Return of popular Downton Abbey PBS series is reason for a fancy tea party

By Teresa Farney Published: January 1, 2014 | 12:00 am 0

re you counting down the days until "Downton Abbey" is back on the air? Been watching reruns so often you've practically memorized the dialogue? Well, Season 4 premieres Sunday, and what better way to celebrate the return of the Crawleys than to throw a tea party?

"We are huge fans of the show," said Diane Wisdom, who owns Wisdom Tea House in Monument with her husband, Tom. "Last year, with the start of Season 3, we had customers order cream scones, house cream and lemon curd from us because they had been watching the series and duplicating tea at home."

Wisdom has plenty of fun ideas to share as Season 4 kicks off.

"I want to offer customers a package of some kind along the lines of afternoon tea with a 'Downton Abbey' flair," Wisdom said.

She gets inspiration for her teatime menus from several sources, including Tea Time magazine. And, fittingly, the January issue's feature story is "A Downton Abbey Tea." The magazine menu hones in on the classic British tea favorites: cucumber tea sandwiches and Victoria Sponge Cake. But then it tosses in a show-stopper: Chocolate Biscuit Cake.

The cake is a simple combination of store-bought tea biscuits and rich chocolate ganache. According to the article, it is the current-day favorite of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William.

"The queen always made sure it was on the menu whenever her grandson came for tea at Buckingham Palace," according to the article. "And Prince William liked it so much that he requested it as the groom's cake for his 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton."

Wisdom recommends the following menu for the simplest Downton Abbey afternoon tea: cream scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, salmon sandwiches, and the Victoria Sponge Cake or the Chocolate Biscuit Cake for dessert.

"Obviously, more menu items could be added," she said, "but these are so very British and traditional."

Or you can choose from among the 50 afternoon tea recipes in Wisdom's cookbook, which she sells in her shop for $9.95.

To get more inspiration and find British teas, trinkets and treats - such as the tea biscuits for the chocolate cake - check out Willy's Emporium, 2423 W. Colorado Ave., in Old Colorado City.

Another option is Bernadeen's, 2520 W. Colorado Ave. It's not a tea house, but you'll find plenty of tea-related equipment and a huge selection of teas.

So brew a pot of tea, don a feathery chapeau and gather 'round the telly for a spot of tea with some friends to watch the PBS drama unfold.

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