Balanced Afternoon Tea

Text and Photography by Bruce Richardson

I keep in mind my first afternoon tea in London. It was at Harrods in 1979. We queued practically 30 minutes whereas ready for the velvet rope to drop, permitting entry to a three-tiered buffet of sweets that might make a regiment of Horse Guards swoon.

The dessert trolleys held row after row of scrumptious pastries, muffins, and tarts. I crammed my plate greater than as soon as and consumed so many luscious sweets that a sugar rush lastly bested me, and a headache set in for the night. My physique longed for something savory to offset my unhealthy conduct.

I discovered a invaluable lesson that day—a well-designed afternoon-tea meal is a mix of each sweets and savories. That tenet served my spouse and me effectively after we opened a tearoom 10 years later. We crafted scrumptious tea meals on the Elmwood Inn for 14 years, however at all times with a stability of about 60 p.c savories and 40 p.c sweets.

Here are 5 extra useful recommendations to contemplate as you set up your subsequent afternoon-tea occasion:

We taste first with our eyes. Teatime meals ought to be lovely and offered in a vogue that pleases the attention earlier than it pleases the taste buds. Consider utilizing edible flowers, multigrain breads, or fruits to brighten your teatime coloration scheme.

No one merchandise ought to dominate an afternoon-tea meal. Guests ought to be trying ahead to tasting your subsequent beautiful creation. That anticipation received’t come about if one dominant merchandise satiates their appetites. Keep it mild.

Use glazes slightly than frostings on your tea muffins. Victorian sponges and muffins sliced into small parts are good for afternoon-tea meals. Avoid heavy chocolate icing or sugary fillings that may overpower different meals on the plate.

Feel free to attract from a number of culinary traditions. I really like English afternoon teas at such eating places as The Wolseley in London, the place I look forward to finding cucumber, egg and cress, and smoked-salmon tea sandwiches on the plate. But in America, something goes so long as gadgets don’t compete with one another.

Make your meals straightforward to handle. Your friends will admire the trouble you set into making sandwiches, canapés, and tarts straightforward to eat. Most meals ought to be sufficiently small to eat in two to 4 bites, particularly when you’re placing collectively a buffet tea. Everything ought to be in miniature kind for individuals who could also be standing or seated away from a desk whereas consuming. This helps diners really feel comfortable and conversant, and it provides them extra alternatives to go with you on the ability and thoughtfulness that went into your culinary creation!

Bruce Richardson and his spouse, Shelley, are authors of quite a few teatime cookbooks, corresponding to A Year of Teas on the Elmwood Inn and The Tea Table.

From TeaTime September/October 2012

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