The education and formalities of tea time for most of the world is a lost past time that the English hold near and dear to their hearts. If you’ve never taken the time to sit down for tea, here is what I’ve learned…
Many years ago I decided that I would travel to London to visit a friend… It would be my first time there. I grew with excitement as the date for departure drew near… I’ve always loved the British for their wit and customs. So for me, I thought the pool of intelligence would satisfy all of my curiosities.
When I arrived in London, I fell immediately in love with the pulse of the city… I found it vibrate and alive with great confusion when it came to crossing any street since people there drive on the opposite side of the road.
Afternoon Tea at The Ritz was my first introduction to this custom that I’d not been privileged enough to have experienced. I was told to wear a blazer, dress shirt with a tie and trousers if I hadn’t travel with a suit… With me, up until a couple of years ago, I’ve always over packed and traveled with two large suitcases so I was prepared.
The room with it’s elegance and old world charm was warm and comfortably inviting.. The Ritz’s Palm Court styled in Louis XVI in shades of gold, pale green and pale pink is where tea is served. The staff in uniform were proper and extremely knowledgable of each tea’s origin. The fine china and tier of sandwiches, scones and sweets were as foreign as any unfamiliar language to me. I’ve always considered myself curious and eager to learn this custom of taking time for Afternoon tea or Low Tea (Usually 3-5pm), originated amongst the wealthy classes in England in the 1840’s. But by the end of the nineteenth century, this custom was observed by both the upper and middle classes. My thought’s were that sitting for tea in England was always “High Tea” but learned that High tea (Usually 5-7pm) is the dinner time of the working class, and not the posh understanding that I thought this custom to be but more specifically the time frame . High tea was also eaten by middle to upper class children, whose parents would have a more formal dinner later.
The tea usually consists of: Several options of loose tea (make sure to use your strainer), sparkly wine / champagne, finger sandwiches of cucumber, salmon and meat with several options of muffins, cake and scones.
Since my first experience, I’ve chosen to sit for tea whether at home or with my last trip to London where my friend Melanie and I took time out of the day to visit Fortnum & Mason’s, Diamond Jubilee Salon’s beautiful space of teal, white, beige’s and gold where we sat for three hours chatting and having sandwiches and sweets all the while sampling loose tea’s from China to Africa.
Taking time to sit and have a proper conversation while having tea, without rushing as we often do in America, I’ve embraced since learning this cherished British tradition.
Take the time to sit for tea!Back to Blog