If you love Bridgerton and Downton Abbey, here's a way to make those shows come to life right here in West Michigan. Try as you might, the second "British Invasion" is happening right now on your streaming device and it's inescapable. Though Americans typically prefer to consume their caffeine via coffee, it's always fun to step out of the box and try something new. Have you ever experienced a traditional tea time?
The British tradition of sitting down to afternoon tea became quite fashionable in the 19th century. Traditionally a fare of scones, finger sandwiches, and cakes are paired with famous tea blends like Earl Grey, Lavendar, and Chamomile. If you're like me and love snacking at any time of the day, then tea time is also for you. What originally arose out of a need to stave off hunger between meals, tea time is now a staple of British culture. But did you know there's actually a substantial difference between the time of day in which you enjoy your tea?
Afternoon Tea vs. High Tea
Typically served around 4:00 p.m., Afternoon Tea was reportedly created by Anna the Duchess of Bedford as a means to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. This was at a time where dinner was usually served around 8:00 p.m. Afternoon Tea features a lighter fare of cakes and tea sandwiches, while High Tea is a more informal meal that is consumed post-work hours and features a heartier spread of hot dishes and more filling snacks. Instead of taking your tea in the parlor as with Afternoon Tea, High Tea is often consumed at the kitchen table with high-back chairs which gives the latter tea time it's namesake.
No matter the time of day you choose to consume your tea in West Michigan, here are several locations where a traditional tea time experience is offered. Stay classy.
Henderson Castle - Kalamazoo, MI
Any time is a great time to visit this historical Kalamazoo landmark, but you'll especially want to visit Henderson Castle at tea time. During their High Tea service you can enjoy an assortment of sweet and savory snacks along with a pot of loose leaf tea and of course, great conversation amongst friends. Tea is served Wednesday through Sunday and advanced reservations are required.
Apothica Teas - Niles, MI
Self-described as Victorian Steampunk, Apothica Teas claims to specialize in custom tea blends and delectable refreshments. Located on downtown Main Street, Apothica offers three tiers of Victorian tea experiences and is a perfect place, "To practice deliberate stillness and civilized mindfulness in a busy world."
English Cottage Tea - Grand Rapids, MI
A hidden gem in West Michigan, this tea room is so underground that it barely even exists. According to their Facebook page English Cottage Tea is, "a home based business helping to improve people's lives one cup of tea at a time." Owner Cynthia Wedge opens her Grand Rapids home to any and all guests who desire a traditional tea time experience. Prior to the pandemic Cynthia would host themed tea services like Titanic or Little Women themed parties where she would serve cranberry scones with Devonhire cream. Let's hope Cynthia resumes her hosting duties once Covid-19 numbers go down.