Afternoon tea usually resonates with assortment of dainty sandwiches, salads, pastries and the likes of scones, complete with a pot of tea. So, what is the difference between afternoon tea and high tea, one may ask?
Even though we may spent some eight years living in the UK, I was never quite a huge fan of afternoon or high tea until I had the true experience at Bettys in Yorkshire on a road trip. The tea room in Harrogate which opened in 1919 is probably one of the oldest and most popular spot in the U.K. for afternoon tea. So this hasn't quite answered the question posed above - the difference with high tea but allow me to provide some history.
Afternoon tea originated in the early 19th century, a time where tea consumption was on the rise. Initiated by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who complained of 'having that sinking feeling' during the late afternoon, As such, afternoon tea was introduced at about 4pm daily just before the fashionable promenade that takes place at Hyde Park. It is however not intended to replace dinner but rather to fill in the long gap between lunch and dinner as the latter is typically served at 8pm. As such, afternoon tea typically comprises light snacks such as sandwiches and scones with a pot of tea to revive flagging spirits. Lifestyles however have changed since and afternoon tea is somewhat regarded as a treat, rather than a stop-gap in the modern world.
The high tea that some may be more familiar with is actually a more substantial meal of the day than an afternoon tea as it was meant for the middle and lower classes. Timing of service is also typically later at 5-6pm, in place of a late dinner and the differentiation in name came from the height of the tables on which the meals are served - high tea being served at the dinner table while afternoon tea served in the comfort of parlour chairs (usually lower in height) or in the garden.
Now that we had the 101s to afternoon tea, let us share our experience at L'Espresso, Goodwoodpark Hotel, often regarded by many as the "place for elegant teatime pursuits".
One of the delights was the classic scones, which also come in two other renditions - with raisins and
blueberry. Served warm alongside an assortment of strawberry jams, orange marmalade, blueberry jam and clotted butter & cream, we could not resist helping ourselves to a second serving.
Apart from the usual sandwiches, these open-faced sandwiches, almost canapes-like, caught our attention. With each thoughtfully planned to be bite-sized portions, it is almost inevitable to over-indulge, unknowingly. Our favourites have got to be the Atlantic shrimp cocktail with raspberry aioli and the handmade pork terrine with rosemary apricot chutney! However, if your preference is indulgence, duo of smoked salmon with Avruga caviar or the salami & truffle mille-feuille should please.
Alas, the savouries need to be balanced by a pot of tea and L'Espresso serves up the premium selects from TWG. As part of the buffet, each diner is entitled to two servings of coffee or tea. If you are after a rich tea with hints of candied sweetness, go for the exclusive tea blend, Number 1 Tea. Else the Royal Darjeeling is a classic that will not disappoint, albeit a slightly faint brew.
When it comes to desserts, there are no lack of options, with bread & butter pudding being one of our top picks, alongside crunchy hazelnut cake and passion fruit meringue tart! Also, do not miss out the Movenpick ice creams, available in Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate flavours.
With prices starting at $45/++ for weekdays (Mon - Thu, 2 - 5.30pm), there are also two seating on the weekends at $48/++ (Fri - Sun, 12 - 2.30pm, 3 -5.30pm).
If you are looking to impress your companions, you can also choose to add a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne alongside two servings of coffee and/or tea at $68/++ (weekdays) and $72/++ on weekends.
Photo credit: Goodwoodpark Hotel, from L'Espresso website
Lounge away at one of these comfortable and spacious armchairs in a relaxing environment with view to the poolside terrace. Some may find it rather exposed as members of the public would be walking along the corridor since it is located just in front of the hotel's entrance.
Overall, it was a good afternoon tea experience and for those looking to have a reunion with family or friends, there is a GSS special promotion that is running from 1 July to 14 August where one adult/child dines free with every three paying adults. Make your reservations today!
22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221
Tel: (65) 67301743
Website: Cafe L'Espresso
, by cy