I want tea.

I spent last week in London. After being raised on the BBC and even getting a degree in British novels, it was my veeeery first time in England. I just loved it. It’s the first time I’ve been overseas and not gotten sick and tired of the silly continent long before it’s time to go home… and that’s a real endorsement, coming from me.

Something I really loved was afternoon tea. I know it’s not really a part of the culture anymore, and I definitely had tea at some of the best places (Claridge’s, Liberty, and the Randolph in Oxford), but I just feel that it’s something I want to do, regularly. I want to go into a restaurant or shop, and be given a three-cup pot of tea brewed from looseleaf, a plate of daffy sandwiches, and a fruited scone with clotted cream and jam. Is it so much to ask?

Well, yeah, it is. Now I’m back Stateside and there’s just no way to get it. Coffee shops are leaving me awfully cold, these last few days–“hot tea” is in a mug and brewed from a bag. How depressing. And the eatables? Stale muffins and highly suspicious packaged sandwiches? Um, no thanks.

What’s really ironic is that I can’t get what I want because the place I live is too big. My grandmother and my aunt both live in small towns that, faced with economic crisis, turned themselves into small-time tourist traps full of antique stores and fudge shops–and both have tea rooms that meet all of my criteria. Both tea shops are called “Thyme for Tea,” incidentally. How very clever.

Don’t you all think that the time of the real-for-sure tea shop has come?

There are plenty of tes-shops in Silicon Valley. What state are you in ?

How civilised.

I am going to use this post to plug the noble game of cricket. This is the only game I know in which play stops for a) lunch and b) tea. And the games last for up to five days. That’s five teas. In days of yore a cricket tea did indeed consist of loose leaf tea, daffy sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam. Or something very similar anyway.

Regrettably this delicious menu has been largely replaced by isotonic drinks and other things which are supposed to do you good. I put the general decline of English cricket over the last few decades down to this change in diet.

I’ve got to go now before I am totally overcome by nostalgia.

What the hell are daffy sandwiches? Google turns up not a single hit.

An example of the marvelous creativity of human language, that’s what. They’re sandwiches. And because I’m a practical American, and because making the sandwiches involves an incredible number of unnecessary steps, I think they’re daffy.

And I live in a flyover state. Glad to hear tea is catching on in California… we might get it in a decade. But do you have clotted cream?

Frankly, I don’t care much one way or another about the culture of tea. But if British-style tea shops would mean that we’d get the same quality of tea that they serve in the Isles, then I’m all for them. Man, that stuff was delicious.

It’s available at several local grocery stores (not the big chains) and specialty food shops.

Americans just don’t understand tea. You can’t even get good iced tea north of the Mason-Dixon most of the time.

I came home from England in the 1980s a confirmed tea addict with a fetish for tea toys (strainers, sugar tongs, Blue Willow china, those little double- and triple-level cake stands… the works!), and have discovered there are very few places in the States where you can get a nice tea outside of fancy, expensive hotels. The Regency, for example, does a great tea for $25-33 per person, but it’s not the place to go every day.

For everyday teas, I make my own scones and little sandwiches.

If you’re looking for clotted cream in the States, look for little glass jars of Devonshire Double Cream. In my local stores, it’s in the fancy dairy section near the goat’s cheese and brie. It’s also pretty expensive, going for 6 or 7 dollars a jar, but is essential if you’re making scones.

My little buddy, Batsinma Belfry, was working on a tea swap. I’ll hook you up:


Don’t thank me. It’s all in a day’s work. Happy sipping! (Don’t forget to raise that pinky finger!!)

Miss Mapp, I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Do you have a blog?

And Kalhoun, thanks for the tea tip. I do know where to get the actual good tea itself, I just want somebody to serve it to me after a long afternoon’s shopping :slight_smile: I actually brought home some of Harrod’s whole-leaf Darjeeling. That stuff doesn’t come cheap, let me tell you.

Scones are quite easy to make. There are instructions for making homemade clotted cream in John Thorne’s book Simple Cooking. The jarred cream isn’t quite the same thing, but it’s close.

Some day, when I have more space, I’m going to have a tiered cake tray. That’s one of my big life ambitions, along with making up recipes for all of Sunshine’s desserts, like The Death of Marat, Killer Zebras, and Buttermost Limit.

I have an LJ, mostly for my stories. Only one tea-related entry: On Cats and Tea Cosies.

Also, a correction: the clotted cream I currently have in my fridge is labeled “English Double Devon Cream.” (I guess they don’t think people will buy it if they call it “clotted”. :))

Some tea sandwiches are easy to make. My basic everyday sandwiches are egg and tomato: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 roma/plum tomato about the same size as an egg, both cut into thin slices. Spread butter on 4-5 slices of thin-sliced bread (Pepperidge Farms makes a bread that’s only about 1/8 of an inch thick, perfect for tea sandwiches). Put two slices each of the egg and tomato on each slice of buttered bread, in opposite corners, then put another slice of bread on top of each. Stack and slice them diagonally twice so you have 4 little sets of triangles, each with a half-slice of egg and half-slice of tomato in it. Turn `em point-up on a plate in rows, the way they do with sandwiches in tea shops. Takes about 10 minutes.

If you want something more savory to go with them, you can shuffle in a sandwich or two of swiss cheese with mustard, salmon pate, deviled ham, or whatever suits your tastes.

This part sort of reminds me of Angela’s Ashes. They had horrible times financially, but the tea had to be just so and done the strained way. Tea bags were like just the worst tea offense evah.

It’s definitely catching on. I love afternoon tea and have had a tea party someplace different for my birthday for the past 6 or 7 years. Here in San Diego, there are tearooms as well as fancy hotel teas. I try to have tea at least one or two places in every city I visit. I also stage elaborate homemade tea parties for my friends on occasion. I love to bake.

If I lived in England, that’s all I’d ever eat! Tea, twice a day…yum!!