Raising a Teacup for Afternoon Tea Week 2013
National Afternoon Tea Week 2013 is being celebrated across the country between 12-18 August. With the great British summer finally here and national pride peaking following the birth of the royal baby, there's no better time to raise a teacup in celebration.
So what exactly is afternoon tea? Not to be confused with 'high tea' or 'cream tea', afternoon tea evolved in the 1840s to keep British appetites sated between lunch and dinner. Comprising open finger sandwiches, cakes and a refreshing brew, afternoon tea caught on after it was adopted by Queen Victoria. As the tradition grew into the twentieth century, scones were added to the menu.
Boosted by an increasing desire for all things vintage, consumers are once again looking to take afternoon tea. This time, tea fans are sipping their brews outside of the home, giving operators a chance to revive this institution (and their after-lunch profits). The dress code is now more flexible, and menus are being given a modern twist to match. The debate on whether milk should be added before or after the tea is poured still rages on, however!
Pairing blends to food, and marketing them as an afternoon tea package gives caterers the chance to cross-sell their products. Tetley recently teamed up with Lee Maycock, national vice chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs to help us match our blends with a variety of delicious baked goods. Particular favourites for a modern afternoon tea include redbush with almond and pistachio cake, Earl Grey with lemon and poppyseed muffins and camomile tea with Yorkshire Parkin. Cut into miniature-sized portions, this variety of baked produce will make a colourful display on any tabletop.
Once a menu has been developed, serve it on traditional porcelain. Second-hand tea-ware can be purchased relatively cheaply, and there's no need to be constrained by not being able to find a complete set large for your whole establishment– mismatched crockery can give your business a charming idiosyncracy.
Creating an afternoon tea 'experience' is giving operators the means to drive large groups of diners to their door. London's world-famous hotels have long used it as a way of gaining custom from tourists, keen to enjoy a taste of our history. Now the appeal has spread to a mass market, enjoying afternoon tea is the perfect way for customers to indulge with friends or celebrate a special occasion. With the right promotion, a steady income can be earned from advance bookings.