How to have a socially isolated Afternoon Tea
“The mental health benefits of connecting with other people are huge and it’s still possible to share the experience with your loved ones even with social distancing or isolation.”
How did Afternoon Tea Start?
There can be a long time between lunch and dinner where we can have a tendency to slump and get rather peckish. Thankfully, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford created a solution way back in the 1840s. She started devouring a tray of bread & butter, cake and of course tea in her room every afternoon. She felt rather lonely though so invited some pals over to join her and the joy that is Afternoon Tea was born. This afternoon retreat was soon ‘the’ event to be seen at and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Fast forward to today and Afternoon Tea is still a much loved pastime, whether it’s in a 5 star hotel, a gorgeous restaurant, your local tea room or café or even your local garden centre. In the present, virus pandemic moment however, we just need to be a little more creative. Thank goodness for the internet!
21 Rules to guide you through your Afternoon Tea experience
The world has been turned upside down but it’s important to remember that this is a vast shared experience and we’re literally all in this together. In a strange way, it’s actually a chance to cultivate more social connection. A good way to start is sharing an afternoon tea at home with your loved ones and via video link with other friends and family.
We’ve put together some handy tips on How to Take Afternoon Tea.
1. Choose proper whole leaf tea. It’s hard to fit proper tea in a normal tiny tea bag so either choose whole leaf pyramid tea bags or loose leaf tea. Be sure to remove the leaves after brewing to avoid your tea overbrewing. Yuck!
2. You can add milk to black teas but please don’t add milk to green, white, oolong, herbal or fruit teas/infusions. It’s not pretty.
3. Do you put milk in first or second? In the old days we had to put milk in first to stop the very delicate china from cracking. Nowadays though, as we’ve got proper china, you should always put milk in last so you can tell how strong it is.
Drinking your Tea
4. If using sugar, be careful to not dip the sugar tong/spoon into your tea or family/friends won’t be happy. Use your own teaspoon to stir your tea and then replace it gently on your saucer.
5. Avoid slurping your tea and other loud noises. Slurping has been scientifically proven to agitate others and you may end up with some tea poured over your head.
6. Do use alternative milk if you have a preference. Indeed, you may well have run out of milk – just opt for a green or white tea so you don’t need milk.
7. When it comes to enjoying your properly brewed tea, it’s best to hold your cup and saucer near your chest. Raise your teacup to your mouth to drink and if you spill any the saucer is there to save your blushes.
8. If the tea is too hot to drink, just leave it to cool. Do not blow on the tea.
9. Contrary to popular belief, it’s best NOT to stick your pinky out when drinking tea. Just hold your teacup normally.
10. Your whole Afternoon Tea should be displayed on a tiered cake stand and should be eaten in this order: sandwiches, then the scone with cream & jam and finally the cakes.
11. A huge part of the joy of Afternoon Tea is that you get to eat with your fingers. If you get a particularly gooey cake then feel free to use a cake fork of course.
12. If you can’t finish everything, just save it for breakfast. No-one’s looking.
13. Sandwiches should be eaten in bite sized pieces allowing for polite conversation. Under no circumstances should the whole sandwich be consumed in one go.
14. Unless you’re Mrs Bucket from the British sitcom Keeping up Appearances (if you’re too young or not British please check it out on YouTube) please don’t pronounce the long ‘o’ in ‘scone.’ It is properly pronounced ‘scon.’
15. Scones in themselves can be a minefield. Best practice is to break off a small piece, then spread with clotted cream and jam before eating.
16. Cream or jam first? If you’re using Cornish clotted cream, then you’re supposed to spread the jam on first and top it with lashing of clotted cream. Whereas, if you’re using Devonshire clotted cream, it’s more acceptable to layer the cream on first.
17. You can never have enough clotted cream but under no circumstances should you put it in your tea.
18. Take your time, there are no prizes for finishing first and the point of afternoon tea is to slow down and connect with your companions.
19. Technically, you should avoid dunking food in your tea (but it’s hard to stop yourself if it’s a great biscuit).
20. Don’t plan a big dinner afterwards. You should be so full that beans on toast should suffice.
21. There’s no need to dress up these days. PJs are now socially acceptable attire. If you’re on Skype to your inlaws, just stick a jumper on and keep your legs under the table.
Book Afternoon Tea vouchers for the future
If your home attempt turns into a disaster, why not book some Afternoon Tea vouchers for use when thing return to ‘normal’. Ohh, and we have the perfect tea to accompany your Afternoon Tea, our Positivitea blend with Social Bite with 20% of the RRP going to the Social Bite charity. This will be online asap.
Hopefully now you’re fully prepared to enjoy Afternoon Tea in style with a new online twist. Remember, we’re all in this together and we have no option but to slow down. Slowly our communities are moving online and supporting each other. Even though it’s going to be tough, I’m optimistic that we’ll be more socially connected and aware of how we’re all connected once this pandemic subsides. Please share your Afternoon Tea moments and tips with us @eteaket #brewlifeonpurpose on Social Media. Stay safe and sane and keep brewing.