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What could be more relaxing and utterly civilized than a proper English tea? This time-honored ritual is an invitation to take a break from everyday cares, and share a restorative moment of sensory pleasure and congeniality with friends. We hope this guide inspires you to partake of this tradition—whether at home or on board.


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STEEPED IN HISTORY You may think of tea as the quintessential English beverage, but it did not arrive in Britain until the late 17th century. The Portuguese, who had brisk trading operations in the Far East, had been enjoying tea for some time. When England’s King Charles II married Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, tea was part of her dowry. Soon it became the drink of royalty, and courtiers then followed suit. Capitalizing on the trend, the East India Company began importing tea and the market exploded. Even coffee shop owners began serving it, and smugglers sold it on the black market. By 1750, tea was also the preferred drink of the lower classes, over ale and gin. For aristocrats, tea was truly elevated as a symbol of privilege and leisure in the mid-1840s when one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-inwaiting, the Duchess of Bedford, invented the afternoon tea. She would order an afternoon snack and a pot of tea to be brought to her room to revive herself during the long interval between lunch and dinner. Soon, she began inviting friends to her chambers to share this treat, and the so-called “at home” tea was born. Others began hosting “at homes” so that on almost any day of the week, members of the gentry would have an occasion to socialize. And they did not limit their afternoon teas to “at home.” In warm weather, the elite would flock to outdoor tea gardens or host garden parties at which afternoon tea was followed by the “tea dance.”


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T H E R I G H T T E A AT T H E R I G H T T I M E The menu, etiquette and purpose of teatime vary, depending on when it is served. is served between 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM—never before or after. This is a mostly social affair, and the most formal of teatimes. Afternoon tea was originally an upper-class invention meant to bridge the gap between the midday meal (called lunch or luncheon) and the main meal (called dinner) that was served around 8:00 PM.


The focus of afternoon tea is the tea itself, which tends to be stronger in flavor, so the accompanying food is typically light. Afternoon tea may be called a “low” tea, but this has nothing to do with its degree of formality. It simply means that the tea service may take place on low seating (such as a sofa) and upon a low surface (such as a coffee table). Today, afternoon tea is a special event, often enjoyed at a tea room or hotel. Underscoring the specialness of afternoon tea, if your service includes an alcoholic component, it may be called a sherry, champagne or royal tea. is often misunderstood outside the United Kingdom to mean a teatime that is more refined, lavish or fancy. This could not be further from the truth. High tea is a name for the evening meal taken between 5:00 and 7:00 PM. It originated among members of the working classes, who could not afford a late-afternoon tea and would come home from work around 6:00 PM famished. The “high” in high tea merely refers to the height of the typical dining table around which a family would gather to eat. HIGH TEA


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The high tea meal is more of a supper, complete with savory entrées such as pies, meat, fish and egg dishes as well as cheeses, breads and desserts. Since meat is often the star of the menu, high tea may be called meat tea. Because the food tends to be heavier, the tea is often lighter. is enjoyed by people of all classes as a brief respite from work to enjoy a beverage and snack. Since it usually occurs before noon, it is often called “elevenses.”


is any tea that includes the traditional accompaniment of clotted cream, which is spread onto a scone. It may also be called Devonshire or Cornish cream tea, after the important dairy-producing regions known for creating the best clotted cream.



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TEA TYPES All tea derives from the same Camellia sinensis plant. Beyond that, the different categories—white, yellow, green, oolong, black and post-fermented—are a matter of processing and oxidation. Tea is a natural antioxidant that is rich in vitamins B2, B1 and B6, potassium, manganese, folic acid and calcium. Though tea leaves contain a mild stimulant called theanine, brewed tea contains less than half the caffeine found in coffee. The most popular tea types are as follows:

This robust tea is Britain’s most popular, infused with a hint of bergamot oil and boasting overtones of orange. Though traditionally made with black tea, it is now also available in green or oolong form. E A R L G R E Y.


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Called the “champagne of tea,” this lightcolored tea has a mild, floral aroma and is distinguished by its refreshing, thin-bodied flavors. It is available in black, green, white or oolong varieties. True Darjeeling comes from the eponymous area of India’s Bengal region, though some types are falsely labeled as such. DARJEELING.

