THE ART OF AFTERNOON TEA

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By Jo Rittey

 

British writer, Henry James, could have had a job for the marketing department at The Hotel Windsor when he said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

 

In the case of The Hotel Windsor, it’s two hours, because, after all, why stop at one, when you can have two? The lauded Hotel Windsor has been served by the hotel since 1883 and is available through to the end of the year when the hotel will close for extensive renovation. I’d say, get in quick for this quintessential Melbourne experience.

 

We tend to take the concept of afternoon tea for granted, and yet, it is a relatively new tradition in the scheme of things. The story goes that in 1840 Anna, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, and one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, began to request tea and a small meal of bread and butter, cakes and biscuits in the afternoon to tide her over until dinner. Her habit became a highly social occasion, with friends coming to share the hot beverages, delicate snacks and convivial conversation. By 1880, the trend really took off and afternoon tea spread to the homes of the upper classes with teashops later springing up across the country.

 

The Hotel Windsor, then, was hot on the heels of fashion when they started serving high tea in 1883, the year it was built. And they are so serious about afternoon tea that their website features a guide to etiquette and a history of Afternoon Tea. Including tips on “tier panic”, how to hold a teacup and where to place a napkin on the table. However, remain calm, the guide is an interesting read, but not a prerequisite for enjoyment or success in the art of high tea.

 

Indulge in the best selection of finger sandwiches, savoury canapés, exquisite French pastries, and freshly baked scones, served on an elegant three-tiered stand at the hotel’s One Eleven Spring St restaurant. Complement your food with a glass of French sparkling wine served on arrival, and choose from a wide range of freshly brewed specialty teas throughout the session.

 

Pull out a lovely frock, twirl your moustache and enjoy the loveliness of it all.

 

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Jo has an exotic (kiwi) accent, loves good food and wine and has just a touch of the required culinary cynicism when it comes to the misuse of apostrophes and the hype over kale.

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