Where does the tradition of Afternoon Tea come from? We are a nation renowned for our love of tea and tea breaks and there is nothing us Brits like more after a hard day or holiday abroad (where they don’t have your favourite PG or Tetley) than a big steaming cup of tea. It’s a staple in our diet, you can cure any problem with a cup of tea (or at least you feel better to tackle the world after a cuppa) and we drink 165 million cups of the stuff each day in the UK.
Back in the 1800’s the seventh Duchess of Bedford had a marvellous idea, which would not only enable more tea drinking but also involved a snack to keep you going until dinner - she introduced the first Afternoon Tea.
To celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week, which ran from Monday 14th to Sunday 20th August, a whole week dedicated to Afternoon Tea and all great things related to it, we have put together some top facts about one of the nation’s favourite past-times.
How did it start?
Back in the 1800’s people only had two meals a day - breakfast and dinner - so to fill the long break between Anna, Duchess of Bedford, came up with the idea of a cup of tea and a snack in her private bedroom. The tradition soon formed and once it became respectable, taking Afternoon Tea was moved to the dining room and was then established as the fashionable thing to do.
A formal affair
Queen Victoria can be credited for officially adopting the habit into our culture after she used to hold ‘tea receptions’. These would be held between 4pm and 7pm and could sometimes involve up to 200 guests visiting at random times to take tea and refreshments with her.
Upper class Afternoon Tea
Traditionally their tea would be at 4pm, just before their daily walk through Hyde Park. It was named ‘low tea’ as their tea, cakes and sandwiches would be served on a low type coffee table.
Middle and lower class Afternoon Tea
A variation of the upper class offering, the middle and lower classes took their tea between 5pm and 6pm, however it was much more substantial as it usually replaced dinner. This was called ‘high tea’ as it was served at the dinner table.
A ‘traditional’ Afternoon Tea menu might include the following
A selection of finger sandwiches (always with the crusts removed)
Scones with clotted cream and jam
A selection of cakes and pastries
Range of teas
Here at The Regent Hotel we have maintained tradition with our Afternoon Tea but added a touch of luxury and indulgence to make it extra special. Why not treat yourself, sit back, enjoy the view and savour our home-baked warm fruit scones with damson jam and clotted cream. See our full menu here and join us for an afternoon of relaxation and great British tradition.