By LORRAINE ELLIOT
So, are you a tea or a coffee person? I have to say that I am most definitely a tea person. And one of my favourite places to have tea is during a high tea or afternoon tea. So when Dilmah asked me to host my own High Tea I was delighted to but first I had to find out what to do and what not to do as I know that it is an occasion that is steeped with tradition.
I asked my friends what was the number one item that they thought was important in a high tea. They answered “tea” which made sense of course. It seems everyone has their favourites whether it be Earl Grey or English Breakfast or Chai. Some prefer loose leaf and some use tea bags.
After that, the second most important item was the scones. They’re things that often cause controversy, I couldn’t imagine baking scones for the Country Women’s Association and if I ever did, I suspect I’d be quaking in fear at their verdict. I suspect I’d fall dreadfully short of their standards and be ejected out of class.
I did however come across a fantastic recipe for scones. I’m usually nervous about asking people or places for recipes. Rejection can follow as they prefer to keep their prized recipes secret but sometimes you try scones so delightful that you just want to tell them how good it is and hopefully gain a new recipe for your family of recipes. My favourite scones are at the QVB Tea Room (where I later interviewed June Dally Watkins for the Dilmah series). I was there with friends one afternoon and once we’d eaten our fill I reached for the scone. I was full but couldn’t stop eating the warm, light scone slathered with clotted cream and berry jam. “I’d love to get their recipe” I said to my friends Teena and Gina.
“Why don’t you ask them?” Teena said.
“They’d never give it to me” I answered self defeatedly.
The more I thought about it I decided that it was worth a shot asking. After all, people aren’t generally very rude when you ask these things. Although a part of me pictured the scene from American Psycho where Patrick Bateman asks for a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town only to be greeted by a minute of laughter before being hung up on.
To my very pleasant surprise, they actually agreed not only to pass on their fantastic recipe but also give me a scone making class. So now if I ever have to make scones for the CWA, whilst I’ll still be quaking in my boots, I’ll be less nervous knowing that I can hide behind this fantastic recipe. Is it different from your recipe for scones? Perhaps, although I was heartened at a reader saying that these were pretty much like a CWA recipe.
If you’re a high tea expert, then perhaps you have one of those covetable recipes of your own and you can enter Dilmah’s Real High Tea Challenge. All you have to do is let them know of a tea based cocktail, a tea based mocktail, a pairing of tea with food or a tea based food including original recipes, and a teatime tale. This year’s winner will win a trip to Dilmah Tea Gardens in Sri Lanka, a weekend for two at Hilton and personalised Dilmah Luxury Tea Presenters!
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a tea or coffee person? And do you have a favourite tea? And what do you think is the most important part of a high tea?
The Tea Room Scone
Recipe from The Tea Room
Makes about 30 scones
900g/32ozs self raising flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
220g/7.7ozs unsalted butter at room temperature but not too soft
620ml/21 fl ozs. buttermilk
1 egg, at room temperature
50ml/1.7 fl ozs. milk
Serve with clotted cream and jam
1. If you have a fan forced oven, place a saucepan of water at the bottom of the oven-this creates steam. Preheat oven to 165C/330F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2 . In a bowl, mix together all dry ingredients with butter. Use the buttermilk to combine.
3. Roll out the dough to a 2cm thickness. Cut to desired size (The Tea Room use a 6cm diameter cutter)
4. Place the cut scone rounds on tray lined with baking paper.
5. Make egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Brush egg wash on top of each scone.
6. Place in preheated oven at 165C/330F for 18-19 minutes. Let rest before serving.
Tip: Never microwave scones, always reheat them in oven at 185C/365F for 5 minutes.
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Join Lorraine as she discovers the secrets to the perfect High Tea. Here’s Episode 2 – High Tea Menu.
What would you make to bring along to a high tea?