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Posts tagged 'afternoon tea sampler'

Afternoon Tea: Customs and Etiquette, Now and Then

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 7 months ago 4530 Views No comments

Ever wonder whether you're following, or whether you even really know about tea-time etiquette? Living an informal culture of to-go tea and coffee (which means, yikes!, a drink that may or may not have actually been brewed, in a paper cup), it's hard to have the opportunity to sit down in a formal setting and engage in customary tea rituals. For some, it's hard to even imagine that there are a series of formal customs for consuming tea, which today, is an everyday (for us, 3x-a-day) beverage.

The origins of tea lie very far in the past, but it's really the influence of the British East India Company that turned a regional staple into a worldwide phenomenon starting in the 17th century. Tea etiquette not only tells the drinker what to do, but more importantly, it advises us what not to do.


Starting from the basics

When tea arrived to the West, people were left wondering what the proper vessels were to drink it out of. The answer? Porcelain, according to Jane Pettigrew of London's Langham Hotel, who described the history of tea etiquette to CBS News. (The stuff came from—you guessed it—China; hence the current nickname for porcelain serveware.) Until today, any fine tea service is made from some variation of precious porcelain, such as bone china. More modern and casual tea sets seek to display tea's rich and beautiful color, opting for glass. (Another benefit to glass is that you can tell how strong and saturated the tea is at a glance.)

Pettigrew describes the coming together of family and friends for a midday tea as "afternoon tea" for a long while before the less formal "high tea" took over as a cultural mainstay in England.

Elaine Lemm of The Spruce Eats describes the origins of afternoon tea: "When afternoon tea became fashionable thanks to the Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, it was never intended to replace dinner but rather to fill in the long gap between lunch and dinner at a time when dinner was served as late as 8 p.m. Lifestyles have changed since those times and afternoon tea is now a treat, rather than a stop-gap." Once industrialization hit England, however, this tradition became widespread, known as high tea. By the 19th century, the middle class had grown in Western Europe and tea before dinner became a routine in most households; it was no longer for the elite. This was a huge shift in cultural norms and accessibility that would signal a reduction in class divisions that we're thankful for today. Workers who needed some extra food after a long day were having more than just delicate tea sandwiches with their meal, but started to have heartier dishes instead.

Amy Reiter of the Food Network delves into the history of the term: "Contrary to the haughty images stirred by its lofty moniker, high tea is actually a lot more relaxed than afternoon tea. (The 'high' part probably refers to the fact that one traditionally enjoys it while seated at an actual dinner table, rather than on a low armchair or couch.)."

Today, high tea is generally taken between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., often as dinner, while afternoon tea was historically taken at 4 p.m. as a snack for the elite. Today, the dinner meal is called "tea" in working class families in parts of England.

And how to behave at tea? Pettigrew also has a few comments when it comes to general manners.

"'I mean, you would never actually slurp your tea, but a professional tea taster always slurps their tea because that's what you need to do to get the sort of flavor. But no, it's got to be quiet, elegant.'"

Other notes from this seasoned tea expert? No clanking the spoon against the cup when stirring; no raising your pinky while holding the cup (it's pretentious); and when you have your crumpets along with your tea (yes, it's a thing), add a little wad of clotted cream or jam, but don't smear it all over! (On this side of the Atlantic, muffins or cookies go just as well!) Oh, and she'd never put milk in non-standard blends like oolong. Let the flavor shine through. According to Doltone House, an upmarket party venue group in Australia, the rules for stirring don't stop there. Start with your spoon in the 6 o'clock position and stir clockwise, setting the spoon down beside the cup when you're done.

Want to emulate high tea at home today? You can follow some simple steps to bring some tradition to your next family gathering. For starters, loose leaf tea is preferable over supermarket tea bags (which are often adulterated and of inferior quality), according to Afternoon Tea of the UK. Heavenly Tea Leaves' vast selection of gourmet loose-leaf tea leaves you with plenty of options; the most apt for this occasion would be the Afternoon Tea Sampler, which comprises four lovely teas to please any palette. For the caffeine-sensitive, the sampler comes in an herbal version, too. To stack your accompanying snacks, grab a pretty, tiered cookie tray, preferably in sterling silver for the full effect!


