table and proper tea etiquette.

For example, the tea cup and saucer are technically a pair. They belong together at all times.

"When I see someone just carry their cup around, its like they lost its partner," Taylor said. "These are the things that I teach, that people don't know."

At a tea seminar a couple of years ago, some of Taylor's students approached her and suggested she write a book, and that if she did, they would certainly buy it.

"I thought that was weird," Taylor said laughingly. "But then I realized that I was giving out a lot of handouts in class." It made sense to just write one.

So, encouraged by her students, she set out to write a took on tea, proper tea etiquette, and how to throw a tea party.

In spring 2005, her book The Graceful art of Tea, was published. Taylor's book was instantly popular. It was sold nationwide and even in parts in Canada. Because of its popularity, it has been since revised and is now in its third printing.

Taylor has also traveled extensively to serve those outside of California. She's traveled to Hawaii and as far as the east coast to speak about tea, tea parties, etiquette, and hospitality.

In addition to how to throw a tea party information, the book also gives readers recipes and includes chapters on how to make scones and "those dainty little sandwiches."

In fall of 2006, Taylor felt the need for an instructional DVDs for tea lovers. A third DVD will be out in spring on the topics of social tea graces and etiquette.

Business tea time
There used to be two tea associations in the country, one in the Southern states, and one representing the Midwest.

Now there are three.

A few tea enthusiasts decided to get together and make a tea association representing the west. The Western Tea Business Association was thus created, representing 13 states on the west side of the country, including Hawaii and Alaska.

Nan Taylor, naturally, is a part of the association.

"I'm looking forward to watching where this goes," she said. The purpose of an association such as this is to keep businesses up to date on what is going on in the west when it comes to tea.

The Tea Gardens, a tea room and bakery that opened in the Santa Clarita Valley within the past year, is also a part of the association. Owner Elda Meguerditchian has taken her passion for tea and made it a career, providing over 70 varieties of the highest grade teas from around the globe.

"The purpose of it is mostly networking, but it's also useful in regards to being informed on what's going on, and encouragement," Taylor added.

For example, a recent tea shop opened in Lake Elsinore, and Taylor admitted she wouldn't have known about it if it wasn't for the association.

"I could write to them, encourage them, and go visit the store in support of them now," she said.

Love of tea
No matter how lavish or simple the tea event is, Taylor stresses that the most important ingredient is unhurried conversation.

"It is a sactuary from our fast-paced lives," Taylor wrote in her book. "Make every effort to not allow time constraints to hinder the enjoyment of being together, relaxing, and sharing meaningful conversation."

To achieve this goal, Taylor realized that she needed to practice the lost art of hospitality.
"I have a servant's heart," Taylor said. "I love to serve."

And that's the beauty of the tea culture.

"I've met some of the nicest people," Taylor said. "I've never been to an ugly tea event. Everyone is so gracious. The service is always good."

Her favorite tearoom is "Truffles and Lace" in Temecula. It accomodates up to 50 people. With a lavish tin ceiling and table clothes with elegant lace overlays, Truffles and Lace sets up for the perfect tea experience.

"There's a wonderful atmosphere and tranquility you get when you walk in," Taylor said. "And the food is fabulous, just wonderful."

Nan Taylor plans on serving for a long time to come.

"As long as I am physically able and mentally capable, I'm going to put on foot in front of the other," she said. "This is something that I love to do, and I feel very grateful to be able to do it."

 Nan Taylor can be reached at (661) 298-6163 or For more information, visit



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