Choteau’s Patti Blauer is sharing her teapot collection and love of tea by being a hostess at the Choteau Senior Citizens Center tea party on Sept. 21.
The second annual tea party starts at noon and includes a luncheon, style show, prizes, goodie bags and of course a variety of tea.
Tickets for the senior center fundraiser cost $12 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets will also include a gift certificate for the Cellarama Thrift Shop, $5 with the adult ticket and $1 with the children’s ticket.
Those attending are invited to dress up if they wish. There will be prizes for the best hat, longest dress, brightest color outfit, youngest person, oldest person and several other categories. “There will be fun tea accessories for purchase and party favors for just buying a ticket and showing up,” Blauer said.
A highlight of the afternoon will be a style show featuring clothes from the senior center’s Cellarama Thrift Shop. “I have several excited young ladies lined up to model the beautiful outfits they have put together from the Cellarama,” Blauer said. “Decorations, party favors and a variety of teas have been gathering in our pantry and I can guarantee the price of a ticket is low compared to what you will receive at the party,” Blauer said.
Blauer has lived in Choteau since late 1980s with her husband Denny. She is retired, having worked in a variety of jobs from office work to cooking at retirement homes. She is the president of the Choteau Senior Center Board and fills in when needed in the kitchen.
Blauer said her love of tea and tea parties came from her mother. Her parents moved to the United States from Canada. “My mom collected bone china mostly from Canada,” she added. “Her pieces were special, and that instilled in me a desire to also collect tea sets.”
She has at least 30 teapots and/or teapot sets. She has had more throughout the years, but has given some away maintaining those she likes the best or those that have sentimental meaning. Most of her collection was bought in the 1960s and 1970s, but she has picked up other pieces along the way.
Blauer said she mainly purchased her teapots from catalogs. “I had certain brands I liked, but mostly I bought them based on what I liked,” she laughed. “I looked for the unique and special teapots.” She has always liked the Blue Willow pattern. In addition to being a style she liked, Blauer said the teapots need to be capable of making tea — not just serving as a decoration.
She used the example of her teapot set featuring Mary Jane shoes on the “feet” as out of the normal set she will have on display at the tea party.
Her sister has most of her mom’s collection, but Blauer said what she does have she cherishes, especially since she thought they were lost or had been thrown out. Blauer explained that a teapot set she had as a young girl went missing and hadn’t been seen in years. When cleaning out things after her mother died, she found them in a box. “I thought they were gone forever,” she said. “I had treasured the memories of them and now I have the set to display, pretty special.”
Blauer doesn’t just collect teapots. She enjoys drinking tea as well. That is another lesson she remembers from her mom: how to prepare tea. She said the water needs to come to a boil, and the tea needs to steep for a while to properly infuse the taste, Blauer said. The correct amount of time to steep the tea depends on the type. She leans more toward black teas but has a few other favorites. There will be a variety served at the tea party on Sept. 21.
The idea for the tea party at the senior center came from a tea party Blauer hosted with her mother years ago in Choteau. “My mom had lots of shoes in her closet she wasn’t wearing anymore and came up with the idea to host an ‘out of the closet’ tea party,” Blauer said. “The idea was for each guest to go into her closet and select a pair(s) of shoes getting them out of her closet. They were asked to pay $1 for each selection, with the money going to the hospital auxiliary.”
“Everyone had a good time. Most found shoes and even if they didn’t, they still donated to the cause,” she said. “It was just so much fun, the ladies came dressed in their hats and enjoyed visiting over tea and goodies.”
Last year the senior center held the tea party in February on a cold and snowy day. Despite having bad weather there were still 21 who braved the conditions and attended the party. “It was so much fun with guests in attendance from 2-years-old to 96,” Blauer said.
The organizers have taken the success of the first tea party and expanded. “We changed the time of year hoping to avoid bad weather,” laughed Blauer.
She said half of the fun isn’t in hosting the event, but all of the preparation in getting ready for it, from collecting the favors, to setting up the dining room. There have been a number of volunteers helping make this a success.
Blauer encourages everyone to attend, young or old, women or men. It will be fun for everyone, she promised.