Tornos Studio Collection of Books

Tea At Tornos Studio

(by appointment)

Check Upcoming Events at The Tornos Studio

At the Tornos Studio we have the largest collection of books and literature based on Lucknow, specially on the uprising of 1857-58. Guests are welcome to read these books here or to watch a film/documentary from our vast collection, over their afternoon tea.

Tea at The Tornos Studio is a replicated British custom, quite popular in Lucknow with a huge Ango-India community that still lives here. At The Tornos Studio we bring out our most elegant collection of china and silver and engage in a friendly conversation with the guests. A typical tea menu at The Tornos Studio includes some home baked essentials, such as scones, fairy-cakes, assorted pastries, cookies and of course the traditional cucumber sandwiches. We often include some Indian tea-time snacks as well at this afternoon tea. All this served on some very elegant cake-stands and serving bowls bought from The House of Fraser and Harrods in London. We also use some great China and silver from The Buckingham Palace’s souvenir shop in London. A lot of serving essentials are acquired from some royal house-holds or at auctions in India and abroad too. All this and more, makes the afternoon tea at The Tornos Studio an elegant way to spend a relaxed afternoon.

Check Upcoming Events at The Tornos Studio

Cost :

Free – No obligation

Starting Time :

Winters / Summers – 11 am – 6 pm (Any time by appointment only. No walk-ins)

Expected Duration :

As long as you wish to read (flexible duration)

Remarks :

Min 2 hour tours spent here is good unless you are researching some subject and wish to be here longer consulting books.

Closed on Sunday and the festival of Holi.

What is an Afternoon Tea ?

Afternoon Tea were a social must among the British in India and more so in Lucknow, which was the seat of the British Resident, had a fairly large British & Anglo-Indian population and was quite influenced by the custom of meeting at Afternoon Tea parties

Afternoon Tea is quite an open concept with no fixed rules or dishes to be served. The menu changes with place and has native shades with many local dishes being a part of this. Although we tend to associate a few things as a must to be served, such as the dainty cucumber sandwiches, fairy cakes, pastries and scones, there is no set menu and it really depends on the time of year, the setting, and above all personal tastes. Taking center stage, of course, is the tea, served from a silver or a china teapot and the utmost importance is given to the quality and brewing of tea. We at The Tornos Studio serve all the essentials with great emphasis on tea, crockery and the cutlery, that in itself is an attraction.

More about it…

‘Afternoon Tea’ did not exist before the 19th century. At that time lunch was eaten quite early in the day and dinner wasn’t served until 8 or 9 o’clock at night. But it wasn’t until Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, asked for tea and light refreshments in her room one afternoon, around 1830, that the ritual began. The Duchess enjoyed her ‘taking of tea’ so much that she started inviting her friends to join her. Before long having elegant tea parties was very fashionable. Demand for tea wares grew and soon there were tea services in silver and fine bone china, trays, cake stands, servers, tea caddies, tea strainers, teapots, and tea tables.

As times and lifestyles changed the popularity of the formal afternoon tea waned, but has seen a revival in recent years as people once again enjoy its elegance. A “Devon Cream Tea” or simply “Cream Tea” has recently been adopted where scones, with clotted cream and jam, are made the main attraction served alongside a steaming pot of tea.

Although we tend to associate dainty cucumber sandwiches and scones with afternoon tea, there is no set menu and it really depends on the time of year, the setting, and personal tastes. Sandwiches and scones are standard fare but other choices can include muffins, crumpets, bread and butter, cakes, cookies (biscuits), gingerbread, pastries, fruit, and a selection of jam and jellies, preserves, lemon curd, and clotted cream.

Taking center stage, of course, is the tea. Served from a teapot, the brewing of the tea is very important. First, rinse your teapot with warm water. Next, bring a kettle of water to boil and pour it over the tea leaves, letting it steep for three to five minutes. If using loose tea the rule is one heaping teaspoon of tea for each cup of water, plus one teaspoon “for the pot”.

At one time it was customary to first pour a little milk into the teacup. It was thought that the fine porcelain cup may crack if the hot tea was poured directly into the empty cup. Sugar was then offered in cube form, with tongs, or else granulated.

Normally the host or hostess pours the tea and serves the food. Guests can either be seated around a table or else in armchairs with an end table nearby for them to place their cup and saucer, teaspoon, plate, napkin, knife and fork.

A Bit of History…

According to a legend, tea was first discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 BC when some tea leaves floated into a pot of boiling water. It wasn’t until the mid-1600s, however, that tea finally reached England. Due to its sale being controlled by trade monopolies, and that it had to be imported from China via boat traveling around the Cape of Africa and then north to England, it was a rather costly commodity.

The first known record of tea being imported into England was the charter granted by Elizabeth I to The East India Company. This document recorded ships reaching England in 1637, but dealings with Chinese merchants did not appear until 1644.

The first merchant to sell tea was Thomas Garway who offered it in both a dry and liquid form at his coffeehouse in Exchange Alley in London. The popularity of the coffee house grew quickly and there were more than 500 in London by 1700. By the middle of the 18th century, tea replaced ale and gin as the nation’s drink. As with most customs in England, when having tea became an accepted practice of the Royals, it then spread down to the working classes.

Types of Tea Parties…

As supper normally was served at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., having tea that was served along with light sandwiches and broths in late afternoon, helped ward off hunger until then. Two types of teas developed, one called a High Tea and the other called a Low Tea. The one most commonly served by the wealthy was called a Low Tea and revolved more on its presentation and conversation. The working classes would celebrate a High Tea, which was more of a meal including meats and vegetables as well as tea, cookies and fruits.

Is that so…

By the middle of the 18th century, the tax on tea had risen so high that tea smuggling began. This also lead to the product’s adulteration as it was a most profitable commodity. It wasn’t until Prime Minister William Pitt had the Commutation Act passed which cut the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5% that tea smuggling ended. Adulteration of tea continued however, until the English Food and Drug Act of 1875 that imposed heavy fines or imprisonment.