How An English Afternoon Tea Should Be

Sun, Nov 11, 2012

Destinations, Travel News

This is the Real Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a quintessentially English experience. It is thought to have originated in the mid-nineteenth century, and while today it is not a common part of everyday life, the tradition lives on as an occasion, a little indulgence in life. Afternoon tea is typically offered by hotels and guest houses, so you can often find it available everywhere from the grand classic London hotels and country houses of the Cotswolds to a boutique hotel in Bournemouth, Falmouth, Brighton or any number of tea shops scattered in countryside villages across the nation. Visitors to the royal palaces such as Blenheim can enjoy an afternoon tea in truly lavish surroundings. But wherever you choose to take your tea, here are the things that you should be looking for to ensure an authentic experience.
Tea
As the name suggests, an afternoon tea must include this most English of beverages. Of course, tea did not originate in England, but it has come to be considered the national drink. Traditionally the tea will be loose leaf, be brewed in a teapot and come with a single cup strainer for pouring into china cups. Typically, alongside English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea, most establishments offer a range, from the oriental flavours of Assam and Lapsang Souchong to herbal and fruit infusions. Nowadays, particularly in the summer months, the drink selection may also include a cold option, such as a traditional lemonade.
Sandwiches
The savoury part of afternoon tea is made up of sandwiches. In brown or white bread, the common ingredients are egg and cress, smoked salmon, cucumber, and ham. The sandwiches are cut into triangles and the crusts removed.
Scones
Scones are another beloved English favourite, forming the backbone of the cream tea that is a common feature of holidays in the south west of the country. In an afternoon tea, which was intended as a light meal, the scones must be light and feathery, not hard and crumbly. There is some debate as to whether a scone at an afternoon tea should contain sultanas. Either way, it must come with whipped cream and jam, preferably strawberry. That part is non-negotiable!
Cakes
Cakes are the final piece of the afternoon tea spread. Usually a selection of cakes and pastries are presented on a tiered cake stand for you to take your pick. Victoria sponge and Battenberg(one of the Queen’s favourites) feature often, but there are no hard and fast rules. So you may find everything from light lemon drizzle cake to hearty fruit cakes and delicate French fancies.

Post by Hugo Riddle, from lastminutehotels.com. Hugo usually writes about travel destinations around the world, especially travel guides about the United Kingdom.

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