Tag Archives: Afternoon Tea

Nodding Heads 首を振りながら

The end of January and early February see the arrival of snowdrops in the Cotswolds. These delicate, pure white flowers have their own enthusiasts, not least because they mark the passing of winter and the coming of Spring.


Snowdrops are mysterious little plants – the botanical name is Galanthus (Greek gala “milk”/ anthos “flower”) and they come with various rural suspicions, for example it’s said to be unlucky to bring them into the house.

スノードロップは神秘的な小さな植物だ - その学名は‘ガランサス’で(ギリシャ語でガラとはミルク、アンソスとは花の意)、田舎には花に関してのさまざまな迷信がいまだに残る。例えばスノードロップを家の中に持ち込むことは縁起が悪いと言われている。DSC01680This year we went to Colesbourne Park to see one of the largest collections in Britain. The private garden opens for a just few days a year, at this time, to allow people to walk around the gardens and church to see spectacular banks of snowdrops, their heads nodding in the breeze. Enthusiasm for snowdrops is high here – they’re even on the alter cloth in the church.

我々は今年、イギリス内でも最大のスノードロップのコレクションを有するガーデンのひとつであるコールズボーン.パークに行ってきた。このプライベートガーデンはガーデンや教会の周りに咲く見事なスノードロップを楽しむ人たちのために、一年のうちこの時期のみ数日一般公開される。それらのスノードロップは微風に翻っている。ここではスノードロップに関する人々の興味が一層深い。 - 教会の祭壇に掛けられる布にさえスノードロップの模様が見られるくらいだ。

There is quite a lot of variety amongst snowdrops. Some are ‘giants’, some have heart shaped marks, some long stems.

ここにはとても多くの種類のスノードロップがある。 巨大なものもあればハート型の印をつけたもの、特に茎の長いものもある。

DSC01684  DSC01681  DSC01688  IMG_3015

Anyway, an afternoon at Colesbourne is a good excuse for a winter walk and, as usual in England, wherever flowers are on display – tea, cake and a plant shop are never far away.



IMG_3018.JPG    IMG_3016.JPG    DSC01714

Brockhampton Village Show ブロックハンプトンのヴィレッジ.ショー


One thing I would recommend any visitor to the Cotswolds to do is visit a village show. They usually take place on Saturdays in the Summer. They’re open to all.



Usually arranged around a village hall, you’ll find afternoon tea tents, competitions and games, secondhand book and plant stalls and second hand ‘antiques’ stands. Prices are always low and the cakes are always very good.


Today I went to Brockhampton a tiny village near Cheltenham  – here are some pictures of competitors in the best fruit, vegetable and flower competitions. It’s a very nice way to spend the afternoon.




Visit by Sekai Fushigi Hakken 世界不思議発見からの訪問客。

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 16.31.25

It was a pleasure to welcome a film crew from Sekai Fushigi Hakken (Discovery of the World’s Mysteries) yesterday.  They visited Bibury in the Cotswolds and stayed at Bibury Court, which is a popular and beautiful hotel just on the edge of this famous village. It’s best not to spoil the programme by saying too much before it goes out, but I’m probably allowed to reveal that the subject was afternoon tea, and the setting was in the past.  The crew worked hard to create scenes in the hotels wood panelled drawing room and the results should look really good on screen, with various English gentlemen and a rather glamorous maid involved.


Look out for the show when it goes out on TBS!


IMAG3224 IMAG3233

Could this be the Ultimate Afternoon Tea Blog? 究極のアフタヌーンティ.ブログ?


It seems that any English blogger sooner or later has to tackle the subject of tea and, in particular, afternoon tea. It is a subject that has been covered many times and so here is my attempt to write down everything that I know, or like about afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is a subject that I am very enthusiastic about.


The first thing to say is that tea remains very popular in Britain. We drink about 165,000,000 cups a day, over twice the amount of coffee that is consumed. “Let’s have a cup of tea” is a way of inviting someone to have a conversation – an opportunity to share news and gossip, whether at home or in a tea room, a hotel or cafe. Tea is served at any time of day, from breakfast onwards, but ‘afternoon tea’ implies tea with cake and/or sandwiches, served between lunch and dinner.


In my view, the only respectable time for tea is 4 in the afternoon, although in some establishments such as the Ritz Hotel in London, you can book at any time between 11.30am and 7.30pm. In such places it has all become something of a tourist attraction. At the Ritz, afternoon tea costs £45.  Also in my view, the  best place for afternoon tea is not a hotel (although many do serve good tea) but a traditional tea room.  If you don’t have a recommendation of a good tea room, ask around or simply look through the window – if it looks busy and well run, give it a try.


By the way, the excellent British Tea Council website offers the best history of tea taking and advice on how to make the best tea at home (http://www.tea.co.uk). My plan here is to talk about tea taking today and how to experience it.

ところで素晴らしい英国紅茶協会(The British Tea Council)のウェブサイトにはお茶の歴史やおいしい紅茶の淹れ方のアドバイスが出ている(http://www.tea.co.uk)。そこで今日は私自身の経験を書いてみようと思う。

I’ve been lucky to have friends from Japan explain something of ‘chado’ or ‘tea way’ (which westerners tend to call the ‘tea ceremony’.  Based on my limited understanding, a key difference is that, unlike in Japan (with the influences of, especially, Murato Shuko and Sen no Rikyu) in Britain, there is less procedural etiquette and no religious association with English Afternoon Tea taking. Afternoon tea is essentially a social occasion, albeit with some points of etiquette to be noted.


