It’s 4 o’clock on a Sunday, you’ve spent the day’s precious daylight hours outside walking with the family and dogs or tidying the garden after the rampaging growth of summer, and now it is payback. You can approach that most civilised tradition of the British with a rightly held attitude of deserving anticipation.
So what is the perfect afternoon tea? Everyone has their own favourites; some would even include a delicate sandwich….well, each to their own.
Of course the starting point has to be tea (never coffee, wonderful though it is). We love the straightforwardness of a well blended English Breakfast tea and the freshness of Earl Grey.
Delicate china cups and saucers always enhance the experience, though it’s difficult to see why! Our favourites are Fairtrade teas sourced and blended by London Tea from small growers in Sri Lanka, Kenya and South India.
But a cup of tea only truly comes alive when coupled with perfect cakes. We’ve tried an impressive amount of cake over the years and always go back to two stunningly good cakes from Milly Hunter’s small bakery, The Simply Delicious Cake Company, just outside Ludlow. Her Rich Fruit Cake is one of the finest examples you’ll ever enjoy and her Apricot and Ginger Cake, with its very subtle ginger undertone is a complete pleasure.
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as Afternoon Tea” – Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
Another traditional delight which we would always hope to be permitted are flapjacks, a wonderful, simple cake which we consider essential for a person’s well being. And try as you might, we defy you to make them better than the geniuses at Caron’s More Food bakery in Sussex; how hard can it be? We’ve tried and failed repeatedly. They make the most perfect all butter flapjack we have ever enjoyed.
Raspberry & Strawberry Jam
And what would tea be if you didn’t include a bit of bread or toast with Granny’s best jam? Another excellent pairing for your perfect cup of tea! In the absence of Granny’s fine preserving skills we always enjoy jams from Hawkshead Relish in the Lakes and Thursday Cottage in fruit-rich Essex. All their preserves are hand-made in small batches in open copper kettles with great British fruit and we particularly go for Hawkhead’s Raspberry and Vanilla Jam and Thursday’s Strawberry Jam.
We’re fans of tradition, but we’ve been rather enjoying a stunning toffee waffle produced by Tregroes Waffles, an artisan baker in Wales for the last 30 years. Certainly not traditional tea time faire, but so absolutely brilliant that we’ve included it in our Afternoon Tea Hamper, and it’s proved very popular indeed. Whatever next!
Still looking for inspiration? Pop the kettle on and take a look at our range of Afternoon Tea Hampers, full of wonderful food from British artisan producers.