Some time ago, we ran into one small but annoying problem — the problem of distracting background snacks at tea-and-food tastings. Well, that is, such snacks that the guest always has at hand and which he uses uncontrollably, but which at the same time require some attention from the guest. Here’s the catch — at any tasting event it is very important that guests can change their focus from time to time. The constant focus on the tea or the host is too tiring and deprives the guest of half of the pleasure. By the way, it is in the defocusing of attention that perhaps the true meaning of many actions at the Japanese tea ceremony lies.
Usually, nuts and dried fruits play the role of background snacks at tea tastings. And they play great — but they have one drawback. They are in the background, but not distracting enough. It is very easy to eat them, for this you do not need to be distracted, which means that they will not switch the focus of attention to themselves. The guests will listen to the presenter and rake in the fruit and nut automatically. As a result, they will get tired of everything — both the presenter and the snacks.
Sandwiches or pancakes with different fillings are a great option for a distracting background snack, served in such a way that the guests themselves spread everything that can be spread on the sandwiches and wrap everything that can be wrapped in pancakes. Self-absorbed spreading of pate on toasted white bread slices or concentrated wrapping of caviar in a pancake will distract the guest from the most inspiring host — and this is, in fact, good. There is only one purely aesthetic problem.
In their classic version, both pancakes and sandwiches are discordant with the laconic aesthetics of a tea tasting table (unless we are talking about some special stylized tea party). Both sandwiches and pancakes can be made trendy and classy, of course — but this will require a fair amount of effort and will significantly complicate the organization of the tasting event.
At the same time, the idea of “the guest sits and spreads” is quite productive — you just need to facilitate its implementation. Several years ago we started using the option of serving snacks, in which the guest is offered several “bases” (for example, cookies or biscuits made from different kinds of dough) and several “spreads”. In order to serve such a snack constructor to the guests of a tea party, it is enough to drop by a decent supermarket.
Take four types of cookies-bread-biscuits-crackers, small in size and suitable for spreading cream-pâté-jam on them. Add four types of spreads — usually we take something curd-like, something nutty (seed or nut butter), some kind of pâté and some thicker type of jam or fruit preserves. Serve spreads in small bowls, lay out four cookies of each type — and the personal “teaser” constructor set is ready. Naturally, 4 + 4 is not an obligatory scheme at all, the number of types of cookies and different spreads can be any.
It’s very simple, not very expensive, and very convincing. Random combinations of biscuits with different tastes and different spreads gives the guest the opportunity to experiment with different tastes on their own, while the addition of tea to these combinations makes the number of flavor combinations even excessive for a regular tasting event. The likelihood that by simply sorting through different combinations, guests will find a perfect match of tea, cookies and spreads with such a serving becomes quite high.
We call this serving of snacks “teasers”. This is both a reference to something provoking interest, and a hint of the tea component of the composition.
Have a good tea!
Olga Nikandrova & Denis Shumakov. Teatips.info. 2021