Whilst back in Blighty the other week I indulged in something stereotypically British…a spot of afternoon tea. I don’t think you can get anymore British than this, it is the epitome of British-ness and seems to be making a comeback lately – a lot of my friends back home are posting pictures on Facebook of them having afternoon tea somewhere.
I wanted to get in on the act, so, after less than 24 hours in the country and with the help of Ma Cook, I went to get my fill of it here:
Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in York. This is THE place to go for some afternoon tea. It’s a traditional British tea room where you’re transported back in time with old-fashioned shop fittings and employees dressed in long skirts, high collared shirts with a brooch in the middle and an apron. You really do feel like you’re in a special place – people come from all over just to visit these tea rooms and partake in some afternoon tea. There’s always a queue around the block to get into Betty’s but believe me, it is definitely worth the wait!
Afternoon tea was originally popular among the wealthy people in England and eaten between 4pm and 6pm. Nowadays though everyone eats it and at anytime of the day – Ma Cook and I tucked into it at around 2pm, we were hungry! We rocked up to Betty’s, took our seats and ordered our afternoon tea for 2.
First came the tea:
Now, we’re not talking any old tea here, oh no, no. This isn’t just dumping a tea bag in some hot water, squeezing it out and sploshing in a glug of milk. Nope. At Betty’s we’re talking actual tea leaves that have to be strained into your cup. Here’s a demonstration from Ma Cook:
Beautifully done there and let me tell you it tasted lovely. A proper brew, with proper tea leaves and even sugar cubes! Who gives you sugar cubes anymore? Then, after a few sips of tea came the main event – the food, and we all know how much this blog seems to revolve around food! Once again I wasn’t disappointed. Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a three tier plate stand and looks a little bit like this:
Fancy pants! Our faces lit up when these were placed on the table and we eagerly looked at what was on offer. Sandwiches, a scone, cakes – we were in heaven! When it comes to eating this delight you start at the bottom and make your way to the top, that meant the sandwiches were the first to be demolished. We tucked into ham, chicken, egg and smoked salmon sandwiches and were quickly ready to move onto the next level…a scone. (I need to point out now that I pronounce it sc-own. There’s an argument as to whether it is sc-own like I say or sc-on. I’m sticking with sc-own!) Of course it came with jam and cream and before we know it our scones were piled high and heading into our mouths:
It was one of the nicest scones I’ve ever tasted! By now we were over halfway through our delights and possibly starting to feel a little full but we definitely didn’t have any plans to stop there. The top tier was covered in miniature cakes that, like everything else in the café were handmade and they had our names on them.
First I tucked into the raspberry tart in a little pastry case that had custard underneath the fruit – so tasty! Then I moved onto the chocolate cake, it was very rich so the miniature piece was just enough. My taste buds were very happy but they were about to get even happier! I definitely saved the best for last when I sunk my teeth into the lemon macaroon – it was full of flavour and had just the right amount of crunch and chewy-ness (if that’s even a word!) that left me wanting another 10 of them! Sadly though, my three tiers were now empty – I’d polished off the lot, definitely not good for the wedding diet but the best bit of cheating ever!
We finished off our tea and headed out of the store, but before we left we couldn’t resist buying a few of Betty’s famous fat rascals for Pa Cook, and my bro and sister-in-law and of course some more of those tasty macaroons. We ended up with a gift box of 6 which soon disappeared once we got home…whoops!
With our bellies full and feeling very British indeed we waved goodbye to Betty’s and carried on our merry way through the streets of York. Afternoon tea was ticked off the list and I was one very happy lady!