The Origins of Afternoon Tea


In the world of tea, few traditions are as quintessentially British as afternoon tea. But have you ever wondered how this delightful ritual came to be? Join us on a journey through time as we explore the origins of afternoon tea.

Let's Start With Anna...

Anna, Duchess of Bedford: 1783-1857


The Duchess, a lady-in-waiting and lifelong friend to Queen Victoria, had an aching feeling in her belly one late afternoon.  She was in need of a snack before her dinner later that evening; much later that evening. See, back in this time, the elite and royals ate meals later than those of the lowly farmers. Farmers worked with the sun, starting their day at sunrise and ending it at sunset.  The rich weren't bound by the rising and setting sun, therefore eating meals whenever they pleased.  This usually meant an early lunch and a dinner much later in the evening.  The Duchess requested a pot of tea and some snacks sent to her quarters to ward off that mid-afternoon hunger.  She loved this idea so much that she invited a few of her friends to share in the event with her, and thus became a popular trend and later referred to as "Afternoon Tea".  The news of the custom of the Duchess quickly spread throughout England, allowing people to invite friends to their homes at a given hour any day of the week.  This actually allowed women to chat and form close friendships because they were able to see each other so frequently.  Let's thank the Duchess for her aching belly in need of some tea and "crumpets".  For now, to this day we have Afternoon Tea. 

Onto Modern Times...

By the late 19th century, tea became affordable for the working class.  It wasn't only meant for the rich and royal anymore.  By the 1920s, High Tea became a sensation in America, bringing with it a full orchestra to enjoy in the background.  This became known as the "Tea Dance".  To this day, many tea houses, hotels, and restaurants hold High Tea as a menu option.  They include all the goodies such as scones, finger sandwiches, pastries, and of course, a wonderful selection of tea.  

Have you had a great High Tea Experience? We would love to hear about it!

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