People are divided into black tea lovers and coffee lovers. Or so they say. I have always been fond of tea. I firmly believe in the British saying that there’s no grief that cannot be more bearable by a cup of tea. In films and tv series set in old England, we often see ladies drinking tea in the hardest moments of their life. I don’t know if it depends on the properties of tea, its warmth or the very fact of concentrating on the act of drinking, but it works. Despite containing caffeine, tea is a relaxing drink. Someone says that tea drinkers look for Eastern wisdom, whereas coffee drinkers look for Western efficiency. Coffee wakes us up. But tea does the same, even though in a different manner. More calmly.
Assam, Ceylon, Chinese, Indian, Chai tea: everyone has its favourite one. Although it’s true that green tea contains more antioxidant than black tea, the psychological benefits are the same. A cup of vanilla or cocoa tea is a fabulous mood lifter. If it comes with some crumbly cookies or a slice of cake, the cuddle effect is granted. But before talking about food, let’s see what happened when tea came to Europe.
Low Tea & High Tea
Tea came to Europe in the 17th century and soon became part of everyday life in Great Britain. In time, people started to talk about High Tea and Low Tea. Low Tea is a definition that comes from the habit of sitting in comfortable armchairs with low-side tables for the teacups. It’s also the classic 5 o’clock tea, one the most important rituals in upper class British life in the late 1850s. It was served with shortbreads, butter, teacakes, eclairs, cream jumbles, and scones. According to Victorian etiquette, the milk or cream was added to the tea, but later the reverse became the fashion. High tea, by contrast, began as a working class meal, and later evolved as a Sunday meal for the upper classes, because their servants had a day off. The tea was served with pies, cheese, potatoes, oatcakes and bread.
Assam Black Tea & Cookies, a winter recipe
It’s very cold in Milan in these days. My hands are always freezing, especially when I have to stand at the bus stop, waiting for the bus to go home. I look around at the grey, anonymous city that I do not love, the dirty streets, the unsmiling people. All I want is to get to my room, change into my pajamas, lit some cinnamon candles, make a cup of black tea and sit on the couch. There’s nothing more comforting to me than enjoying moments like this, while my minds empties and my body warms up. The sweetness of cookies and the flavour of Assam tea make my day. I tend to forget how much I hate the city when I can finally enjoy my cuppa on the couch.
Where to have a real Afternoon Tea
To enjoy a traditional Afternoon Tea in London, you can go to Claridge’s. In the tea room of this luxury hotel you will choose among 30 different tea blends, served with scones and clotted cream. I also like Fortnum & Mason at St Pancras, where you can find out the little secrets of tea while enjoying mini salmon sandwiches and a cup of white tea..
In Milano, for an Afternoon Tea with a French twist there’s Palazzo Parigi, a luxury hotel near Brera. Tea is served with the pastries and sweet creations of Maison Ladurée.
The first two photos are from Downton Abbey series.