(The above video was made by Ronnefeldt tea before Covid 19.)
Introduced in England in 1840 by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, afternoon tea started in the comfort of her home. In those days after the lunch meal at noon, socially dinner was served later around 7pm going forward. So between this huge gap the duchess used to get hungry. She then started her own tradition in her house where she would have a tray of tea brought to her with sandwiches and different pastries. Anna began inviting her friends to enjoy tea and light foods with her at her house. The practice became so popular that it became a social fashionable ritual of hostess hosting their social gathering.
If one is looking to have a partying or social gathering and still want the intimacy of conversation and bonding. This is the best way. It is occasional indulgence as a family or with a group of friends while checking up or to celebrate a special event such as a birthday, or a pre-wedding or baby shower party. Yes! Tea is now not just a hot drink but an occasion with an opportunity to cultivate social connections with loved ones even in this difficult times of Social distancing and isolation. Not to mention all the health benefits that accompanies drinking the teas as well.
Today we take a look on an idea and some guidelines on how to have afternoon tea with loved ones at home or even using online video platforms like skype or zoom.
1. Chinaware and presentation
The Chinaware of course must be squeaky clean, this is the perfect time to put all your best china, crockery and cutlery out as this is a special event. Make sure the tea and crockery is presented and take out to a specific format you would like.
2. Cake tier
If you own a tiered cake stand, dust it off and use it for the centrepiece. This is the traditional way of serving high tea. Otherwise, you can use your best crockery making it a bit more special and unique with folded napkins and name place cards, basically be creative! That’s what tea is all about.
Choose high quality loose leaf tea. Loose leaf teas have different aromas and delightful flavours and attributes. Also interesting history and stories behind the teas. This will make the experience more exhilarating and enjoyable. If you don’t have tea strainers, you can use loose tea which is pre-portion in a natural tea bag (LeafCup, JoyOfTea). Traditional must have teas on an afternoon tea table is English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Masala chai etc.
Light foods are key here. Usually it has different types of sandwiches, different types of scones and light cakes. Always serve Sandwiches with the crust off. If you interested in the traditional afternoon fillings its usually egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, cucumber, coronation chicken etc.
5. Tea and food pairing
(All tea's mentioned are found in our online store, please chat to us if you have any issues, see you there! Zanetti Collection online store: https://www.zanetticollection.co.za/)
Certain teas go with certain foods.
I. Black tea – they have robust flavours which compliment rich foods. E.g. red meat, chocolate, pastries, rich deserts. Examples of black tea is English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Masala Chai.
II. White tea – gentle and delightful on the palate. Best paired with light tasting foods, e.g. salad, cheese, cucumber, pannacotta. Examples of white teas are White Yunnan silver tips, Fruity White.
III. Green Tea – With their earthy green taste, they are best suited with seafood or vegetarian dishes. E.g. Sushi, fish, salads, chicken, . Examples of green tea to use are Lung Ching tea (Green Dragon), Morgentau, Moroccan Mint, Darjeeling Green leaf Tea.
IV. Oolong tea- These tend to vary depending on if it’s a light oolong or dark oolong and the region its from. Usually has smoky, nutty, subtle fruity complex delightful flavours. Goes very well with roasted vegetables and other dishes like smoked meats, cold meats, roasted vegetables, granola/muesli, pancakes. An example of Oolong teas is Oriental Oolong, Milky Oolong
V. Herbal and Fruit Infusions – Perfect for complex dishes, desserts and cakes. It all depends on the attributes of the infusion. For examples a Rooibos Cream Orange would go well with a carrot cake. Examples of good herbal and fruity infusions would be Rooibos Cream Orange, Ayurveda Herbs and Ginger, Lemon Fresh, Sweet Berries, Fruity Camomile.
6. Tea Etiquette
When it comes to afternoon tea, there are certain rules or traditions which one must follow to make the experience exquisite.
I. Cake Tier - If you have the cake tier, there is a certain order which you place the food on it for a high tea. Together with cream and jam, everything must be in order with sandwiches at the bottom, scones in the middle, and petits fours or biscuits on the top. You start with the sandwiches moving your way up while eating.
II. Nibbling - Basically during a high tea, we eat with our hands but of course for a gooey cake we can use a fork. Sandwiches are eaten in bite sized pieces allowing for polite conversation. When eating the scones, best practise is to break off pieces of the scones and spread the jam and cream as while eating. If using clotted cream its best to put jam first then cream. This is unless if you have Devonshire clotted cream then you can put cream first then jam. With its amount of butterfat, its more decendant than whipped cream but slightly lower than clotted cream. However never use the cream in your tea.
Avoid dunking foods in the tea. And remember, Take your time and enjoy yourself while chatting and bonding with your loved ones.
III. Tea Drinking - First and for most if the tea is too hot to drink, leave it to cool and do not blow. I know we all guilty of this Lols. This is the perfect time to chat, remember at afternoon tea, we take our time and socialise.
Properly brew your tea according to the recommended brewing time. This will ensure you to have the best taste, aromas and flavours from the tea.
Avoid slurping the tea and other noises as this is regarded as bad mannerism in most cultures and may be agitating to your companions or guests.
Always remember when it comes to white tea, green tea and herbal and fruit infusions. We do not recommend milk.
Always hold you cup and saucer close the chest and raise your cup as you drink. The saucer is your friend, it’s there to catch any slips that happen by accident and safe place to put your tea spoon as its not proper tea etiquette to leave the tea spoon swimming in your cup.