High Tea by the FBI

Tea favor: Teapot shaped tape measure

Last year, I attended a high tea benefit event hosted by the FBI (Friends of Braille Institute).  I enjoyed it so much that I supported the event again this year.

This year, two culinary students from Grossmont College prepared the tea courses.  While this was exciting and I applaud their creativity, I actually think that the Friends of Braille Institute members did a better job themselves last year!

We enjoyed 2 teas from Infusions of tea: Earl Grey, and Rosewater Tulsi (a non-caffeinated herb from India, blended with rose, lemon, chamomile, coconut, stevia, and organic flowers).  The Rosewater Tulsi was quite nice.  [NOTE: Infusions of Tea closed its doors on December 28, 2011]

1st course (savories): (Left to right, clockwise) Smoked salmon and dill egg salad sandwich, Pecorino Romano with apples and fig jam, Ham salad canape with gherkin garnish, and Blue cheese and sage shortbread with goat cheese and cranberries.  The smoked salmon and dill egg salad sandwich was the only savory that I really liked.  I usually like savory shortbread but this version was ruined with the sweet goat cheese.  One of my tea companions observed that the shortbread was neither savory nor sweet but probably would have worked better as a dessert.  The ham salad canape was a bit strange and took me down Memory Lane to a flavor that made me think of my childhood: Deviled ham!  The main thing I remember about deviled ham is that the can was packaged in a white paper wrapping with a red devil dancing on it.  It had the texture of canned cat food and smelled like it too!  😉 2nd course (scone): Cranberry and cherry scones with orange glaze and honey butter.  This is one of the better scones I’ve had in a long time (i.e., texture-wise, it was not dry).  My tea companions loved the honey butter but I couldn’t bring myself to slather it on a cranberry and cherry scone with orange glaze!  There are 2 reasons I have a mostly “hate” relationship with scones: 1) I don’t think I’ve actually been lucky enough to have a proper scone!  The first scone I ever ate was aboard a BA flight–the scone was rock hard and tasted like cardboard.  The older English gentleman sitting next to me enjoyed his scone just fine.  In fact, he even asked me if he could have my clotted cream and jam.  I thought I must be in the minority when it came to not liking scones.  After that first experience, I’ve had only scones in the U.S. and I have not liked many of them.  2) I don’t understand why no one makes PLAIN scones?  Why does everyone add fruit, nuts, chocolate, glazes, and/or spices to their scones?  I think flavored scones are okay on their own but for a tea, they’re usually served with clotted cream, lemon curd, and/or jams.  How can one enjoy clotted cream and jams on scones that already have their own flavors?  For me, that would be analogous to spreading lemon curd on a chocolate chip muffin (can anyone say, sensory and sugar overload!?).   What is the “ideal” texture and taste of a proper scone?  I am still not sure …3rd course (fruit): Mixed berries with balsamic glaze and mascarpone cream.  This was one of the prettiest fruit courses I’ve seen at a tea but unfortunately, it was the most flavorless.  The berries were bland, balsamic flavor was not even noticeable, and the mascarpone cream tasted like plain whipped cream.4th course (dessert): Mini cupcakes: Red velvet with cream cheese frosting, vanilla with strawberry frosting, chocolate with mint chocolate chip frosting.  I think the idea was a fabulous one, especially since the mini size permitted guests to sample more than one flavor without bursting at the seams.  My favorite cupcake was the vanilla cake with strawberry frosting.  The strawberry frosting was amazing, both sweet and tart at the same time.  The mint chocolate chip frosting was my second favorite.  I appreciated the speckles of chocolate in the frosting which gave it a chocolate chip texture without overwhelming the delicateness of the cupcake.

“The proper, wise balancing
of one’s whole life may depend upon the
feasibility of a cup of tea at an unusual hour.”

― Arnold Bennett, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day

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4 thoughts on “High Tea by the FBI

  1. Not that it matters all that much but did you know that “high tea” is supposed to be served in place of supper as in served at a dinner table rather than a coffee table. Heard this just last weekend on NPR. Copied from Wikipedia:

    High tea (also known as meat tea) is an early evening meal, typically eaten between 5pm and 6pm. It is now largely followed by a later lighter evening meal. High tea would usually consist of cold meats, eggs or fish, cakes and sandwiches.
    In its origin, the term “high tea” was used as a way to distinguish it from “low tea” or afternoon tea. The words ‘low’ and ‘high’ refer to the tables from which either tea meal was eaten. Low tea was served in a sitting room where low tables (like a coffee table) were placed near sofas or chairs generally. The word high referred to a table, this one on a dining room table, and it would be loaded with substantial dinner dishes – meats, cheese, breads, perhaps the classic shepherd’s pie or steak and kidney pie.
    Other uses
    In many parts of England, particularly the North-West and North East and in many parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, tea is used to mean the main evening meal.

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    • How funny you should mention this because one of my tea companions made a similar observation during the event, “Why is this called a ‘high tea’!?” 🙂 Thanks for the info!

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