Skip to main content

On my love of afternoon tea

It begins with sparkling wine. Just the one glass because, on an empty stomach, one glass is enough to have an immediate effect. With a touch of light-headedness, a warm blanket of happiness descends as a towering steeple of treats is brought to the table. The bottom plate holds sandwiches filled with no more than two ingredients and cut into delicate fingers, no crusts. The middle plate is adorned with scones, jam and cream and your tastebuds are already clamouring to have these traditional baked delicacies in your mouth. The final plate is the crowning glory and its contents are entirely dependant on your location. One thing you can be sure of. The bite-sized sweets on this final plate will be truly delicious, and you’ll probably struggle to eat them all.
To complete the occasion, teapots are dotted around the table, each containing either traditional or more exotic blends of loose-leaf tea.
And so begins one of life’s true joys. Afternoon tea.

I have had many an afternoon tea in Melbourne. Often with members of my family. Often for a special occasion. Often inside one of Melbourne’s famous landmarks.
I now live in the land in which afternoon tea was birthed and could not be happier about this fact. During previous holidays in London, I have had quite a few afternoon tea experiences. One even involved having afternoon tea on a double-decker bus (eating? not a problem. Sipping tea and not spilling it on myself while the bus was in motion? One of the hardest things I’ve had to do, ever). But I had yet to manage an afternoon tea since arriving in the UK as an aspiring Londoner.
Eating and drinking on a moving bus requires SKILLZ

And then after four months, I had the perfect excuse to book an afternoon tea for two at Bea’s Cake Boutique in Marylebone. I was meeting a member of an online writing group I have been part of since last year (hi writing group peeps!). And not only that, this was the third person I was meeting face-to-face. (I’m since determined to get around to meeting all of you – promise!)

You may think it would be weird, or awkward at the very least, to spend an afternoon with someone you’ve only had online interaction with. But you would be wrong. Afternoon tea is itself a talking point. Taking delight in the treats in front of you takes at least a few minutes of your time, as does the divvying up of the top plate with its cupcakes and brownies and marshmallows and macarons. (Excuse me while I wipe away a little drool that has formed at the corner of my mouth at the memory of so much deliciousness…) And then, once your teacup is filled and your tastebuds are exploding from flavour, something magical happens. You can talk about absolutely anything. Some of the best (sober) conversations I’ve had, have happened during an afternoon tea. I don’t know if it’s the finger sandwiches, or the jam and cream, but something about the intimacy of the setting allows for a special kind of talk to blossom. And that, I think, is the real reason why I love afternoon tea…after the scones of course.


Popular posts from this blog

On brain freeze

Due to the inevitability of British Winter, my brain stopped working.  There will be a proper posting next week... probably.

On Arzak... a post in eleven dishes

Being a somewhat average human, with a somewhat average human's earning capacity, my experience of Michelin-starred restaurants is limited. So when I visited not only a Michelin-starred restaurant, but a 3-star Michelin-starred restaurant, you can bet I would be TELLING EVERYONE I KNEW ABOUT IT. Ahem. And so, I give you the degustation feast of restaurant Arzak, San Sebastian. A blog post in eleven dishes. Apparently not the start of the meal, just a teaser. Moringa and prawn (PINK) gyoza on the left. Banana and squid in the tree bamboo-thing on the right. Of course. (Forgive the crap photos - I took them in a blind panic not wanting to be 'that person' even though I was very clearly 'that person'.) Still haven't started yet. Just a taster! Marinated sardine and strawberry. Again, just a hint of things to come! 'Cecina' and kalamata on the right. Eel rod on the left with the log. I despair of people who never have a log on their dinne

On the privilege of seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (no spoilers, promise!)

Beloved characters from books, films and television shows are often sacred ground for us fans. We have journeyed with them, taken them into our hearts and think about them when our real lives are being a little less than spectacular. And so, when these characters are revisited for what sometimes feels like a money grab, and what sometimes is (I’m sure) a form of closure for the creatives, we wait with the duelling emotions of hope and fear, wondering if those in charge are about to wreck everything. Most often than not, they do wreck things, a lot (Mitch Hurwitz and your Arrested Development season 4 shambles, I’m looking at you!). While I always want more Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy didn’t quite do it for me and I’m terrified about seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby for fear that watching it will forever ruin the first film and first two books for me. Similarly, I’m nervous about the upcoming Gilmore Girls episodes even though I’d give my right arm to go back to Stars Hollow. And maybe