Wednesday, 16 February 2011

"Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors"

I must start this post with a fantastic quote from Alice Walker, which really does sum up the classic English High Tea!

The Harlaxton Afternoon Tea was a very successful event in February, and a good chance for staff and students to meet up and mingle, and to chat about their life at Harlaxton so far. We had a fantastic spread of cakes, fruit scones with cream and jam and luncheon sandwiches from the Catering Team at the Manor, along side a choice of four of the more popular teas: 'English Breakfast', 'Earl Grey', 'Assam', and 'Darjeeling'. I was pleased when people became enthusiastic about the teas on offer and started to compare ways to drink theirs: I always tell people that my Mum looks down on me for putting sugar in my tea, and I judge her because she drinks Earl Grey with milk: we all have our rituals when it comes to tea drinking, and we all think our own ways are far superior.

As you can see from the relaxed expressions and the empty plates, by the time I'd remembered to snap a few photos I'd already had a few cups of tea myself and everyone had pretty much finished their scones and moved onto the most important part of afternoon tea: having a good chat!

For most the classic cuppa is not such a formal affair: as I write now I have a mug of tea sat next to me, keeping me warm and providing me with much needed caffiene. It has its place in both company and solitude, and every British person knows that it is the cure of all ill. "There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea" is a quote from Bernard-Paul Heroux that is so reflective of our culture of tea drinking: if something terrible has happened to someone and they come to you for help, the first thing we do as a nation is switch the kettle on.

I will leave you with this poem, from one of our Nations Greats.

We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven't had any tea for a week...
The bottom is out of the Universe.
~Rudyard Kipling