Afternoon tea is a typical British tradition, dating back to the eighteenth century. During that time, it was common for people to have only two meals a day: breakfast and dinner. When Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford complained that she had ‘that sinking feeling’, the solution came in the form of a pot of tea and a light snack during the afternoon. Nowadays, an afternoon tea isn’t exclusively available to the upper class and can be enjoyed at more and more locations.
Since quite a few years already, the Dutch have picked up on this British indulgent, but calling it ‘high tea’ instead. What I’ve learned from my time in England is that high tea gets referred to when talking about a proper meal, while afternoon tea is the selection of sandwiches and sweet deserts with a pot of tea (British friends, please correct me if I’m wrong!). The latter one is what’s meant with high tea in the Netherlands (although the one we enjoyed last time was an actual proper meal). Confusing isn’t it? Actually, while I’m sitting here typing this in a coffee shop there is this British couple sitting across from me. I wonder how they feel about the Dutch uptake of ‘their’ afternoon tea?
Dutch high tea comes in all forms and shapes. Ranging from a pot of tea with sweets and cake, to actual ‘towers’ of food, starting with the savoury sandwiches on top and the cupcakes, muffins, brownies and the famous scones with clotted cream and jam on the lowest tray.
It’s actually so successful nowadays that expansions of the concept take place all over: high beer and high wine, all very popular activities to undertake with friends, family and colleagues. A selection of beer and wine with a mix of savoury snacks are the recipes of these kind of high-tea-extravaganza.
And to be honest, I quite like it all. To meet up with girlfriends and enjoy the selection of teas and snacks, while chatting the afternoon away. Because yes, even though the Dutch have completely messed up the concept of afternoon tea, we respect the rule that an afternoon tea only can take place in the afternoon.
The high beer and high wine are concepts that are already there for quite some time, but this year my cousins gave me a birthday present that was new to me. I received a very cheerful birthday card from them in April with the message: ‘you are going to on an afternoon of ice dipping with us!’ Okay, okay, relax, this probably won’t mean that I need to dip down in a pool of ice with my clothes still on right?
No of course not! Ice dipping, so I’ve learned, is yet another new form of the afternoon tea concept, yet taking it much and much further. A social event in which the partakers receive a few bowls filled with pieces of fruit, and some other trays with different kind of toppings: whipped cream, jam, chocolate sauce, mini-marshmallows and so on. Then, one of the chefs came up to our table with an empty bowl and a can of liquid nitrogen. He would poor the liquid nitrogen into the bowl – creating this spooky fog and ice bubbles – and told us we could dip the fruit with topping into the fluid.
That was pretty cool. Pretty cool indeed. As soon as our fruit with the topping of our choice touched the liquid nitrogen it transformed into this beautiful ice popsicle. And it tasted so good! You really should just try it for yourself!
Yes, I do like afternoon tea and all its modern versions.
The afternoon tea you see in the photos, we enjoyed at Spijs and Ijs, a restaurant in Dongen, Noord-Brabant. The Ice Dipping experience we had at Slagroom, a restaurant in Tilburg, Noord-Brabant. This is a non-sponsored post, and all views are my own.