When I was growing up, whenever we had family over for Sunday lunch, it always meant having afternoon tea as well. My mum and I would bake scones, and I’d help her cut sandwiches into tiny bite-size triangles or rectangles. There would be cake; and crumpets, toasted and slathered in butter (or, better still, grilled with cheese).
It was the one occasion when we used a teapot (I admit, we’re usually lazy and it’s a teabag in a mug – or, if I’m using loose leaf, I have one of those little ‘hat’ tea strainers that fits nicely on the rim of a mug).
But the one thing I’d never done was to have a posh afternoon tea in a hotel.
Until last year, when lovely Barbara Wallace came over to England and some of the Harlequin Romance authors got together in a London hotel for a proper English afternoon tea.
It was a revelation. We were offered different types of tea – a black tea with the sandwiches and then a fruit infusion with the sweet stuff. And the sweet stuff included verrines. (This is basically a dessert in something the size of a shot glass.)
So when my best friend asked me what we were going to do for my birthday this year… well, it had to be afternoon tea. (In what Pevsner calls the best Assembly House outside Bath, aka one of the loveliest buildings in Norwich.)
And yes. There were sandwiches. There were scones (we both really, really liked the cheese and chive scone). There was sweet stuff. There was a verrine (this one was passion fruit mousse, so that influenced the tea I chose – passion fruit and orange).
I think I like afternoon tea even more than my previous favourite decadent pleasure. (Oh, all right – if I have to admit it, I like having breakfast out. I don’t do it very often – maybe once every couple of months – but it usually involves eggs Florentine and very good coffee.)
So are you a fan of afternoon tea? Where's the best tea you've ever had?
Kate’s latest releases are A Baby to Heal Their Hearts from Harlequin Mills & Boon (the follow-up to Plague Squirrels), and Bachelor at Her Bidding, her first book for Tule Publishing.