Do you do afternoon tea ?
I have at least one cup of tea every afternoon but it isn't that often I sit down to proper afternoon tea with cake and sandwiches. When I do, usually with girlfriends and either at home, mine or someone elses or out at the 'tea shop' it is bliss.
Apparently between us we drink 165 million cups of tea a day in the UK and tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world ( according to the British Nutrition Foundation). Tea, especially green tea contains substances that have an antioxidant effect in the body which may have health benefits, certainly a cup of tea is good for the soul.
This month Country Living Magazine have devoted several pages to afternoon tea and quote afternoon tea etiquette from the Ritz Hotel...
Use bone china cups and saucers- a fashion introduced by the victorians who purchased the finest pottery they could afford. What else gives a light and elegant feel and taste.
Use co ordinating teapot, milk and sugar bowl, allow one heaped teaspoon of loose tea per cup and use only boiling water. Provide a separate pot of boiling water to top up.
Pour the tea first, allow guests to add milk according to their taste, the habit of adding milk first may date back to the fact it prevented fine china cups cracking from the heat of the tea.
Place the teapot on the table so the spout is facing away from the guests, politeness and safety.
Ideally serve sugar lumps with tongs ( great-very posh).
Use the three tiers of a cake stand for different courses, crustless finger sandwiches at the bottom, scones in the middle and fine cakes on the top.
Spread the clotted cream on the scones first so the fat is near the scone, then add the jam.
So there we are, the traditional way to go about it but I guess afternoon tea may be served and expressed in many different styles, I for one don't bother with the sandwiches, why have sandwiches when you can have cake ?...I like small beautifully formed patisserie morsels and also lovely dense cakes such as carrot cake, fruit cakes and lemon drizzle loaves, either approach to cakes suits me fine :)
You can guess that when it comes to the tea though I am a traditionalist and a definate adovocate of fine bone china, yes the tea just tastes better !
If you are a fellow fan of tea why not become a member of the tea appreciation society, find them at www.teaappreciationsociety.org
and they are on facebook.
I am also quite keen to try out a rather boozy type of 'tea' party I heard about a little while ago, instead of tea the party host collected together a variety of beautiful teapots and served cocktails in them. What fun serving up cocktails in pretty bone china cups ! and did you know there are a number of cocktails made with tea if you want to actually serve tea at your 'boozy' tea party.
Well.. I'm going to make some dates in my diary and get baking.