Many people never get to experience the high tea as described in so many 19th century historic fiction novels. Which is a pity, because it is a lovely experience. If you have to pick a place, set aside some money and go where they really know how to present tea properly: the Ritz (whatever is the nearest location to you) or the Inn on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
Keep in mind, the point is not just to drink really fancy tea (both establishments offer up to a dozen varieties and you can switch your teas between the sandwich and the dessert course) with some tiny sandwiches and cakes. It is also to relax and let someone to wait on you hand and foot – a precious and vision-setting experience not many of us get to see these days. The atmosphere, the elegant china, the cloth napkins, a glass of champagne or a mimosa before you begin – all these small ingredients add up to something you are bound to cherish for a long time to come, until you can splurge on the next one.
The intangible aspects aside, it is also a culinary and visual delight. Carl Sagan in his book Contact described Japanese food as edible jewels: one would be content to just look at them without eating, or just sample them without being able to see them, so looking and eating together add up to a small bit of heaven. The exquisite tea sandwiches and pastries fit this description very well. You want to take photos and capture how beautiful they are before you pick out the first one to sample. The Inn on Biltmore Estate varies its pastries between fruit and chocolate ones, including the scrumptious miniature scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The Ritz pastries are mostly chocolate – not that it subtracts anything from the experience, for there are chocolate varieties I never knew existed. And that is saying something as I am a consummate chocolate fan.
So, the next time you are looking for a truly indulgent experience, scour travel sites for high tea and let yourself be served and pampered.
For book and game reviews by Maria K., visit her YouTube channel Ms. Review Central.
Photography courtesy of Maria K.