As the name implies, this is the ideal morning brew—a full-bodied, richly flavored tea with a robust aroma. It usually consists of a blend of black teas from Assam, Sri Lanka and Kenya; more expensive blends may include Chinese Keemun tea. English Breakfast tea goes well with milk and sugar.



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– How to brew the perfect pot of tea – 1 Rinse out your teapot with hot water so your pot does not crack

when you pour hot water into it. 2 For a proper afternoon tea, use loose tea leaves (as opposed to tea

bags) because they are fresher and more flavorful. Place these into the pot (in which case you would use a strainer over the cup as you pour), or into a small metal or mesh ball called an infuser. Calculate a teaspoon of leaves for each guest, plus one more “for the pot.” 3 Using a kettle, bring fresh water to a full boil. Then, wait! Do not

pour boiling water into a teapot when it is scalding, as doing so will burn the leaves and ruin the flavor. 4 Cool the water ever so slightly to a temperature of 205°F (96°C)

for black tea or 160–180°F (71–82°C) for green tea. (Never reboil water, as this can create a metallic taste.) 5 Steep from 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the tea type and to

your taste.


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T R A D I T I O N A L T E AT I M E FA R E These tasty treats can be made yourself or picked up at your local market or specialty store. Dainty and small, these can be made with a variety of light fillings such as cucumber, watercress, smoked salmon, egg salad, ham, tuna salad or cheese and pickle. They are served on buttered bread with the crusts removed.


These small round biscuits are made with wheat or oatmeal and leavened with baking powder. They are sweetened only lightly and often finished with an egg wash. Some scones may be flavored with currants, dates, almonds or cheese.


This delectable spread is sometimes called scalded, clouted, Devonshire or Cornish cream. It is made with full-cream cow’s milk that is indirectly heated using steam or a water bath, then slowly cooled in a shallow pan. The cream content rises to the surface and forms yellowish “clots” that are spread onto a scone like butter. C LOT T E D C R E A M .

A variety of fruit jam, marmalade, lemon curd and preserves should always accompany your scones. JAM.

These are usually sweet yeast-based buns, flavored with dried fruit and served toasted. In Sussex, a luxurious version called a Lady Arundel’s Manchet adds aromatics such as cinnamon, rose water and nutmeg.


These could include any number of cupcakes, cookies, cakes and tiny pies. Favorites include madeleines, Battenberg cake (pink-and-yellow cake squares wrapped in a layer of marzipan), lemon tarts, Bakewell tarts and egg custard. C A K E S A N D TA R T S .


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SCONES This scone recipe comes from our Viking chefs, who bake batches of these on board our ocean ships for Afternoon Tea in the Wintergarden. One of our longtime favorites, these quick breads are baked until just gently crisp with a touch of sweetness—perfect with clotted cream and jam or lemon curd. INGREDIENTS


3¼ C (400 g) flour, plus extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F (210°C). Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside.

¼ C (45 g) sugar

1¾ T (20 g) baking powder ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt

1⅔ C (375 ml) heavy cream 3 T (42 ml) honey

1 large egg yolk, beaten

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and honey; pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined (mixture will be a little crumbly). Turn onto a lightly floured work surface; roll out 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick and cut into 2-inch circles. Transfer to baking sheet, brush tops with egg yolk and bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 18 minutes. Makes 16 servings.


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– Wintergarden – Viking offers an Afternoon Tea, served daily on board our ocean ships in the Wintergarden. As classical music plays softly in the background, the stage is set for our staff to display our pastry chefs’ prodigious talents. Freshly made finger sandwiches, tartlets, richly textured scones and decadent macarons are presented on bountiful tiered pastry carts. Of course, an equally tempting selection of tea is served as well. Sit back, enjoy the grace and civility of the moment, and take in the panoramic views.


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18 Photo Credit: David Griffen

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VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE This recipe is excerpted with permission from At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey, in which the 8th Countess of Carnarvon invites readers to enjoy five weekend parties at Highclere Castle, including Afternoon Tea. Available in fine bookstores and on Apparently, as a child, Queen Victoria wasn’t allowed to eat sweet things very often, but during her reign the practice of taking afternoon tea was popularized and a little sweet something to sustain the Queen and her guests in the late afternoon became de rigueur. Thus the Victoria Sponge Cake was named, and it makes a delicious addition to afternoon tea. INGREDIENTS


4 med eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)/Gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of 2 × 20 cm (8-inch) sandwich tins.

