09 January, 2018

"The Ritual of Tea . . . "


Let's talk about another very English topic - and take a wee break from my ramblings about the House of Windsor.  
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.

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.

English Breakfast or Earl Grey?

English Breakfast.  Stop, the end.  Only and forever.  Seriously. 

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. 



Vicar's Wife said...

As an avid tea drinker I can tell you that my favorite tea of all is Barry's Irish Tea, either the Classic or the English Breakfast. I'm one for the whole ritual - boil the water, temper the pot, brew for 5 minutes,with the requisite tea cosy in place, which does wonders for keeping things copacetic.( I never brew in a mug - I have a personal sized brown Betty. Lovely!) Tea first, milk second. Thanks for a wonderful post. But keep up the House of Windsor thing. Fascinating!

Merlin said...

You do have a way!! franki

tammy j said...

your ramblings have always been and still are wonderful.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

I love the bergamot in Earl Grey, but only if it is a good quality bergamot. The smell. In Victoria, it is always water first, then milk too. First sandwiches, like carrot and cucumber(but high tea these can be salmon and caviar), then scones with clotted cream, then little pastries and cakes. Macaroons are durable journals these days but I love lemon petite fours. I rarely have time for the etiquette and service of a formal tea, but I still love a China cup and saucer, with a cucumber sandwich and shortbread. That's home.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Du jour not durable journals lol autocorrect. Sorry.

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