The names derive from the height of the tables used – the dining tables people sat at while taking their early evening meal were tall in comparison to the low, delicate tables at which the gentry took their lighter, more formal snack.
The civilised pleasures of enjoying afternoon tea can be enjoyed anywhere in London as well as Edinburgh and Glasgow, from Fraser Suites Kensington, London to Fraser Residence Prince of Wales, London, and from Fraser Suites Edinburgh, Scotland to Fraser Suites Glasgow, Scotland.
Spice of Life
Masala chai has been a popular beverage on the Indian subcontinent for nearly 3,000 years. This hot, comforting brew is made from locally-grown black tea with a unique blend of spices – typically cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and pepper – although the recipe varies from region to region.
Even in rapidly modernising India today, village streets and city bylane are dotted with tea stalls where enterprising young ‘chai wallahs’ brew up using kettles and brass pots and mixing the resultant drink with buffalo milk and sugar. Busy shoppers stop at teeming bazaars and crowded railway platforms for a quick pickme-up, served in little earthenware cups that are thrown away after use.
Despite India’s long relationship with tea, however, it wasn’t cultivated commercially until the British arrived in the early nineteenth century. The East India Company converted large tracts of land in Assam in the northeast and Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas for mass cultivation and today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world.
Demystifying the Leaf
All tea comes from just one plant, the Camellia sinensis. Yet each variety has its own unique taste and its own complex array of processing techniques – rather like cheese, or wine.
Black tea production is largely concentrated in the mountainous areas of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Kenya. Withering, rolling, oxidising and then drying the fresh leaves creates a strongly pronounced tannin flavour, which makes black tea a good match for full-bodied foods such as red meats and spicy curries.