What is it about drinking tea that we love so much? Is it the novelty of drinking out of a china teacup while sticking our pinkies up? Or do we just love having a good old chin-wag over a cuppa?
Sipping on a cup of tea while perched on a big gilded armchair has always been a fine British tradition. I have to admit there is something slightly magical about drinking tea from a pretty little cup. It definitely gives you that feeling of being “proper”.
Believe it or not Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Research has also shown that it is actually good for you – how amazing is that!! I assume the researchers are referring to the real fresh grown tea leaves kind of tea but what the heck – I better get my teabag and stick the kettle on…
China is actually by far the largest tea-consuming country, at 1.6 billion pounds a year. But hang on a minute just to clarify Turkey, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are home to the world’s biggest tea drinkers! (Including me of course). In general British people are very passionate about making tea. When visiting a British household you are more likely to hear “fancy a cuppa”? or “shall I pop the kettle on?” before you have even sat down.
In fact, there are so many types of tea (natural and artificial). Some of the most popular tea types are Green, Black, white, herbals and Fruity. Each person has their favorite tea flavor and their own special way of making and/or drinking it. Some people prefer black tea and some people prefer adding milk, honey or lemon. My go to everyday teas are Twinning’s English Breakfast Tea (I add milk and sugar) and Green Tea.
Teeeeeeea + mini food = Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea is a tea-related customary, which was actually initiated in Britain in the early 1840s. It is usually served between 3-5pm. Note: High tea in the U.S. is usually served between 5-7pm and is more of a supper like meal.
It was designed to be a light meal (actually after all those scones and mini sweet treats its not really that light – so be warned!) composed of sandwiches which normally sit on the bottom tier.
Followed by mini treats on the second tier (an assortment of small cakes and petit fours (this means small confectionary for those who don’t know – look at me being ‘posh’).
Finally the top-tier is normally filled with freshly baked warm scones served with two small pots of clotted cream and jam. My tummy is rumbling already and its only 9.30am.
Extra Facts for those who are curious..
What is a scone?
A scone is a small unsweetened (or can be lightly sweetened) biscuit-like cake. It is made from flour, fat, and milk – you can add fruit too. I personally like the plain ones. They taste the best when you slab a layer of clotted cream and jam on top. Sheesh this is a hard blog to write. British scones are very different from the American scones you’ll find in coffee shops. American scones are based on the biscuit technique. American scones also have a higher ratio of fat-to-flour than British scones do. The biggest difference is the butter! You don’t add a lot of butter to British scones. Any one interested in making a yummy home-made scone – try out this recipe: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/7776-british-style-currant-scones
Clotted Cream – also known as Devonshire cream
All you need to know that it tastes deliciously good! Clotted cream in a nutshell is mixing butter and whipped cream together. The thick cream is made by indirectly heating full-cream milk using steam or a water bath. It is then left to cool. During this period, the cream content rises to the surface and forms “clots”. P.S. it’s very fattening but who bloody cares. It tastes too good.
Types of Sandwiches
For a proper afternoon tea sandwich, the crusts of the bread are normally removed giving the finger sandwiches that extra bit of elegance. Sandwiches are usually cut delicately into ‘fingers’ or due to the arty and posh restaurants these days, they can be moulded and rolled into any shape you like. The most popular sandwich fillings are cucumber, egg and mayo, ham and mustard and smoked salmon and cream cheese (these are just a few by the way). Yum!
Quick Note: One of my all time favorites are my Green Chutney, Cheese and Cucumber sandwiches accompanied with a cup of Masala Chai. Stayed tuned, for an up coming new blog “DIY afternoon tea parties with an Indian twist” (from my very own pre-wedding afternoon tea party).
I ❤️Afternoon Tea
I just adore the whole Afternoon Tea experience. The ambience and food fill me with joy. I constantly admire how beautiful everything looks and of course I take pictures of from every angle (yes of course I do this). Lets admit it, we are now a fully addicted picture-taking nation. We snap just about anything and everything. You take a picture of a sofa and post it and you may get a couple of likes. You post a picture of an ice-cream and boom! People go crazy! As I say the new era of “foodporn” has begun.
Although, my husband may not agree with me as: 1) he doesn’t care of the finer details, 2) he didn’t even know how to hold the damn tea cup the first time I took him to afternoon tea and 3) he just wants to eat (I really mean scoff) the dainty food before admiring its beauty!!!!!
So there you have it, a little insight into the world of Afternoon Tea, quite interesting isn’t it? For a little humour don’t forget to check out the British Tea Room’s An Idiots Guide to Afternoon Tea.
For now, enjoy some of my very own TEAART.
Please feel free to share your favorite teas or afternoon tea experiences by commenting below. Nothing better than starting a tea fest!