In my last post, I admitted to being snobby about herbal infusions. This month I blush profusely as I admit to correcting tea drinkers about High Tea and Afternoon Tea. Historically, yes, there is a difference, but nowadays, it really is a case of you say “toh-may-toe” and I say “to-mah-toe” (whilst we all hum to the tune of Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off). Let’s remember that as long as hotels and restaurants are providing these events with better quality tea, it can only be a good thing for the tea industry, can’t it?
I’ve had wonderful Afternoon Tea experiences in London and a memorable High Tea outing in Sydney. Each occasion was completely different, but the quality of the tea is what I hold dear and the knowledge of the sommelier, of course. Unfortunately, not all experiences have been positive. I often feel cheated when I’m presented with a small choice of standard supermarket-shelf teabags. But I’m sure we here at T Ching can all share a similar story of being served disappointing tea.
Recently, I was invited to a Champagne High Tea event at a beautiful hotel. During the event, I spoke for 30 minutes on the history of High / Afternoon Tea, the tea categories, and why green tea shouldn’t taste bitter. I then entertained questions during a Q&A session. Watching the ooh and ahh moments during events such as this never fails to delight me. And while it has recently been reported that Afternoon Tea is on the rise, teapot by teapot, cup by cup, we in the industry all have a responsibility to continue the tea education, whether it’s through our tea blogs, the selling of tea, the running of tea events, tea meetups or, of course, tea expos. Whether it is a High Tea or an Afternoon Tea really doesn’t matter, as long as we are all educating, drinking, and sharing better quality tea. It’s what’s in the cup that counts.