Thursday, July 1, 2010
A Spot of Afternoon Tea..
Tomorrow, I'm bringing my best friend to The Merrion in Dublin for afternoon tea,because it's her birthday sooon :D So to get into the mood, here is your complete guide to afternoon tea, from scones to darjeeling, it's all here.
The afternoon tea party holds its origins in the Victorian and Edwardian ages in the United Kingdom and the Gilded Age in the United States. As the name so eloquently suggests, it is usually scheduled between mid and late afternoon.
Afternoon tea is distinguished by the use of fancy cutlery and crockery, such as bone china or silver. Everything is supposed to look super pretty and quaint. The tea is accompanied by a variety of foods: thin sandwiches, such as cucumber or tomato, cake slices, buns or rolls, and cookies are all common.
Author Henry Fielding's quip that "love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea," suits me perfectly, as Sarah and I have ALOT to discuss :D
HOME-MADE AFTERNOON TEA (one you don't have to spend sixty quid on)
Scones are pretty much an afternoon tea given. Afternoon tea without a scone? Phhhh.
* 1 3/4 cups flour (you could use wholewheat flour, they'd be more coarse, but just as yum and much healthier)
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 3/4 cup buttermilk, or slightly more as needed
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl with a whisk or spoon.
Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like oatmeal. Stir in the raisins. Using a large spoon, blend in buttermilk until a soft dough forms.
Place dough on a floured board and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into six squares, then cut each square again on the diagonal. Place triangles on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
Makes 12 scones.
CUCUMBER MINT SANDWICHES
* 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
* 2 tablespoons cream cheese
* 6 slices of whole-wheat bread
* a 3-inch length of seedless cucumber, cut into thin slices
In a small bowl combine the mint, butter, and cream cheese and stir. Spread the bread slices with the butter mixture, top 3 of them with the cucumber, distributing the cucumber evenly and seasoning it with salt, and top the cucumber with the remaining bread slices. Cut off and discard the crusts and cut each sandwich diagonally into PERFECT and EXACT quarters. :D mmm.
LEMON + COCONUT BARS
* 1 cup all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted, cooled
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
* 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* Pinch of salt
* 1/4 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking tray with foil, leaving overhang. Butter foil. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add coconut and butter; process until mixture resembles fine meal and begins to clump together. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden at edges, about 25 minutes.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon peel, flour, baking powder, and salt in processor. Blend filling until smooth.
Remove crust from oven. Pour filling evenly over hot crust. Return to oven and bake until filling begins to brown at edges and is just set and springy to touch in center, about 30 minutes. Transfer from baking tray to rack; cool bars completely.
Using foil as aid, transfer lemon bars to work surface. Flatten foil edges. Cut into 16 bars. Sift the icing sugar over et voila ! Vous avez un plaisir délicieux d'heure du thé ! I hope that french is right or I'll look a damn fooool.
THE ACTUAL TEA ITSELF :D
There are literally like a billion varieties and types of tea, and it would take me weeks to write about them all. Screw that. So here is an extremely compressed version of the tea essay which I one day aspire to write.
For afternoon tea, I think your everyday Barrys or PG Tips would do, BUT if that just doesn't quite meet the mark..
*English Breakfast tea (optionally served with milk and sugar or honey)
*Earl Grey- Which is flavoured with oil of Bergamot and is my favourite :)
*Darjeeling-this tea contains an abundance of polyphenols and has higher antioxidants than most green teas. A black tea with all the benefits of a green tea :)
These teas are all pretty standard, and would probably be most suitable for afternoon tea as they are known and loved by most :)
But that's not to say that herbal teas would not be lovingly welcomed at afternoon tea! Par exemple:
*Rooibos- A.k.a Red bush tea, it contains a load of antioxidant type things and mainly popular in Cape Town, South Africa. Caffeine free and naturally sweet :)
*Chamomile- Chamomile is a sweet and fruity herb so this tea is caffeine free, and is really good with a teaspoon of honey.
*Fruit teas- These are so good, and there are so many kinds..lemon, berry, peach..
You can make your tea with teabags or with loose tea leaves. You'll need a tea strainer if using loose tea leaves :)
Coolest tea strainer ever.
And now, because I love you, my amazing FOUR followers, I have scoured (phh) the internet for the most precise and exact tea-making method and *DRUM ROLL* here it is:
It also has a tutorial video, which is useful if, by some enormous downfall in your luck, you have never made tea before.
NON-HOMEMADE AFTERNOON TEA
Tomorrow, Sarah and I will be going to the Merrion in Dublin because I've heard it's the loveliest and it serves award winning afternoon tea (2004 Afternoon Tea Awards)
In The Merrion, reservations are not 100% necessary but I would reserve just in case. I called up like an hour ago and made reservations for tomorrow soo.. You can be served standard afternoon tea for two with champagne for just under fifty quid :)
There are lots of other places in Dublin that serve afternoon tea, such as The Westbury Hotel, The Four Seasons, The Clarence Hotel and The Gresham Hotel.
THE RITZ: The heaven of the High Tea world
My father proposed to my mother over afternoon tea at The Ritz in London, and when he told me the story, I finally understood the phrase, "putting on the Ritz".
In the Ritz, one is expected to be in full formal attire for afternoon tea, jeans and sports shoes are not allowed and tables need to be reserved a minimum of three months in advance. Afternoon tea is £39 per person, they serve 17 different varieties of tea and The Palm Court is .. incredible.
So there it was, afternoon tea.. I hope I covered everything, I'm pretty sure I didn't.
Here's some delightful pictures to make you nice and hungry.
See you cats on the flip flop lataa..
Posted by Bethany Hart at 10:12 AM