"How 'To Tea' . . . "
Let's talk about another very British topic (that's not the Royal Family) - and take a wee break from my ramblings about textile and toiles. Proper tea is equal parts ceremony, tradition, and much-needed hydration. And sometimes a snack. And sometimes a meal. Let's examine a few facts . . . a few legends . . . and a few of my personal preferences and rituals.
Let's talk tea . . .
High Tea or Afternoon Tea?
Many fine folks use these terms as though they were interchangeable - though, in fact, each has a very specific meaning. The term 'afternoon tea' refers to a mid-afternoon snack comprised of tea and light nibbles. It is usually served at 4pm and serves as a snack between proper lunch and usually mid-evening dinner. Scones are the perfect fit for afternoon tea - as well as simple sandwiches and cakes. Now 'high tea' was traditionally used a substitute for the evening meal - and thus usually had a selection of much heartier dishes for the meal. So though 'high tea' sounds like a fancier version - usually 'afternoon tea' was used as a snack by the upper class - and 'high tea' by the working class as their evening meal.
Shop our collection of antique hotel silver
at SMW Home.
Milk First or Tea First?
Now this one gets serious. In our household, it is ALWAYS tea first - whether I'm brewing a cup or a pot. The tale I was told was that as tea became a tradition in English society during the Victorian era, tea service began to be produced for working-class households . . . and those service pieces were mass-produced and usually of a lower quality. For that reason, the milk was added first - to temper the tea and keep the cups from breaking. I also (personally) find that adding the milk to tea helps manage both the colour and temperature of my tea.
Shop our collection of tea service
at SMW Home.
English Breakfast or Earl Grey?
English Breakfast. Stop, the end. Only and forever. Seriously. With some Scottish Breakfast for
a wee bit of variety.
Pot or Cup?
This really depends on my day. My usual tradition is to make a huge pot of tea if I'm going to be at the house all day - and I'll work my way through it in a hour or so. But, a quick turnaround almost always mean a cup (or frankly, more likely a mug) of tea with breakfast.