I’ve always been a coffee addict and for many years would surreptitiously roll my eyes heavenward when friends would start in about the wonders of a cup of tea. I think that no one in my family ever drank tea and when I had tried it out, it seemed to be either an insipid, milky liquid or mouth puckering, bitter stuff that didn’t really go well with anything — except maybe Chinese food. And don’t even get me started on green tea — yes, I know it’s good for you, but so is cod liver oil, I suppose.
Anyway, time changes and so do we, and I spent a few weeks with a British/Canadian friend who cheerfully made tea at all times of day or night and for any or no reason whatsoever. I politely accepted her hospitality and sipped the stuff and discovered that I actually enjoyed some of it. I started to experiment and found out a bit about the many varieties of tea and began to figure out which ones I favored. Perhaps more than the taste of the liquid, I found that all of the little rituals that went with preparing tea were strangely soothing. And I now actually will make myself a cup of tea when in need of a moment of quiet contemplation. Which brings me to our Go Cooking event on May 2nd.
Our creative co-ordinator, Karen Aquino, has put together an afternoon tea, to take place in the Spectator auditorium. The tea will include all sorts of sweets and treats, fancy finger sandwiches and really special delicacies from places such as Made for You by Madeleine, Let Them Eat Cakes, Beanermunkey Chocolate, Look Devine and Dine and Bella of Ancaster. The tea itself is from Blair Elements, Hamilton’s own tea specialist and for those who remain diehards for caffeine, Coffeecology will be on hand. The tea begins at 1 p.m. with some time for shopping and relaxing, 2 p.m. for the elegant tea service and a bit of time left over for a photograph by a professional photographer. If you haven’t got your ticket yet, I’m sorry — the afternoon is sold out. But let’s hope that another looms on the horizon?
The tea has been billed as a “perfectly pink high tea” and I was curious about the “pinkness” factor. Apparently it has no deep significance and is just a design motif that was chosen as a theme for the decor — simply because it was a lady-like “girly” colour that seemed to fit.
What I also found out, after doing a bit of research, was that “high tea” is actually a bit of a misnomer (we in the “colonies”, of course, got it wrong). To the British “high tea” originated as a working class meal eaten at the end of the workday, between 5 and 7 p.m. The “high” referred to the later time of day. It usually included a hot dish followed by cakes and bread and butter and jam and was served as a meal instead of supper. What we are going to be enjoying on Sunday is actually called “afternoon tea” in Britain. This was a light meal or snack, eaten between 4 and 5 p.m., and designed for the leisure classes since dinner wasn’t served until 8 or 9 p.m. Afternoon tea could include fancy sandwiches, cakes, scones, crumpets and biscuits and, of course, perfectly brewed loose leaf tea. There’s also something called a “cream tea” which focuses on tea, scones, jam and Devonshire or clotted cream and which sounds perfectly divine. I did find an amusing set of instructions, about proper comportment and the etiquette of afternoon tea by someone named Ellen Easton on the Internet at
Here are her rigorous instructions, for instance, on
“How To Eat A Scone:
Again, contrary to recent “experts” advice (now I understand how rumors get started!), it is not only improper to slice a scone, in its ENTIRETY (horizontally to be slathered in jam and cream), it is considered very common behavior! Although some establishments will serve a sliced scone pre-prepared with jam and cream, this is merely a gimmick introduced to save time (It may now be ”acceptable” but it will never be correct). A hostess should instruct and insist that the scones, for large functions or buffets, be made smaller into bite size ”standing room” size.
The correct manner in which one eats a scone is the same manner in which one eats a dinner roll. Simply break off a bite-size piece, place it on your plate, and then apply, with your bread and butter knife, the jam and cream. A fork is not used to eat a scone. Please, no dipping!”
Anyway, we don’t care how you eat a scone and, whatever you want to call it, prepare for an afternoon of relaxation and complete self indulgence. And no hats required, although it might be a lot of fun to try a fascinator.
Here’s a recipe from Blair Elements for a very special kind of smoothie using one of their specialty teas:
Green & White Tea Mango Smoothie
from Blair Elements http://www.blairelements.com/tea-recipes/
1 cup of boiling water
4 tsp Blair Elements Mango Flavoured Green and White Tea
2 cups (500 ml) cubed mango
3/4 cup (180) low fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup (250 ml) ice cubes – 6 to 8
1) Pour steaming water over the tea leaves and brew for 3 – 5 minutes. Remove the leaves and allow the tea to chill.
2) In a blender, process brewed tea, mango and yogurt. Sweeten, if desired with sugar. Add ice cubes and process until smooth.
3) Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Blair Elements tells us that the combination of the natural rich antioxidants in the green and white tea, infused with the yogurt and rich mango makes this a refreshing treat any time of the day.