The History of Afternoon Tea

12th Aug 2019

Introduced in 1840, Afternoon Tea is a quintessential English pastime enjoyed by many. Once, simply sandwiches and tea were served, but now it has become an elegant occasion with dainty finger sandwiches and beautiful sweet treats.

In the 1800s dinner would be served at the fashionably late time of 8 o’clock, leaving a long time between meals. Having struggled with this long stretch, Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, complained of a “sinking feeling” during the late afternoon and ordered a tray of tea, sweet breads and cake to be bought to her bedroom. This light bite was just enough to satisfy her hunger and see her through to dinner time. This soon became a habit of hers and before too long she would begin inviting her friends to join in this afternoon delight.


History of Afternoon Tea - Scones

Afternoon tea grew into more than simply cake and tea. The upper class women would change into long gowns, gloves and a hat and before being served their tea in the drawing room between four and five o’clock, making it a fashionable social event.

Over time, the traditional afternoon tea has evolved and become more extravagant. Although the same elegant finger sandwiches with delicate fillings are still served, we now also have beautiful and intricate cakes and pastries filled with flavour and traditional scones topped with jam and clotted cream (or clotted cream and jam if you’re from Devon!). Of course, all served with a delicious cup of tea… or two or three!

History of Afternoon Tea - Cup of Tea

There is no better way to catch up with a friend than a delicious afternoon tea in the summer sunshine. Why not make it more special with a glass of fizz!


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