It has been a long, long winter and I can’t get the thoughts of fresh vegetables out of my mind. One day, after a supermarket trip where I spent most of the time fondling and smelling the produce like a weirdo, I realized I had only bought watercress and cucumbers. Why did I buy watercress? I have no idea, but I figured I must have had some desire to make some tea sandwiches. That or I possibly lost track of time and grabbed whatever was in reach. (Not realizing that the watercress was watercress.) Whatever the case may be, tea sandwiches it was!
Tea sandwiches are often served at afternoon or “low” tea. Here in America you can often see these little sandwiches served at “high” tea. You see the term “high tea” is commonly misused. I will explain: Afternoon tea was traditionally served in sitting rooms on low tables like a coffee table so it was called “low tea”. This tea was served as a way to bridge the gap from lunch to dinner that was served around 8:00. This was a tradition mostly held by the upper classes. Since it wasn’t meant as a meal and was more of snack, small things were served: tea sandwiches, little cakes, scones, sweets and of course tea. High tea was an early meal for the working class typically served around suppertime. It was served on “high” tables like a dining table and the food was much more substantial than afternoon tea.
Why tearooms insist on calling afternoon tea “high tea”, I have no idea. It might just sound better since “low” insinuates something lesser. Now that I have cleared that up, on to the sandwiches!
You might say or think that tea sandwiches could be anything in miniature. Like you make a PB&J and cut into a heart shape and now it is a tea sandwich! That might be cute looking, but traditionally speaking it isn’t a tea sandwich. These sandwiches are meant to be savory, small, and filled with a few fillings so they keep their slim width. The word is dainty, these sandwiches are dainty, the exact opposite of submarine sandwich. At some point, I will post a whole afternoon tea spread, but since I only had watercress and cucumber in the house I made one sandwich. Now, there are only a few ingredients in this little sandwich, but it’s delicious. Watercress is a great green. It its small, but packs a lot of peppery, mustardy punch. It goes very well with the mild cucumber. Delicious. Perfect for a little snack, light lunch, or even a cocktail nibble. Enjoy!
Cucumber and Watercress Tea Sandwiches
white bread, sliced
cream cheese, whipped
Thinly slice cucumber.
Prepare watercress by picking off leaves from bunch.
Stack two slices of white bread on top of each other.
Cut crusts off and then cut into preferred shape. (You can do triangles, circles, squares, etc.)
Keep cut pairs of bread together and repeat until you have enough bread for the sandwiches you want to make.
Keep in mind that 2 slices of regular sliced bread will make about 2 square sandwiches.
Make an assembly line with your ingredients.
Smear one side of bread with butter and the other side with cream cheese.
Put watercress on one side and the slices of cucumber on the other.
Add a little salt if your butter is unsalted.
Put halves together.
Repeat until all sandwiches are made.
If not serving right away, cover the sandwiches with a lightly damp paper towel and wrap in plastic so the bread doesn’t go stale. Keep refrigerated.