Bit o’ Britain

Another successful and fun year of the Victorian Tea Society was concluded by the final VTS Tea of 2013, hosted by Lady K. at Bit o’ Britain.  A British foods shop, gift shop, and tea room rolled into one, Bit o’ Britain offers traditional British fare such as Shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasties, pub sandwiches, and afternoon tea.

Vegan, gluten-free sugar cookies from Starry Lane Bakery

Lady K.’s tea favors: Vegan, gluten-free sugar cookies from Starry Lane Bakery!

We sampled 4 teas: PG tips, Yorkshire Gold, Ahmed blackcurrant black tea, and Ahmed Darjeeling.  My favorite of the 4 teas was the blackcurrant tea, only because I drink the other teas quite regularly.  Call me a tea snob but I am always a little disappointed when tea houses use tea bags because part of the joy of afternoon tea is slowing down and being able to enjoy a cup of properly brewed tea.  I can use tea bags at home … heck, I usually only use tea bags at work!  I actually take the time to brew loose-leaf tea at home!  🙂

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Table setting

Our first course was a savory, pork sausage rolls, which I enjoyed.  It tasted very much like England.  🙂

Savory course: Pork sausage rolls

1st course (savory): Pork sausage rolls

Next came the tea caddy loaded with sandwiches, scones, and many desserts!

Tea caddy

Tea caddy

The sandwich course consisted of 3 sandwiches: Ham and tomato, cucumber, and turkey and tomato.  They were ordinary and I did not enjoy them since they were slathered in mayo, probably to make up for the dry bread.  There is no excuse for serving sandwiches with dry bread!  There are tricks to keeping the bread fresh, even if the sandwiches must be refrigerated or made in advance (although I expect a tea house to make them to order!).  The cucumber sandwich was the least appetizing of the bunch due to the marinated cucumbers that were overly sweet and tart at the same time.  The vinegar was overwhelming.  For once, I would have welcomed butter on a cucumber sandwich since the mayo called unnecessary attention to the over-marinated cucumbers.

Ham and tomato sandwich, cucumber sandwich, turkey and tomato sandwich

Sandwich course: Ham and tomato sandwich, cucumber sandwich, turkey and tomato sandwich

DSC02505 (Small)The scones were on the sweet side but I appreciated being given the option of a plain scone.  The scones were decent and served with Devonshire cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd.

Plain and raisin scones

Plain and raisin scones

There were a lot of desserts!  It was an interesting array consisting of only one or 2 homemade desserts and the rest were commercially available: Walker shortbread, pumpkin bread (homemade?), lemon cakes, lemon bars, meringue kisses, raisin bread (homemade?), and the pink marshmallow coconut jam biscuits known as Iced VoVo’s (from Australia) or Jacob’s Mikado biscuits (from Ireland).

Assorted desserts

Assorted desserts: Walker shortbread, pumpkin bread, lemon cakes, lemon bars, meringue kisses, raisin bread, and Iced VoVo’s

And last but not least, some tea fashion!

Lady K's spectacular fascinator!

Hostess Lady K’s spectacular fascinator!

As much as I enjoy food, I am reminded with each successive tea experience that the company is always the most enjoyable part of having afternoon tea.  I am the type who usually finds it really difficult to sit at a table with food and not eat.  But when the food is subpar and I don’t feel like eating, I have no choice but to focus on the company–I was really thankful for that today because I was aware of more quality moments with my tea friends.  Thank you to the VTS ladies for always making the afternoon tea experience so enjoyable!  Congratulations to Lady K. on hosting your first tea!

“Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.”

–Henry Fielding, Love in Several Masques, 1727 (Lady Matchless)

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