All the charms of a British tea
A damask tablecloth embossed in a warm white pattern was merely the canvas for a British tea prepared by Jenne Harlin for a few lucky friends on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in June.
The New Tripoli resident gathered her prettiest china pieces, layering cucumber tea and ham sandwiches and croissants stuffed with chicken salad.
Large triangular scones clustered together on another platter, tempting the teetotalers with their golden fragrance.
“Slice them in half so you could spread them with strawberry jam,” Harlin said. “I got the strawberries at Schmidt’s Berry Farm and I then made the jam.”
The strawberries were reprised in a Victoria Sponge Cake, showcased like a jewel on a raised cake platter.
The classic blue and white china remains a timeless staple.
“It’s my mother’s china,” Harlin said, as she lifted a porcelain teapot and poured water for the Twinings. “I only wish I had a three-tiered tray.
Harlin explained what is typically served on each of the tiers: top tier, sweets; middle, scones; and bottom, sandwiches.
Harlin, an unabashed Anglophile, had done her research.
The afternoon tea became a treasured tradition in England in the 1840s, when the Duchess of Bedford had a late afternoon meal on a visit to Belvoir Castle.
The practice was adopted by the upper class.
These days, Brits enjoy a light tea between 3:30-5 p.m. feasting on crustless sandwiches, cakes and pastries such as scones.
The afternoon tea was a brief respite from the tumult of life and a flight of fancy, if not an actual flight, across the Atlantic.