Time for Tea!

This week is officially Afternoon Tea Week. This great British institution started in the 1800’s by Anna Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford who hated the ‘sinking feeling’ she felt in the afternoon with another four hours to wait until dinner time. In those days most people ate two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, with the upper classes not dining until eight or nine o’clock in the evening the gap between the two meals was considerable. The idea quickly took on and became popular amongst the upper, lower and middle classes alike.

Afternoon tea was generally served at home, so rather than going out for afternoon tea why not enjoy hosting one at home for your friends. If you want to go for the full experience why not have a rummage around Blythswood Care, Cancer Research or the Chest, heart and stroke shops for a vintage tea service, tea pot or cake stand, you’d be surprised at what you can find.

The upper classes served a ‘low’ afternoon tea at around 4pm whereas the middle and lower classes served a more substantial ‘high’ tea later in the afternoon which was usually the main evening meal. The low and high tea refers to the height of the tables the meal was served at, with the lighter ‘low’ tea being served on low side tables rather then the ‘high’ tea which was served at the dinner table. This is often a source of confusion as people assume that ‘high’ tea is superior to ‘afternoon tea’ and was consumed by the upper classes.

Whether you choose to go for dainty sandwiches of white bread with the crusts cut off or for something more substantial such as granary or sourdough, Campbells Bakery and Tower Bakery sell a wide range of loaves. Fish in Crieff have smoked salmon, smoked trout and dressed crab, perfect with cucumber from The Handy Shop for a traditional sandwich. The Crieff Food Company have a range of pâtés, cooked meats and cheeses while McNees of Crieff have a range of locally made chutneys and pickles.

Now to the important matter of cake and all things sweet. You could buy them from one of the many excellent bakers or food shops in Crieff or you could bake your own. Houseproud stock a wide range of bakeware as do TOFS and At Home Gifts is perfect for those finishing touches such as napkins and table decorations.

And finally to the tea itself, Ceylon, Assam, Darjeeling, Scottish Blend, Earl Grey, Lady Grey or Lapsang Souchong, which is your favourite?