The History of Afternoon Tea

It’s the time of year when the British tradition of Afternoon Tea really comes to the fore. Whether it’s at weddings, family parties or just a chat with a friend over a cuppa, afternoon tea is the quintessential British staple.

Afternoon tea was first introduced in England around the mid 1800s by Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. With the evening meal served at eight o’clock in the evening, the Duchess would become hungry during the afternoon. Thus, she began requesting a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be delivered to her room. This quickly became a habit that she began inviting friends to and the trend spread. Afternoon tea became a fashionable social event and during the 1880s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea that was served in the drawing room.

Teas from India or Ceylon were the original afternoon teas of choice. Served from luxurious silver tea pots and the finest bone china tea cups to make it a real classy event. Traditionally a selection of dainty sandwiches, often with cucumber, and delicious scones with clotted cream and preserves are served with afternoon tea. Don’t forget the cakes, too.

To learn more about Anna Russell, The 7th Duchess of Bedford and founder of this famous tradition, see our article on Tea & Women Through History.

This tradition, that stemmed from being a bit peckish, is something that everyone can say they’ve taken part in. We’re celebrating it at the The Tea House and offering all of our customers 20% off our Afternoon Tea until 31/05/2019.

Our very own afternoon tea can be found here.

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