I just came across this lovely photograph of my grandmother having tea, probably taken in the early 1930s. The British habit of afternoon tea was common amongst anglicised Asians in colonial Singapore, who continued this practice through later decades, long after Singapore had broken away from colonial rule. Growing up with my grandparents in the 1970s and 80s, tea at five o’clock was a daily family ritual.
In the photograph, notice the combination of British and Asian food customs. Next to the English-style tea set are a Chinese bowl and soup spoon as well as a Chinese tea cup. The large serving dish in the centre with a dark liquid as well as the bowls makes me think some kind of pudding was being eaten. Sago pudding, for example, was one of the tea time dishes in my family, and always eaten with a Chinese rice bowl and soup spoon.