France has been in the news lately as having a surge in tea consumption at levels similar to what they imbibed when tea first came there courtesy of the Dutch in 1636. Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, started drinking tea in 1665, thinking it would cure his gout (a condition caused by excessive consumption of rich foods).
The Marquise de la Sablière is said to have initiated the practice of adding milk to tea. Tea drinking took a severe nose dive in 1789 during the French Revolution since that beverage was associated with the monarchy. It resurged, though, about 50 years later in part due to a bit of feverish attraction to all things English taking hold.
These days tea is vying with wine as one of the most popular beverages. And tea time is quite the affair. So you could well find yourself “going French” for your tea time (that’s how these things tend to go). That’s where I come in to point out the signs so you can tell how far along your transformation has gone.
1 Vocabulary Morphage
Conversation at tea time can be lively yet should stay pleasant. And in a language common to all attending. However, even if you don’t speak French, you can find your speech morphing. Things like “oo-la-la,” “croissant,” and “merci” start popping up in your vocabulary at tea time. A sure sign you’ve “gone French.”
2 Tea Preference Changes
Flavored teas are taking over in France. The more outlandish, it seems, the better, with the major tea companies competing to see who can come up with the next big hit. However, thé au lait (tea with lots of milk added) is still popular, possibly due to the number of ex-pat Brits living there. If you find yourself serving teas like French Blend Tea or Versailles Lavender Earl Grey Tea instead of your usual strong black tea blend, you are definitely “going French” at tea time.
3 Preparation and Presentation Alteration
The French seem to be quite visual in their approach to things, and tea time is no exception. White dishes showcase the food and tea being served. And the colors of the foods tend to be as aimed at pleasing the eye as the palate. Accessories like a Lavender, Chocolate, Lime, or Pink Chateau Dome Cozy also “Frenchify” your tea time. If you find yourself going for those white dishes and piling up the treats in interesting arrays and keeping your teapot cozy under one of those Chateau (means “castle” or “palace”) teapot cozies, you have certainly “gone French” at tea time.
4 French-style Recipes Dominate
Be on the lookout for these treats popping up at your tea time: Hazelnut Cream Puffs, Éclairs, Orange Pate de Fruit, Petit Fours, and Almond Meringue, or for the kiddies a piece of baguette with some chocolate or Nutella spread. They are a sure sign that your tea time has “gone French.”
5 Tea Time Attire Adjustments
French fashion flare is world famous. So dressing up for tea time, especially when enjoyed in one of the growing number of tearooms in the country, is expected. Women wear dresses or suits in lighter colors and may also wear hats and gloves. Men wear jackets and ties. The atmosphere is a bit more formal but not “penguin suit” formal. And tea time is regarded as more of a festive, not serious, occasion. If you see yourself dressing this way for tea time, you’ve “gone French”!
Are you there yet? Have you “gone French”? If so, have a great time. And if not, get a move on and make that transformation complete!
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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