THE PROPER BRITISH AFTERNOON TEA
Afternoon Tea is one of my favourite treats and feels so quintessentially British, which, as a proud Brit, I love. Setting the table for Afternoon Tea at home is so much fun and not so long ago, I hosted an Afternoon Tea party for my mum's birthday. We drank from pretty teacups and ate sandwiches, scones and cakes from tiered cake stands and William Morris patterned china plates.
A traditional Afternoon Tea spread must include finger sandwiches, such as ham and mustard, cream cheese and smoked salmon, beef and horseradish, fruit and plain scones with jam and clotted cream and a selection of bitesize cakes. And of course, a selection of teas. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
A DAILY BREAK
Making a cup of tea is also deliciously ritualistic. The first ‘brew’ of the day is uniquely special – stealing a few moments of calm to collect and ponder thoughts before the chaos of the day ensues. There is a strange sort of comfort in the mundanity and repetition of making a cup of tea; the very process yielding a hint of anticipation of that first sip.
With three young boys to run around after, there is rarely a moment when someone does not need something or a task of varying urgency needs completing. Life seems to go at a supersonic pace. But, if there’s one thing I do slow down for, it’s to take time to make a cup of tea. An opportunity to be present in the moment again; senses allowed the space and time to be acknowledged. The smell of the tea or coffee brewing, the heat of the steam from the kettle, the rumble of the water as it bubbles and boils and the warmth spreading through the mug. It is a heavenly experience, without a doubt!
THE PERFECT "CUPPA"
There is an element of particularity in making the perfect ‘cuppa’; a need for precision and exactitude. The cup must be the right cup (no one else is allowed to use ‘my’ mug), the tea or coffee must be the perfect strength to be really enjoyed and above all, for me, it must be boiling hot!
It is not a job to be rushed; it is a process to be savoured and enjoyed. The act of making is as satisfying as the consumption itself.
The equipment, the paraphernalia, they are a vital part of the process. I wonder if this is why I have a long-standing love of proper kettles. And when I say ‘proper’, I don’t mean the kind you plug into the wall! Tea must be made with a solid, copper kettle. I have a collection of copper kettles, some quite old that I’ve picked up at flea markets and some newer ones. I recently added Ruffoni’s new tea kettle to my collection and it gives me the greatest joy using it to make my tea. The beautiful hammered copper, the solid brass handle and the handcrafted lotus flower-topped lid make the whole process of tea-making so pleasurable.
An heirloom piece that I know will be passed down to my boys and through the generations of my family yet to come.
If there’s one thing you do today, take time to really enjoy making a cup of tea. And if you’re not a tea-drinker, I can only suggest that you start!
Elle and her perfect "cuppa" in the author's beautiful modern-rustic kitchen | © Elle Hervin - @elle_the_home_bird