The ritual of ‘taking afternoon tea’ owes its origins to Queen Victoria’s lifelong friend, Anna Maria, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. During her youth in the early 1800s eating two main meals per day was common practice with breakfast scheduled early in the morning and dinner late in the evening.
Weakened and irritated by hunger pangs each day (who wouldn’t?), she decided to schedule time to take tea and snack each afternoon, usually in the privacy of her bedchamber. Over time however, Anna’s well-heeled acquaintances joined her and the practice of ‘taking afternoon tea’ was perpetuated.
Nowadays tea rooms and hotels in the world over offer permutations of this tradition. Yours truly was invited to Raffles in Dubai, to experience “The Collection” Afternoon Tea: a Spring/Summer Collection of gastronomy by Chef Roland. Something unique indeed, and best shared with your besties (definitely not for the bedroom!) Go on, ladies, get your hunger on for this one.
So what does Raffles offer the thirsty traveller? A selection of organic teas by Pascal Hamour, and coffees percolated in the Japanese Tradition, as though a chemical experiment is being conducted: beans from Sumatra are crushed then filtered, Bunsen-burner like, in front of our eyes, the aroma creating a sensation. Hot beverages begin the indulgent afternoon tea…
Chef Roland has created a menu of savouries and sweets to tempt even the most staunch of dieters. We begin with savouries of course…
Air dried beef & grilled melon skewers; home cured gravlax and asparagus lipstick (!); chicken liver with lavender jelly; burrata on beef root pesto; Cornish pasty, and a modern derivative of the mandatory cucumber sandwich: cucumber & tomato Panini with dried tomato.
Always leave room for sweets, is the motto. How ’bout these for temptations? Cream Choux Puff, Praline Tart Tropezienne, Pistachio Financier with berries, Spring Stiletto with white chocolate orange blossom, and all manner of scone: passionfruit, berry, you name it.
Be sure not to plan any activity after a Raffles afternoon tea. You’ll not want to move! Linger a little longer and enjoy those bottomless china cups tea and coffee. After all, you’ll need time to digest the exquisite morsels you’ve just spent the last three hours delicately enjoying.