High, but just on tea

European concept

This one time a guest was very curious to check out the high tea options in the menu. He sat ordering a few dishes, including the bread pakora, for himself and his friend. The minute we served him the dish, he curiously asked us how it was a healthy version. He ended up being content about the fact that the bread used in the Pakora was brown and enjoyed the dish with a hot Masala Chai,” quips Chef Tyson from Cafe Delhi Heights.

The desire for something ‘healthy’ might be on the foodie’s mind but the receptivity to the western concept of ‘High Tea’, is what catches Metrolife’s attention every now and then.
Sitting with a friend at Elma’s Brasserie (Mehar Chand Market), one overhears a group of elderly women enquiring about the high tea menu and the mind recalls 19th century Britain. In the newly industrialised country, the working class couldn’t afford to sip the expensive tea during afternoons. So, when the starving workmen reached home in evening, high tea became a necessity for them.

Down a few centuries and across thousands of miles, the concept is still alive but in a format that is typical to our cultural milieu. “Smoke House Deli came into existence about six to seven years ago but we introdu­ced our tea-time menu only about a year-and-a-half back due to the rising demand for it,” informs brand chef Shamsul Wahid from the restaurant which has ‘tea trays’ going around from 4 - 7 pm in the evening. He says, “It was difficult to arrange a ‘High Tea’ set-up due to the high costs involved, so we chose
to offer sandwiches, cookies and a dessert during these hours.”

While there was a time when all round the city restaurants used to be quiet during the evening hours, now thanks to High Tea options, there is a reason to make more revenue. Corporates who want to have a quick meeting without food being intrusive opt for High Tea. To encourage communication, young and old professionals, who are busy throughout the day, break their journey home in the evening and halt for a beverage with some snacks. But they don’t go only to a coffee shop. 

“Since there is a long gap between the two meals – lunch and dinner – people prefer snacking. We actually get a lot of guests between 4 pm and 6 pm, who love to try different teas and sandwiches or bruschetta,” says Umesh Kapoor, consultant chef at Cafe Immigrant, Connaught Place.
During winter the Indianised version of English High Tea is sure to have pakoras or bhajiyas but in summer the trend remains quite English. “Recently we had a High Tea party where we served Vanilla and Blueberry Scones alongside Cucumber and Coleslaw Sandwiches and Key Lime Pie. It was a hit,” adds Kapoor.

Quite contrasting are the High Tea menus of restaurants serving Indian cuisine where chicken samosas and cheelas jostle to make space between cookies and cakes. “The cost of our High Tea is just Rs 299 and we try to give the guest as many options as possible,” justifies Cheg Surrender Gautam from Indian Grill Company in CP.

To avoid confusion, some opt for fusion appetisers such as the popular Keema Toastie at Cafe Delhi Heights.A quick glance at the beverage menu of any restaurant and one is sure to find a fine selection of teas such as Masala Chai, White tea, Darjeeling tea, Earl Grey, Chamomile tea, Assam tea and Jasmine tea. Ever wondered when these get ordered?
And just incase you are thinking why it is called High Tea, keep thinking…    

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