I’ve been craving a nice high tea these days.
Not just any high tea, but one in a beautiful, elegant setting.
And then I learned that swanky tea is actually “low tea,”
named for the low tables on which it was served.
“High tea” is actually more like a ploughman’s hearty meat supper.
Most of the tea rooms around are chintz-quaint and homey,
but not elegant.
I want a real low tea. Fancy.
Fancy tea service means dainty china teacups with pink painted flowers
and the aroma of fine, English tea leaves.
Scones and cream, crumpets, tiny cucumber sandwiches served on small
gold-rimmed plates and the company of a fine woman friend–doesn’t that sound good?
A real tea includes five savory items and three or four sweet ones
per person, or so I read the other day.
Back in the day, the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco (now a Westin) had a wonderful tea
at the Compass Rose lobby bar. I miss walking up the few steps and taking a seat near one of the gorgeous silk kimonos hanging on the rich, dark wood walls.
The ambience made it easy to imagine yourself back in the 1940s, maybe even
in some elegant tea room on the subcontinent,
with women in hats, tailored suits with pencil skirts and seamed stockings.
I can remember so many lovely afternoons there,
the buzz of women talking, the clink of china,
the three-tiered plate of tea sandwiches.
It evoked another age and I loved it.
|No resemblance to the grand, elegant Compass Rose, which now exists only in my memory.
But, the Compass Rose closed
some years back, replaced by a Michael Mina restaurant.
And they’ve just destroyed the beautiful, historic ambience
by renovating it into his Bourbon Steak restaurant.
So much for progress.
And bad timing, too.
Teas have been gaining in popularity for years.
With the return of Downtown Abbey TV show,
tea’s more popular than ever.
I hear San Francisco’s Nieman Marcus and the Ritz have tea
and next time I’m in the City I’m going to try it.
And I know exactly with whom.