Wine tastings and tea tastings parallel each other in several ways. Last week, while visiting the Napa Valley…we explored a few wineries. I got to choose which ones this time. Rudd Oakville Estate Winery was on my list. I had heard wonderful things about their wines; however, the main reason I wanted to go was because Rudd also owns Dean & Deluca Gourmet Food Stores, as well as, Oakville Grocers and Press Restaurant in St. Helena. I love visiting each of these fine food locales, thus was interested in going to the “source” and tasting their wines. The tasting was consistent with the rest of this sumptuous empire – offering truly quality service and products. It was fun, interesting, peaceful, and private. A nice combination. After perusing the Rudd Estate grounds and tranquil gardens, we sat down to a tasting which included this well-thoughtout line-up of flavorful morsels to try with sips of their wines.
While pairing perfectly with the wines, this platter reminded me how much I enjoy a charcuterie platter paired with tea. I first experienced this type of tea time menu some years ago on a business trip to the Chateau Whistler, Whistler Canada. One day I had afternoon tea by myself, while the rest of our large party was off doing other things. The Chateau called this tea an Alpine Tea…it included bits of meats, cheeses, fruits, and black tea served with a slice of apple strudel. My mind was “opened” as I had primarily had English tea menus before this experience.
This tea turned out to be the inspiration for the format of my book. It got me thinking about the global reach of tea and tea time and realizing that many tea customs are deeply rooted in the history, foods, teas and practices of that culture. This Alpine Tea motivated me to research tea customs from a global perspective and sent me on a seven year journey resulting in Tea With Betty, the tea manual.
My version of this Alpine Tea (or charcuterie board) was a result of me raiding my refrigerator one afternoon before my weekly writing meeting. I came up with several savory bites. What I love about this type of tea time is it’s simplicity … you can make it as complex or easy as you like…this one was primarily “assembly only, right out the the fridge.”
Many of my afternoon teas are as simple as assembling a small platter like this. Often I have a petite brownie, cupcake, or cookie to include that I’ve held back from a prior baking and frozen.
For a “drop in” tea with friends…this is a satisfying offering and nice to converse over. Use your imagination as to what to combine from what you have on hand.