Pinkies up, it’s Afternoon Tea time.
It’s the afternoon and the sun is slowly calming down. Pastries are laid down, a sweet tea is poured in your fine bone china teacup, and you chat endlessly with your girlfriends until the skies are painted pink and blue.
If you haven’t had the chance to experience afternoon or high tea, please do. It’s dainty, pretty, the selections are plentiful, you get to put on a nice dress, and it’s a perfect excuse to just people watch, sip and simmer alone, or gossip about while enjoying a cup of tea.
High Tea is usually mistaken for Afternoon Tea but somehow now used interchangeably (especially if you're a lost tourist or just a social poser). Afternoon Tea is most commonly taken around 3-4 in the afternoon and these are more intricately done with numerous sweet selections, dainty dresses, lace gloves, and enjoyed by the aristocrats. It's meant to be taken with leisure, sitting on a low comfortable and cushioned chair, chatting about until the afternoon dies down. High Tea on the other hand was meant to cater to the social classes (what a misconstrued concept now!). Because after a long day of work, the workers would need a hearty snack before dinner, like pies. And because you're sitting on a "higher chair" (usually on a stool or the standard dinner chair), the term "high tea" came about.
I can’t remember the exact time I started loving the wonderful world of afternoon tea. I do remember it was when I was a teenager, probably 13-14 because I remember putting on a dress, lacing my neck with my mom’s pearls, sneaking into my mom’s china cabinet and tea box, and having a Danish pastry while reading a book. And I’ve been hooked ever since. In the Philippines, there’s “merienda time” at around 3-4 PM. You’re basically having an afternoon snack and served a sweet pastry or savoury treat and usually with a cold fruit juice, iced tea, or coffee. I guess I just gravitated more towards its British counterpart.
When I attended culinary school, needless to say, I was smitten with the world of garde manger (the cold kitchen, the term loosely translates to "cool or cold area for storage"). Making all these canapés, hors d'ouvres, amuse bouche, and all the other little finger foods, my liking to afternoon tea sealed the deal.
So... being me, I obviously had to host one. A number of years ago, I had my barkada (group of friends) dress up and join me while I prepared a lovely afternoon tea for them. Of course, shoutout to my friend, Allue, to agreeing to host the venue while I frolicked about in my A-line dress servings sweet and savoury items. Here are a few photos of that day.
I also had to try afternoon tea while I was working in Australia. Thank you, Lui for joining me! Here are some photos of that day.
Even just exploring my own city, Toronto, for afternoon tea - any occasion is an excuse to have it. I'd be lying to say that I need an occasion. Sometimes, just on a whim, I'd drag my husband to gossip with me over tea.
And last Christmas, we had a very charming afternoon at the Drawing Room of the Prince of Wales Hotel at the Niagara-on-the-Lake with my mother-in-law. We were so happy we were able to host her for this experience. I'm glad she enjoyed it as well.
There are still so many places I want to try. Here in Toronto alone, I want to try at least 4 other venues. And of course, I really want to try it in the motherland... in The United Kingdom. I've started following the Ivy Chelsea in Instagram and boy.... are they puurrrttyyy. I still have to try it at Laduree, The Townhouse at Kensington, The Dalloway Terrace, The Ampersand Hotel, The Waldorf Tea Dance, and The Lanesborough. I'm already thinking of a few different outfits to wear for at least 3 different tea visits when we get the chance to travel again (stupid Covid). As for now, I'll make my own treats and sip on my blue china while gossiping over Zoom.
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