by Tracey Manailescu
On Wednesday, we went to theWindsor Arms for their High Tea. If you have never been, then it is an experience you should have at least once. I have been fortunate enough to have gone a few times at various venues for Mother’s Day with our mother & grandmothers, and for Bridal Showers etc.
Brides, it is a great time to catch up with the bridal party and the mothers. As well, to wrap up a day of shopping with their girls for last minute wedding related items at Holt Renfrew, Coach, Channel, Dior etc. (which are all steps away.) *It would be appropriate to give the thank-you gifts to the bridal party at this ocassion, if it is the week or two before the wedding.
The Windsor Arms Hotel has been serving tea since 1927 and still has the original working fireplace. The Tea Room holds 42 seated guests.
Here is what the High Tea menu included: (We chose the Complete Tea, which included a glass of Sherry or Sparkling Wine. I was the only one who opted for Sherry, and it was wonderful…)
A Choice of Loose-Leaf Teas (There were 4 pages of tea to choose from! Danielle had the Tibetan Tiger, I had Citralicious, Kim had a Fu Man Chu, and Lataysha had Eve’s Temptation.)
Fresh Scones with Preserves and Devon Cream
A Presentation of Fresh Sandwiches:
Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Sour Cream with Salmon Caviar
& Cucumber with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream Cheese
While I was researching the history of High Tea, I found some interesting tidbits. Apparently tea drinking started in France in 1636, twenty some odd years before England made it famous. It was believed to cure all illnesses, and reportedly some drank up to 40 cups of it daily!
The “Afternoon Tea”, as we know it, was made famous by Anna Maria Stanhope who was known as the Duchess of Bedford. The regular meals of the day were served early and late, so the Duchess would feel faint mid-afternoon. She began having a light snack of tea and bread to curb her hunger, while waiting for the dinner meal. She then began inviting friends to join her for a more social aspect. The menu increased with some more sweets added, and other socialites picked it up for their own circles to enjoy with their girlfriends.
A wonderful tradition that Queen Victoria started in 1860 (how I would have loved to meet that wonderful woman) and now carried out by Queen Elizabeth II, is to open the private gardens at Buckingham Palace three times yearly for afternoon tea. A modest 8000 guests are invited. You can view the Buckingham Palace Garden Party Statistics as it is amazing to see what goes into the event.
Yes, of course there is High Tea etiquette too. If you want to know more, you can click on the link to read more about it. It is actually very informative, and may surprise some of you. It goes into detail about where “pinkies up” came from, how to place your napkin and how to eat a scone, it explains what a moustache cup is, etc.
Example: Did you know that “taking tea” was actually frowned upon by the upper class, and considered a vulgar expression? Actually, I am incorrect for calling what we had, High Tea. It should be called Afternoon Tea. You can read more about that in there as well.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, as I certainly did, researching it.
*All photos were taken by me, Tracey Manailescu