When I first heard the words afternoon tea, I immediately had the thought of old musty ladies sitting in an over crowed dimly lit room drinking cup after cup of strong tea and eating biscuits. This was until a friend took me to afternoon tea in London and I have fallen in love with the treat.
According to legend, Anna Maria Stanhope (Duchess of Bedford) sometime in the 19th century, become the creator of afternoon tea time all because of “a sinking feeling” during the late afternoon as there was a long wait between breakfast and dinner time (at that time, people usually only had two main meals a day!) Some say the Duchess had her servant sneak in a pot of tea and a small snack to satisfy her hunger! Not long after she began to invite friends to join her (Woburn Abbey) (Belvoir Castle).
Her menu included small cake, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets and of course tea. It proved so popular she continued when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walk in the fields. Soon it was a trend to be seen sipping tea and eating on small snacks in the afternoon.
While there are no set rules about what to serve at an afternoon tea there are a few traditional menu items which are as follows:
- A selection of prepared finger sandwiches
Nowadays there is a trend of Champagne afternoon teas and modern versions with macaroons and little desserts, but I would recommend a traditional one first and let me know what you think
To get the true feel of what a British Afternoon Tea is I would suggest a trip to one of the many hotels and tea rooms in London or if you are lucky enough to be in York, Exeter or one of British’s beautiful country towns and cities try it. After which you can organise your own “tea at home” and dazzle your family and friends with your flair and tasty treats!!
Try out these websites for afternoon tea locations and recipes!
- English afternoon tea: A taste of a great British tradition (myswagteam.wordpress.com)
- 5 Award winning places to go for afternoon tea (visitwales.co.uk)
- Take “Tea For Two” to a Whole New Level With These Tea Cup Bobbies (bellasugar.com)
- A traditional afternoon tea in town: Andrews Café Tea Room (myswagteam.wordpress.com)