Teas to Pair with Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea has a lot of traditional aspects to it – from the cloth napkins, fancy desserts, and the delicate patterned china being used. And then there’s the teas. I just wanted to share some of my favourite teas for afternoon tea – and I’m going to touch upon some classic teas and tisanes, as well as some more modern options that you might not have thought of pairing with your afternoon tea menu before.

5 Classic Teas for Afternoon Tea

I can’t write about classic teas without mentioning Earl Grey. Earl Grey is a traditional part of afternoon tea and is usually the first tea that gets offered. The black tea blend with bergamot pairs very nicely with cream and sugar – and there’s many takes on the Earl Grey blend, but the traditional one is always tasty. The citrus notes make it bright and fresh.

Darjeeling Black Tea and Assam Black Tea are two black teas are both lovely options. Teas from the Darjeeling and Assam regions of India became popular in Europe as teas from China came out of favour, so both are popular options for afternoon tea. There are differences in the flavour – because the regions have differences in their growing seasons. I found teas from Assam can become astringent easier than Darjeeling teas, but that is also dependent on when the tea is harvested and the particular growing season. Both teas, because of being black teas, take really well to cream and sugar as well.

For the caffeine-free crowd, chamomile and mint are both very popular tisanes! I find them both pleasant, but you have to actually like chamomile or mint to drink it. I don’t add cream or sugar to either, but I have heard of people adding sweetener to mint before (but I don’t find it necessary).

5 Non-Classic Options for Afternoon Tea

I love oolong. I don’t even pretend to be shy about it, so I think oolong would make a great option for afternoon tea! Sure, it’s a fairly traditional Chinese tea, and most places that serve afternoon tea probably don’t have it on the menu… But during COVID-19 times, are we even going out anymore? Have we not become one with our own couch? With that in mind, I think a nice Tieguanyin (aka Tie Guan Yin, Iron Goddess of Mercy, Iron Buddha) would be fantastic tea offering for afternoon tea. First off, this oolong typically resteeps well, goes well with sweet and savoury, and is just a really nice tea and I think everyone should try it.

Green tea doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much as I think it should when it comes to a tea menu for afternoon tea. I think that both Jasmine Green Tea and Matcha should be shining stars! The issue with having them included in an afternoon tea menu is water temperature and also theĀ preparation. I don’t think most places are well-equipped (just yet…) for making a good cup of matcha. Which is unfortunate because I don’t think it’s that intimidating (any more…)..

For the white tea fans, Bai Hao Yin Zhen (aka Silver Needle, Yin Zhen) is a great option. If you’re not familiar with this tea, it has some beautiful leaves that have feathery down on the leaves and it just has a really nice flavour – typically light, floral, with a natural sweetness. It would go well, in particular, with sweets – but I’m fond of sipping it with a meal so it’d go well with those tea sandwiches as well.

I couldn’t round out this list without mentioning Hojicha. I’ve really fallen in love with this roasted green tea from Japan, and it can go really well with a savoury meal. More importantly, it is great as a tea latte and takes well to being sweetened. You can find hojicha in both leaf and powdered form – the powdered form can be prepared like you would with matcha (read The Basics of Preparing Matcha to learn more).

What teas do you like to have with your afternoon tea? Have you tried any (or all?) with your tea sandwiches and scones? Share your favourite with me below in the comments!

Biskwi’s Waffles

Waffles by Biskwi
Baked Goods
$2.00 for 400g (10 cookies)

First Impressions

Stroopwafels are one of my favourite things that I discovered in the last couple of years. For those that are unfamiliar, stroopwafel is a Dutch wafer cookie sandwich with two waffle cookies with a layer of caramel between. It’s great with a cup of tea because if you put the cookie over a cup of hot tea, the heat warms up the cookie and caramel and it ends up being a delightful sweet treat with your cup of tea.

