5@5 - Chef Robert Aikens
April 15th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Apparently, there's a big freaking wedding happening in two weeks between a young chap and lady in love. Oh, and one of them just happens to be the future King of England - no big deal.

As more eyes (and "Harry hunters") turn their attention across the pond for the impending royal nuptials, Anglomania is in full swing - including at the table.

Robert Aikens is the executive chef at The Dandelion in Philadelphia. Aikens also just happens to hail from England, where afternoon tea is steeped in tradition.

Five Reasons to Enjoy Afternoon Tea: Robert Aikens

1. Tea has a rich history
"Dating back to 2700 BC, it became fashionable when Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza married Charles II and brought the practice of drinking tea in the afternoon to England. Over the years, afternoon tea became a custom of iconic figures from Mozart, Charles Dickens, to Alice in Wonderland, and of course the Queen."

2. Tea is good for you
"Tea is known to have a substantial dose of antioxidants. A cup of tea is a better choice for your afternoon caffeine pick-me-up than a sugary soda."

3. It’s also about the food
"Afternoon tea is usually accompanied by an assortment of treats. At The Dandelion, we serve savoury options such as deviled eggs, welsh rarebit, chicken and duck liver parfait, in addition to classic sweets such as vanilla shortbreads and scones."

4. It’s an art form
"People take pride in entertaining guests for afternoon tea and present the service with beautifully designed tea sets. My personal favorite are the much loved porcelain Brown Betty tea pots, which we actually use at The Dandelion."

5. Afternoon tea is not just a drink, it’s a tradition
"Growing up, when my family visited Grandmother in London, it was about proper tea service — served on a tray, with loose tea, nice china, sugar bowl, silver, poured with a strainer, and accompanied by homemade butter biscuits, shortbread and gingersnaps."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Culture • Rituals • Sip • Tea • Think

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Mad Hatter

    Tea Party!

    April 23, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  2. Krissy

    I love tea. Its best in the morning and is known if I drink a cup in the afternoon, it curbs my afternoon cravings....

    April 18, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  3. belladonna

    Coffee is my drink of choice first thing in the morning, but by afternoon, I definitely prefer my tea. And since I collect tea pots (everything from the classic Brown Betty to a cast iron Japanese, with some 20+ in between) and tea sets, I can do everything from a formal tea to a (very) casual tea-for-one. I've also tried tea in various ways (milk only, milk and sugar, etc) and it really depends on the tea itself. A delicate tea like jasmine needs nothing added, but a hearty chai is delicious with milk and sugar and some herbals taste better with honey. Edibles depend upon the tea – some things would just overwhelm a delicate tea (definitely no pate' with jasmine tea!)

    April 18, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  4. Lifelong Vegetarian

    I have to drink my tea with aspertame. I can't drink it plain–too bitter usually, and I can't use sugar or honey because I'm a diabetic. I also prefer oolong over standard black.

    April 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Docphyl

    Never developed a taste for coffee. I have been a tea drinker for over thirty years and have had afternoon tea regularly. There is something calming about taking time to steep, prepare and then drink tea.

    April 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  6. jillmarie

    I love oolong tea. It is very high in antioxidants and is good for the metabolism.

    April 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  7. Xoxo


    April 16, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  8. Adeline

    Thank God for the cozy afternoon and the delightful tea.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  9. jillybean

    Yerba mate' tea is simply the best.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  10. kimmy

    I am from the south so tea usually comes iced, sweet, and with lemon, it's rare to hear of anyone drinking hot tea down here, but several years back I had a bad case of the flu and fell in love with thyme tea. Of course this lead me to explore and try other teas beyond orange pekoe and black. Now my love for coffee has had to shrink a bit to include room for a nice cup of tea with honey and milk. Cups of tea are especially great for me after lunch while my 3 year old naps and before bed and in the winter we stay well stocked in herb teas to naturally fight off nasty cold symptoms.

    April 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Thank the Arabs for that thyme tea. Thyme is the origination of listerine as well, thymol is the preservative and antibiotic in thyme.
      The Arabian name for thyme is za'atar and is very popular as both a spice, topping on bread (with sesame seeds mixed in) and as a tea. It's also good for a toothache until you can get to a dentist, followed by a clove poultice (where anbesol comes from, oil of cloves).

      April 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  11. Lynn Walker

    2700 B.C.?!?! Somebody's awfully confused here.

    April 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  12. Richard Simmons


    April 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  13. 77Observer

    I asked a homeless american vet if he wanted to join me for Tea. He asked if he could have a couple of big macs instead.

    April 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Jdizz

      SHAME on us. We give money to someone who doesn't work and has 5 kids (welfare – I think it's an OK program, just very corrupt) but we "can't" house someone that stuck their neck out (and got shot in it). SHAME on us!!!!!

