A food aficionado: The Tea Leaf

By Anna Ing

Recently, I had afternoon tea with my sister at a lovely English style tea salon, The Tea Leaf, in historic Waltham on Moody Street. Afternoon tea holds a special place in my heart due to my years in college sipping tea. Now I find it a relaxing time to be with friends to catch up over snacks, sweets and tea. Historically, “high tea” and “afternoon tea” are entirely different and not same thing. The former is a heavier and substantial meal served after 4 or 5 p.m. Afternoon tea as we understand it in America is usually considered a three-course meal served in the afternoon and usually enjoyed by women. The typical must-haves are scones, crustless finger sandwiches and a selection of lovely desserts.

Afternoon tea tray at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.) 英式下午茶。(圖片由吳家儀提供。)

Afternoon tea tray at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.)

Upon entering, the charming and friendly proprietress Sally Collura greeted us. It is a combination of English tea salon with floral tablecloths and decorated with cute teapots and paintings, while also serving as a store with books and a variety of teas available for purchase. The Tea Leaf has been in business since 2005 and has become a destination for afternoon tea lovers. A cookbook is in the works as well.

We chose our teas after looking over the extensive tea selection. I opted for the iced strawberry and kiwi tea, which was refreshing, not too sweet and light. A pitcher was brought out for another big refill.  My sister opted for the chocolate mint tea. It came out in a big pot and the chocolate fragrance coupled with the mint was heavenly. The subtle chocolate notes melded well in with the tea’s minty flavor.

The first course came out separately were the fresh scones. We had two lovely flavors of coconut and chocolate chip, along with a blueberry scone. Both were moist, warm and not dry at all, as most scones can be. The whipped cream was freshly whipped and the mixed berry jam was not overly sweet. We inquired about clotted cream, when Sally told us due to certain events in Britain, she decided not to order it anymore. Truthfully, the clotted cream was not missed as the fresh whipped cream’s sweetness went well with the scones.

Scones for afternoon tea at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.) 英式烤餅。(圖片由吳家儀提供。)

Scones for afternoon tea at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.)

After we were done with the scones, she brought out the two other courses. The finger sandwiches are all house-made and there were some pleasant surprises. The Atlantic smoked cod surprised us by being delicious and not overly smoky or pungent. The chicken salad had a hint of ginger and homemade cream cheese mixed in with it. The cucumber and cream cheese paired well without the cream cheese being too strong.

Finger sandwiches for afternoon tea at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.) 小三明治。(圖片由吳家儀提供。)

Finger sandwiches for afternoon tea at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.)

Her own deviled egg salad also was tasty, with the right amount of mayo and egg yolks. The two-bite quiche was simple and delicious. One thing to note that I greatly appreciated; none of the sandwiches were dry. Not an easy to do with all the finger sandwiches.

Lastly was the dessert plate. There was a locally made coconut macaroon. Since we are not fans of macaroons, it was fine but not our favorite. There was an almond tea cake with a chocolate filling surprise that was unexpected. Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate are always a favorite that cannot go wrong. The freshly made lemon curd tart differs from other places without being overly cloying and having an artificial lemon taste. Overall, the desserts were great.

Desserts for afternoon tea at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.) 甜品。(圖片由吳家儀提供。)

Desserts for afternoon tea at The Tea Leaf. (Image courtesy of Anna Ing.)

If three-course afternoon tea ($24 per person) is not your thing, Sally has a selection of light bites, teas and desserts to choose from for a lunch or tea break. The Tea Leaf is only open from Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The three-course afternoon tea must be reserved 48 hours in advance, which is well worth looking forward to.

The Tea Leaf

487 Moody Street
Waltham, MA 02453
(781) 891-1900
www.thetealeaf.us

This post is also available in: Chinese

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