Two days ago I had afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Rooms in York, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures to show what you might expect at a good tea room.  We had tea, naturally, at 4pm and the first thing to say is that, although we had a ‘full’ afternoon tea, I could equally just have had tea (ie the drink) or perhaps just tea and a cake.  There is no expectation that you are expected to eat a ‘full’ tea, or indeed eat everything that you order.


Let me talk you through what to expect:


1. Place setting. プレイス.セッティング


A small plate, a napkin, a small knife and fork (plus a teaspoon) are all that are needed.  By the way it’s a good idea to turn your mobile phone off, as the social nature of afternoon tea implies that you give full attention to whoever you are having tea with.  Note how the special fork has a slightly sharp edge, useful for cutting cake.

This time I ordered a full tea, which cost £18.50. From the menu I knew that this included sandwiches, scone, cakes and tea. Good value, I think. I could have added champagne for a total of £25.95.



2.   Tea Cups  ティーカップ


I prefer white cups, which makes it easy to see the colour of the tea. Tea is poured through the strainer, placed over the cup. Virtually all British people add milk to tea (although you are not expected to if your tea is especially light, such as Darjeeling). Green, white or yellow teas should not have milk added.

After pouring tea, I refill the teapot with hot water to avoid the unpleasant ‘stewed’ taste which can otherwise happen.

Hold the cup handle between thumb and forefinger, rather than through the hole in the handle. One bit of folklore is that it is ‘posh’ to raise the little finger when drinking tea. I think that people today would find it amusing if the little finger is raised… but yes… I sometimes find that my little finger has somehow lifted slightly!




3. The Tea Arrives  紅茶が運ばれてくる。


I always drink ‘Breakfast Tea’ which in the case of Bettys is a strong blend of Indian Teas. It is possible to order other teas, Earl Grey or even peppermint tea.  Tea arrives in a heavy stainless steel teapot, which adds a little shiny glamour to the tea room, although more often in tea rooms, tea is served in porcelain or pottery teapots.  Alongside the teapot is another pot with extra hot water, a tea strainer, sugar and milk. It’s polite to pour for your friends, although sometimes, to get things going, someone (even a man!) might jokingly say ‘shall I be Mother?’ – meaning that they will take charge and make things easier by pouring for both people.  Good tea room tea should be ‘loose-leaf’, rather than tea bags.


4. Milk in first or last?  ミルクは先?それとも後?


This is a subject that is keenly argued. Some say that adding the milk first makes it emulsify in a different way when the tea is poured in, producing a creamier flavour. I happen to disagree strongly and favour the view of the writer George Orwell, that adding the milk afterwards allows you to better judge the amount of milk needed to produce the right colour and strength.  Milk in afterwards then.

Incidentally, should you be called to have tea with the Queen, please relax since she puts the milk in afterwards, too.  You might like to remember to stir the tea with a gentle side-to-side motion, not a vigorous circular movement, which might damage the cup or spill the tea.



5.  A small crisis  小さな危機


At this point at Bettys we were advised that unfortunately the tea room had run out of the two or three small cakes that usually appear magically as part of an afternoon tea. Instead we were invited to pick a single, larger cake from the trolley. Here (picture)  the waitress is describing what was available. I picked an orange cheesecake. Crisis over.  The other choices included a cherry torte, raspberry macaroon, fruit tart, vanilla slice or chocolate eclair.


6. Three tier tea-stand.  3段重ねのスタンド


Shortly afterwards, the waitress delivered these stands to the table.  Three-tier stands are usually a good indication that the establishment takes tea seriously – but they are more common in hotels than in tea rooms.

Note the cheesecake on the top – usually there would be 2-3 smaller cakes here.  Remember to start at the bottom (sandwiches), move up (scones) finishing with cake (top).

そのすぐ後にウェイトレスがこの3段重ねのスタンドを持って現れた。3段重ねのスタンドは通常そこの場所がアフタヌーンティを真剣に考えている証拠でもある。― ティールームよりはホテルで使われることが多い。


7. Bottom layer – sandwiches  最下段のサンドウィッチ


It’s usual to be served a mixture of small sandwiches, often on a mixture of white and brown bread. Traditionally it’s thought rather smart to cut off the bread crusts. At Betty’s, I was served the following (I’ve given marks out of 5!); Egg and cress (4/5), Ham (3/5), Chicken (4/5), Cucumber (5/5)


8. Middle layer – Scone  中段 - スコーン


Strictly speaking, according to etiquette, scones should be broken into pieces and each piece embellished with cream and jam. In fact, very few people do this, most cut the scone in half horizontally.  For some reason that I don’t  understand, some people add jam first, which is entirely wrong of course. So!   Add some cream first (I think that it is always important to add what looks like far too much cream) and then just a little jam. Jam should be strawberry, or possibly raspberry, but no other sort.  Betty’s scones were fine, although I thought that they were a little bit too flat.

The cream, by the way is ‘clotted’, which involves indirect heating and cooling to produce a thicker cream.

The scone experience is hard to describe exactly, but there is sharp, sweet taste from the jam; the coldness and luxurious sensation of cream; the weight and texture of the bread-like scone itself, with often a crusty top to bite through. Delicious, especially as they should be made that day and served warm.




9.Top Layer – Cake  上段 ― ケーキ


Finish your afternoon tea with the top layer. As mentioned this should properly be a variety of rather delicate small cakes. But, as noted, I suffered in silence and made do with this delicious, very orangy, cheesecake. Note how the same plate and cutlery is used throughout.


Throughout Afternoon Tea, a little swapping and cross-tasting of your friend’s choices is encouraged. A good afternoon tea might take anything up to an hour and a half to enjoy. The ideal feeling on leaving the table should be an inner contentment combined with the need to walk for an hour as an antidote to all that sugar and cream.


This may well be England’s greatest contribution to world happiness!