The tradition of High Tea goes back many years to the late 1700's. In England at that time there were two main meals daily, Breakfast and Dinner. Dinner was served very late in the evening, so it was a very long time between meals.
The Duchess of Bedford(1788-1861) complained about a "sinking feeling" in the late afternoon. Afternoon Tea was her invention to keep her going until dinner. She would invite friends to join her for tea at 5p.m. Other hostesses quickly copied her idea. Food at tea included such things as thin crustless sandwiches, shrimp or fish pate, toasted breads with jams and regional pastries such as scones and crumpets. The emphasis was on presentation and conversation.
High Tea was a full meal in the evening and is much different. It was called so because it was served on the high table or the family dining table to workers from the fields and/or working class families for their evening meal. It consisted of meats, gravies, cheese, eggs, bread and butter, and cake -and of course, tea.
Afternoon Tea or Low Tea , which is common today, was traditionally served on low tables and, comes in three various forms- Cream Tea, Light Tea and Full Tea and is served about four o'clock. The different types of Afternoon Tea varies as to whether or not you serve tea with scones, clotted cream, preserves, sandwiches, pastries, and cakes.
Today different versions of Afternoon Tea can be found worldwide especially in commonwealth countries. Victoria, BC has numerous tea rooms which strive to keep the tradition alive.
While all the talk is about having Afternoon Tea at the Empress, our favourite tea room in Victoria is the Blethering Place
British / English Afternoon Tea traditionally consists of:
- Freshly baked scones and crumpets served with Devonshire cream and Country preserves
- Afternoon tea sandwiches
- Assorted pastries
- Traditional English trifle
- Tea (or coffee)
Recipe: Traditional High Tea Scones
* Pastry Flour 136 grams (4 ½ oz)
* Bread Flour 136 grams (4 ½ oz)
* Sugar 110 grams (3 ½ oz)
* Baking Powder 20 grams (2 tbsp)
* Butter 75 grams (2 ½ oz)
* Cream (35%) 200 ml (7 oz)
* Eggs 2
* Raisins 60 grams (2 oz)
* Egg Wash
1. Sift all dry ingredients together
2. Cut in butter until mealy, do not over mix
3. Mix cream and eggs together
4. Add raisins and liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, until just combined
5. Knead 2-3 times and roll out 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. Cut with a floured cutter.
6. Place biscuits on lined sheet, brush with egg wash and let rest for 45 minutes
7. Bake at 170 C or 325 F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown
Yields 2 dozen
The Perfect Cup of Tea
1. Start with fresh-drawn cold water and bring to a rolling boil.
2. Warm teapot to help keep tea hot longer.
3. Use one teabag for each two cups of tea. Be sure to choose a quality blend!
4. When water has boiled, pour onto teabags in teapot. Cover and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Remove teabags. Enjoy!
1. Insert 6 tea bags into a one litre pitcher.
2. Pour 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of freshly boiled water over tea bags.
3. Steep for five minutes.
4. Remove tea bags.
5. Fill pitcher with fresh cold water.
6. Pour over ice.
7. Garnish and sweeten to taste.
Once prepared, fresh brewed iced tea should be stored in the refrigerator. A rule of thumb is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice.