Friday, August 31, 2007

Everything stops for tea!

The other afternoon I treated myself to cream tea! This light mid-afternoon refreshment is something of a tradition in England, particularly on Summer afternoons when it is often taken in the garden. Villages across the country, and particularly in the South, are renowned for their village tea shops and gardens, each county claiming to provide the best!

Tea, as a meal, takes two forms here. There is High Tea which is a fairly substantial refreshment and usually includes hot food such as poached eggs on spinach , or warm ham and cheese sandwiches. It's name derives from the way in which is normally taken at a high table. Afternoon Tea , or low tea as it sometimes referred, is a light meal of sandwiches and cakes. This is usually eaten at a low table from the comfort of armchairs.

Cream tea is however, the finest way to satisfy a mid-afternoon hunger. A pot of tea, usually Earl Grey, is taken with chunky sweet scones, ( pronounced scons) strawberry jam and thick whipped cream. This is often accompanied by a slab of rich fruit cake. Sussex cream tea is about as good as it gets!

Tea as a drink was first imbibed in France from the 17th century - many years before it reached the British shores. Charles 11 and his Portuguese wife Catherine de Braganze introduced it here in the early 1600's when the started importing it on the trade route from India.

In 1663 the poet Edmund Phoebus wrote an ode to tea which included the lines

The Muse's friend, tea does our fancy aid,
Regress those vapours which the head invade,
And keep the palace of the soul serene,
Fit on her birthday to salute the Queen

By 1700 there were 500 coffee houses in London selling tea, and during the industrial revolution, high was eaten to satisfy the workers after a hard day in the factories of the Midlands and Northern England.

Low Tea became very fashionable during the Victorian era. Queen Victoria's lady in waiting, the Duchess of Bedford was fond of inviting afternoon guests for a stroll in garden after which they would enjoy tea! This upper class pursuit soon spread to all strata's of society, and eating afternoon tea remains an important part of British life to this day.
And long may it remain so!
I've had an idea! I'll send a do-it-yourself cream tea kit to the first two people to email me on my special competition line If successful I'll need you to give me an address to send it to.


  1. Keith, I didn't see the place to sign up for the contest so I guess I failed lol....Those scones look marvelous!!!!!!!!!Yummy.

  2. That's cos I typed it wrong! Should be OK now! Silly Cheffie!

  3. Hey you I didn't see the contest area either will check but I love this article and the pics. You made having tea sound like a wonderful thing that everyone should take some time out to do. The scones look marvelous darling. Nice new pic of you as well sir.

  4. I'm hungry now. I shouldn't have read your article. I couldn't sign up for your contest either. To bad!

  5. Ok,so I didn't explain myself properly! All I needed you to do was email me claiming your prize! The world's easiest competition! So,Missy, Jadie and Gimme, I'll make you all winners, but you will have to send me an address to where I can send your prize - preferably on the link at the bottom of the post!

  6. Ha Keith I already know the secret of the yummie scones with strawberry jam and cream. My collegue makes it for us ones in a while and it is well known in New Zealand.

  7. I'm drooling, I want!!!!

  8. Thanks, pal. Now I've gotta stop blogging and have a cuppa. The powers of autosuggestion!

  9. Keith -- I love tea, but even more than tea -- I love that new profile pic. You loooook soooo handsome.


  10. Keith I drink green tea every single day, nothing like taking the time to soothe your soul!!!!!
    Oh and the scones look sooooo yummy!



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