"Lets have a Tea Party!" Ashley and I squeal with delight! Faces full of fun and verbage full of "Oooooos!" and "Yays!" What's so special about Tea Parties that light up peoples faces? That's a good question. I mean, its just a cup of tea and some afternoon treats so why the fuss?
Getting together for tea or any other drink for that matter has been going on for thousands of years I suspect. I'm sure more than a few troubles and strifes have been sorted over time with a cuppa and the time to see some common ground.
My earliest memories are of british folk gathering for a cuppa, putting their world to rights. Sometimes thats all we need, a time and space in our busy days to allow oursleves to indulge in what comes most naturally, a good natter of a nice cuppa.
A problem shared is a problem halved and its benefits springs to mind, what the making of tea can do is facilitate a focus on a task to take the intensity off whatever may be discussed. It allows for the set up of a perfect real life exchange of pleasantries, away from the internet, tv, cell phone and other constantly pressing distractions. These pleasantries are above all dignified. Upon occasion they can lead to deep conversations, sometimes even heated exchange of opinions but always with that level of respect and dignity a natter over a cuppa commands, and one hopes most importantly of all, lorry loads of oh-so much needed laughter. The kind of laughter that leaves your face aching and the cockles of your heart nicely warmed with the real touch of friendship.
In this day and age and with not so much pub-going as there used to be especially in my life, sitting and drinking tea has had a come back in my life. Its the perfect habit to form, healthy (if you stay away from too many biscuits and cakes), safe, engaging, social, relaxing, destressing and a way to put a good comma in your day. Besides its calming, tea itself as a drink is actually calming and a great way to recenter yourself whether on your own or in company.
To understand Afternoon Tea (or Coffee) etiquette is to show that you are indeed that sought out social creature that will know the signs of making time for such pleasantries. Blimey, even the workmen coming to fix your electrics or suchlike in the UK would expect to be offered a cuppa (Builder Standard Tea is served with a splash of milk and one generous teaspoon of sugar). Its just standard british protocol, or at least it was in the 39 years I spent in the UK. If you didn't offer a cuppa to visitors of any kind its either because you truly are in a hurry or because you simply don't like them and probably want to avoid having to be social. By the way, it doesn't have to be afternoon. It can be anytime of the day. Trust me, I'm British and I know from a lifetime of tea drinking. I can't tell you the number of times I have been saved or saved someone by seeing or hearing the warning signs in someones face or voice and saying "I'll put the kettle on". Of course that's not to say there always needs to be something dramatic to discuss, indeed quite often is really is just a lovely spot of tea and biscuits with some exchange of pleasantries. What more could a friend ask for!
We went through 8 teapots of Yorkshire Gold Loose Leaf Tea, thanks to Willys Emporium for stocking such a great choice of tea and goodies! Generally loose tea is considered superioir due to being the highest quality selected leaves.
So what does one serve with tea? This totally depends on your own background within the different levels of society but the norm in a pop by kind of affair is to at least offer some biscuits or a slice of cake if you have any. If its a pre-arranged Afternoon Tea, that's when one might break open the fancy china and small spread of goodies. This was, back in my day, sarnies such as salmon spread and cucumber, egg with Salad Cream, coronation chicken, cheese and Branston Pickle, Marmite or maybe just a nice fruit jam. Sundries such as quiche, pickled onions and eggs, crisps, pork pies and maybe for a special occasion Cream Teas consisting of scones, cream and jam. Crumpets occasionally too although I grew up having these as a treat for breakfast as I remember. Just as an FYI, there isnt such a thing as an English Muffin unless I am mistaken, they are an american creation, just as Dolcelatte cheese does not exist in Italy or so I'm told after much dismay...but thats a whole nother blog! Meanwhile click on some of the word links above for a fascinating insight into these oddities! All this blogging about food is making me hungry, good thing I left the biscuits with Ashley, they'd be gobbled up by me Cookie Monster style by now!