South Charlotte

Matthews Victorian Tea: This may be the hottest ticket in town

Make your calendars: Just about 10 months from now, at midnight Oct. 1, the Matthews Woman’s Club Service League will begin taking reservations for its 2015 Victorian Christmas Teas.

If this year’s turnout is any indication, those reservations again will be the hottest holiday tickets in town.

More and more people are discovering the teas, held each December at the historic Reid House in downtown Matthews, where every room is decorated to the nines and guests are served authentic Victorian fare.

This year, the league celebrated its 25th year of hosting Victorian teas, serving almost 600 guests during eight seatings Dec. 4-7.

“A total of 658 plates were prepared; 591 were served to seated guests. Sixty-seven were delivered to former tea attendees who are now unable to attend due to age, illness, etc.,” said club President Mary Ellen Randall.

All food is homemade by league members; they stopped catering about 10 years ago to increase authenticity as well as profits.

With 20 bite-size items served to each guest, the 71 club members prepared, plated and served more than 12,000 items during the four days.

That doesn’t include the 240 gallons of tea brewed and poured, or the labor involved in decorating, designing place cards and menus, setting tables, cleaning up after and more.

Randall estimates at least 1,500 woman-hours went into this year’s event. The money raised will be used to support charities in Matthews.

Randall said it takes months of planning to orchestrate the event.

“In the summer our members start researching recipes to ensure they are authentic. Then they do taste tests to see how the item turns out. Does it crumble too much? What’s its texture? What’s its color? Does it have plate appeal?

“It’s a very involved process,” Randall said.

The teas have become a tradition for many, the kickoff to their holiday season.

Red Hat Society member Beverly Davis, queen of the Indian Trail Dollies chapter, has been attending with 11 of her Red Hat friends for at least eight years.

“It’s the start of our holiday season. We look forward to coming each year,” Davis said. “Historians Patti Proctor and Russell Caldwell are wonderful, and we have the harpist right outside our door in the hall. What more can you ask?”

Davis already is planning her reservation strategy for next year, when league member Becky Willard will start answering the reservation line at midnight Oct. 1.

“I usually go to bed around 9:30, but, on Sept. 30, I’ll sit up, and as soon as the clock rings 12, I’m ringing her. I just love it.” Davis said.