How To Throw a Proper English Tea
In the age of the latte to go, nothing could be more civilized than a proper “cuppa” with scones and jam at 4 o’clock.
A former “tea girl” at the London Stock Exchange, Nicky Perry brought her years of English tea time expertise to New York City when she opened Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue in 1991—which dishes up sticky toffee pudding and shepherd’s pie that the Queen herself would likely gladly dig into.
Here, Perry gives us her top five tips for throwing a proper English tea at home (just don’t even think about brewing any Liptons).
1. Use Really Good Tea. “We use loose teas mostly, but in this day and age, as long as it’s an English tea bag it’s probably really good. But no Liptons—no stinking Liptons! We also make our own Tea & Sympathy tea bag and our own loose tea. In general, it’s a good idea to offer an English breakfast tea, an Earl Grey tea, and a chamomile or a mint—in case someone doesn’t want to do caffeine. Try a Yorkshire Gold, or Tea & Sympathy’s own brand.”
2. Proper China is a Must. “Never ceramic,” Perry shares.
3. Don’t Skip the Clotted Cream. “Food-wise, clotted cream is an essential, as well as really good bread for your sandwiches. And I usually mix mine—it’s good to do some white [bread], some brown.”
4. Jam Trumps Jelly. “Always use a really good jam—not jelly—for your scones.”
5. Try Open-Face Tea Sandwiches. “When I do tea at home, I do open sandwiches so that you can use your fingers, but with no lid on. And that way your bread doesn’t go as stale if you’re having a leisurely tea, and people can see whats on them, which allows you to get really decorative. I always serve my sandwiches with a little green. We use watercress because it’s very English but you also could do alfalfa sprouts, a few leafy greens—just to decorate.”
What’s your favorite kind of tea? Share with us in the comments below.