For me, Tea Time is a sacred moment of the day. An enchanted interlude. It was my grandmother who, from a very young age, encouraged me to take this time for myself.
When I was little it was more of a constraint than a pleasure...but today I can't imagine a day without this moment. In creating Tea Heritage in 2013, my desire was to make tea times poetic and gourmet.
But let's go back to what Tea Time or Afternoon Tea is !
As you can imagine, this tradition comes from across the Channel. The British even have a week in their calendar that celebrates the tradition of Afternoon Tea. This year it will take place from August 8 to 14, 2022.
It is in the years 1830 - 1840 that the English aristocracy instituted this moment of break in their afternoons. Dinner was served after 8pm and after a light lunch, it was necessary to hold on until the evening. Afternoon Tea did not only include tea. It was accompanied by mini-sandwiches, savory scones and English pastries.
Very quickly, this tea party became a social gathering and had to respect a precise etiquette.
Emily Post in Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home published in 1922, details the utensils and the setting that make up a real tea time: "a kettle which ought to be already boiling, with a spirit lamp under it, an empty teapot, a caddy of tea, a tea strainer and slop bowl, cream pitcher and sugar bowl, and, on a glass dish, lemon in slices. A pile of cups and saucers and a stack of little tea plates, all to match, with a napkin (about 12 inches square, hem-stitched or edged to match the tea cloth) folded on each of the plates, like the filling of a layer cake, complete the paraphernalia. Each plate is lifted off with its own napkin. Then on the tea-table, back of the tray, or on the shelves of a separate "curate," a stand made of three small shelves, each just big enough for one good-sized plate, are always two, usually three, varieties of cake and hot breads."
As for food, the rules are also very strict, "should include two plates of hot food such as toast or hot cookies split open and buttered, toasted and buttered English muffins, or crumplets, corn muffins or hot gingerbread. Two cold plates should contain cookies or fancy cakes, and perhaps a layer cake. In hot weather, in place of one of the hot dishes, there should be pâté or lettuce sandwiches, and always a choice of hot or iced tea, or perhaps iced coffee or chocolate frappé, but rarely if ever, anything else."
I loved to find this British tradition in the series Downtown Abbey or in The Bridgerton Chronicle.
I wish you beautiful and gourmet tea times! 🤍
See you soon,