Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teatime Sans Tea

I enjoy sharing tea with others not for the tea, but for all of the dainty food items that accompany it. While traditional afternoon tea in Britain is a light meal enjoyed between 3 and 5pm, tea is standard for most meetings and socials as well. Granted, it’s ideal for social situations as it’s quite easy to chat between sips from a warm china teacup but, for me, tea remains a vehicle to enjoy tastier treats.

This is a particular sort of cookie that is fairly thick and crumbly, making it ideal for dipping into tea as it will soften, but not dissolve. Common biscuit flavors include digestive and ginger. Digestives are round biscuits with the flavor and texture of a graham cracker, sometimes one side is covered in milk chocolate. The latter is much like a ginger snap, but less brittle. My favorites are pear and ginger flavored biscuits covered in dark Belgian chocolate.

2)Finger sandwiches
The finger sandwiches I’ve enjoyed have been crustless and rectangular, about the third of the size of a regular sandwich made with bread loaf slices, though I have seen them triangular as well. The big three are salmon, cucumber, and egg and cress.

The selection varies from Victorian sponge, or sponge cake, to carrot cake and my favorite, lemon cake with tart lemon drizzle. Tea is a well-suited complement to cakes as it counters their bold sweetness with a more subtle, subdued flavor.

When scones are enjoyed with tea, this is called cream tea. British scones are more like our biscuits, soft, moist and buttery—not at all crumbly and dry like our own. Scones are traditionally served with clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam. Clotted cream has the consistency of smooth, spreadable butter at room temperature. It is made by heating unpasteurized milk in a steam or water bath and then allowing the cream to clot at the surface while it cools.

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