If you have ever had the pleasure of having tea in a formal tea room with good company while engaging in intimate conversation you were certainly exposed to the ceremonial processes developed from our British neighbors. Thank goodness for my etiquette teacher who drilled those lessons in displaying elegance and charm, for the tea experience is quite a ritual of good manners.
Every element during an Afternoon Tea is positioned to respect formality and politeness. The designated host, pours from an elegant porcelain or stainless steel teapot for every guest, using a strainer to prevent loose tea leaves from dropping in a guest’s china cup; then each guest will add milk (for black tea) and sugar, stirring in an up in down motion, not circular and never hitting the sides of the cup. While sipping the tea, the cup is held its handle (not cupped in hands or raising a pinky finger) and placed in the saucer after sips. Heaven forbid, no slurping or blowing to cool the tea, instead, if it’s too hot, place the cup in the saucer and wait a few minutes to cool. A tea room will also present diners with a spread of food usually presented on a tiered stand along with a glass of champagne if you’re so inclined. There are traditionally 3 courses to be eaten in the particular order below.
– Scones – to be broken in half with your hands to eat individually. Use a spoon to place jam and cream on the side of your plate and a knife for spreading the condiments but eaten with your fingers.
– Sandwiches – miniature no-crust sandwiches consisting of English type fillings: mayonnaise, cucumbers, eggs, smoked salmon, etc. (again eaten with your fingers as you continue to sip your tea
– And finally, finger food sized sweets – macaroons, cakes, cupcakes, tarts, etc.
Historically, women wore gloves to avoid messy hands, however, these days the appropriate action is to wipe hands clean with your cloth napkin and place napkin on your table when done.
The origin of tea has been traced back over 5000 years ago to China, as legend recalls, supposedly, Emperor Shen Nung created the first cup of tea from a leaf falling into his boiling water. Thus, the journey of tea began from its birthplace of China where its primary use was medicinal, then to Japan where traditional tea ceremonies were created. The Portuguese shared in introducing tea to the continent of Europe while doing business with missionaries and merchants from China. Subsequently, the Dutch merchants built commercial success in selling to the wealthy and royalty which, was eventually adopted and became intensely popular among commoners as the daily drink of choice.
Where does one enjoy a cup of tea in such elegant surroundings?
Of course, this would not be a Beau Satchelle Blog, if we didn’t provide several international and national destinations for an elevated cup of tea!
– The Ritz Carlton London – this is the granddaddy of them all went it come to Afternoon Teas
– Claridges – Mayfair, London, offers not only their daily afternoon tea 2:45 pm – 5:30 pm, but themed teas for children and special holiday/occasions
– The Wharton Hotel and Spa – Liverpool, UK, awarded best in Afternoon Teas 2018
– Prince of Wales Hotel Glacier Park – located in Canada, just across the border, north of Montana. This hotel is awe-inspiring with views of either the Waterton Lake National Park Mountains or the Upper Waterton Lake. The hotel hosts an Afternoon Tea daily from 1 pm – 5 pm, but honestly with the unparallel views of this property, you may decide to stick with outdoor activities!
– The Chester Grosvenor – Chester, United Kingdom, been serving Afternoon Teas since 1882
If your travel plans give you the opportunity to visit our home state of Michigan or even the City of Detroit, here are 3 local suggestions of tea rooms or offer afternoon teas in their hotel or restaurant. We have experienced all three and without a doubt award high marks to both service and accommodations:
– The Whitney in Detroit – one of Detroit’s iconic historical landmarks built-in 1894. This exclusive restaurant was the former home of David Whitney, Jr., one of Detroit’s wealthiest barons of during that time. Afternoon tea is served daily beginning at 2 pm. Call for reservations.
– The Townsend in Birmingham – first class, this exquisite hotel offers impeccable service. Afternoon teas are held seven days a week from 12:00 noon to 5 pm. Call for reservations.
– Tea Haus in Ann Arbor – on the University of Michigan’s college campus, offers over 100 flavored teas and scrumptious accompanying food. -AJ
Are you a Tea Lover? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter!
Thank you to the following sources for blog content.
Oh How Civilized! Afternoon Tea Etiquette
The Standard London Restaurants
Hat-Tip to the following photographers for taking some astounding pictures that were perfect for this blog!
Bruno Glätsch – tea infuser
Rarestohanean – Munnar, India Tea Plantation
Elsasupport – Scones
Natasha G – Spice and Tea Market Bazaar
Jill Wellington – Silver Tea Set
Oriento – Copper Tea Pot
Oriento – Heating Water in Tea Pot
Oriento – Tea Ceremony, Guangzhou, China
Michelle Henderson – Green Tea