“English tea ceremony” is a somewhat obscure concept. On the one hand, at this event, there are certain and fairly regulated actions. On the other hand, these actions are very simple and clear. And not at all as serious as, for example, in the Japanese ceremony. However, if the British themselves consider their tea party a ceremony, then we will consider it a ceremony.
So. The English tea ceremony evolved from the English tradition of afternoon tea, known as Afternoon Tea or Five-o-clock Tea. It is held, of course, in the evening. In modern England, all the rules of the tea ceremony are observed, perhaps, only in a few decent tea shops – the increased pace of life has almost completely banished this event from both families and mass catering establishments.
To conduct an English tea ceremony, you need a certain way of serving a tea table, tea, snacks for tea and the ability to manage tea in the process of drinking. Let’s deal with everything in order.
Serving. Plain tablecloth (or with a small and not very bright pattern). White or blue (white is better). One-time delivery is not prohibited. A small vase of flowers. It is better with live and white colors. A knife and fork for every tea drinker. Napkins (paper ones are possible, to match the tablecloth). Tea pairs, a teapot with tea (can be one for all or individual), a jug with boiling water, a milk jug with milk or cream. Strainer and strainer stand. Sugar bowl with refined sugar (ideally – with white and brown). Teaspoons. Snacks for tea, of course, are served on dessert plates and are served culturally – with a fork and a knife. All the dishes, of course, should be from one set. Porcelain. White or white-blue color (personally, I like white-blue more). And you also need a quilted or woolen cover for the teapot – a distant relative of our tea woman, only not so dense. It’s called tea-cosy.
Tea. It doesn’t matter which one. Usually, guests are simply offered to choose from 5-10 varieties. Which necessarily includes Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, Assam, Darjeeling. And different mixtures, of course. Both highly aromatic teas and tea bags are possible (although they, of course, do not give the same effect ;). It is very prestigious to have your own tea mixture available and offer it to your guests.
Snacks for tea. Snacks for tea – this is the most difficult part of the English tea ceremony to reproduce in Russian conditions. The fact is that English tea pastries, on the one hand, do not represent anything supernatural. You can also bake it here – you just need to get the recipes. On the same Internet. On the other hand, all these skonses, teakakes, ginger cakes, waffles with large cells, creams and jams are somewhat unusual and are outside of our culinary discourse. Although often very tasty – for example, tikeyki (toasted buns with raisins) with salted butter. And ginger cakes and cakes set off the taste of tea very well.
I will take the liberty of stating that the replacement of traditional English pastries with our neutral ones is quite acceptable. Pancakes with caviar, of course, are not suitable for an English tea party, but any simple cake is easy. It is simple – because if the pastry is very fancy, it will outshine the tea.
Tea party. It, of course, hides the main secret of the English tea ceremony. Although it is very simple, this secret. So. Tea is brewed based on the fact that in the cups it will no longer be diluted with boiling water. That is, one teaspoon of tea leaves is placed in the teapot for one drinker. If you use a very large teapot-for five or six people – then you can add another spoon for everyone. After the tea is infused for 3-5 minutes (sometimes an hourglass is used to control the time – this is beautiful), it is poured into cups. And immediately after that, add boiling water from the jug to the kettle. And cover the kettle with a cover – thus tea-cosy-so that it does not cool down. At the first brewing of tea, it is not necessary to cover the kettle with a cover, although it is possible.
This topping, on the one hand, somewhat dilutes the tea, which by the time of drinking the first cup is already infused. And on the other hand, it will keep it relatively hot and quite tasty for repeated tea drinking. You can also add boiling water to the teapot after the second cup – although it should be remembered that with each such top – up, the quality of the tea will be slightly worse.
In fact, this addition of boiling water to the teapot is the main mystery of the English tea ceremony. Simple and pleasant. The nice thing is that it is easily reproducible in our country. Try 😉