The British have many quaint customs. But there is one in particular that has recently become a global trend. It is their tradition of high tea, which is very similar to our afternoon ‘nashta'. High tea is also observed in the late afternoon, with tea and a delicate assortment of sweet and savoury food items.
The British tradition of high tea can be approximately dated back to the early 1800s. At the time, it was typical to have only two meals a day – one in the morning and then at night. However, the Duchess of Bedford, Anna, would feel weak and irritable so she took it to having a cup of tea and a snack in the afternoon. At first, she would only take it in her bedroom, but slowly she started inviting her friends to join her and it became a scheduled soiree.
The practice of friends sipping tea and exchanging stories may be a classic British tradition but is now a global trend. Hotels and eateries in Paris, New York, Berlin, and Toronto serve High Tea. Dhaka eateries, never too far behind a trend, have also started to serve a very typical English high tea.
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We went to try high tea at Chows – called Chai at Chows. As you walk in, you are struck by how beautiful the place is. Black and white flooring, beautiful staircase, and floor to ceiling glass walls. We were seated in the main dining room and handed the menus. The menu has a selection of black, green, and flavoured teas, and the food menu is comprised of savoury sandwiches and tarts, signature cakes and including freshly baked scones with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam.
When we were served, we were absolutely delighted by the arrangement! Our tea came in a bright yellow floral tea pot with matching tea cups, and the food was served in a three tier serving dish. It was fancy without being ostentatious. The service was excellent, as the staff was quick and friendly. They were close enough to call when needed but they never hovered uncomfortably as we ate.
The true highlight of course was the food. We were served openfaced sandwiches, and our favourite was the tea smoked chicken sandwich. It was soft and moist with the taste of smoke infused in it. Nothing like we have tasted before in Dhaka. Every morsel was satisfying and we ate it in silence, our taste buds singing in delight. The scones were pure perfection. The first bite of the scone was followed by a hum of appreciation.
Finally, we had the desserts – an assortment of freshly baked cookies and mini cakes. What excited us the most was that the dessert options were different from anything we have expected. The cream tuille, a delicate lace cookie was gorgeous to look at and even better to taste. It was definitely the kind of food that can turn a bad day into a great one.
‘Chai' at Chows, is an indulgence but one you will not regret. With the afternoon light pouring in and the general quiet atmosphere of the restaurant, it is the perfect setting to get together and enjoy a quick bite while catching up with friends. After all, good food and good company make time well spent.
Address: Chows, plot 6, road 19a, block E, Banani, Dhaka.