I recently spent an afternoon indulging in one of my favourite pleasures – Afternoon Tea at the Château Laurier with friends. I have enjoyed many well-known Afternoon Teas around the world and still find Zoé’s in Ottawa’s Château Laurier one of the finest.
We can thank Anna, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford for this delightful tradition. Finding the time between British meals too long she began requesting tea, bread and butter, and cakes in the afternoon. It soon became a popular, social tradition.
The biggest problem at Afternoon Tea is deciding on which tea to order:
*Black teas are fermented (actually oxidation) and include Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Ceylon, Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, and Lapsang Souchong. They may be taken with milk, sugar, or lemon.
*Oolong teas are partially fermented and include Formosa Oolong, Ti Kuan Yin, and Darjeeling Oolong. They may be taken plain or with lemon.
*Green teas are unfermented and very popular. Dragon Well, Gunpowder, Hyson, and Sencha are all green teas. They are all taken plain.
* Then there are Scented Teas. Jasmine is a scented green tea, where Earl Grey is a scented black tea. Flavoured Teas are black teas that have been sprayed with various flavours. Raspberry is very popular.
* Tisanes are not true teas since they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant. They are made from the flower, roots, leaves, or bark of other plants. Camomile, rosehip, and roobois are popular examples.
I always encourage my guests to “think outside the tea bag” and try something new. Even dedicated coffee drinkers may enjoy trying some different teas or tisanes.
The traditional food that makes up the rest of Afternoon Tea must wait for Part 2. My kettle has boiled, white tea leaves are unfurling, and my tea strainer is poised over my teacup….it’s tea time.
Thank you Anna.