Remember when I submitted that bread pudding to the Dilmah people months ago then had to serve it to the judges at the finals? Well, until the Sunday before that event, I’d never ever been to a high tea or even a mid-level tea. When I lived in the states I wasn’t invited to one and never knew anyone who attended one either. Perhaps nobody had a high tea or perhaps I ran with the wrong crowd. I’m happy either way.
I was complaining on Facebook (as one does in situations like this) and the lovely May King Tsang in Brisbane said she was hosting a charity high tea at Scrumptious Reads, a bookstore of cookbooks. I know, seriously fantastic shop and one where I’ve walked my shoe leather off back and forth trying to decide what to buy. May King said I could attend the high tea and see how things are laid out and how the tea is made. The donation was only $50 and I needed to learn how to do this.
The tea was prepared in the back room so I never saw how that was done but I was able to learn that skill from spending hours on YouTube. The bit I really needed to see was how everything was beautifully laid out on the table.
The clever Danielle Dixon prepared all the food and May King Tsang gave a talk on where tea comes from, the different types of tea, the different temperatures you should use for brewing the different teas (boiling water burns green tea) and how long to brew the tea. Did you know that you put the tea or the tea bags in the pot and then stir and then a minute and a half later you stir again? Yeah, I didn’t know that either but it does make a huge difference in the flavour.
There was nothing served at the high tea that I didn’t love. Everything was fresh and gorgeously presented. I sat at the end of the table with two charming men who love food. Perfect situation for me! I think my favourite was the tea smoked duck sandwiches on a bed of cucumber and cream cheese. There was just a hint of smokiness and the duck was well cooked and tender.
Just when I thought I was going to have to eat the salmon pearls filled with wasabi cream, they whisked out some sticky caramelised onion and brie tarts right out of the oven. I don’t do fish well. It gets to the back of my throat and screams, “I’m not staying!” Imagine my luck when the man next to me said,” I LOVE that salmon, want to swap a tart for your salmon?” It could have been ocean trout so don’t yell if I got that wrong. I didn’t eat it. I LOVED the tarts. I loved them so much I didn’t stop to photograph them. I ate three. Someone came by with extra tarts and I took another one.
The salmon pearls were made from thinly sliced salmon wrapped around a ball of wasabi cream and placed on a charcoal cracker and topped with caviar. They were very pretty to look at.
No high tea would be complete without scones with jam and cream and these were light and fluffy and the perfect holder for just enough sweet jam topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The CWA – Country Women’s Association would have given these scones an A+.
After the scones disappeared and that happened very quickly, we moved right on to mille feuille filled with Hellalia Vanilla Tea cream. These were as pretty as a picture but I didn’t stand on ceremony to gaze affectionately – I ate one. Yes the cream squooshed out the other side and I didn’t care.
We were nearly finished – only the Chai Tea cupcakes and the palmiers filled with heaps of cinnamon and sugar. I couldn’t decide if I could hold one more cup of tea and any more food but I went to conquer. The cupcakes were soft and were faintly tea flavoured and as you might expect, the sweet palmiers were crisp and flaky.
My first high tea experience was terrific and my thanks to Julie Tjiandra, owner of Scrumptious Reads, Danielle Dixon – an Australian Masterchef finalist and May King Tsang, owner of May King Tea – a business selling tea. With a name like that what else would you do? It was a perfect introduction into what a high tea should be and gave me more confidence for the Dilmah High Tea Challenge.
Have you been to many high tea events?