OVER the last few years there has been a boom in afternoon teas, and not just as an old-fashioned leftover from the British Empire, but for people of every age to enjoy. It taps into that trend for nostalgia – something comforting and traditional during times of uncertainty in the world – similar to the uptake in beards and bicycles and the Great British Bake Off’s huge popularity.
Afternoon tea is also a great way for a pastry chef to display their talents and to come up with innovative ideas in dessert and patisserie. But more often than not the tea is overlooked in favour of Prosecco and cake, despite there being huge variations and flavours.
“People travel a lot more today, so they can even visit the estates where tea is grown, and so afternoon tea as we know it now is really built around the food part of it,” says Peter Heggie, East India Company’s manager of the George Street, Edinburgh branch. “In the UK we have never really looked at tea as being ceremonial, it is more something to drink to satisfy a need.”