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Gifts For Foodies - An Afternoon Tea Guide
Understanding the differences between afternoon tea and high tea, the components included in an afternoon tea and the appropriate dress code can be a bit perplexing. This guide is designed to clarify these aspects, providing transparency on the diverse afternoon tea experiences available. It’s a perfect resource for selecting a delightful gift for the tea enthusiast in your life.
Navigating the world of afternoon teas can be a tad confusing, with various options and offerings to consider. This guide aims to shed light on the essential distinctions, from elucidating the types of afternoon teas to addressing common queries and beyond.
Facts About Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea, a cherished British tradition, dates back to the 1840s. It was made popular by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who felt a 'sinking feeling' during the late afternoon. To remedy this, she requested a light meal of tea, bread and butter, and cake be served in her boudoir. The practice quickly became a fashionable social event among the upper classes.
The traditional afternoon tea comprises a tiered selection of delicacies:
Sandwiches: Delicate finger sandwiches with fillings like cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, and ham.
Scones: Warm scones served with clotted cream and preserves, usually strawberry jam.
Pastries and Cakes: An assortment of cakes, tartlets, and pastries.
You can't talk about facts about afternoon tea without talking about tea etiquette as it plays a significant role in this experience. Tea should be stirred gently, with the spoon placed on the saucer and not in the cup when not in use. Milk is added after the tea, a practice that dates back to when fine china would crack if hot tea was poured into it first.
What is Usually in an Afternoon Tea?
1. Tea Selection: A variety of teas are offered, including classic blends like Earl Grey, Assam, and Darjeeling, as well as herbal and fruit infusions.
2. Finger Sandwiches: These are small, crustless sandwiches with various fillings. Common fillings include cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise with cress, coronation chicken, and ham with mustard.
3. Scones: Freshly baked scones are a centrepiece of afternoon tea. They are typically served with clotted cream and preserves, usually strawberry jam.
4. Pastries and Cakes: A selection of cakes, pastries, and tartlets. This could include classics like Victoria sponge, Battenberg cake, fruit tarts, and macarons.
5. Optional Savoury Items: Some afternoon teas also include a few additional savoury items, like quiches or savoury scones.
The presentation is also a key part of the experience, with items elegantly displayed on tiered cake stands. The focus is on small, delicate portions that allow guests to enjoy a variety of tastes and textures.
What are the 3 Main Foods Served at an Afternoon Tea?
At an afternoon tea, the spread typically features finger sandwiches, scones, and a variety of pastries and cakes. The sandwiches are small and delicate, often filled with cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, and ham, presented without crusts and cut into neat rectangles or triangles. Scones, a central element, are usually served warm, accompanied by clotted cream and strawberry jam, offering a perfect balance between the savoury and the sweet. The experience is rounded off with an assortment of sweet treats, which include a range of cakes, pastries, tartlets, and sometimes biscuits or macarons, varying from traditional British cakes like Victoria sponge to more contemporary or seasonal delights.
What is Involved in Afternoon Tea?
Afternoon tea, a quintessential British tradition, involves a delightful combination of savoury and sweet elements, along with a variety of teas. The experience begins with delicate finger sandwiches, featuring fillings such as cucumber, smoked salmon, and egg mayonnaise, presented in a refined, crustless style. This is followed by scones, which are a highlight, served warm and accompanied by clotted cream and jam, usually strawberry, offering a delightful contrast between the savoury and the sweet.
The tea experience is rounded off with an assortment of pastries and cakes, ranging from traditional British fare like Victoria sponge to more contemporary or seasonal delights. All these are elegantly displayed on tiered cake stands and served alongside a selection of teas, ranging from classic blends to herbal infusions, making the afternoon tea a sophisticated, yet cosy culinary adventure.
What are Three Rules for Afternoon Tea?
Afternoon tea, steeped in tradition, comes with its own set of etiquette rules to enhance the experience. Here are three key rules:
1. Tea Stirring Etiquette: When stirring your tea, avoid clinking the spoon against the sides of the cup. The correct method is to gently swish the spoon back and forth in the cup, without making much noise, and then placing the spoon on the saucer behind the cup, not inside it.
2. Sandwich Eating Manner: Finger sandwiches should be eaten in small, delicate bites. It's important to avoid using cutlery for these; they are called finger sandwiches for a reason. Also, it's considered polite to eat one sandwich at a time, rather than stacking them.
3. Scone Preparation: When it comes to scones, the proper way to prepare them is a subject of debate, especially between the Devon and Cornish methods. However, the generally accepted etiquette is to break the scone by hand into smaller pieces, apply the jam first, followed by a dollop of clotted cream. It’s important to avoid cutting the scone with a knife or sandwiching the halves back together after applying cream and jam.
These rules help preserve the refined and leisurely nature of the afternoon tea experience, adding to its charm and sophistication.
Prosecco Afternoon Tea: A Sparkling Twist on Tradition
Afternoon tea with Prosecco takes the classic British afternoon tea experience and infuses it with an extra touch of celebration and luxury by including a glass of Prosecco. This sparkling wine, originating from Italy, is known for its light, bubbly nature, making it a delightful companion to the traditional tea spread.
What is Prosecco Afternoon Tea?
At its core, Prosecco afternoon tea includes all the elements of a traditional afternoon tea. It features a selection of delicate finger sandwiches with various fillings, freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of pastries and cakes. The key differentiator is the addition of a glass of Prosecco, which adds a festive and sophisticated element to the experience.
Why is it More Fun than Traditional Afternoon Tea?
