Slice of Life Friday: High Tea Anyone?

MP900387878Ever do high tea? Proper high tea? It’s truly a brilliant and civilized invention, and I’m fortunate that with my husband’s Indian background he “gets” it too. The British Raj and their 200 plus years in India ingrained the wisdom of high tea pretty solidly into the Indian culture. This means that 1: my husband makes THE perfect cup of tea, including heating the cups ahead of time, and 2: sometimes our tea is accompanied by cucumber sandwiches.

And I’ve been fortunate to have visited India many times. Sitting on the shady veranda of the Ram Bagh Palace in Jaipur sipping tea and overlooking the maharaja’s garden through marble pillars truly feels like a frozen moment in time… Then there’s tea at the Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur…a floating palace,  mind you. If you don’t feel like royalty there, what the heck’s wrong with you? (Dude, click on all the links in this article if you want to truly fall in love with tea places!)

Usually I have high tea fantasies on those cold rainy days, days that remind me of when I lived in England for half a year. Perfect time for a cuppa strong Earl Gray, and a plate of dense scones with clotted cream and jam. Yum! Two of the fancier more atmospheric teas I’ve enjoyed were in London.

The first was at the Orangery on the edge of Hyde Park. Gorgeous structure with sweeping high ceilings and vast windows looking out on formal knot gardens…plus it’s part of the Kensington Palace layout. Sipping tea and having scones and mini sandwiches amid the beautiful surroundings and with Greek sculptures staring down at you as if envious for a bite = heaven.

Tea Sandwiches and PastriesThe second really fine tea I had was in Fortnum and Mason’s department store (department store to the Queen, thank you very much). It’s the same place that the snotty brat in  The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson is taken for his coveted “Knickerbocker Glory”…which is still on the menu.  High tea here is delightfully stuffy. All fine china, the usual tea fixins displayed in a beautiful manner, and, honestly, the most shockingly good lox I’ve ever had in my life.

I’ve also had tea in countless bakeshops throughout the Cotswolds. Those upstairs rooms are a fragrant delight with their fussy flowered curtains and little trolley carts wheeled past the table. Every single tea = yum.

Why all this tea nostalgia? Today, I’m heading out to tea with my wonderful daughter. It’s an annual tradition, and yes, there is a wonderful place right here in PA: The Talking Teacup.  I’ve been basically not eating all week so that I’ll have room for this feast. It’s mysterious how those teeny tiny sandwiches and a delightful little cookie shaped like a teapot expand in your stomach.  Then again, it could be all those scones with clotted cream I wolf down first.

But I’m ready!  Bring on the tea.

Have any great high tea spots to recommend across the globe? Let me know by leaving a comment!

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13 thoughts on “Slice of Life Friday: High Tea Anyone?

  1. I lived in Malaysia for two years when I was a girl. The daughter of an English diplomat invited me to High Tea, the only American in a crowd of sophisticated expats. The other girls wore fancy dresses, and the boys sported coats and ties, but the best I had was clean shorts and a new batik shirt. To top it all off, I added both cream and lemon and claimed I ALWAYS drank my tea with curdled bits floating at the top. Needless to say, I was not invited back.

      • You are SO kind! I was very lonely for a while, until my mom invited my dad’s colleague and his family to our home for dinner. They lived a short walk from us and had an eleven-year-old daughter, Susi, the same age as me. We became close friends, spent almost every afternoon together. I still think of my friend and her family when I smell fragrant Indian food — much better than bangers and mash! (And thanks for the kind wishes — I have overcome my tea-trauma and now enjoy a good cuppa.)

  2. Well, now, you made me hungry! And excited for the English and for England. Haven’t been there in awhile and no plans on board, so I googled Afternoon Teas/High Teas in the Philadelphia area and I’m heading to one or more. Yum! I LOVED your post.

      • I plan on being good. I’m dieting, you see. Just tea and the angelic watercress & cucumber sandwiches, not the devil scones and clotted cream. Oh, and champagne. I shall report back as to whether angel or devil won the round.

  3. I just had tea at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, VA. It is amazing how the little food can fill you up! Did you ever take your daughter to Alice’s Tea Cup in Manhattan? I’ve taken my daughter a couple of times when we’ve been there. Thought it was cute.

  4. As a writer I have my daily tea time from 230 to 330 pm. I take the time to read other author’s books, and edit my manuscripts. Loved your post. I’m sending you a middle grade fiction 5,000 word manuscript query. :)

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