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The Perfect Afternoon Tea


The Perfect Afternoon Tea

Since today, Christmas Eve, I come every week on EclipsTV with "Tea with a Story", a program in which I like to take you into the wonderful world of tea. I do this on the basis of tasty recipes, fun facts and above all: with a lot of pleasure. During the first episode we are talking about perhaps the best way to drink tea the British way: Afternoon tea!

When we think of tea, we automatically think a bit about England, the United Kingdom. Because admit, the English live on tea and also believe that a tea can solve all problems or soften things. An ultimate example of this is the night Lady Di died. Energy suppliers noticed a significant increase in electricity consumption that night ... because everyone switched on their kettle to let the news sink ... with a cup of tea. But they will also prepare their cup of tea to celebrate beautiful moments.

If you have ever been to England, you may also have enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea. A moment of tea time in the afternoon, with scones, sweets and sweets. Writer Henry James described afternoon tea as one of the most pleasant moments in life, and admit, what could be nicer than sharing a nice tea moment? Today we are going to prepare a traditional afternoon tea together, to enjoy with family and friends. Get those tea sets and étagères out of the cupboard, it's time for tea! I can already hear you thinking, isn't that high tea? No, that's a common misconception. A high tea is the evening meal of the English. They still say that today: "I'm going home for tea", so to enjoy an evening meal, without scones and without sweets.

Afternoon tea! What do we need? First and foremost: scones! Although they have only been part of a real afternoon tea since the beginning of the last century, they are indispensable for a real afternoon tea. I always provide two per person. It is a fairly heavy pastry made with butter milk. Making a good scone is not given to everyone. However, it is not a difficult recipe, but the dough must not be kneaded too strongly. So that they can rise beautifully in the oven. You can find a delicious recipe for scones in my book "But First, Tea". I opted for pure scones, because the rest of the afternoon tea is also allowed to walk with feathers. But you can certainly also bake them with raisins or savory scones with bacon or cheddar.

Scones are traditionally eaten with clotted cream and jam. Preferably from all with strawberry jam. With us, clotted cream is often translated as whipped cream, but that is not the case at all. Clotted cream is heavier, richer in fat, but also so much tastier than whipped cream. The biggest difference is that whipped cream is not heated during the production process, but clotted cream is. First, whole cow's milk is heated au-bain-marie or by steam and then they let it cool. A crust forms, making the whole look a bit grainy. Hence: clotted cream. You can also perfectly eat the scones, with the cream and the jam. Then they call it a Cream Tea in England. By the way, did you know that it is not just how you eat it? I will come back to that later.

Next step: savory finger sandwiches. You can be very creative with this. It doesn't necessarily have to be sandwiches that are in strips or triangles. It is important that there are 3 different types. I go for the traditional route, and opt for 3x different siege. Coronation chicken, egg salad and of course cucumber with herb cheese. If possible, I choose 3 different types of bread, so that the difference is also clear to the eyes of my guests. You can also replace one of the sandwiches with quiche, a tea-bag soup, or so on. You can also work with different types of crackers. Or stems in hummus. Let your creativity run free.

Coronation Chicken is such a typical English fill. It is cooked or roasted chicken fillet cut into small pieces, mixed in mayonnaise with curry spices, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, a hint of black pepper and a tablespoon of lemon curd. And of course some raisins. Same with the egg salad. I also like to make them fresh, because then I can do whatever I want. To make it more spicy, I always add some cayenne pepper. And everyone knows the cucumber sandwiches right? Herb cheese and thin slices of cucumber. YOUTH TIME! If I can give a little tip: make the sandwiches really last-minute, otherwise they will dry out.

And last but not least: 3 sweets. Also vary well there. From brownies to cupcakes to cheesecake ... it's all possible!

Everything is ready. Now set my table. Experience is everything right? So, matching tea bags, teapot and aperitif glasses. If you really want to blow your girlfriends down, then you also look on the internet for some nice ways of folding serviettes (or were it 'napkins' according to British etiquette?). I chose these in the form of a rose, because they fit so nicely with the whole and it is really not difficult to do. And of course a praline to get into the right mood. You will certainly not lose weight from afternoon tea, but hey, you should be able to sin well, right?

As a tea, I serve a personal favorite: a classic Earl Gray. That is a mixture of different types of Indian black tea and also bergamot. The mood of bergamot gives our mood a boost, always with the smell of citrus fruits by the way. Have you ever been told that you must first heat up your teapot before making the tea? I learned that in England. Your tea will taste better, and really, since I have done it that way, it has. During afternoon tea I always serve a large teapot, then after I have given the first bag as a hostess my guests can top up as much as they want. 1 teaspoon of tea per bag, very well stocked, and, very cliché, one extra for the pot. No boiling water over it, because it's real tea. Black tea is 90 ° C (or let your water boil and wait 1 minute), and then infuse for 2 minutes. Filter out and done!

When I took tea lessons in London, I also got the usual etiquette. The worst thing I've ever done during afternoon tea was that I put my napkin, my napkin, on my seat instead of on the table. Just because I didn't want to make the beautiful table cloth dirty. That appears to be a gross insult, because you cannot clean the chair, but the table cloth can. I promise solemnly. I will never do it again.

Did you know that you can never lift your little finger when drinking tea? That is very arrogant and you only do it when you feel better than the person next to you. So we are not going to do that.

I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did and hope to see you next week! Merry Christmas, everyone! 

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