Probably not. High Tea is definitely an English thing. Freshly-baked cakes, scones and jam, cucumber sandwiches, and of course, tea, preferably Earl Grey. However I am as far from any sort of High Tea as I have ever been in my life. My question is simple: can I recreate the English High Tea here in Addu?
A few obstacles lie in my way. The only tea available over here is Akbar, perhaps a worthy substitute, but as I have well documented, I have seen more sharks than pints of real milk. So my “full cream milk powder” (I know, so indulgent) will have to do to accompany my array of treats. The tea is fine when black, but once the powder has been added, you risk lumps of the stuff accumulating at the bottom, which makes your cuppa more like a Turkish coffee, but instead of earth, you have coagulated, inedible protein awaiting your taste buds amongst the dregs.
Curry is what they do well over here, not cakes and scones. I have had one local sweet, but it was a sort of flanny thing, which was grey and had onion on top. Let’s just say Mr. Kipling wouldn’t retail it. So I went in search for cakey things and biscuits. The supermarket probably had the best selection, so I went and bought six cakes which were appropriately-sized for my high tea.
These 6 came to 16 Rupiah, or a bit less than £1. But do you get the bang for your buck? When layed out in their packets, you might say that my sweet assortment may look tacky and cheap. That is because it clearly is. I’m not going to try and argue that Claridge’s should source their cakes from the subcontinent. But I’m no snob, money does not mean classy tea. So, here are the cakes and what I thought of them.
- Apollo Chocolate Layer Cake (2 Rupiah) – A cake of otherworldly qualities? –It had the best quality chocolate, but cake was dry.
- London Roll Blueberry Cake (2 Rupiah)- the name exudes the right to be in this collection. –Tasty blueberry paste and a fine cake body. My favourite of the lot…
- Better Sandwich Biscuits (1 Rupiah)- the cheapest item, but chosen as apparently it’s “Better”. –Crunchy biscuit with a surprise filling inside, but the cheapness came true and costing only 3 pence it didn’t really do much for me.
- Bӧlu Chocolate (2.50 Rupiah)- A bit of continental class. However it tastes like very cheap chocolate, grainy, very light and more grey than chocolate brown.
- Choccolife (2.50 Rupiah)- It doesn’t play about with the name. Chocco 4 Life. – outer layer soft and tasty, actual cake dry and a bit sickly.
- Stuffins Chocolate Filling (6 Rupiah)- The clear BigDaddy of the group. –Cake nice and soft, but syrupy centre really sickly and tastes of a science lab.
Without their wrappers on, and in nice macro focus, the cakes take on an elegance which actually really belies their taste. I’m not going to lie, they were all pretty horrible. The best was the London roll Blueberry cake, as chocolate here is just really bad. While these cost pennies, a pack of Ferrero Rocher will set you back about 8 dollars, so it does pay to pay.
My high tea in the Maldives left me with a headache from all the processed sugar and a craving for some homemade curry to wash out the taste of Bӧlu in particular. Eurgh. So, to conclude, if you like your tea and scones, stick to Twinings. Let’s do some more rowing…