Blue skies, light crowds and nearly non-existent humidity are the order of this day in Epcot. While much of the rest of the country struggles with spring snow showers, Orlando is experiencing a near-perfect spring. And there’s no where better in town to take in the beauty of the mild shoulder season than the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
The festival, which celebrates its 25th year in 2018, is a beloved event for locals and visitors alike. Breathtaking gardens delight guests and serve to inspire budding beginners and seasoned experts. Outdoor Kitchens beckon with farm-inspired bites and sips.
The weekday attendance is light, although plenty of families wielding strollers mill around, bedecked in Mickey ears, looking at maps and schedules. But my path is a familiar one, as I bypass Spaceship Earth and head for World Showcase. It’s just after 9 am as I round the bend from the Canada Pavilion and head toward the United Kingdom to experience one of the festival’s special offerings.
The gardens behind The Tea Caddy take on extra charm this time of year, as they’re transformed into the UK’s Tea Garden.
Sponsored by Twinings, the Tea Garden offers guests an opportunity to learn more about tea by seeing some of the plants that make up different blends and varieties. Self-guided tours are an option for guests who enjoy a solitary experience. For those who are interested in learning more about tea, guided tours take place daily. The tours, held during the afternoon, are complimentary.
But for guests who may find themselves craving a spot of tea following the experience, the Royal Tea Garden Tour may be the answer.
The Royal Tea Garden Tour takes place at 9:45 am on select mornings during the festival. The tour, which is limited to 20 people, offers guests a closer look at the history of tea drinking as well as Twinings, the famed London tea blender that has been in business for more than 300 years.
Over the course of the 45-minute experience, Michelle, a cast member from Hertfordshire, England, shared about various types of teas and blends, and offers tips for brewing up the perfect cuppa.
She also fielded questions from guests, which included inquiries about her background as well as questions about various types of tea. (One cheeky guest also asked if she’d ever met The Beatles.)
The tour concludes across the street on the patio of the Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, where guests are offered cream tea, consisting of scones, accompaniments, and various Twinings teas to try.
Kathryn and Don Colberg were taking the tour as well. The couple were visiting from Centerville, Minnesota, and were happy to trade in the lingering cold weather back home for a respite in the Florida sunshine. Their daughter found the tour online, and was delighted to book it for them during their vacation. They were thrilled with the experience. “The scones are as good as the ones we had in England,” shared Kathryn with our host, Michelle.
For tea drinkers, and the people who love them, the Royal Tea Garden Tour is a respite plunked down right squarely in the middle of busy Orlando. Don’t miss this hidden gem.
The Royal Tea Garden Tour takes place at 9:45 am on select days in the UK Pavilion during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, now through May 28. Tickets are $18 per person, and reservations are strongly recommended. To make reservations, visit Guest Relations, or call (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687 for availability.
Not visiting during Flower and Garden Festival? Visit these great tea spots located throughout Orlando.