Ahhh the simple joys of a wonderful cup of tea,
served in the sumptuous splendour of the Four Seasons George V Paris. Don’t let the address throw you off your quest for a little pampering and experiencing lux Paris. Make your reservation, shine your shoes, put on a jacket or perhaps a hat, and enjoy this truly unique experience in style. Indulge your in Four Seasons serenity with their renowned service, opulent surroundings, and white glove attention.
The heart and soul of the George V truly beats in La Galerie, showcasing beautiful 19th-century paintings and furniture, magnificent Flemish tapestries, and ornate clocks (that still keep time) that were originally made for Versailles and is the perfect setting for your Lux Afternoon Tea experience, all impeccably timed and smoothly serenaded by some baby grand accompaniment. La Galerie also offers wonderful people watching: the stylish, suited power-brokers in the fountain-fed courtyard, the ladies who are lunching, wrapped in their stoles and pashminas. In summer, enjoy lunch, dinner or a couple of cocktails in the sunny sun or romantic moonlight in their courtyard.
But how to understand the elaborate, intricate details and complexities of what High, Low or Afternoon Tea is? Followsummer offers this humble afternoon tea primer.
Afternoon Tea Basics
To the uninitiated, the ritual and indeed the very basics of High, Low, or Afternoon Tea can be daunting and downright confusing. We did a bit of research and relied on a very good friend and resident Tea Expert, who quickly set our tea bag straight and started it steeping. “Afternoon tea, also known as ‘low tea,’ is what most people think of when they hear ‘high tea’. Outside of the United Kingdom, many people refer to afternoon tea as ‘high tea’. Most think that high tea is a meal of foods like scones and finger sandwiches but it is not actually correct in a traditional or historical sense. And Champagne is rarely if ever served. That would make it a champagne tea, which the French adore.” There. All set. Ready to pour and enjoy our cuppa. Or so we thought.
A Ladies’ Social Occasion
Historically, afternoon tea was considered to be a ladies’ social occasion, and to this day, more often enjoyed by women than men and is typically served in the mid-afternoon on low tables, hence its two names. Although many North Americans think of afternoon tea as having a set menu, there seem to be many variations to this tea-centric meal. The simplest form of afternoon tea is cream — a meal of tea, scones, and cream. Add fresh strawberries and you have strawberry tea. Add more sweets, you get light tea. Add savoury foods, like finger sandwiches and you get full tea, which is the elaborate meal most of us lowly amateurs think of when we hear the phrase ‘afternoon tea’. Some hotels and tea rooms also offer other variations on afternoon tea, such as champagne tea. Still with us?
Four Seasons High Tea “à la Française”
Now that we have our tea terminology, history and ceremony firmly steeped in our consciousness, we begin our High Tea with glasses of Tête de Cuvée Champagne (making it a ‘Champagne Tea’) and savour the intricacies, beauty and presentation of the three-tiered silver tea tray, each morsel and bite explained one by one, all with Four Seasons style and elegance and all in great detail. Here is a yummy, tasty rundown of our
Four Seasons High Tea “À LA FRANÇAISE”
Finger Sandwiches of Cheese, Ham, Cucumber, Smoked Salmon and of course, Foie Gras
Canapés of Foie Gras, Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese
Cannelés from Bordeaux, Madeleine, Financier
Homemade scones served with clotted cream and house-made Strawberry and Orange (to die for!) Jams.
Carrot Cake, Chocolate Brownie, Cookies
And a vast selection of Tea choices:
(which I play safe with a comforting and not too demanding Darjeeling.)
Tea and Champagne drunk from our fabulous George V experience, our afternoon lingers well past five o’clock as we role out of our comfy Louis XVI chairs and continue our opulent Four Seasons Lux experience enjoying Artistic Director Jeff Leatham‘s beautiful, bold and breathtaking floral arrangements which adorn the lobbies of the George V. We feel completely spoiled. And luxurious. And of course, steeped on all things Tea: high, low, afternoon or luxuriously, in between.
Paris well, my friends!
Many thanks to Hélène Avril and staff at the Four Seasons George V for hosting us as their guests.
Our visit to the Four Seasons George V was also featured in followsummer’s 9 Things to do Off the Beaten Path in Paris