The Whole Art of Dining – Afternoon Tea

CHAPER X

 

TEA

The Tea, or "Afternoon Tea" of England, is also becoming every day more in vogue among the aristocracy of all the countries of Europe, and in both Americas.

As is well known, tea is served in England in various ways, according to where and to whom served.

 

TEA IN PRIVATE HOUSES.

In most private houses in England when tea is taken en famille, that is, without special visitors or ceremony, it is served in the dining-room at the same table where the other meals are taken.

According to the number of persons present at this meal, one or more plates of cut bread and butter, on paper d’oyley, are placed on the table; also, some plates of cut cake, various kinds of pastry specially for tea, plates of water-cress, celery etc, and jam or marmalade.

To the left of the lady of the house are placed as many cups and saucers as persons present at table; and to the right a tray holding a large tea-pot with the tea ready prepared and a jug of boiling water or a silver kettle on a spirit-stand, a jug of cold milk and another (smaller) with cream.

The sugar-basin should be placed on the cloth to the right and a slop-basin on the tray.

The lady of the house generally pours out the tea, and when pouring it she usually asks each person to be served (if she does not already know) "Do you take sugar?" "Do you like your tea sweet?"

It is generally the custom to take two cups of tea, and each person helps himself to the things on the table.

Buttered toast, toasted tea cake, muffins, crumpets, etc., are also served at tea.

Tea is not considered as a meal in the proper sense of the word; but only a collation or "ente-en-pié" between luncheon and dinner.

Formerly, tea in private houses was always served on the point of five o’clock; hence the origin of the phrase "five o’clock tea" used abroad.

 

THE WORKING-CLASS TEA

The tea of the English working-class is the most eccentric of meals, and one of the greatest injuries a gourmet could possibly conceive (according to the ideas of Brillat-Savarin); for with the tea they partake of various kinds of salted meat and dried fish, such as "corned-beef," kippers, bloaters, red herrings, winkles, shrimps, pickles, watercresses, cucumber, lettuce, jam or marmalade, bread and butter, and cake. This incongruous kind of food may, no doubt, be quite nice and tasty for this class of people, but it must shock any one endowed with refined epicurean instinct.

 

THE CHILDREN’S TEA

In a family where there is a nursery of small children, tea for them takes the place of dinner or supper. In addition to bread and butter, etc., boiled eggs, some fish, or light meat and fruit are served. This is also called "High tea" or "Meat tea."

 

THE DRAWING-ROOM TEA

In a house where the lady receives her intimate friends once a week, tea on this occasion is served in the drawing-room. This is called the "weekly at-home tea."

The following is the method of serving tea in the drawing-room: At four o’clock the butler sets ready in the dining-room a large silver tray with all the necessary things, such

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