English Afternoon Tea will be highlight of event at Oxford store

High tea will be served in the courtyard outside MOON Co-op Grocery on July 24. Advance reservations are not required, but it helps with the planning for the event.

High tea is a British tradition, which MOON Co-op is able to replicate, thanks to access to local growers and producers for most of the ingredients, and organic fair trade sources for what we don’t grow in Ohio (tea leaves).

The term High Tea was originally applied to a meal that working class families in Northern England consumed around 6 p.m. Northerners I know still call their evening meal “tea” rather than dinner or supper.

MOON Co-op is actually serving what was originally known in Southern England as Afternoon Tea, served in well-to-do homes and hotels. However, the two terms have become interchangeable in recent years in England, especially for international visitors to London, and we at MOON Co-op thought that “High Tea” sounds more ceremonial.

Regardless of what we call it, MOON Co-op’s High Tea will follow English Afternoon Tea tradition. The food includes finger sandwiches, scones with thick cream, desserts and sweets, and of course tea.

The sandwiches and desserts made by the co-op’s deli staff will be small and delicate, to be consumed in one or two bites. The scones are baked in Oxford by Kate Currie, who also delivers them to the co-op on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Americans pronounce “scone” to rhyme with “tone,” whereas the British rhyme “scone” with “mom,” as if spelled “skahn.”

In England, the thick cream typically served with scones is clotted cream, made by heating full-fat milk until clots form. MOON has a local source of the French variation of thick cream called creme fraiche, which is cultivated with bacteria.

The beverage of choice at High Tea is, of course, tea. I was living in London when I started drinking hot caffeinated beverages, and tea became my lifelong choice.

I start the day with a strong mug of black tea brewed with loose tea leaves from MOON Co-op’s bulk food section. I follow the English habit of adding milk or cream to the cup of black tea, though I forgo the sugar.

Among the straightforward unflavored black teas, I find that Darjeeling makes the strongest cup (so is my favorite), Assam the mildest, and Ceylon in between. English Breakfast is typically a blend of Assam and Ceylon.

I make my morning tea in a two-cup teapot. When the kettle whistles, first pour a small amount of boiling water into the teapot to heat it and dispose of that water.

Spoon in one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup, plus one extra for the pot. Cover with boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes.

By the way, we call a spoon a teaspoon because Londoners found it the perfect measure for one cup of tea.

As they say in England, see y’all on Sunday.

Organic fair trade tea is available at MOON Co-op, Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery, featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. The store, located at 516 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day.

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