Other pointers

Never dip your biscuit, crumpet, or any other side snack into your tea. Layer jam over cream on your scone. If adding milk (for example, to black tea), pour the milk into the cup first for a better combination of the liquids. And when it comes to your appearance, dress up! Doltone House also recommends eating your tea sandwiches, scones, and other snacks with your hands (contrary to what you might think would be polite).

While etiquette centering around drinking tea might seem antiquated, it is in fact a nearly lost art, and a tradition that should be revered and preserved. We, for one, are working hard to help make that happen.


Photo credit: @bunabuna1234 (Instagram)

How To Make Iced Tea (Using Loose Leaf Tea)

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 3 years ago 27547 Views No comments

How should you handle your tea-making during the blistering heat of summer? And what types of tea will put the biggest smile on your face?

At the peak of summer, our cravings are unique. We delight in sweet, fruity flavors and cold, refreshing beverages to help us beat the heat. When navigating Heavenly Tea Leaves' vast selection, you might be left scratching your head, wondering what will quench your seasonal thirst the best. Fear no more!

Let's start with the basics: how to cold brew tea.

While most teas can be consumed hot or cold, certain varieties will have a stronger impact on ice (think raspberry or lemon). Avoid spicy or smoky ones for this method; you're better off enjoying these more exotic blends hot.

To cold brew your tea, add 1 tsp. of tea to every 6-8 ounces of water in your favorite iced tea maker or pitcher. Let it brew for at least four hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Discard or strain the tea leaves. Keep the pitcher refrigerated, and if desired, you can add ice in when serving.

For those of you who like your iced tea with a fuller flavor, we have an option for you too! Brew your tea as you normally would (with hot water) and refrigerate it until its cold enough for you! Add iced if you like it really cold!

Now that we have the method down, we can talk flavor. Just like our clothing in these torrid months, it's important to keep our tea flavors light. Our Açai Berry White blend is the ideal blend of fruitiness (thanks to notes of mango and berries) with a floral touch (hibiscus!). White teas are a good choice because of their milder, more delicate balance. Another white tea that customers frequently tell us is a favorite for iced tea is Ginger Peach White - a mild, sweet blend of white tea with a peachy punch and a kick of ginger.

Green teas are also a great choice, as they are versatile in terms of temperature and have quite a range – some are nuttier, some are leafier.

For our staff picks, head over to our Iced Tea section. You'll notice many herbal tisanes in this section. That is because herbs, spices, fruits, flowers, and botanicals make for delicious, refreshing, naturally-caffeine free iced teas.


What about add-ins?

Like a scoop of ice cream missing its sprinkles, sometimes our teas (especially when they're iced) call for some fun add-in ingredients.

To complement a citrus or berry tea, chop up some fresh mint; this will cut the sweet notes with the herb's cooling effect.

On the other hand, a simpler black or green tea might benefit from some diced fruits. Try in-season peaches, juicy oranges, sugary melon, or tangy berries to liven up a cold-brewed pitcher. Besides adding flavor, this technique also adds volume to the beverage without diluting the flavor – a key for entertaining thirsty guests.


We've come up with an Iced Tea Lemonade recipe that's very delicious. Its super refreshing too. Oh, and did we forget to mention its delicious?

Step 1: Add 1 tsp. of Green or Black to 6-8 oz. of boiling water

Step 2: For Green Tea, boil your water to 170 degrees and steep your tea for 1-3 minutes. For Black Tea, boil your water to 208 degrees and steep your tea for 2-4 minutes.

Step 3: Squeeze in 1/2-1 lemon for every 6-8 ounces of water.

Step 4: Add sweetener (we prefer organic raw honey) to hot water

Step 5: Refrigerate until the tea is cool

Step 6: Add ice and enjoy!


Fun fact: Did you know that drinking hot tea in hot weather can actually help cool you down? This is because the hot tea makes you sweat, and when your sweat evaporates, your skin chills. But fair warning, this won't work in humid weather; your sweat won't evaporate the same way!

Happy summer – drink on!