A guide to taking tea

Taking tea should be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. I found it all the more so by taking the following approach.

  • Expect the experience, even at the same tearoom, to be different on each visit. Most tea rooms are small businesses: the food they serve is not mass produced and the staff aren’t rigidly following a corporate customer service manual. Today’s exquisite cake may not be so wonderful when the same recipe is baked a week later, or it might be even better.
  • Although afternoon tea features heavily on the menu of most tearooms, many are actually busiest at lunchtime. If one can be flexible in ones timing and can take tea at a quieter time, the staff will have more time, food will be served more quickly and the experience should be less rushed.
  • Pace oneself. Most tearooms have cakes on display at a counter near the entrance for a reason. If one quickly scoffs some sandwiches or a main course first, then succumbing to that display of cakes will be an endurance test rather than the enjoyment it’s intended to be.
  • Although formal afternoon tea, served on a tiered stand, is an experience worth having, it is an experience that often comes at a premium price and in dainty portions. The same or similar items can often be chosen individually from elsewhere on the menu for the same overall price and in larger portions.
  • Enjoy each tea room for what it is. A tea room is whatever its proprietor chooses it to be and there’s no official definition of what can or can’t be a tearoom. They are all different and should be relished for their diversity.

Finally, don’t forget to thank the tea room staff for the enjoyable experience they’ve provided.