- Food and Cooking
English Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea - So Typically English
English afternoon tea is a tradition going back less than 200 years and was popular among upper class ladies with time on their hands.
It's never been a traditional part of the day of the average English person - most were working too hard to take time for dainty sandwiches and cakes and drinking tea out of delicate bone china cups. Even so, in a more robust form, it is a custom that has worked its way through all levels of English society and an afternoon teabreak is something many of us look forward to during a busy day, even if it's only five minutes sitting at our desks.
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."— Henry James
Serve the perfect afternoon tea to family and friends with the help of this book. It has recipes for delicious sandwiches and lovely cakes.
The Beginning of English Afternoon Tea - A lady who got too hungry to wait for dinner time
In 1840 the custom of afternoon tea began because Anna Marie, 7th Duchess of Bedford, got too hungry in the afternoon to wait for dinner at around 8pm so she began taking tea, sandwiches and cake mid-afternoon. Then she invited her friends to join her. Before long, afternoon tea was established as a custom in high society.
It became more than just a way of bridging the gap between luncheon and dinner. It was a time for ladies to meet and gossip and they soon began to change into tea dresses for the occasion. This was the time when the upper classes had special clothes for everything!
Did The Duchess Invent Afternoon Tea?
- Understanding Anna | Leafbox Tea
Recently, in late August, Michael Coffey, the Tea Geek, published a criticism to the legacy of Anna Russell (1783-1857), Duchess of Bedford and Marchion...
Delicate Porcelain Tea Service
Traditional Afternoon Tea served on delicate porcelain
The traditional English afternoon tea consisted of thinly cut bread and butter, tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off - the size that can be eaten in just two bites, and small, dainty cakes.
Even though the the Duchess of Bedford had started having afternoon tea because she was hungry in the afternoon, this was not a meal for pigging out. Ladies sipped their tea and nibbled sandwiches and cakes. It had become a social occasion for showing off clothes and catching up on gossip not for real eating.
Afternoon Tea in London's Ritz Hotel - An experience I've never forgetten
Here is a definitive book of recipes for a delicate, traditional afternoon tea. The recipes are clearly written and displayed and it is illustrated with beautiful photographs. One of my all time favourite recipe books.
Ritz Hotel's Afternoon Tea Menu
- Afternoon Tea Menus | The Ritz London Hotel
Here's the London Ritz Hotel's menu for afternoon tea. Don't faint when you see the price. When I went, it wasn't as expensive as this.
Although it is relatively uncommon for English people to have a regular, traditional afternoon tea at home anymore, it is something that continues as a special treat in first class hotels and big London stores like Fortnum and Mason. Often, afternoon tea is so popular in hotels like the Ritz and the Savoy in London that you have to book many weeks, sometimes months, in advance.
I had afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel, on Piccadilly in London, a few years ago and it was an interesting and enjoyable experience. As the Ritz is a luxury hotel, of course the tables were covered by real linen tablecloths and we had linen napkins. The chairs were pretty and comfortable and the table was a comfortable size for three of us to sit around to drink tea and eat.
Within minutes of being shown to our table, a pot of tea, a jug of hot water, cups and saucers were brought by the waiter and arranged by him on the table. Immediately afterwards, he brought a three tiered cake stand of tiny, delicious sandwiches cut into fingers - no crusts on the bread, of course, and you definitely didn't need two hands to hold them! There was a variety of sandwich fillings: smoked salmon, cucumber, ham are just a few that I remember.
Then the waiter brought another three-tiered cake stand, this time with cakes. Oh my goodness, they all looked yummy. The worst thing was that afternoon tea at the Ritz was a set price per person so you didn't pay anything extra even if you ate all the cakes. There were small cakes, both plain and with cream and icing (frosting). There were slices of gateaux and plain cakes, there were cakes covered in chocolate and others with fresh fruit. We were spoilt for choice. All three of us ate more cakes than was good for us but we did enjoy our traditional afternoon tea in the Ritz Hotel.
See Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Hotel, London
This is pretty much as I remember the Ritz when I had afternoon tea there. The room is very grand and the service excellent as is the food. It's an experience that is well worth the money.
An extraordinary meal in that, being offered to persons that have already dined well, it supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment."— Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Cream or Jam First?
- BBC - How do you do take your cream tea?
Join our debate. Where did the cream tea originate from and what is the correct way to distribute you cream and your jam?
A Traditional Cream Tea
A variation on English Afternoon Tea
This is an occasional treat, particularly associated with the counties of Devon and Cornwall in the far south-west of England. As well as the obligatory pot of tea, it consists of scones, clotted cream and jam (jelly).
Believe it or not, there is some debate about how you eat your scone. Everyone agrees you cut your scone in half first, then you spread either jam or clotted cream on each half then top it with either jam or cream, depending on which you used first.
People have real arguments over which should go on first. Personally, I put the cream on first but only because I think it's easier to spread the jam on the cream rather than the other way round. Whichever order you use, it's not a good idea to put the two halves together again otherwise the cream and jam will squelch out the sides.
Of course, afternoon tea and Devonshire or Cornish cream teas are not recommended for anybody on a low fat or weight loss diet. You will probably put on pounds just looking at the table.
Have You Eaten a Cream Tea?
Have you had a cream tea, if yes, what did you think of it?
Cream Tea: With Homemade Scones and Clotted Cream
© 2011 Carol Fisher