I was in Dollarama and spotted these on the shelf because I needed to make my way down a one-way aisle in order to go down the next one-way aisle. I was surprised to see stroopwafel on the shelf because it seems like such an odd item for a dollar store to carry (and I’m mentioning Dollarama by name, because the Biskwi Waffles are imported by Dollarama so I’m not sure if you’ll be able to find them anywhere else). The cookies come in a plasticky bag with a wired tab to close/open the packaging. Inside it consists of 10 cookies. I’m not terribly surprised that they’re called Waffles instead of stroopwafel because if they’re trying to appeal to more of the public, having a name that’s familiar is an easier sale than one that is not.

Waffles consists of: sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oils, barn egg, salt, soya flour, whey powder, emulsifier, caramel, raising agent, cinnamon, natural flavouring, citric acid, water. For allergen warnings, the packaging does mention that this product contains: milk, eggs, soya and wheat. And that it also may contain tree nuts (I assume through cross-contamination).

Preparation

Biskwi recommends placing the waffle over the top of your hot drink for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Waffle becomes soft as it sits over a cup of hot tea. You’ll know it’s ready because the middle begins to sag downwards. The Waffle becomes warm, and the caramel softens. The cookie itself has a nice sweetness with the caramel layer, and some nice cinnamon notes. It’s tasty and goes well with a cup of Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea (if you’re wondering what I had this with).

A Second Cookie?

Not going to lie, I was impressed with my first Waffle and had another (and another).

My Overall Impression

I loved Biskwi’s Waffles. I like the affordability factor ($2.00 for 10 cookies), which makes it a nice little treat to include with your daily cup of tea. It has a good amount of sweetness, without being too over the top. The flavour is nice, and the caramel gets to a nice softness within the 2 minutes spent warming on top of a cup of tea. I do wish that they had opted to call their product Stroopwafel instead of just Waffles, because that is the traditional name, but I’m not too fussed about it.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

Pandemic Tea Party

It’s been a long while since I last went out for afternoon tea. The last time I did was back in February, so about three weeks prior to COVID-19 really making the news in North America and prior to the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic.

My life (and everyone else’s) certainly has changed and as we all try to embrace the “new normal”, I did go out for afternoon tea last month at one of my favourite locations (Little White House in Fort Langley, BC – I’ve shared a review on Little White House before!). Restaurants have been operating on a pretty low-key basis. For a while it was only take-out or delivery available, and slowly dine-in has been opening up in British Columbia. Things have really changed, so I wanted to share a bit about my experience and also what you should be looking out for to help keep yourself safe!

Responsible restaurants should be actively engaged in contact tracing. Contact tracing is something that is required by the province of British Columbia – it’s their way of being able to contact people in the event that someone who works or visited an establishment tests positive for COVID-19, it makes it possible for public health workers to get in touch with everyone. This is also required in British Columbia for gatherings that are privately held. Not all places require this, but it’s always a good idea for a public health issue like a pandemic.

Servers and front-of-house staff should be wearing masks. Hand sanitizer being available at the door is a huge plus, as hand hygiene should be actively encouraged for everyone. I’ve been to restaurants that require preordering (like Little White House insists on), and also ones that provide mobile menus or paper menus if they’re unable to dedicate a staff member to sanitizing menus between guests.

Cleanliness is at the top of everyone’s mind. What I really appreciated with what Little White House did is that they had set menus and it was individually boxed when served at the table. Everything was a single serving, very neatly presented. I do think it does present more waste, but a lot of it is recyclable (without knowing the composition of the clear front window or cup liner). Other restaurants I’ve been in have offered food on reusable plates (so like before), but the boxed up afternoon tea set lends itself really well as a “tea to go” set for people who want to take it home to eat, or to find a picnic table in a park.

I know that a lot of people are nervous about eating out, especially for a little gathering like an afternoon tea party, so here are some of things to consider to keep you and your loved ones safe:

Are people wearing masks in the waiting area? How about servers and front-of-house staff?

Do you see hand sanitizer available? Are they encouraging hand hygiene for patrons?

Are the tables spaced out appropriately? 6 feet is a minimum that tables or booths should be spaced out unless there are other physical barriers between tables and booths.

Be mindful of who you’re inviting out with you. It’s still a good idea to keep your social bubble on the smaller side. If one of your BFFs is hanging out with a different group of friends on a daily basis and engaging in less than safe practices, it’s okay not to invite them. You have to protect yourself first.