For some reason when I hear somebody mentioning afternoon tea, I tend to imagine ladies in hats and Victorian dresses, men dressed smartly, cucumber sandwiches, and croquet on the lawn. What is the difference between afternoon tea and high tea though? Afternoon tea is a British food tradition of sitting down for an afternoon treat of tea, sandwiches, scones, and cake. Afternoon tea is normally served around 4 p.m and became fashionable in the early 19th century. The phrase high tea described a working-class meal served at a high table and high back dining chairs at the end of a long workday. The tea would be accompanied by heartier dishes which were substantially more than just tea and cake. That’s why a lot of British still refer to dinner as tea.
These days high tea refers to a lunchtime “tea” with both savoury and sweet dishes and here in Port Elizabeth one of the venues serving high tea on a Saturday is the Boardwalk Hotel on the beachfront. The Damselfly and I decided that it was time for us to have a proper date afternoon that didn’t include Mickey D’s ice-cream cones and or sushi from the supermarket and booked for the Boardwalk’s weekly high tea.
High tea at the Boardwalk currently takes place between 1 and 2 on a Saturday afternoon and the two of us made ourselves comfortable on one of the couches in the hotel’s lobby lounge. Yes I know that’s not traditional high tea seating, but we wanted to sit back and relax. High chair seating was available if we wanted it. Sharply at 1 our hostess Brenda came around taking orders for coffee and tea and indicated that we can start to help ourselves.
By then I had already circled the table a couple of times with my camera to make sure I got lots of photos to show the yummy food off before the guests started to dish up. And yummy it was.
The savoury dishes came in a whole wide variety of both hot and cold. Fancy little sandwiches, sliders, mini wraps, samoosas, spring rolls, quiches and more. It was truly a mouthwatering spread of note.
The sweets didn’t have to stand one inch back from their salty counterparts. The problem was more a case of what to choose and what to leave out.
As we started to dish up I noticed that there were a couple of tables where the people hadn’t arrived yet. Some of them arrived half an hour late. My thought was literally, “Really people! Don’t complain when you don’t get any food,” because by then we had all well and truly tucked into the spread. But the chef obviously has this happening on a regular basis and the next minute the servers brought out some more food to top up for the latecomers.
Plates empty we sat back with a second cup of tea… for the record, I had coffee as I don’t do tea … planning what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Whatever it was going to be though, it would be done with a happy feeling of a yummy in my tummy.
High tea at the Boardwalk is definitely something to keep in mind if you’re looking for something to treat and spoil a spouse with something other than just the usual spot. Definitely a class or 10 above that Mickey D ice cream.