In the British Empire, tea isn’t just a beverage; it is also a meal. And English tea can either be afternoon tea or high tea.
The afternoon tea is usually served between 4.00 and 6.00 p.m. where brewed tea is accompanied by small sandwiches (cucumber, ham and smoked salmon sandwiches being the most traditional), scones (with clotted cream and jam), cakes and pastries.
High tea is a less formal evening meal (to distinguish it from the formal dinner) where hot dishes are served with bread and other sidings.
Last Saturday, a group of friends gathered for an English tea. The party started at 6.00 but the food consisted of dishes served for both afternoon tea and high tea. And cocktail drinks, of course.
English tea in the Philippines? Sure, why not? It’s so much fun.
It was a friend’s idea. She was hosting our next somewhat-quarterly-gathering, she’s always dreamed of a tea party and, heck, it sounded fantastic to me. Let’s all do a Downton Abbey for fun! As it turned out, our hostess is a secret Martha Stewart.
As usual we went potluck. We had the traditional sandwiches — smoked salmon, ham and cucumber — and pastries.
But we had very non-English food too…
Like deep fried meat empanadas…
… Spanish tapas and cheese fondue.
Dinner was the very English cottage pie, roast beef and Bacolod-style lumpiang ubod.
And, for dessert, mini-cupcakes and more macaroons.
And because we’re no English ladies, we skipped the brewed tea altogether. We had cocktail drinks instead while the husbands (oh, yes, they were there too!) had beer.
And how long did this tea party last? From 6.00 p.m. to after midnight. Time flies when you’re having so much fun.