Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"It's all in the pinky, dahling."

...At least that's what I've been saying ever since my first brush with English High Tea earlier today.

It was, hands-down, the best meal of the Food World Series thus far! 

(must be the latent Disney princess in me- so many frills!)

This morning, Christian and I made the long trek to Woodland Hills. 

And when I say long, I mean 50 minutes with traffic. For high tea. But boy was it worth it.

We met at this adorable little cottage off the beaten track,

where were greeted by a lovely married couple, Jenn and Hus (I can't remember his real name for the life of me). They showed us to our cozy table by the window, beyond shelves and shelves of tea and matching goodies for sale in the entry way...

As soon as we were seated and the pretty young assistant placed a green cloth napkin ever-so-delicately across my lap, I knew this was the real deal.

First up was the menu...  which was more like a how-to guidebook on tea service, tradition and etiquette.

On the welcome page, it read "When invited to High Tea or partaking in Tea Time, take the chance to pause in time, a moment to forget the trials of one's worries and simply rejoice in the moment at hand."

Which is exactly what I did...

starting with the tea selection, assisted greatly by the amusing and knowledgeable Brit, Hus, and his overflowing cart of unique tea leaves from around the world.

His first utterance upon approaching the table was telling us we should "step out of our comfort zone" and leave the teas we usually drink "at home."

When I told him I tend to drink green tea for the health benefits, he responded, "What if I told you there was a tea 25 times more powerful than green tea in its healing properties?"


And he did.

Turns out, naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea is only grown in a small part of South Africa. Its cleansing power is so superior that lovers of the precious leaves for leisurely drinking are worried over talks of pharmaceutical companies buying up all the land on which they're grown.


Figured I better drink a pot while I still can.

So I opted for what Hus called "a lady's drink"- a rooibos tea called Provence that sweetly pops with lavender and orange blossom. No added sugar cubes or milk necessary.

Christian went for a more traditional black tea, only super caffeinated... over 5 times the caffeine in a standard black tea.

Hus left us to our pots, saying his wife Jenn- the Courdon Bleu chef of the duo- would be right over to help us with our food options.

I was pleasantly shocked to see that in addition to "American Tea Time" and "Elegantly French," they offered "Graceful Tea Time for Vegans." 

Only in California... ;)

As intrigued as I was to see how the chef could transform such a traditional repast, I decided to save veganism for my next visit and start off with "Traditional Tea Time" to get the true experience.

The first of 3 courses was a sandwich platter...

And did it ever exceed my expectations of simple cucumber and cream cheese...

Jenn graciously subbed out the chicken and ham options with vegetarian ingredients- including the standard cucumber, curried egg, cheese + apple chutney, and my personal fav:

cranberry, to-mah-to and parsley... Seemingly odd combo- but so delicious!

After polishing off each one of the triangles myself, it was time for Jenn's famed scones.

Fresh out of the oven, might I add.

The young assistant came over to present us with the jam and curd options:

Since we each got 2 selections, we made sure to try 4 different spreads- apple fig, apricot ginger, cherry and lime (+ 2 dollops of Devonshire cream, of course)

Um, hello heaven.

I polished those two off in a jiffy.

Which brought us to the grand finale: dessert.

Just when I thought I'd had my fill on scones, I went straight to work on this lovely assortment of goodies:

The plate suffered a slow demise...

How anyone can down those little delicacies in one bite is BEYOND me.

I like to savor the flavor. Always.

Which is exactly why I think I enjoyed this experience so much. Everything was done with such precision and attention to detail, it's nearly impossible to not revel in each moment and astounding new dish.

Hus came up to us as I swallowed the last chocolatey bit of my petit four and pointed out that we still had an entire pot of tea left (they'd refilled) and we should enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

While it would have been a true delight to stay in the warm and welcoming cottage, sipping and chatting the hours away, we both had prior commitments to get to...

Next time, next time.

Now that British has been checked off the list, it's time for Burma next Wednesday...

Have any of you experienced high tea?

Emma, I know you've done it- was this one much different?


  1. Simply a wonderful post my sweet love!! So proud of you and love you!! xxoox ali

  2. This is crazy! I've never heard of this before! Those sandwiches and those scones look to die for!!

  3. Love the tea cozies. This is the last place I had high tea, and it was delicious!

  4. That looks like so much fun! Omggsh, you managed to capture the feeling so well :)

  5. In high school I went with my mom and a couple friends to tea a couple times and we dressed up in fancy dresses and big hats. It was so fun! I can't believe they have a whole vegan option, that's so awesome. I definitely want to go!

  6. how fun! This looks like a great time! And everything looks so fancy!

  7. FUN!FUN!FUN! When I come to LA...I am putting this on my "TO DO" list!! I love going for the whole experience. I have gone to high tea in all the major east coast cities...Boston, NYC,Philly and D.C. Soooo..I need to add LA to the list. This looks like a GREAT place. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  8. oh my goodness!! this looks so fun!!! i just the latter half of last year in europe and london was my FAVORITE city so i love high tea!!! actually yesterday i went to a tea lounge in san francisco for lunch (samovar tea lounge) and even though it's more multicultural, my dad ordered the british tea set and the scone was sooo good! i love your food world series!!

    ps your jam spread makes me jealous

  9. We are hosting one in honor of The Royal Wedding this year!

    I am going to buy up some of the rooibos tea...immediately! Thanks Mad.