The concept of Afternoon tea was first practiced by Anna, the seventh Duchess Bedford, in the year 1840.
The tradition in fine homes at that time was that the evening meal was served at eight o’clock, so there was a long period of time from lunch to dinner.
To avoid feeling hungry, The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter would be brought to her at 4pm.
A short time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had the clever idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread, what we commonly call the sandwich today.
This was quickly adopted by the Duchess who asked that bread and butter with fillings and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon.
This became a regular practice and she began inviting friends to join her.
This afternoon tea quickly became a fashionable social event and society ladies would dress in long gowns, hats and gloves for afternoon tea which was usually served at four o’clock in the hostess’s drawing room. The art of baking and serving sweet treats is increasingly popular in England and people from all over the world are visiting tea venues to practice the most traditional of English ritual, The Great British Afternoon Tea.
The traditional English afternoon tea consists of an elegant selection of finely prepared sandwiches (including the famous sliced cucumber sandwiches), English scones served with preserves and clotted cream. A variety of cakes and popular pastries are also served, often on multi-tiered plates. Imported Tea from India or Ceylon is poured from silver tea pots into delicate fine bone china cups.