I was able to kick off my very first trip to the Flower and Garden festival with a tour that most people don’t know about. While it is well advertised that there are afternoon Twinings Tea Tours, a brand new, hour long $15 tea tour experience debuted this year, and we were some of the first people to try it out! (Click here to check out the full tour that I streamed on periscope).
There are 3 different options for touring the Twinings tea garden on your trip to the Flower and Garden Festival. First up, you have the option to go on a self guided walking tour, which allows you to spend as little or as much time as you would like exploring the garden. Next, there is the standard Tea Tour, which is about 20 minutes long and happens around 3:30 and 5 pm each day. During this tour, one of the trained guides takes you through the garden and tells you a little about tea’s history and how it is made. In order to sign up for the free tour, you have to get to the Tea House in the UK pavillion early on the day you want to take the tour, since they are on a first come, first serve basis and are unable to be reserved ahead of time. And finally, there is the hour- long VIP Royal Tea Tour, which takes place daily at 9:30 am.
This “VIP tour” costs $15 a person and requires a call- ahead reservation. We were able to get a spot 3 days ahead of time, but spots might start filling up as the festival continues, so I would suggest calling and getting a spot if this is something you are interested in! This tour is also twice as long as the free one, and lets you learn a lot about the history of tea, how it is made, and what herbs and fruits go in to each blend! At the end of the tour, everyone gets a thing of four different tea bags to take home, as well as the opportunity to sample one of the teas discussed on the tour. Each person also gets a little to go box filled with a sweet and savory scone, as well as different toppings for each. You are encouraged to take your scones over to the Rose and Crown patio, which is reserved for people who go on this tour.
We were told to arrive about 15 minutes early, and since the other two people on the tour also arrived early, we were able to start at about 9:15! Our tour guide was very nice and did a great job of answering our questions.
At the conclusion of our tour, we each recieved 4 teabags and were escorted into the tea room, where a selection of teas and our boxes of scones were laid out for us. I tried the Buttermint herbal mix, which was released in the US a few months ago and is made from a blend of vanilla and mint. One thing I learned at this tour was that you should only keep the tea bag brewing in the hot water for the length of time mentioned on the tea bag in order for your tea to taste the best. I left my Buttermint to brew for five minutes, and it was deliciously light and creamy. Unfortunately, the Tea Caddy shop was out of this particular variety when we were there.
Scone time! Since this was a new addition to the tours, I was excited to see what sorts of scones we would be receiving. Our savory scone was cheddar, identical to the one served with salmon at the Cider House booth. This scone was warm, fresh, and dense. According to our tour guide, it was meant to be eaten with the fresh, house made Earl Grey butter.
This butter had a unique taste that paired well with the cheesy, salty taste of the scone. There wasn’t really an overpowering taste of Earl Grey, but more of a light hint that helped to tone down the bold cheddar flavor. Together, this scone really was filling, and I found myself needing to put it down so I could get to the sweet scone.
Our “sweet” scone contained white raisins and was paired with a strawberry preserve and clotted cream. According to another cast member who came from England, Disney Property is the only place that she has been able to find authentic clotted cream in the states, specifically at the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian, and here at the tea tour. This particular scone wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, and the clotted cream and strawberry preserves were amazing. It was identical to the scone service served with the afternoon tea in the Grand Floridian.
If you are a fan of tea and would like to learn more about how tea is grown and blended, and get the chance to sample some tea and scones, I would recommend reserving a spot on this Flower and Garden exclusive tour by calling 407-WDW-TOUR.