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Posts tagged 'Afternoon tea'

Afternoon Tea: Customs and Etiquette, Now and Then

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 3 months ago 2790 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)

Après-tea: The Best Teas to Enjoy on Your Next Ski Trip

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 4 months ago 3283 Views No comments

It's mountain season! You might be going to actually ski, but it's more likely that you're going for some snow tubing, snowshoeing, jacuzzi time, or R&R in the lodge. From the snow-capped Swiss Alps and Aspen to the humble hills of the Berkshires and Catskills, the satisfaction of a nice cup of h̶o̶t̶ ̶c̶o̶c̶o̶a̶ soothing tea after a long winter day is the ultimate satisfaction.

One great part about tea is that it's easily transportable. All you really need is some hot water and you can make your favorite cup just about anywhere. The types of tea you want to enjoy at the chalet are deep, hearty, warming, and comforting. They do not skimp on flavor or intensity and they radiate the joyous spirit we still like to have coming off the holidays.

If you're heading to luxurious Banff this ski season, the Fairmont Banff Springs and Chateau even offers a luxurious afternoon tea that will give you a taste of the most exquisite post-slope blends (plus pastries, of course!), including green infusions, yerba mate, Egyptian chamomile, Maple Maple, and other signature blends of the resort. We've got to check this experience off our list.


In the meantime, you can create your own cold-weather tea experience no matter where you're headed (or, hint: even at home). We've compiled a few recommendations from the Heavenly Tea Leaves team to complete your next wintertime getaway.

If you want a sampler pack so you can try out a few different types of tea, try our Flavored Black Tea Sampler. This luxurious tea set contains four beautifully packaged loose leaf black teas that are invigorating, giving you the naturally-caffeinated boost you need to get through a physically intense ski trip. It will also help restore your energy after a long day of ups-and-downs, or become the perfect fire pit companion. Our personal favorite of the bunch? Ginger Black. (The ginger will help protect and relieve you from swollen feet, or the sniffles.)

If a spice-infused floral tea is more your thing, Turmeric Bliss is our preferred pick. This unique turmeric-heavy blend gives the punch of spices like cardamom with the calming floral notes of lavender, rose petals, and hibiscus. This blend will clear your head and warm your body in an instant – the perfect cold weather elixir. If you're brewing it yourself, make sure to use water that's come to a boil and steep for about five minutes.

Next on the list, the exotic theme continues with White Chai. This is a white tea blend – a great, relaxing option for those looking for depth of flavor with a lower caffeine level than that of black tea. This tea is made from Organic white tea, lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger, pineapple, pink peppercorns, coconut, clove, cardamom, and natural cinnamon flavor – a combination with a knockout flavor and aroma. You'll be warm and ready to go back up on the mountain after drinking some of this one on your break.

Another (very aptly titled) caffeine-free option is Heavenly Tea Leaves' Warmth. What makes it so warm, aside from the fact that it's best consumed hot? Organic turmeric, orange peel, vanilla, and other naturally cozy ingredients.

So, are you feeling toasty yet? These tea suggestions, in lieu of a fancy afternoon tea at a chateau, are perfectly paired with breakfast, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dessert after dinner, and even a before-bed treat (in the case of the herbal ones). What's special about a winter getaway is that unique juxtaposition of wood and snow, pine and frost, warm and cold, crisp and spicy, fresh and earthy. By bringing along your favorite selection of tea for the ride, you'll create just the right balance. Cheers to your next Après-tea!

​Tea Traditions from Around the World

By Jasmine Dilmanian (In-House Writer) 9 months ago 3388 Views No comments

The team at Heavenly Tea Leaves only enjoys one thing as much as we do tea, and that's traveling. Through our adventures and research, we have discovered that in each part of the world, tea truly takes on a new meaning. From Tibet to Turkey, the types of tea that people drink and the way they drink it are much more diverse than you'd expect. What ties most of these deep-rooted traditions together is the respect for tea, the process by which it is made, and its ability to unite people.

Like other nature-derived beverages, teas and tisanes can come from different plants, be grown at different elevations, harvested and picked at different times, and processed to bring out certain properties over others. In each country, there is usually a preferred tea type. And what to pair with that tea? It depends where you are. Sugar, butter, cream, tamarind seeds, and lemon are just a few additions that are common around the world. You can serve tea hot, extremely hot, or iced. One of the most famous tea-time rituals is the ancient tea ceremony of Japan, which has made certain that in Far East culture, tea is much more than a beverage – it's a highly regarded tradition. By contrast, in the American South, people like their tea iced, super-sweet, and often on-the-go in a disposable cup.

But just because you live in one country, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy and adopt the time-honored tea traditions of another. We've rounded up some of the most interesting global tea traditions that you may want to make your own one day:

Mint in Morocco

Touareg tea, more commonly known as Moroccan mint tea, is a staple in the North African country. It's customary to drink three cups of this black tea, poured from a curved spout held high above the cup (same goes in Turkey), infused with fresh mint leaves and often sweetened with sugar. Moroccan mint tea is usually served as part of a celebration or accompanying a delicious breakfast.

