In an effort to bring some class and sophistication to Endless Simmer (it is possible) I decided to host a High Tea for some of our DC food friends. High Tea is somewhat of an institution in my homeland of Britannia, but here in DC there are some pretty excellent high teas, and apparently it’s going a little underground over in London. My good friend Lucy who lives in London is well versed in organizing tea parties, so I hit her up for some tips on throwing one. Lucy says there are six rules to high tea:
- Begin with a glass of Champagne.
- Tea should be poured from a proper teapot into china tea cups sitting on saucers.
- A selection of finger sandwiches, crusts removed, such as egg & ‘cress and cucumber are a must.
- Serve freshly baked scones with preserve and clotted cream.
- Serve a selection of other cakes such as cupcakes, brownies or fondant fancies.
- Present food on a two tiered cake stand, preferably vintage.
Well…keep reading for my interpretation.
I did indeed begin with Champagne, including St. Germain with Royal Chambord on hand for that additional twist. Our friends over at Kungaloosh sent me gourmet teas: iced berry, darjeeling and lemongrasss, to name a few, which were served in fine Bone China.
I managed to find a dozen cups and saucers at a thrift store here in DC and it really did add that touch of class. As people were sipping on tea I was pulling out the English butter scones from the oven. There is nothing quite like a room filled with the smell of freshly baked scones; my guests were falling over each other to try one. The scones were served with homemade strawberry preserve and my homemade Devonshire clotted cream. as instructed. Clotted cream really is one of those foods that we need to eat more of, and then gain 20lbs.
I’ve explained before that I’m no baker. The thought of baking an assortment of pastries was daunting. I tried to come up with items that I could make ahead, and for once my time management seemed to work. The pastry menu consisted of milk chocolate caramel shortbread, peppermint marshmallows, strawberry buttercream cupcakes and chocolate & orange fondant fancies (perhaps the gayest thing I’ve ever made).
Rule three seemed easy enough, cucumber and egg & watercress sandwiches. For this I put Gansie to work, as she looked rather cute in the apron I purchased for my BF at Christmas (think 1960′s housewife).
The cucumbers were drizzled in a lemon vinaigrette while the egg & ‘cress were doused in mayonnaise (don’t shout). We had a vegetarian in the group so I decided to not go with any meat, but instead combined cottage cheese and fresh mint for a third sandwich. If you decide to go with a meat sandwich I recommend salmon or ham & mustard.
The afternoon was finished off with a homemade rhubarb and black tea infused vodka. This wasn’t the hit I had hoped for, with a couple of people liking it to a chocolate vodka. I haven’t a clue?
Oh, and in case you are wondering, my one faux pas of the afternoon, according to Lucy: I spread the clotted cream first onto the scone; apparently it is preserve then cream. So there we have it, the etiquette and protocol of a high tea. Rule Britannia.