It’s almost four o’clock in the afternoon, and everyone on board is headed to Horizons for afternoon tea – a cherished tradition around the world. This beloved tea time ritual dates back to 19th century England, but few are as anticipated and inspired as ours. During this unique daily event, you will hear a classical string quartet playing softly in the background, while the dedicated staff glides through the room presenting bountiful four-tiered pastry carts filled with freshly made finger sandwiches, colorful petits fours, richly textured scones with clotted cream, and wonderfully sinful desserts. But the centerpiece of this pleasant afternoon pastime is, of course, the traditional and herbal teas.
A Noble Tradition
Though the word tea derives from the Mandarin word chá, it is said that the English afternoon tea ceremony became popular with the Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s. History reveals that she suffered from afternoon hunger spells due to the long period that passed between lunch and evening meals. To avoid this, she thought of having something light to hold her over until dinner; enter tea and biscuits.
Tea then became a symbol of a fashionable society making it an integral part of British customs. It still retains that elegant aura even today. While tea-drinking became an elaborate social ritual, so did the related accompaniments that you see on board at Horizons while the staff serves – the customary white gloves, porcelain pots, fine china and gleaming silver.
A Taste for Tea
There are so many different ways to drink tea – hot, cold, with cream and sugar or without it – and on board our ships you can have it however you wish. Our resident tea expert and Senior Culinary Director, Bernhard Klotz, says that the most popular choices on board are Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Green Tea. However, herbal and fruit teas are becoming more and more popular. Which one is his favorite? “I am a traditionalist – an English Breakfast tea man with milk,” he said.
Accompanied by panoramic views from Horizons and soft classical music, each one of the beautifully designed pastries and tea sandwiches served during afternoon tea is a delight to savor with every sip. Klotz is a fan of the classic scone with clotted cream and jam paired with his English Breakfast tea, and as he tells us, “The scone must have clotted cream.”
See you on board for afternoon tea soon!