Roz from TheFoodieCouple tells us what makes the perfect afternoon tea…
Afternoon Tea has really made a comeback in the last couple of years. And it’s come along way from it’s beginnings, when Anna, The 7th Duchess of Bedford, feeling hunger on that stretch between breakfast and dinner took a pot of tea and a light snack in her boudoir back in the 1800’s.
But what makes the perfect afternoon tea?
For me, there are many elements that must all combine in perfect synergy to make a really perfect Afternoon Tea. Widely speaking, we can split these elements into three areas:
- Location & Atmosphere
- Tea & Drinks
- The Food!
So lets have a look at all three in a little more detail.
Location & Atmosphere
The option for afternoon tea pops up in many different locations, but I have a trio of places that go to the top of my list.
Firstly there’s a quaint teashop. Picture vintage china, slightly mismatched furniture and (hopefully) sun shining through the glass windows. Alternatively perhaps, a cool peaceful hotel bar or lobby, with maybe some melodic live piano music in the background. Lastly I love the idea of the drawing room of a country house or country house hotel. Comfy sofas, a roaring open log fire and relaxed atmosphere.
But wherever the perfect location, the service has to be friendly, unpretentious and knowledgeable and the presentation of the tea top notch. A centerpiece tiered cake stand is a must!
Tea & Drinks
A good selection of teas is a must, served in decent china. Refills or the option to try a couple of flavours during the afternoon tea is a nice touch too. However, there are non-tea drinkers out there, so the option of having a coffee or other drink is a positive too.
I will also confess that having a glass of something bubbly to start off my afternoon tea also goes on my ‘perfect’ list. I have even seen some places that offer ‘tea-themed’ cocktails alongside the tea, which I think is a fabulous idea and would certainly earn somewhere a few brownie points.
For many, the most important part. A traditional afternoon tea comprises of sandwiches, a scone and a few sweet treats. I feel that the sandwiches should always be small and bite size (and no crusts are mandatory!) It’s also nice to see some care and though taken over their fillings. A twist on the traditional, or something more inventive is certainly preferable to the standard Egg&Cress or Cucumber in my opinion. An extra savoury treat is always a plus, perhaps a mini quiche or something like the Welsh Rarebit Dip by Hotel La Tour itself?
Scones are a stalwart of an afternoon tea, they have to be served slightly warm and melt in your mouth and be accompanied by traditional clotted cream and strawberry jam. It’s also refreshing to see another option to strawberry jam, maybe as simple as a different flavor of jam or perhaps something a little more obscure, like lemon curd. It doesn’t have to be traditional to be perfect!
Lastly, and for me the most exciting part: a selection of little miniature sweet treats. There has to be one of everything per person, sharing is not an option! Again it is great to see some originality and creativity among these, and a range of flavours and textures, but over all it’s the attention to the detail of cooking the sweet treats well that can make or break the afternoon tea – after all, it will be the last thing you eat and remember. Some of my favourite things to see on the sweet treat tier include macarons, little fruit tarts, and of course, something chocolaty!
Last but not least, wherever and however you are having your afternoon tea, being surrounded by family, friends and great company is the most important.
What would be your perfect Afternoon Tea?