“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James
I started my journey of teas at a young age, influenced greatly by a mother and grandmother who always hosted tea and dessert about an hour after dinner. As I grew into my own, my love for tea only grew deeper. I went beyond Lipton Orange Pekoe and began sampling English Breakfast, Earl Grey (still one of my favorites!), Chamomile, and Green teas. Today, I get excited about new blends (especially ones including mate) and mix my own varieties of loose leaves depending on my mood, meal pairing, or energy level.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Have high tea at the Ritz. Joined by my fellow tea enthusiast boyfriend, it was everything I always pictured it would be.
Upon arrival, we were led to a precious little table set for two with Wedgewood china and signature Ritz Carlton silverware. The afternoon tea menu we were presented with was quite extensive and after some contemplation, we decided on a pot of each: Eros (sweet mandarin orange and warm vanilla with ceylon leaves) and Shanghai Rose (black tea leaves infused with lychee and rose) with the full high tea service. Arriving to the table first were crystal flutes of perfectly chilled champagne for our “high tea toast”. A few minutes later they were followed by two aromatic pots of freshly diffused tea. Once our tea had time to steep to the correct temperature we were greeted with a three tiered tray of deliciousness including: assorted tea sandwiches on the top tier (prosciutto, egg salad, classic English cucumber, and smoked salmon rosette), followed by two freshly baked raisin scones with Devonshire cream and preserves on the middle tier, and lastly a decadent display of assorted sweets (fruit tartlets, puff pastries, shortbread and ginger cookies and a perfect chocolate espresso bite) covering the bottom tier.
The attentive staff stopped by our table often to check on our progress and perfectly timed each “course”. After every one of the tiered indulgences (each more lovely than the last) was sampled we were treated to a (by this time, forgotten) parfait of strawberries and fresh whipped cream with Grand Marnier on top.
At this point I did not feel I could sample another morsel but after one spoonful of the luscious cream I realized I was mistaken, and promptly finished the parfait, and some of my boyfriend’s as well. (Justification: I graciously gave him more (most) of the tea sandwiches in the beginning. I knew I wanted to save for the sweets!)
Indulgent: Yes! A must see/do: Definitely!