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Touring Through Teatime: High Tea and Elegant Escapes

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Touring Through Teatime: High Tea and Elegant Escapes

Introduction

High tea is a quintessentially British tradition that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a delightful experience that combines the elegance of afternoon tea with the heartiness of a light meal. In this guide, we will take you on a journey through the world of high tea, exploring its history, etiquette, and the best places to enjoy this elegant tradition.

The History of High Tea

High tea originated in Britain in the 19th century as a meal for the working class. It was typically served in the early evening and consisted of hearty dishes such as meats, cheeses, and bread, along with a pot of strong tea. Over time, high tea evolved into a more refined affair, with the upper classes adopting the tradition and adding delicate pastries, scones, and sandwiches to the menu.

The Etiquette of High Tea

Dress Code

When attending a high tea, it is customary to dress in smart casual attire. For women, this may include a dress or skirt and blouse, while men may opt for trousers and a collared shirt. Avoid wearing overly casual or formal attire, as high tea is a relaxed yet elegant affair.

Seating Arrangements

At a formal high tea, guests are typically seated at a table set with a tablecloth, napkins, and a centerpiece. The host or hostess may assign seating, or guests may seat themselves. When seated, it is customary to wait for everyone to be seated before beginning to eat.

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Tea Service

Tea is the focal point of high tea, so it is important to observe proper tea etiquette. When pouring tea, hold the teapot with your dominant hand and use your other hand to support the lid. Pour tea into the cup first, then add milk or lemon according to your preference. Stir the tea gently with a teaspoon, then place the spoon on the saucer.

The Elements of a High Tea

Tea Selection

The selection of tea is an important aspect of high tea. Traditional choices include Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Darjeeling, but many establishments offer a variety of blends and flavors to suit every taste. Some high teas even offer a champagne or prosecco option for those looking to add a bit of sparkle to their experience.

Sandwiches and Savories

High tea typically includes a selection of sandwiches and savories, such as cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon on brown bread, and quiches. These dishes are meant to be light and flavorful, complementing the tea without overshadowing it.

Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam

Scones are a staple of high tea, served warm with clotted cream and jam. The proper way to eat a scone is to split it in half, then spread a dollop of clotted cream followed by a spoonful of jam on each half. Scones are best enjoyed with a cup of tea.

Pastries and Cakes

No high tea would be complete without a selection of pastries and cakes. These sweet treats are the perfect way to end the meal, with options ranging from delicate macarons to rich chocolate cakes. Pair your pastry with a cup of tea for a truly indulgent experience.

Where to Enjoy High Tea

London, England

London is renowned for its high tea offerings, with many hotels and tea rooms offering traditional and modern interpretations of this classic tradition. Some popular destinations for high tea in London include The Ritz, Claridge’s, and Fortnum & Mason.

New York City, USA

New York City is home to a number of establishments that offer high tea, with options ranging from classic British tea rooms to modern, innovative tea experiences. Some popular destinations for high tea in New York City include The Plaza Hotel, The Russian Tea Room, and Bosie Tea Parlor.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne has a thriving high tea scene, with many hotels, cafes, and tea rooms offering a wide range of high tea experiences. Some popular destinations for high tea in Melbourne include The Hotel Windsor, The Langham Melbourne, and The Tea Salon.

Conclusion

High tea is a delightful tradition that offers a glimpse into the elegance and sophistication of British culture. Whether you’re enjoying high tea in a luxurious hotel in London or a charming tea room in Melbourne, the experience is sure to be a memorable one. So, gather your friends, put on your finest attire, and embark on a journey through the world of high tea.