One of the foundations of British culture is drinking tea. English Breakfast, Earl’s Grey, Camellia, loose, or bagged; there are thousands of options that the British are constantly exploring. Over my time here I’ve seen that each of them prefer their tea in a specific way. One sugar, two creams, black, white tea, the list goes on and at first I had no idea what some of their phrases even meant.
The thing I’ve come to appreciate the most about the tea culture, it high tea. During my time here I’ve had it several times at different places ranging from unnecessarily expensive to some that I could convince myself into thinking was reasonably priced.
First experience: Regency Hotel. Now for my first high tea I had a lot of expectations and those expectations were not fulfilled. The hotel provided high tea in a buffet style, which wasn’t as posh as I was expecting. Along with this the food turned out to be sub par. Needless to say this experience was not fabulous and left a bad taste in my mouth.
Second experience: International Continental Hotel. After this experience my entire view of high tea was turned around. Greeted and seated by a nearly perfect waitress the experience was perfect from the moment I walked in, to the moment I left. Tea, cocktails, finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones filled the table and I finally felt as though I was having a proper high tea. Everything tasted amazing and was well worth the money that was spent.
Third experience: The Wallace Collection. A hidden gem near Oxford Street I stumbled upon one sunny afternoon in London. The atmosphere would be the best thing about this place. The large glass windows created a ceiling bringing in the natural light making me feel as if I was outside without having to worry about the bugs and wind flying everywhere. A reasonable price and good food, it turned out to be a great place for casual high tea.
Fourth experience: The Pump Room, Bath, England. A large room accompanied by a pianist and small notes placed on white tablecloths that read, “please do no not use cell phones”. A rather classy and posh experience if I do say so myself, I had to be extremely mindful of everything I did. The food seemed to be never ending including perfectly fluffed scones and cakes that even my sweet tooth couldn’t conquer.
High tea is something that I hold very close to my time in England. I can’t imagine going back to a time before casual Sundays filled with high tea and leisurely walks through Hyde Park to walk off a full stomach.