A Touch of Elegance: Prosecco is often associated with celebrations and special occasions. Its inclusion in afternoon tea elevates the experience, making it feel more luxurious and exclusive.
Perfect for Celebrations: Whether it's a birthday, anniversary, or a simple get-together with friends, the addition of Prosecco makes the event more festive and memorable.
Balances Sweet and Savoury: The crispness and slight acidity of Prosecco can provide a refreshing contrast to the sweetness of the cakes and scones, as well as complement the savoury sandwiches.
Social and Relaxed Atmosphere: The presence of Prosecco often creates a more relaxed and sociable atmosphere, encouraging guests to linger, chat, and enjoy their time together.
Sensory Experience: The combination of the warm, comforting teas with the cold, crisp Prosecco offers a delightful sensory contrast.
Versatile Pairing: Prosecco pairs well with a wide range of flavours, making it a versatile choice that complements the various tastes found in a traditional afternoon tea spread.
Prosecco afternoon tea is an excellent choice for those looking to add a bit of sparkle to their traditional tea experience. It's an indulgent treat that combines the comfort of classic tea with the excitement of a celebratory toast, perfect for making any occasion feel a little more special.
Afternoon Tea for Three in London
London, the heart of this tradition, boasts venues offering an exceptional afternoon tea experience. Take the afternoon tea on a London bus experience where they have the perfect afternoon tea for three in London.
Experiencing traditional Afternoon Tea in London reaches new heights with a chic, contemporary setting that merges the quintessential English tradition with a charming French flair. This unique twist on the classic offers a delightful fusion of cultures in a trendy, elegant environment and can accommodate as many people as you wish.
Once you're comfortably seated in a stylish bakery in the heart of London's vibrant Covent Garden, you'll be treated to a variety of sweet and savoury delights. Imagine savouring treats like pretzel with chives, cream cheese and salmon, muffins bursting with feta cheese, peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes, along with indulgent chocolate cupcakes. Of course, no afternoon tea is complete without the traditional scone, served with clotted cream and jam, paired perfectly with a selection of hot drinks.
This is an experience to gather your loved ones for – a memorable afternoon tea for three London that's sure to be a topic of conversation for years. And with vegetarian and vegan options available, it's an inclusive treat that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Spa with Afternoon Tea
Combining relaxation with indulgence, several establishments offer a spa afternoon tea. A spa with afternoon tea is a luxurious fusion of relaxation and indulgence, blending the tranquil pleasures of a spa day with the delightful tradition of afternoon tea. It's an experience where one can enjoy the serenity and rejuvenation of spa treatments, followed by the elegant and comforting ritual of afternoon tea. This combination allows for an afternoon of pampering and relaxation, complemented by a selection of teas, delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and an array of pastries and cakes.
The allure of a spa afternoon tea lies in its ability to offer a complete sensory experience. The spa component usually includes a range of treatments like massages, facials, or access to sauna and steam rooms, providing an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This physical relaxation is then paired with the mental and social enjoyment found in the afternoon tea setting, where one can savour exquisite flavours and engage in leisurely conversation in a charming and serene environment.
Giving a spa afternoon tea as a gift is a thoughtful way to offer someone a much-needed retreat. It's perfect for celebrating special occasions, showing appreciation, or simply providing a loved one with a chance to unwind and indulge. The recipient gets to experience a slice of luxury, enjoying both the calming benefits of a spa and the cosy, indulgent atmosphere of afternoon tea. It's a unique gift that combines physical relaxation with culinary pleasure, making it an ideal choice for anyone looking to treat someone special to an unforgettable experience.
Afternoon Tea on a London Bus
For a unique twist, some companies offer afternoon tea on a London bus:
B Bakery Bus Tour: Guests can enjoy afternoon tea while sightseeing on a beautifully restored Routemaster bus. The route covers major London landmarks, making it a delightful way to combine tea with tourism.
The Paddington Bear Tea Bus: This tour offers a similar experience with a focus on London's history and architecture, providing commentary as guests enjoy their tea.
Afternoon Tea Bus Tour by Brigit's Bakery: Specialising in French patisseries, this tour offers a Parisian twist to the British tradition. The bus passes by sights like the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
Horseguards Hotel Afternoon Tea
If you like to mix a bit of royalty with your cream tea then the perfect combination is a trip to the Household Cavalry Museum mixed with an afternoon tea at the Horseguards Hotel.
Embark on a royal adventure in London with a visit to The Household Cavalry Museum, located in the heart of Whitehall. This experience is steeped in royal connections, offering an unparalleled glimpse into the ceremonial and armoured reconnaissance role of HM The King's Mounted Bodyguard.
The museum is a vibrant and active establishment, providing a unique opportunity to understand the realities of serving the Royal Family. You'll be able to immerse yourself in the rigorous and demanding training processes of the royal workforce through interactive displays and engaging stories. The museum, set in original 18th-century stables, also showcases rare and previously unseen objects, bringing history to life.
After exploring the rich tapestry of royal history, enjoy a leisurely walk down The Mall to The Royal Horseguards Hotel. Nestled near Westminster, this hotel is a blend of Victorian elegance and modern comfort, making it one of the area's most distinguished hotels. It's the perfect way to round off a day filled with regal discovery and historical exploration.
Each of these options showcases the versatility and enduring charm of afternoon tea. Whether it's a classic experience at a historic hotel, a relaxing spa day with tea, a sightseeing tour on a London bus, or a sparkling toast with Prosecco, there's an afternoon tea experience to suit every preference.