Imagine 3pm on a gloomy grey Friday afternoon in the New Year. Where is everyone? We arrived at the Old Mill and walked through a cavernous, dark and empty restaurant to a large window bright little room where there were only 1 table of guest seated beside where we were seated. They were only there for about 15 minutes into our visit and after that we pretty much had the whole restaurant to ourselves. It kind of felt like we were in Old Time Jolly Old England in some Great Mansion House that had Servants...think Downton Abby style. Very old fashioned but at the same time really relaxing and peaceful. It felt more like a loungey Sunday afternoon.
We were presented with a menu of Teas from which we were to choose one flavour of Tea. My friend chose the Masala Chai Tea and I went all English and had a Black Harrington Tea. I think i drank at least 2 pots of my tea.
What occurred to me later was that it seemed to be an old tradition that could probably use a bit of a modern makeover. The practice of Afternoon Tea is a good idea. It lets you slow things down in a relatively quiet environment and catch up with friends. Drinking Tea is a great thing because of all the Health properties of a really great tea like Chai or Green Tea.
The thing I think I would like to shake up and modernize is the decor, make it a little more of a balance between modern and traditional. Less flowery and dated and more zen and relaxing. The food was a lot of sugar overload and I think this is where a creative pastry chef or healthy chef could work some magic.
I think that the little finger sandwiches might be modified to use a whole grain bread with high nutrient, low calorie items in the sandwiches like maybe some goat cheese and roasted red peppers, or some turkey salad made with low fat yogurt and maybe some curry. I am sure there are some creative options that a talented chef could come up with. The pastries, that's where a huge overhaul might be needed. With so many people giving up white flour, sugar, salt and fat, with so many people going gluten free out of necessity or choice and so many others with high blood pressure and diabetes and other conditions these days. Maybe it's time for a revamp of this nice Afternoon Tea experience to make it more like the Experience of a Tea Ceremony in Japan. An event that leaves you feeling better when you leave than when you went in. Maybe a kicked up Spa type menu but maybe less Spa deprivation and more flavour and health boosting properties.
I have been baking a cookie recipe recently that uses whole wheat flour, no butter, and no white sugar.
They still taste delicious and everyone loves them. Maybe that's the answer to reviving this Old School Traditional Tea.
Yes, I would do this myself if I had the Royals bank account, but alas I am not independently wealthy so all I can do is dream about the kind of place I would like to spend my Sunday or Friday afternoons in sipping nice tea with friends.
There is a trend to high end Tea shops but they are just grab the tea and tea accessories and take them home to enjoy there. What if there was a Tea Starbucks shop? Instead of Venti, half foam...etc... there was a Green Tea with Ginger and Blood Orange with some Agave Nectar on the side? Add a health scone on the side instead of a piece of cake. Hmm... wonder if that would become the next big trend? Well I am putting it out there for anyone that has Millionaire cash to burn and need a place to put it. You could give it to me and I will make it happen for you...
One can have Fancy Tea wishes and Afternoon Tea Dreams.
Photo credit: Joanne Vekar and Linda Matarasso