225 g (1 cup) caster sugar

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder and mix everything together until well combined. (The easiest way to do this is with a hand-held electric mixer or a stand mixer, but you can use a wooden spoon.) As soon as everything is blended together, stop mixing. The batter should easily fall off a spoon.

225 g (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

225 g (1¾ cups) self-rising flour 2 level tsp baking powder

1 l (4¼ cups) double cream About 200 g (⅔ cup) strawberry jam

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and gently smooth the surface of the batter. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t open the oven door during the cooking time or the cakes will sink. The cakes are done when they are golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins and a knife inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for 5 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack. Remove the lining paper. Whisk the cream in a bowl until it forms soft peaks. When the cakes are completely cool, spread one cake with lots of thick, delicious jam, then pipe (or spread) the whipped cream over the top. Sandwich the cakes together and finish by dusting the top of the cake with a little confectioners’ sugar.


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– Stories and scents from the “real Downton Abbey” – We would like to introduce you to Highclere Castle, the setting of Focus Features’ new film, Downton Abbey, of which Viking is a proud partner. The true story of Highclere is remarkably similar to that told in Downton Abbey—it owes its survival to an heiress who married into a family of earls. In 1895, at the young age of 19, Almina Wombwell, the illegitimate daughter of millionaire banker Alfred de Rothschild, married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon of Highclere. She brought to the family a huge dowry of £500,000 (about £50 million today), which helped sustain the castle through the next fifty years and two world wars. Lady Almina Carnarvon was an extraordinary woman who transformed Highclere into a hospital in August 1914. Acting as head matron, with the best surgeons and nurses, she welcomed severely injured soldiers who wrote that Highclere was something like a “paradise” after the battlefields and trenches of Gallipoli and northern France. Tirelessly, she saved lives and limbs, reassuring families and patients throughout the war and the devastating flu pandemic that 20

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spread before the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919. With the close of the war, her husband, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, was able to continue his excavation work in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings with his colleague Howard Carter. The two men had worked in Egypt for some sixteen years, passionate about the area’s works of art, culture and architecture of the past. On the point of giving up, Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen in November 1922. Today, the current Lord and Lady Carnarvon have created and curated a fascinating exhibition through the cellars underneath the castle, which displays works of art from pharaonic times. Highclere’s history, however, was first recorded in 749 AD, more than 1,000 years before Almina’s time. Highclere was owned by the Bishops of Winchester for 800 years before it was sold and bought by the direct grandfather of Lord Carnarvon in 1679. From medieval palace to red brick Elizabethan house, it was then transformed into a classical Georgian mansion. The final transformation began in 1842. The 3rd Earl of Carnarvon commissioned Sir Charles Barry to design a splendid Italian-style “palace,” which was thus taking shape contemporaneously with the building and creation of the Houses of Parliament in London. It is therefore one of the most important Victorian buildings in England, with some 250 rooms and a silhouette famous the world over. The castle is set in 1,000 acres of parkland that had been laid out in 1771 by Capability Brown, known as England’s greatest landscape gardener. Near the castle are a series of peaceful and exquisite gardens, all of which inspire the all-natural ingredients that comprise Highclere’s soaps and teas. You will find them in Viking shops on board our river and ocean ships, along with Lady Carnarvon’s New York Times best-selling books that she has personally autographed. S EE D O W N TO N A B B E Y O N LY I N T H E AT ER S T H I S S EP T EM B ER . 21

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Viking guests are welcomed into Lord and Lady Carnarvon’s home on Viking pre- and post-cruise extensions. During select Viking itineraries, guests enjoy Privileged Access to Highclere Castle, the setting of the “real Downton Abbey.” Go behind the scenes with Lord and Lady Carnarvon and Karine as they explore the rich history of this grand landmark.


To explore more of what Viking has to offer, visit us at

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A Guide to English Tea | Viking Cruises  

What could be more relaxing and utterly civilized than a proper English tea? This time-honoured ritual is an invitation to take a break from...

A Guide to English Tea | Viking Cruises  

What could be more relaxing and utterly civilized than a proper English tea? This time-honoured ritual is an invitation to take a break from...