Friday, September 18, 2009
Tea for two and two for tea...
I think "Tea" is on of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted concepts out there. Afternoon tea, High tea, Tea, Dinner - all possibly meaning the same thing - or completely different ones.
So, let's go the panel and get a professionals' view.
AT HOME, HIGH AND FAMILY TEAS.
"At Home" Tea is served upon small tables, the servant before bringing it in seeing that one is placed conveniently near her mistress, who generally dispenses the tea. No plates are given for a tea of this kind, and the servant, or servants, after seeing that all is in readiness, leave the room, the gentlemen of the party doing all the waiting that is necessary.
The tea equipage is usually places upon a silver salver, the hot water is in a small silver or china kettle on a stand, and the cups are small. Thin bread and butter, sandwiches, cake, petits-fours and sometimes fresh fruit are all the eatables given. These are daintily arranged on plates, spread with lace doilies.
High Tea. - In some houses this is a permanent institution, quite taking the place of late dinner, and to many it is a most enjoyable meal, young people preferring it to dinner, it being a movable feast that can be partaken of at hours which will not interfere with tennis, boating, or other amusements. At the usual high tea there are probably to be found one or two small hot dishes, cold chicken, or game, tongue or ham, salads, cakes of various kinds, sometimes cold fruit tarts with cream or custard, and fresh fruit. Any supper dish, however, can be introduced, and much more elaborate meals be served, while sometimes the tea and coffee are relegated to the sideboard. In summer it is not unusual to have everything cold.
Family Teas. - At these meals cake, jam, sardines, potted meats, buttered toast, tea cakes and fruit are often provided, in addition to the tea, coffee, bread and butter. Watercress and radishes are nice in summer.
The hours for family teas may vary in many households, but are generally governed by the time of the dinner that has preceded them, and the kind of supper partaken of afterwards. Where this is of a very light character, such as a glass of wine and a slice of cake, or a more homely glass of beer and bread and cheese, a 6 to 7 o'clock tea would not be too later, and a few savouries or eggs would be needed in addition to the bread and butter and cake so generally found; but where a substantial supper is to follow the tea the latter would be of a very light description, and should be served as early as 4.30 to 6 o'clock.