Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Art of Tea

Fun and frivolous

Miss Haversham's teaparty......

......... with Zandra Rhodes

and Marie Antoinette

Fluffy Scones from the oven

Two bite fruit pavlovas

Chocolate brownies with pecans & dried strawberries, crystalised roses & violets

A concession to childhood memories of tea parties...

Finger cut dainty sandwiches

Tea bread and butter

Tea time evokes nostalgia for a bygone era, of more genteel days. High tea is an unadulterated celebration of chintz, china and clutter. Fun and frivolous, with tiny precision cut sandwiches, fluffy scones, strawberry jam, cakes, colour and cream. Freshly brewed tea, poured from the pot, anything else would be unthinkable.

The ritual of making tea the way my Grandfather taught me is now a rarity. What was standard, and practiced by everyone, is now sadly the preserve of the connoisseur. This sloppy approach to tea making is now the norm and indicative of the decline in our collective relationship with food and drink. The fastest, cheapest route to a brew of tea made with tea dust, produced by the exploited. (Excuse the rant)

My Grandfather taught me how to make tea properly, as a third generation tea merchant, I would marvel as he could identify which area of Assam a tea was from. As a boy he would watch the clippers come into the London docks where wooden tea chests filled with loose leaf tea would be unloaded and sent on its journey, through a relatively short supply chain.

Buying good tea leaves is important and there is plenty of choice even at supermarkets. London based pioneers of single estate teas are Postcard Teas . If you wish to explore the subject in greater depth and discover the world of green teas and tea culture, I would recommend a visit to Alex of East Teas at Borough Market. Alex delights me with exotic stories of the Vietnamese lady teamaster, the tea from 200 year old tea bushes, a sample of the tea which will keep you sharp and focussed without over stimulating your nerves. He is Dr Tea and to be indulged in his tea wisdom is a treat.

But to the serious business of making tea ..... here is the path to a proper cuppa, and salvation to being a born again tea drinker....

The most important rule is to boil freshly drawn cold water. Don't forget to warm the pot and go and find Alex at Borough.
  1. Empty the kettle completely and refill with fresh water (reboiling old water is the horror of all bad tea making habbits)
  2. Boil the water. Add the tea leaves to a warm pot (one teaspoon per person plus one for the pot).
  3. Pour the boiling water onto the tea leaves and infuse for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the brew and pour.
I'm not going to indulge in the milk in first or last debate, although I do milk in first because that's what Grandpa did, and if it's good enough for him...... Although I have heard someone described as 'she was very MIF'


  1. Oh how I want to come to your house for tea. Simply gorgeous photographs. The first one grabs my heart. How I love to see a beautifully laden cake stand x

  2. Ciao sarh è un piacere conoscerti hai un blog molto carino ciao a presto

  3. Oh..scusa ho scritto il tuo nome Sarah :)

  4. ringraziarla per lei il commento bello! Per favore di venire per il tè e per la torta!

  5. Brenda, come on over for tea! you're always welcome... X

  6. Oh how I too want to come to your house for tea Sarah. What beautiful bakes, and, I couldn't agree more about the tea.

  7. Hmm tea time chez Sarah is somehow more exciting and scrumptious than chez moi! Can I come please? I love the mini pavlovas and delicate crystallised flowers on the brownies,so clever. Keep up the good work.

  8. Oh, Sarah...what a welcoming tea party. These are the invitations I would have a hard time refusing ;o)

    Gorgeous spread!!!

    Ciao for now,

  9. Ooooh,..Waw!! Can I come over for tea??

    All of the foods look so appetizing,...waw!!


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