Turkish Tea Time

Brew black tea for approximately ten minutes and slightly dilute the mixture with some piping-hot water for a traditional glass of Turkish tea. Turkish tea is similar to Persian tea in its composition and in the traditions around it – namely, the ultimate hospitality toward family, friends, and even strangers.

Iran - an Ancient Tea Tradition

Brewed with a samovar - a water heater-crockpot hybrid adopted from Russia which is filled with wood or charcoal (modern versions use a heating element), and a small pot filled with water and caravan of concentrated tea placed on top,the ideal Persian tea is strong and reddish-brown in color. Before serving, the preparer will pour a bit into a cup to check its color and warm up the cup. Pouring the small sample back into the pot helps to stir the ingredients and distribute them evenly. Out of the home, a common place to gather and enjoy tea is a chaikhaneh, or tea house.

Russian Samovar Style

The centerpiece of Russian tea-making (like in Persian tea-making) is the samovar. The result is a concentrated black tea brew called zavarka. To serve, a bit of zavarka is poured into each drinker's cup and flavored with lemon, fruit, herbs, sugar, honey, or jam. Sometimes, hot cups are placed in decorative, metal holders known as podstakannik ("the thing under the glass") to keep them from burning the fingers. In Russia, hospitality, warmth, friendship, and tea are intertwined, and it is still considered polite to offer guests a cup upon entering one's home.

Argen-tea-na

Yerba Mate is South America's chai and originates in Argentina. This tisane is served hot and unsweetened and drunk through a special straw called a bombilla. The rules: don't stir the tea with the bombilla and always refuse a cup upon the first offer as a polite gesture (Same goes in Iran!).

Better with Butter in Tibet

Tibet is home to butter tea, or Po cha, a potent concoction that keeps you warm, cleanses the body, and serves as a centerpiece for time with family, friends, and even total strangers. To prepare this unique beverage, pu-erh tea cakes are crumbled into hot water and boiled for several hours to create a strong brew called chaku, which is stored, then blended with salt and yak butter in a wooden churn called a chandong.

Ceremonial in China

Although tea is all over Chinese culture, one place the tea ceremony dominates is at weddings. As a way for the bride and groom to pay respect to their parents, it usually uses pu'erh or jasmine tea with lotus seeds and dates as symbols of fertility. The couple leans on red cushions and assume various symbolic positions as important family heirlooms are passed down.

Taiwanese Tapioca

Bubble tea – the worldwide phenomenon of iced milk teas (black, green, jasmine, or oolong) accompanied by tapioca pearls – originated in Taiwan. A cross between tea and dessert, it often includes powdered milk and a flavored syrup. Taiwanese bubble tea is a modern twist on the time-honored tea drinks of its close neighbor, China.

England's Afternoon Addiction

England is the spot where afternoon tea has been a way of life since the early 1800s. Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, invented high tea, where black tea (customarily Assam) accompanied by a light meal was consumed with upper-class companions or family in the late afternoon in an era when lunch wasn't customary. The "high" in high tea simply recalls the tall tables at which the tea was consumed.

Japan's Chanoyu Tea Ceremony

Influenced by Zen Buddhism, the Japanese chanoyu tea ceremony involves the ritualized preparation, presentation, and consumption of powdered green tea, called matcha. Rooted in ideals of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility, the chanoyu offers deep connection in a peaceful setting. From etiquette and flower arrangements to the proper use of tea-making equipment and kimono-wearing, each ritual has its place.

India's Chai Culture

Chai, India's national drink, stands on nearly every street corner. It's offered to guests, consumed during meals and breaks, or offered as a complimentary beverage in shops. Traditionally prepared using loose black tea, a generous helping of leaves is combined with water, milk, and spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and peppercorns). The resulting mixture is then strained to remove solids and sweetened with sugar.

Sweet Tea in the (American) South

Served in restaurants and at homes in the U.S. South, sweet tea is a regional favorite and an entertaining must. Strong black tea is brewed hot then chilled and accompanied by a lot of sugar and fresh lemon, plus a dash of baking soda to reduce cloudiness. For hot and humid weather, few drinks are more refreshing.

Trendy Thai Tea

In balmy Thailand, tea takes an icy approach. Brewed in a cotton tea sock using strong Ceylon tea, orange blossom water, licorice, crushed tamarind seed, star anise, and other flavorful ingredients, the beverage has a truly unique character and color. A "healthy" dose of sugar is blended with the mixture, which is then poured over ice, finished off with a splash of condensed milk, and served in tall glasses.


The common theme among these global tea traditions is the unification of family and friends. Whether enjoyed in the home, at a tea house, or at a special event, tea is the beverage that carries through from one memorable moment to the next.