Over Thanksgiving I was able to attend a High Tea with my mom and younger sister at House of Clarendon, where we had SUCH a good time. I wanted to share a bit of it with you.
Now, please be aware that none of us had been to any sort of tea before, and that I, as a rule, dislike tea in all of its weird incarnations. Cold and sweet or hot and healing, it consistently tastes like the contents of the lawnmower bag to me. And as I am always desperate to like tea, because so many decent people seem to enjoy it – unless you’re all pulling one over on me, it’s possible – you can imagine that I saw this as an opportunity to really experience tea at its very best. Plus, there were seven savories and seven sweets promised, so even if I didn’t like the tea, I was bound to find something delicious.
House of Clarendon
High Tea was scheduled for noon on Saturday, and as we arrived about twenty minutes early, we were able to stand and look for a few minutes in the front of the store where many of their award-winning cakes were on display. No photos were allowed of this part of the store, but resourceful people can find photos elsewhere on the internet.
Do you see that peacock cake? I wanted to marry it. Their cakes, in person, are just SO pretty. And elegant! And some are glittery! And did I mention the peacock? I mean COME ON. Have a gander at the gallery of wedding cakes on their website and tell me you don’t need a cake each day for the rest of your life from them.
The owner Martine seated us and once the other parties arrived, we were treated to a little film about the history of high tea as given by the (I assume) previous owner, a plump British woman who implored us to hold our plates high lest we spill hot tea or crumbs down our cleavage.
We all dressed appropriately, and did not have this problem. Not pictured: moi.
Now, it was time for tea. First, milk was poured into the cups, then the hot tea was added. I stirred my tea with a tea spoon and drank it. You may be wondering what kind of tea it was, and I can only tell you that it had the word “Piccadilly” in its name. Aren’t I awful? Yes, I am, especially because I actually enjoyed it! I mean yes, I added several sugar cubes to my tea, but I justified this after hearing that Princess Catherine de Braganza would have done much the same thing.
We were then served the seven savories, one after the other: spinach pinwheel sandwiches, peanut-sauce chicken on a skewer, bourbon-and-honey baked meatballs, sausage rolls, hot mushroom duxelles, spanakopita quiche, and I believe little crab rolls.
Then we switched teas for dessert. We chose a vanilla tea, which I didn’t like as much and really didn’t drink. I was getting very thirsty for water by this time, too, though I didn’t think it would be polite to ask for it. So next came the seven sweets! Let’s see if I can remember these: vanilla pinwheels, kahlua creampuffs, lemon meringue bouches, an apricot tart of some sort, and I’ll be honest – I was fading. I was SO full and the only other sweet I can promise to remember is mint ice cream tea in the most magical thing: a little. edible. chocolate cup.
Willy Wonka for grown-ups? Willy Wonka for grown-ups.And so, my first tea, high or otherwise, was a success. I recommend a visit to House of Clarendon for anyone who’s near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, whether for tea or no, as you can simply walk in and purchase a selection of petit fours. Yum.
(I apologize for the quality of the photos; the ones from inside the tea room are the only ones that are mine, and they were taken on the sly, as we were unsure whether photography was allowed. Sneaky tea!)