We all know the afternoon tea is not a new concept; people have recently been enjoying it more and more for several reasons. Most importantly, there is a desire to move away from society’s defined breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Especially because depending on your schedules, you may not be available on these time slots. Like Brunch, a combination of breakfast and lunch, teatime is usually done in the late afternoon. However, choosing your afternoon teatime is not the easiest task.
For me, it’s perfect after an afternoon of shopping. It’s a good break where you can relax with a cup of tea and some delicacies. It’s also a good alternative for birthdays as a lunch seems too early, and a diner can be too late for certain people. Besides, most teatimes have very “instagrammable” decors, so it’s even better, right? If you need help to take a good food picture, check out my five tips in this article.
Historically, the afternoon tea was created in Great Britain during the 19th century. It’s a tea meal that is enjoyed at around 4 pm. The first-afternoon teatime I had was, in fact, in London at Harrod’s. I remember how classy the teacups were. I felt so posh!
If you are deciding to choose an afternoon teatime for your birthday, a girl’s get-together, or a date (wouldn’t be my personal choice, but we are all different, right?), make sure to check the 3 below items:
A classic afternoon teatime must have an extensive tea menu
Remember, this is a TEA time, so the main component remains tea after all! Now you can still have a teatime even if you don’t like tea (who doesn’t enjoy tea, though ? It’s flavored hot water !) and pick hot chocolate or coffee. Still, to be honest, it would defeat the purpose. Tea being the star of the occasion, make sure the place has an extensive list of tea options ; to me, this is a must. It’s like going to a burger place that only has two burger options on their menu, weird, right ? However, if it’s not the case, they should at least have these three teas on the menu:
– A black tea, intensely flavored, they are several types, the most popular one being the Earl grey
– Green tea, to me this is my favorite type of tea; it brings an excellent contrast to black tea on the menu, although they are both prepared from the same plant (black tea has more caffeine than green tea)
– Flower based tea like Jasmine tea or Lavender tea, for people who don’t really like a strongly bodied tea. They are softer all smell like heaven !
An afternoon teatime food should be presented in a three-tier stand
It’s a tradition; afternoon tea food should be presented in three tiers stand. Typically, the food comprises three components :
– Salty sandwiches, three types ideally: fish, one meat and one vegetarian, such as salmon, roast beef, or vegetarian version cucumber and cheese.
– Sweet pastries, this could vary from tarts to cakes or even yogurts.
– Scones with cream and jam; this is probably an essential part of the teatime food. There is nothing more English than scones! When I went to the Carlton Zurich afternoon tea time for my birthday, they split the pastries into two layers and brought the hot scones later; this is another alternative even though it’s not the traditional way. At least they had scones !
An afternoon teatime should be served in the late afternoon
Teatime is served around 4 pm for it to be an early diner or late lunch. Otherwise, it would be more of a brunch or a late-night dinner. Most palaces offer a teatime to be booked in advance. The one I did in Baur au lac Zurich was exquisite! It’s available between 1.30 and 5.30, and the room where it’s set up is decorated with a French classicism inspiration. It has few trees that bring the perfect amount of nature to the mix. Service was, of course, impeccable !
Some extra items that can enhance your teatime experience
There are a few non-traditional items that you can find in some places that serve an afternoon teatime, not a must but can make it better:
– A glass of champagne, as I mentioned, is not a must, especially if you don’t drink. However, I like the bubbles because it makes the occasion memorable and adds a fancy touch, love it !
– Warm dishes, some places offer an additional meal to the three-tier platter. At the Carlton, they presented a soup; for example, I loved the idea. It makes the teatime more of a full meal than just a snack break.
There it is, my list of three must-have items when choosing your afternoon teatimes : an extensive tea menu, food presented on three-tiers stand with hot scones, and served in the afternoon. Don’t get me wrong they are probably some places that have a teatime without one of these items and would still be very good. However, it would not be a traditional one, and you would be missing out on the real experience.