Wondering what all the fuss is about Afternoon Tea?
You can remember a time when a packet of custard creams, or chocolate fingers were produced as a treat in the afternoon to have with your tea in your favourite mug, so what’s the big deal?
As our pace of life becomes busier and faster, this Victorian tradition is becoming more and more popular, maybe this trend is a sentimental longing for a period in time when sitting and chatting with friends and family face to face was seen as a valued pastime.
Dainty sandwiches, warm scones, artistic cakes served on tiered cake stands, silver service and china tea cups, are a novelty. And for anyone with special dietary requirements, my being a coeliac, has never been an obstacle to getting delicious food, in fact it’s even better as I get my own cake stand, everyone else has to share theirs.
I love making a day of it and travelling to sample menus in different parts of the country, in hotels, castles, historic buildings and going to places that you wouldn’t normally see.
It gives you a chance to admire the architecture, décor and is also a nice way to sample different establishment’s menus. Some hotels have started combining it with a spa day.
Afternoon Tea for two, is a great gift if you are stuck for an idea, or want to give something different for Easter, Christmas, birthdays or any occasion really. I have given Afternoon Tea gift vouchers as presents and they have always been received with delight, and you might even be lucky enough to be invited as the plus one.
So where did this tradition begin?
In 1840 the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna, who was a close friend of Queen Victoria has been credited with starting the tradition of Afternoon tea in England.
At this time people ate just two meals a day, breakfast, and dinner which was served at eight o’clock.
The Duchess became hungry around 4pm, so she asked for a tray of tea, bread, butter and cake to be brought to her room. This became a daily event that she enjoyed so much she invited her friends to join her.
The Duchess introduced the concept to Queen Victoria, and in the 1880’s it became such a fashionable social event that ladies would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between 4pm and 5pm.
Jam or Cream First?
So are you a jam or cream first on your scone person? Do you pronounce scone like ‘tone’ or ‘gone’? Do you hold your tea cup correctly with your fingers curled underneath? These are just some of the fun debates that have developed around the Afternoon Tea Ceremony over the years.
Whatever way you like your Afternoon Tea, I hope you enjoy the experience, especially the company you spend it with, that’s the best part, the shared fun and memories.