A day of tradition and tea

Feb 08, 2018

High tea is a cherished tradition that has become a part of the year that Newman University staff, student, and faculty look forward to each year. It has been a highlight of Cardinal Newman Week since its inception during the mid-1980s.

In an article written by Gabby Loxterman and Charlotte Rohrback, ASC, it was explained why Newman University chose to commemorate Cardinal Newman with a high tea event.

“John Henry Newman lived from 1801-1890 in England as well as Ireland. During much of his life, the period was known as the Victorian era. It was a part of the English people’s day to host an afternoon tea, so for (Newman Professors Emerita) Deanna Zitterkopf and Jeanne Cardenas it seemed to be appropriate to commemorate his life and legacy with having tea in the English fashion to which Newman was accustomed.”

To prepare for the popular tradition, many faculty, staff and students volunteer to make the traditional dishes served and work the event serving, plating, washing and drying dishes.

Sheryl Stanley, mother of five Newman alumni, has chaired for the volunteer committee for the past four years.

“It’s a fun event that everyone seems to enjoy and helps participate in … either making the food or serving foods and setting up the room,” said Stanley. “It has been fun and amazing to see how much effort goes into it. Crossing boundaries of students, staff, professors, administrators and volunteers that all work together and enjoy it together.”

The highlight of the event is the elegant and scrumptious delectables that are served to complement the warm Earl Grey tea.

Monica Borger, administrative assistant for Campus Ministry, explained, “Some of the foods that are served are cucumber sandwiches, lemon tartlets, Cheshire cheese tarts, strawberry trifle, smoked salmon and many more. The menu has evolved over time but has tried to stay consistent with what would be served at a traditional English tea. It’s hard to say what is most popular but many people enjoy the cucumber sandwiches and many of the lemon items.”

“This is my first high tea and I am very excited to volunteer,” said  Senior Development Officer Beth Fatkin. “I decided to make shortbread [for the event]. I had two reasons for picking that dish — I was familiar with the ingredients: butter, sugar and flour; and the directions read like you are making a delicate pie crust. I think I can do this. I will be making this at home, and my husband loves shortbread, so I will make a double batch and let my husband and son each have a sample.”

Borger has been baking for high tea for the past four years, volunteering for the last three, and has now been in charge of the food procurement. She enjoys baking and trying out new recipes and each year she has made something different. This year she made Cheshire cheese tarts.

“My favorite part of high tea is how this amazing event takes shape all at the hands of volunteers. Each of the delicious recipes are prepared by staff and faculty volunteers. The event is staffed by those same people as well as students — all of whom make high tea possible. For anyone that is new to Newman, I would encourage them to come and experience a traditional high tea and of course try all the delicious food,” Borger added.

One of the most popular dishes served during high tea is the Rhubarb, Orange and Pistachio Cake.