Perhaps one of the most infamous pieces of English culture that comes to mind when people think of this lovely place is tea. Although it is become more and more popular in the states, it has been a long standing tradition in England. While going to school here I have been fortunate enough to be fully immersed in the British culture, which includes tea twice a day. In our case it takes place in the dining hall at 10:30 and 3:00. It has become a time that I look forward to, and not only for the cookies.
In our case it takes place in the dining hall at 10:30 and 3:00. It has become a time that I look forward to, and not only for the cookies.It is a great time of the day to sit and unwind, and have pleasant conversation with your friends and often professors. (That is another huge difference here, the relationship between professors (or tutors as they are called) and students is much more relaxed in that you often share meals with them and can address them more casually. Furthermore in the classroom setting, I find to be more inviting compared to the usual American standard as if you are somewhat less than an equal to the professor.) In our case at school they provide the brand of Twinning’s, which is apparently Queen of England approved!
All of the long tables are also adorned with plates of various cookie’s, so this sweet toothed girl is really in heaven, somehow I always convince myself that one … or seven won’t hurt me.
However, there is also a higher class/proper version of tea that is called afternoon tea. When walking the streets of Oxford local cafes often display their promotions for an afternoon tea which can range in 15 to 25 pounds, usually for two. Now as an attempt to get the full effect of British life, a few of my friends and I went to a proper one, and boy was it worth it.
A pot of tea (usually of your choosing, the most common are Earl Grey, English Breakfast, but my personal favorite is green tea) Feel free to check out my post on why green tea is so great!
An assortment of finger sandwiches: ours included egg mayo (their version of egg salad), chicken mayo, cucumber, salmon and cream cheese, and roasted peppers and dressing. As you can see they usually come in sets of two as afternoon tea is meant to be shared.
As pictured above the next tier consists of scones: plain and blueberry, that is accompanied with jam and clotted cream; clotted cream is essentially a thinner version of butter…and quite delicious I might add.
The last tier (my personal favorite) is typically deserts that consist of tea cakes, usually in the form of small slices such as chocolate cake, vanilla cake, two eclairs, and some strawberry mousse.
While on my travels abroad I have learned many things not only about myself, but about people in general, perhaps you have come across this ideas at one time or another. The time for tea says a lot about the culture of England, as well as Europe. It isn’t just a time to eat or grab some morning refreshment, but it helps to keep the day a little more simple and pull you away from the madness that we usually all find ourselves in, often through work or school. A huge difference that I have noticed in the culture of America compared to that of Europe, life is taken a little more slowly. If such a practice became more prevalent in America I don’t think the majority of corporate businesses could take it, nor everyday households. I don’t mean that as an insult, but rather a mere observation of the vast differences between these two cultures separated merely by an ocean. I find myself victim to such behavior as the most I interact with tea is usually on my morning walk to class, rather than something that I sit and truly enjoy. Of the many things I hope to bring home with me amongst the memories and souvenirs I hope I also take with me the importance of taking time to enjoy life, even if it’s only as long as a cup of tea.