Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tea, anyone?

British Airways, in collaboration with Hyatt Regency Trinidad, on July 9 held their first “Afternoon Tea” to launch Twinings British Airways New York blend 175 - 100 per cent black tea. An exotic blend of teas from Africa, Sri Lanka and India, guests got the opportunity to experience a typical British tea with all the fine trimmings.

British Airways district manager, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia, Marcelle Joseph, said, “High tea in a London landmark hotel or tea house is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to the UK and with five flights per week from Trinidad to London, British Airways passengers can easily mix business with leisure and enjoy this and other typically British customs.”

Last year Twinings teamed up with British Airways to develop an innovative new blend of tea for altitude, designed to taste as good in the sky as it does on the ground. 

Guests got the opportunity to delve into a wide array of delicious finger-food prepared by Hyatt chef Fernando Franco and his team. The delicious spread consisted of smoked salmon with cream cheese on brioche bread, deluxe chicken sandwiches on pumpernickel bread, cucumber finger sandwiches and miniature quiche.

 Those in attendance who had a penchant for sweets also had the option of warm raisin scones served with English strawberry jam and cream, eclairs with white chocolate, opera cake and tropical fruit tart.

Joseph noted that at high altitudes tea usually loses its taste. Twinings British Airways New York blend 175, apart from having a delightful rich smell and taste, would not lose its potency at high altitudes. 

With a dark-rich colour, the tea is strong and smooth with a wonderful tart after-taste. Blended from Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon teas each origin yields its own unique, subtle contribution to the overall character of the finished cup. 

The African tea gives a brisk and refreshing influence to the blend whilst the Indian tea brings a stunning boldness wrapped in the guise of maltiness. The Ceylon tea, with its slightly citrus character, ties the other two teas together whilst giving uniqueness to the blend.

The teas were flown in from the UK for the event and can be accessed flying on British Airways. The event was held in the hotel’s Jade, Sapphire and Ruby rooms and began 3.30 p.m. and ended at 5.30 p.m.

The history of English tea is believed to have started with Anna Maria Stanhope, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the early 19th century. However, according to the monthly newsletter called TeaMuse, in the writings of Madame de Sevigne, afternoon tea may have been started by the French in the 17th century.

Prior to the introduction of tea into Britain, the English had two main meals, breakfast and dinner.  It was customary for dinner to be served between 8 and 9 pm. This lengthy period between meals could not be ignored by late afternoon. To stave off the hunger, the duchess would order tea, bread and butter and cakes to be served in her room. 

Later on she would invite friends to join her at her home and the light tea was such a success the habit caught on.

Today most people refer to afternoon tea as high tea but that is a misnomer. People usually enjoy referring to the latter because it sounds regal and lofty. 

High tea in Britain tends to be on the heavier side. Afternoon tea (because it was usually taken in the late afternoon) is also called “low tea” because it was usually taken in a sitting room or withdrawing room where low tables (like a coffee table) were placed near sofas or chairs generally in a large withdrawing room. There are three basic types of afternoon, or low tea: 

Cream tea—tea, scones, jam and cream

Light tea—tea, scones and sweets

Full tea—tea, savouries, scones, sweets and dessert 

In England, the traditional time for tea was four or five o’clock and no one stayed after seven o’clock. Most tea rooms today serve tea from three to five o’clock. The menu has also changed from tea, bread, butter and cakes, to include three particular courses served specifically in this order:

Savouries—tiny sandwiches or appetisers 

Scones— served with jam and Devonshire or clotted cream

Pastries—cakes, cookies, shortbread and sweets