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Posts Tagged ‘high tea’

I was excited to learn about the grand opening of Crown & Crumpet last month, “a room with tea and wit”. My excitement was followed by great disappointment when I discovered the anticipated tea salon would be located in the newly revamped Ghirardelli Square in the heart of old San Francisco.

 

Considering, I am about 10 states away in the Midwest, I would not be able to easily experience this “destination tearoom” known for top-quality food and excellent libations, all with the style and charm that one finds in modern day Britain.  My readings about Crown & Crumpet reflect a tea atmosphere that infuses tradition with a large dose of panache and humor. The space has been architecturally designed by renowned English architect and designer Roland Courtenay Bishop and interior designed by owners Christopher and Amy Dean. 

 

In addition to what appears to be exquisite design, Crown & Crumpet will also contain a retail section, filled with teas from Lupicia, Harney and Sons, Tea Palace from London, Palais du Thé from Paris, and Lindsay’s Teas, among others.

 

If you live in the San Francisco area or are visiting stop by Crown & Crumpet for Afternoon Tea Service or a simple cuppa tea. Because I must live vicariously through you, please stop by and give me all of the details.

 

 

Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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The term “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea” are often used interchangeably when discussing the ritual or ceremony of tea drinking. Many tea rooms offer ritual tea drinking by reservation only. Including Mrs. Teapots, the subject of yesterday’s post describing my belated birthday outing with friends.

I decided to conduct a little research to determine where this custom originated and to clarify once and for all the difference between the terms “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea” if there were any. It was my understanding that the notion of high tea derived from Great Britain, thus I sought to find a legitimate source of information. In my search, I happened upon the UK Tea Council, from whence I pulled my research information. Additionally, I saw this website quoted by other sites when defining High Tea.

I learned that while tea was part of the staple diet of the poor, among the rich, tea drinking was evolving into an elaborate social occasion. Afternoon teas probably had their roots in the ladies tea-parties of the seventeenth centuries, but evolved during the eighteenth century into something of a national institution. Tradition has it that afternoon tea was ‘invented’ by Anna Maria, the wife of the seventh Duke of Bedford, who in 1841 started drinking tea and having a bite to eat in the mid-afternoon, to tide her over during the long gap between lunch (eaten at about 1 o’clock) and dinner (eaten at around 7 o’clock). This swiftly developed into a social occasion, and soon the Duchess was inviting guests to join her for afternoon tea at 5 o’clock. It did not become instantly popular elsewhere though, partly because in fashionable circles dinner was eaten earlier, leaving less of a gap to be filled by afternoon tea. But by the 1860s the fashion for afternoon tea had become widespread. Such teas were elegant affairs, with tea drunk from the best china and small amounts of food presented perfectly on little china plates. On offer might be bread and butter, scones and cakes, and sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

Some poorer households also adopted the practice of afternoon tea, and in some areas women pooled their resources and equipment in order to make such occasions affordable. But more common among the working classes was ‘high tea’. During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when most people worked in agriculture, the working classes tended to have the main meal of their day at midday, with a much lighter supper late in the evening. But after the industrial revolution, more and more people were employed for long shifts in factories or mines, and hot midday meals were thus less convenient. They were also not appropriate for the increasing numbers of children who were at school during the day. The custom developed of having a high tea in the late afternoon, at the end of the working day, consisting of strong tea, and hearty, hot food. Unlike afternoon tea, high tea was the main meal of the day, rather than a stop-gap between lunch and dinner.

I truly appreciate the UK Tea Council writers for explaining the difference in these two customs. In the future, I intend to be more conscientious when discussing tea customs. If the meal served with the tea is on the lighter side, I shall refer to it as Afternoon Tea. Whereas if the meal is hearty in nature, I shall refer to the event as High Tea.

Please share your tea-drinking experiences. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking! 

Reference: United Kingdom Tea Council, A Social History of the Nation’s Favourite Drink, retrieved electronically on April 26, 2008 from http://www.tea.co.uk/index.php?pgId=98

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As a belated birthday gift two of my co-workers treated me to “High Tea” at Mrs. Teapots. It was a wonderful time amongst friends!

You can experience High Tea at Mrs. TeaPots at various times throughout the day. A reservation is required – but other than that your only responsibility is to arrive on time. Our reservations were at 1:15 p.m. and we did not leave until 2:45 p.m. This was my first tea experience at Mrs. Mrs. Teapots and I enjoyed the leisurely pace in which the courses were served.

Our first order… the tea. The three of us shared two pots of tea – Royal Wedding and Apricot Cream. I know very little about either of these two teas; therefore, I can only provide a modified review. The first tea I had the pleasure of drinking was the Apricot Cream:

Name: Apricot Cream

Aroma: Apricot

Liquor: Burnished orange

Flavor: A definite fruit flavor. The apricot was sweet, yet not overpowering. I tasted with and without honey – the honey enhanced the apricot flavor

After enjoying a delicious cup of the Apricot Cream. I unceremoniously progressed to the Royal Wedding:

Name: Royal Wedding

Aroma: Sweet – not necessarily fruity.

Liquor: Light brown with red tones.

Flavor: Sweet yet floral flavor. A combination I have never experienced. I tasted both with and without honey – it was enjoyable either way.

Once the tea arrived, the food immediately followed. I will describe the food by courses.

Course 1: A salad of mixed greens, carrots and tomato with your choice of dressing – Apricot Vinaigrette or Ranch. I opted for the Apricot Vinaigrette. The dressing was delicious! The dressing reminded me of a well seasoned Italian dressing with the addition of fresh apricots that added a pleasant sweetness. There was also a fantastic slice of cheese and asparagus quiche.

Course 2: Zucchini bread and chocolate chip scone – white and milk chocolate. This was served with a tasty pistachio cream – a mix between butter and cream cheese. In addition there was a dainty champagne glass filled with fresh fruit.

Course 3: This course included well seasoned chicken salad on a croissant AND a tasty , bite-sized pretzel sandwich. The pretzel sandwich was made of pretzel bread sprinkled with a little salt, a strawberry cream cheese spread, a moderate slice of cucumber and tomato. This was the best finger sandwich I have ever eaten. I would have taken four of those over the chicken salad. This is not to say the chicken salad was not good, but the pretzel sandwich stole the show.

Course 4: A medium slice of chocolate cake, a fabulous pecan tart, AND a chocolate covered strawberry.

Please understand each of us were served every item listed above. I was unable to finish it all, not to mention completely stuffed. You can only imagine my surprise every time I received the next course.

If you are ever in the Kentucky area you must visit Mrs. Teapots. Not only will you receive superior service, you will enjoy delicious tea while seated in the most quaint environment. Mrs. Teapots is chock full of teas and tea accessories to not only ooh and aah over, but to purchase as well. The best part of it all… you will never leave hungry!

Until then…Happy Tea Drinking!

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