City’s high tea tales

Tea parties have just gotten fancier than ever before! Hyderabad Times shows you what's in vogue at high tea dos.

It was only yesterday that lukmi, samosas, biscuits and namkeen were hot favourites at tea parties. But blame it on global food fads or just the need to be a little hatke, Hyderabadi tea time has gotten a whole new makover.

Giving their Indian fried snacks a miss, city ladies have now taken a liking to baked munchies, delightful finger food and scrumptious sweetmeats. Oh so English!

Exotic extravaganza
Cheese crackers that were once served at children's birthday parties is fast making its way to every tea party. Tortillas with sour cream, delicately spiced spinach and corn finger sandwiches, potato wedges and freshly baked blueberry muffins served with classic butter cream or whipped cream are a common spread at the tea table.

A variety of teas, ranging from the classic Earl Grey to organic flavours like tulsi and papaya leaf are popular picks.

"In Hyderabad, ladies send formal invitations, linen and lace cloths are brought out, fresh flowers and name cards adorn every table, music plays in the background making the entire afternoon relaxing. There is also a vast spread of cupcakes, finger sandwiches, scones and tarts.

The health conscious ones dig into hummus with cucumbers, celery stalks and diced asparagus," says Anju Jain, who is a regular at tea time parties.

Trendy themes
Talking about this change in the tea party scene, Kamini Saraf, says, "Today a high tea is no longer a simple affair. The last tea party I attended, the host ended up serving full meals like spring rolls and Middle-Eastern wraps," adding, while previously hosts made the effort to make different varieties of teas, now different kind of tea bags have made things easier.

The fare too only seems to be getting fancier. Exotic delicacies like scones with clotted cream, warm puddings, fluffy French quiches, fresh coffee brews, cocktails and champagnes are what can be seen at any tea affair. For the starters, easy nibbles like gooey cheese bites stuffed with four varieties of cheese and shrimp cocktail tossed in mild spices and herbs, served in martini glasses, are a hit.

Baked goodies
With the affairs getting more elaborate than ever, the city's hosts prefer letting the professionals do all the work. "Ladies rarely bake at home. They prefer outsourcing the food. Usually they ask for cupcakes with butter cream, fondant and chocolate icing. Almond cookies and lamingtons are the other popular choices," says Monya Dhingra, who owns a cupcake store in the city.

The crowd pleasers at these parties are zesty lemon cup cakes and lukewarm organic teas. The weight-watchers prefer spicy dips with chunks of boiled vegetables and easy-to-make masala sprouts, tossed with vegetables, with a generous sprinkle of grated cheese.

"Oatmeal cookies, fruit tarts and multigrain garlic breads with a hint of oregano are the popular favourites. Since they are not very oily, women don't mind a second helping. Even cheese platters are a hit," says Namita Kanodia, a regular in the social scene.