Afternoon tea is the perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day. It allows lots of time to prepare and it has a sweetly old-fashioned quality to it.
However, the idea that high tea and afternoon tea are the same thing is bred of ignorance. Lady Mary would be aghast if you served her high tea. High tea is a meal that is served at 5 p.m. and is essentially a light supper with eggs, smoked herring and maybe sausages and pickles. It arose from the workingman coming home hungry. Often children were served high tea and the adults ate later. Afternoon tea, on the other hand, was a sophisticated break in the day served at 3 or 4 p.m. where little sandwiches, cakes, scones and jam were served to soothe the appetite as dinner was often served late.
The following three sweet recipes are perfect for afternoon tea. Supplement with smoked salmon, little sandwiches (cut the crust) and whipped cream and jam for the scones.
Wine and spirits pairing
Tea, eh? Okay, mom, you could have orange pekoe with lemon and all would be well. But you could skip the citrus slice and instead add a decadent splash of mellow Highland whisky to the cup and things might start to get more interesting. Alternatively, warm or cold Chinese green tea and peaty-earthy Johnnie Walker Red or Dewar's 12 would be a revelation. If wine's your pleasure, consider an off-dry or semi-sweet riesling, light enough to match the afternoon hour and brimming with zippy citrus and rounded stone-fruit flavours to harmonize the curd and rhubarb. - Beppi Crosariol