While tea is a drink most southerners in the United States drink over ice, in Britain tea is the national drink consumed throughout the day. The Brits are especially famous for their afternoon teas filled with ceremony, delicacies, and – of course – tea. High tea is more of a dinner, heavy on the food. Low tea is usually taken from low tables in the sitting room of a private residence or in a tea room in late afternoon (3-5 pm). With the tea, a selection of scones with jam and cream, savories (sandwiches), sweets or pastries (cakes, cookies, shortbreads) may also be offered.
History. Queen Elizabeth l in 1600 granted the charter of the British East India Company to establish trade in spices was its original focus, but later traded in cottons, silks, indigo, saltpeter, and tea in the Far East, Southeast Asia and India. When King Charles II married the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, her dowry included Tangier and Morocco in North Africa,Bombay in India, and also permission for the British to use all the ports in the Portuguese colonies in Africa, Asia and the Americas, which gave England direct trading rights to tea. Charles and Catherine sparked a tea mania which spread swept across England. Tea became the beverage of choice in English high society, replacing ale as the national drink.
Kinds of Tea. There are many different varieties of tea available but they all come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). The differences come from the processing. In particular, the amount of fermentation that the leaves undergo. Black tea is fully fermented; oolong is partly fermented; and green tea has no fermentation. White tea is not fermented, but the tea leaves are picked from newer buds.
Serving Tea. In the private home, the hostess serves tea to each of her guests herself. Small tables should be place beside each guest who selects their own food and places the food on a small plate. A small knife for spreading jam and small forks should be available if needed.
Drinking Tea. Tea cups are held by placing one’s fingers to the front and back of the handle with one’s pinkie up for balance. Stir tea in three or four sweeping circular motions from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock. Place your teaspoon on the right side of the tea saucer. When not in use, place the tea-cup back in the tea saucer. At a buffet tea, hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea-cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea-cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap. Milk is served with tea, not cream. Pour the milk in the tea after it is in the cup. Lemon slices are served but NEVER mix with milk or the milk will curdle.
Find recipes and more info at: http://oldfashionedliving.com/teatime.htm
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