Tuesday, June 30, 2015

COME TO TEA!

You know how much the English love their tea. Apart from our morning cuppa I usually put the kettle on around 4pm which is official 'tea time'. On Sunday I pulled out all the stops and served a special tea to celebrate a friend's birthday.


There are many different kinds of teas served in England. You may have been introduced to afternoon tea when watching Downton Abbey. The Dowager countess liked to invite a lady friend over to tea when she wanted to discuss something or maybe do a little prying. That was a fairly simple affair with maybe a small sandwich and cake and cups of tea and taken sitting on a chair with plates on knees or on a small side table. That is called low tea.


For this occasion my tea was mixture of Low tea, Royal tea and Devon cream tea! Royal tea named, not because the queen was in attendance, and she was, but because I served a little bubbly to start with.


We have Anne, Duchesse of Bedford, lady in waiting to Queen Victoria, to thank for this little ritual. With the ever lengthening time between luncheon and dinner she felt the need for a little snack and ordered a few sandwiches and cakes to be delivered to her room. She then suggested the idea of tea time to Queen Victoria who would invite ladies over to take tea with her.

But this wasn't an all ladies event at our house. We had gentlemen too, although it was the ladies who got together for a photograph while the men did the gossiping!



They may not have served all the things on my tea-time table but you would have been sure to see a selection of sandwiches and small cakes.


And maybe some meringues.


Undoubtedly there would be scones too. At one time the famous Devon tea consisted of scones with jam and clotted cream and was only served in the West Country. But such a delicious tea was sure to be adopted by other counties and now you can find a cream tea in many other counties and naming it after their own county.
I have to thank my friend the internet for many of these recipes. Want to know what was on the table.

Roasted red pepper and goat cheese sandwiches
Egg mayonnaise and chive sandwiches
Smoked salmon and cream cheese cucumber bites
Mushroom vol au vents
Curried chicken mayonnaise with grapes, dried cranberries, pecans and green onions on rounds of Granny Smith apples.
Watermelon cubes with pomegranate balsamic vinegar

Currant scones with strawberry jam and Devon cream
Shortbread fingers,
Meringues with cream and strawberries
Strawberries stuffed with sweetened cream cheese.

Earl Grey and English breakfast tea.

Next time you are thinking of celebrating a friend's birthday why not throw here a Royal tea.

21 comments:

  1. Yum! Thanks for the history lesson too - I'd no idea how or when tea-time became a tradition.

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  2. I'm salivating in a most improper way. What a hostess you are!

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  3. Looks like a lot of effort and a really beautiful, and I'm sure, tasty result.

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    1. No more than a dinner party Marilyn and after I had laid it out I was totally free to enjoy the company.

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  4. Looks beautiful and delicious! What a fabulous treat... Eating this wonderful food while looking at your garden would be heavenly:)

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  5. Your an English lady after my own heart, Rose. I serve similar teas, preferably in my garden, every summer, with a slightly different menu. The scones and the sherry trifle are always a big hit at our house. Your tea looks magnificent. I know how much work went into it ... well done! P. x

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    1. Sherry trifle. I wonder if you do individual ones. Do you remember how at birthday parties when you were young you always had little dishes with jelly? I must be on the lookout for individual dishes. That would be perfect. I think my guests were worried that the tea might be in the garden but late June in Austin at 4pm is out of the question. Our humidity has been through the roof recently. I will consider a spring tea in future.

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  6. How delightful this must have been. I love the idea of tea time, mostly because I'm ready for a little something-something at about 4:00! Your table was beautiful and the recipes look delicious. I am really going to try to make scones one day!

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  7. I love the modern take on coronation chicken!!

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    1. I have served Coronation chicken at a wedding brunch. My recipe fro that has apricot which would also go well with this mixture. The sweet with curry goes well together.

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  8. Looks and sounds amazing! I, too, start my day with a cup of tea and then put on another pot of tea around 4 o'clock most days, although never with such fancy accompaniments!

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  9. Oh, how fun! And it all looks so beautiful (and delicious!) on the table, too! I threw a tea with scones and clotted cream and such for a bridal shower for my sister-in-law, as she lived in England for several years and loved this tradition. Sadly, I don't like tea myself. (Scones on the other hand...) Now that I live in New England, I've somehow turned into a coffee drinker though.

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  10. Hard to tell which is the most appealing photo here- the smiling ladies or that well stocked table! (and while I'm saying so - great shot of you in that garden posy of a dress at the gate up top, Thanks to David or whomever!)

    I adore how the coneflowers are set up like lovely floral parasols over Her Royal Highness. Jenny you set a stunning table. Everything looks (and sounds) delicious and thanks for supplying a list of the dishes because I was immediately wondering what that little pool of deliciousness was floating in those watermelon cubes. Pom vinegar, yum!

    Any chance you'd share the recipe for the chicken on granny smith apple rounds? I don't think I've seen anything quite like that but I'd like to! Your idea for a celebration tea is spot on. I'll be watching and waiting for an opportunity to try my own hand at that one of these days soon.

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    1. I made up that recipe Deb. Chopped cooked chicken, chopped celery, chopped seedless grapes and dried cranberries, green onions, chopped pecans and mayo with a teaspoon (or so) or curry powder. Mix all together and season to taste. I bought the chicken at Sam's. Slice rounds of small cored Granny Smith apples and brush with lemon juice. I patched the core with a sliver of apple. I have also used this same mixture on 5 grain bread cutting off the crusts.

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    2. It sounds fabulous. I'll give it a try and soon. A lovely combination of savory and sweet with just enough crunch to keep it all interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I love afternoon teas! Yours looks both lovely and yummy! I learnt to make tea properly while living in London : ) Had not heard of starting with bubbly...i like it! Cheers!

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  12. Wow--this looks like so much fun! I lived in England for 3 years as a young teen--and retain a preference for tea; and the tea ritual. There is something calming about sitting down to sip and nibble. We didn't do the royal tea but I think the addition of bubbly is a great idea.

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  13. My goodness, that looks and sounds so good. Thanks for educating me on the different types of teas. I didn't know all those details.~~Dee

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