High Tea in Winchester Virginia
By Kay Moorhouse
By Kay Moorhouse
The Coach and Horses Tea Room serves a lovely high tea in a 1790’s house in Winchester, Virginia. Since, I was there during the holiday season, the rooms in the establishment were embellished with greenery, ribbons, and other Christmas decorations, including a charming, Dickens village atop the baby grand piano. A low hum of chatter filled the rooms as groups of women enjoyed the food and companionship. A quiet background of Christmas music floated through the air adding an additional, festive note to the high tea.
High tea might mean a different tradition to different people. There is much speculation and legend concerning the history of tea times in Great Britain. There is also some confusion about the term “high tea,” which originated with the working class and was a name for the evening meal, sometimes called “meat tea.” Today, the high tea experience in American tea rooms is comparable to the English full afternoon tea. It generally includes varieties of hot tea, scones, sweets and savories.
At The Coach and Horses Tea Room, where I went with my daughter and granddaughter for their high tea, we each had our own teapot—outfitted in a teapot cozy. Our first decision was to each chose a tea from a long list of tea selections. I chose Berkshire Apple Fig; my daughter chose French Vanilla Bean; and my granddaughter chose a seasonal Pumpkin Caramel Spice. It was fun to try the different flavors. My daughter and I traded teapots, as I preferred the one she ordered and she preferred mine. My 12-year-old granddaughter was very pleased with her choice, to which she added milk and sugar.
The first course was a choice of either Artisan Greens served with various fruits and berries along with a pomegranate dressing or a bowl of Asparagus Leek Soup. Both were excellent and generous servings. The salad ingredients were exceptionally fresh. The creamy soup included chunks of potato.
The second course was Cranberry Eggnog Scones served with clotted cream and preserves. The scones were exceptional--flakey and tender. These were the best I’ve ever tasted. I didn’t try the preserves, but the clotted cream was a decadent addition to these special scones. When the owner was at our table, I asked him about the scones and he explained their painstaking preparation, which includes grating the frozen butter, keeping the dough very cold, and using White Lily flour.
Finally, the 3-tiered serving tray, was brought to our table. It was laden with a myriad of eye-catching delicacies. According to the menu, the selection always includes dainty tea sandwiches with homemade fillings, mini savories, fresh fruit, sweet delicacies and desserts. The offerings on the bottom tier of our tray were mostly savories, as were the hot miniatures on an additional plate. We decided to start with those and work our way up. There were three of every tiny treat—one for each of us. We all enjoyed the delicious, beef pastry. There was a hot, chicken pastry and another that included asparagus. All were very tasty. Little sandwiches, served cold, included a pimento cheese on a dark, soft roll; and a wonderful cucumber pesto, open-faced sandwich on dark bread.
The sweets on the tray were appropriately decadent. Miniature mincemeat pies were served hot from the oven in tiny soufflé cups. The custard, fruit tarts are delicious with a thick layer of custard topped with a variety of large, fresh berries. Fresh pineapple and kiwi were added to the mix. Altogether, I am guessing there were 20-24 different dainties on the 3-tiered tray and the additional plate.
High tea is always a fun experience. High tea at The Coach and Horses Tea Room is an experience I will long remember.
Our Guest contributor, Kay Mooorhouse, is an avid reader of Christian fiction. She is a reader and reviewer for many Christian authors. Thanks, Kay, for sharing with us!!!