Every now and then, some of us at Gilt Tech like to break out our department’s favorite antique floral tablecloth and silver tea set, round up a few decadent pastries, and hold a high tea. Or so I learned yesterday, when Senior Director, Program Management Office Heather Fleming (glamorously outfitted for the occasion in a fuchsia dress) stopped by my desk to invite me. Being a connoisseur of caffeine and sugar, I could not say no.
At Gilt, all of our conference and meeting rooms are named after cities or countries. Yesterday’s tea took place in conference room Cuba (a country where tea is maybe not the most popular drink, but our “England” room only accommodates two people–far too small for such a festive gathering). Arranged on the conference table were plates and platters stacked with rich chocolate cakes, croissants, green (purposely so) pound cake, and teas of all types. In the background, jazzy music played.
I took a seat next to Justin Riservato, senior program manager and ambivalent keeper of the official Gilt tea set. Majestic and slightly tarnished (“patina'ed”), the tea set once belonged to Gilt Tech’s … fictitious great-great-great-great-grandparents, W. Chester Chichestershire Gilt IV and Hester Chichestershire (née Middleton) Gilt. Some say that one day, while in a typically generous mood, one of the Chichestershire Gilt the IVs’ … also fictitious children quietly left the set at our 2 Park Ave. office for posterity. “Now the tea set stays here and appears in 50 percent of our Gilt Tech office photos,” Justin explained. It also serves us well at high teas, of course.
Like many things at Gilt Tech, high teas are the result of people taking initiative and demonstrating strong stewardship, creativity, and ingenuity. Providing the best customer experience possible is also key. At least 15 people stopped in for a cup of hot Devonshire or bite of croissant. Many lingered. By the end, all of the cakes were (mostly) gone.
Sound fun? Maybe you and your colleagues should hold your own high tea. Here’s what you’ll need to reproduce ours:
High Tea Checklist
- Imaginary 19th century relatives
- Floral heirloom tablecloth with matching napkins
- A person wearing a top hat (pocket watch is also acceptable)
- Music: French jazz, Handel, Tchaikovsky, some of the Wu-Tang Clan’s quieter numbers, no 1980s metal
- Photogenic antique tea set that’s too heavy to transport home
- A rich chocolate cake with a surprise plastic knife baked into it (?)
- Pound cake
- Croissants and turnovers (cronuts are probably not acceptable)
- cups (preferably Gilt mugs)
- hot water
- a curated selection of teas (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, green for the health-conscious)
- milks: cow, soy, etc.
- sugars: turbinado, honey, refined, brown, powdered (don’t overdo it, though)
- place settings
- a roomful of awesome people to share the experience with
Feel free to send photos of your high tea experiences to lapple at gilt dot com. Cheerio!