So, what is High Tea?
I’ve had a number of people asking me exactly ‘what is High Tea’ over the years, so I decided to write this blog to educate and inform people about this incredible tradition! (FYI If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out!)
It actually began in the 1600’s in England and was popular among labourers who in the late afternoons came home and decided they needed to ‘partake of a light libation’. It was originally served after sunset as a light supper or dinner and as it was designed to help those hardworking chaps. Cooked meats such as casseroles, cheeses and crackers were often served as part of the meal – with lashings of TEA of course. It was then followed up with a selection of small cakes for dessert. For Labourers and Farmers, this was a daily tradition, not a ‘once in a while experience’.
As the tradition has moved on and evolved, it has become popularised as a ‘grown up version of afternoon tea’ moved into an earlier time of day and now you can even experience the tradition in the morning!
My first experience of High Tea was in 2001 when I was staying with friends in Cornwall. They lived in a beautiful heritage building that was formerly a Bed and Breakfast and was beautifully appointed. One afternoon at 5 p.m. I was served with freshly made scones, home made strawberry jam and clotted cream – an entirely new experience for me – with tea made from actual leaves! The aromas and flavours of this exquisite tradition created a transportation of time for my senses and I was instantly hooked.
One of my greatest regrets thus far is not taking High Tea at The Ritz in London due to a lack of funds at the time – but I’m sure once the borders open, my high tea opportunity shall rise again so I can work my way back to good old London Town to fulfil my dream!!
In the meantime, I have had High Tea at some exquisite venues.
The Lobby of the Cordis Hotel is one to try for the experience alone, and by far the best Takeaway High Tea on offer is from Private Dining Chef Kevin Blakeman, through his cafe Beaufort + Co on Aucklands North Shore. You can order online for contactless pick up and the scones are pure heaven. Had it online location for Mothers Day in 2021 and it was emotional. Check them out.