      April 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
      • Oscar on the Couch

        Are you aware that the majority of welfare recipients live in rural areas where jobs out side of agriculture are scarce. And many of the recipients live in shacks or houses with out running water.

        April 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Oscar, sounds like Djibouti. People there live the same way. Sad enough there, disgusting here in the US!

        April 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  14. mizh

    I love love love PG TIPS, it's the best!

    April 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Rabea is great as well. I REALLY love their jasmine tea, where the flowers are far more whole than the cheaper chopped flower teas.

      April 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  15. Cuppa

    What kind of tea in the afternoon? Is it okay to amp it up with a shot if brandy?

    April 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • My Morning Cuppa

      Heck yeah, you can put your bourbon in it! hahaha

      April 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  16. My Morning Cuppa

    I love tea...always calming and always delicious. I used to try different kinds but with the economy the way it is, I just use Lipton or Red Rose (nothing wrong with that). Heck, I've even used generic and it was actually quite good. I have a Brown Betty. I take my yea with Splenda and cream. I like to make tea sandwiches with butter and cucumbers!

    April 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • My Morning Cuppa

      Whoops - tea, not yea! lol

      April 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • My Morning Cuppa

      Whoops - tea, not yea!

      April 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I'm lucky, I still have a supply of tea from when I was deployed in the Middle East. I rather like Rabea tea.
      I'll have to have a friend smuggle some over for me when I run out.
      I also love saffron tea, the same will hold true when my supply here runs out. A good hibiscus tea is nice as well.

      April 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  17. Veronica McNamara

    The 'lift' from the tea is a benefit, plus whatever nice goodie you decide to nibble with your tea. Using beautiful china makes one feel good (I just bought a Queen Victoria teapot from Westminster Abbey gift shop online.) In this rushed and busy world, taking time to sip tea and just think is therapeutic.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  18. Cole

    With lemon. Milk used to be an option, but the conflicting reports about it and antioxidants made me back away for the time being.

    Savory food with tea? Not sure if it'd work with the thin types I drink. Wondering what type of teas pair well with things like eggs and liver.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  19. Emily

    I love tea! I take mine plain, usually. Sometimes, if the mood calls for it, some lemon with a stronger tea like British Breakfast.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I have my tea plain as well. Though I DO have a cabinet full of different varieties, to include various herbals.
      I flat out LOVE saffron tea. Ginseng tea is great for those days where you're a bit foggy. Chamomile tea works well to control blood pressure for four hours or so if I forget to refill my BP medicine.

      April 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  20. SeaBee

    I may need to make another batch of my brown butter shortbread just for the occasion.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  21. Tazer


    April 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  22. Truth


    April 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Jdizz

      Really, CNN? I said "Who?" and it gets moderated? Jesus. What a bunch of cry babies.

      April 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
      • Truth@JDizz

        You officially Won, and Well Played Bro!

        April 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
      • Charlie

        You bro are WINNING!!!!

        April 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Hrm? Some stuff is just caught by the software. Not a special rhyme or reason and definitely not targeted. Sometimes the robot overlords just get picky.

        April 18, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Jdizz

      A good 12 minutes before anyone else posted.

      April 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
      • JBJingles@Jdizz

        I saw it, so you WIN! :)

        April 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
      • Jdizz

        I just don't understand it. Too much sensitivity around here sometimes.

        Nothing bothers more more than no one listening to me. A little sore spot.

        April 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
      • Jdizz

        Smack me or something, just don't ignore me. Please.

        April 15, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • John

      The topics is great, except the opening sentence about afternoon tea dating back to, when? 2700 BC..... really? that is off a bit too much. Europeans are still in the cave at the time.

      April 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
      • Jdizz

        Failed history, didn't you?

        April 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        I see! So, only Europe counts?
        Tea STARTED IN ASIA. Asian civilization started earlier, apparently some volcano thing blew up in the med leveling the incipient civilization there. Then, the Roman Catholic church suppressed it further for a handful of centuries, all the time, Asian civilization flourished.

        Personally, I love tea. I drink a lot of coffee as well, so I balance it out to avoid too much caffiene.
        But, I also have a number of herbal teas, my favorite being saffron tea.
        Whenever I was having a complicated afternoon at work, I fired up the tea pot. I also kept a few spare cups around for when we had a mini-meeting at my desk.

        April 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
      • Cuppa

        2700 is in the Neolithic period, about 700 years before the bronze age. Stonehenge had even been started at that time. So it is in the stone age. And it is delightful to imagine a group of early Druids gathering around in their camp for some tea and scones. And even way back then the Brown Betty was a favorite tea pot. Luls

        April 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
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