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“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James
An afternoon spent enjoying High Tea is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, birthday, get together with the girls or ‘just because’. When thinking of high tea, what comes to mind is an afternoon of indulgence spreading oodles of cream and jam on fluffy scones, elegantly set white table clothes and daintily sipping tea with your pinkie out. When in actual fact, the high tea that we know and love actually started from quite humble beginnings.
Originating in England in the mid-1700s High Tea was a practical solution for the working class during the Industrial Revolution with labourers and miners returning after a hard day work and requiring a generous meal. Rather than the dainty sandwiches and scones we know of today, high tea usually consisted of meats, pies and more substantial fare. The name high tea is derived from the height of the table it was served on, high tea being served on the dinner table.
What we know today as High Tea, actually originated from the British afternoon tea or low tea. It is credited to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who complained of ‘having that sinking feeling’ in the late afternoon. During this time it was common for people to only have two main meals a day, breakfast and dinner at about 8pm. The Duchess’s solution for this problem was to take an afternoon tea consisting of a pot of tea and light snacks, privately in her boudoir. The Duchess began inviting her friends to join her for an afternoon tea or “low tea” (as it was usually served in a sitting room with low coffee tables) with a menu centred on small cakes, sweets, sandwiches and of course a pot of tea. The Duchess’s ritual of inviting her friends for tea quickly was adopted by other social hostesses and the practice spread, becoming increasingly fashionable amongst the upper classes.
Throughout the late 19th century, afternoon tea held in tea rooms became all the rage, as it was one of the only respectable places women could meet in public without a chaperone. Tea rooms became the place where women could meet their friends and share gossip. Afternoon tea or High Tea as we now refer to it is still incredibly popular today almost 200 years after the Duchess of Bedford’s innovation.
Today, high teas come in all shapes and forms with speciality high teas, high teas that meet certain dietary requirements and even high teas for children. Despite these variations there are a few key points to consider when searching for the perfect high tea on the Central Coast.
A good High Tea venue will offer a space in keeping with the classic finesse of an afternoon tea. Comfortable furniture, lots of natural light and preferably plenty of places to people watch. Lord Ashley’s High Teas are served by the windows in our chic Lord Ashley Lounge or stunning Seasalt Restaurant. Offering picturesque views of the beach, comfortable seating and our charming fireplace in winter time, there’ no better place to indulge in a high tea.
Although now days, High Tea can be served with a variety of beverages, tea still plays an important part in a High Tea. Traditionally a pot of tea was one of the main focuses of a successful afternoon tea and an authentic high tea will still include a good quality loose leaf tea. The Lord Ashley High Tea is served with a bottomless pot of Dilmah Vivid Tea of your selection. Some of the choices include traditional blends such as Aromatic Earl Grey or Gentle Camomile or for something a little different, try the Ceylon with Apple Pie and Vanilla or Springtime Oolong with Ginger. Proper tea etiquette is to place your sugar in the cup first, then thinly sliced lemon if you are having black tea (lemon and milk should never go together), then finally add your milk. The habit of putting milk in your tea last comes from a French tea superstition where it is believed that to put milk in your tea before sugar is to cross the path of love and can jeopardise your chance to marry.
The same way that tea is a fundamental component of High Tea so too are scones. There is much controversy as to the proper etiquette to how a scone should be eaten. Different areas of Britain have different customs as to whether cream or jam is placed on the scone first. The Cornish tradition is jam before cream, whereas the Devon tradition is topping your cream laden scone with jam. No matter which option you choose, it is important never to sandwich your scone back together.
There is something to be said for tradition but when it comes to food, it’s lovely to have some variations to suit everyone’s taste and style. This is especially true when you are celebrating a special occasion and trying to cater for individual dietary requirements and preferences. Lord Ashley’s High Teas allow you to select different beverage options including a high tea served with a glass of sparking wine, a glass of moscato and even your selection of cocktail.
You can also choose any special dietary options including a high tea menu completely catering for vegetarians and expecting mothers. Featuring delicious finger sandwiches, tasty sweets include macrons, petite cup cakes and of course delicate scones. There is also a gluten free option, with tasty finger sandwiches on soy and linseed bread and delicious gluten free sweets.
If you are looking for a high tea with a difference, Lord Ashley Lounge offers some speciality high teas that provide a unique experience. For lovers of chocolate, indulge in an adults only Chocolate Cocktail High Tea. Featuring decadent chocolate sweets and truffles, this high tea has a cheeky adult surprise in the form of mini chocolate cocktails and a glass of sparkling wine.
Everyone remembers the fun of playing make believe tea parties with toys and empty tea pots. Now children can enjoy all the grown up fun of a high tea with a fun, childish twist. The Little Lords and Ladies High Tea is a speciality high tea catering completely for children. With fairy bread finger sandwiches, mini sausage rolls, mini cupcakes and a special chocolate milkshake, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon celebrating a birthday or having a special bonding moment with mothers or grandmothers.
No matter the occasion or reason, high tea is a wonderful way to celebrate a special life moment, spend some quality time with your loved ones or just take a moment to treat yourself with an afternoon of indulgence. Providing a variety of menus, a truly spectacular venue and premium service, the Lord Ashley Lounge in Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific is a wonderful place to spoil yourself with a high tea experience. To view the menus or for more information click here.