Afternoon tea or low tea is a small meal snack typically eaten between 4pm and 6pm. Observance of the custom originated amongst the wealthy classes in England in the 1840s
Afternoon tea, that most quintessential of English customs is, perhaps surprisingly, a relatively new tradition. Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 17th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared.
Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon.
The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter (some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread) and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her.This pause for tea became a fashionable social event. During the 1880’s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.
Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches (including of course thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), scones served with clotted cream and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served. Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups.
Nowadays however, in the average suburban home, afternoon tea is likely to be just a biscuit or small cake and a mug of tea, usually produced using a teabag. Sacrilege!To experience the best of the afternoon tea tradition, indulge yourself with a trip to one of London’s finest hotels or visit a quaint tearoom in the west country.
The Devonshire Cream Tea is famous world wide and consists of scones, strawberry jam and the vital ingredient, Devon clotted cream, as well as cups of hot sweet tea served in china teacups. Many of the other counties in England’s west country also claim the best cream teas: Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset.
Common Afternoon tea collection found around the world
DARJEELING FIRST FLUSH
The Champagne of teas from the Himalayan foothills creating a light yellow to copper-red colour and a delicate flowery aroma.
A full bodied black tea from Northern India. The golden leaf yields a strong rich aroma, malty flavour and red colour.
CEYLON ORANGE PEKOE
A whole leaf black tea from Sri Lanka producing a rich amber colour with full flavour and scented aroma.
A blend of China, Formosa and Darjeeling leaves reminiscent of tea carried to Russia from China by camels.
A pretty infusion, calming, soothing and delicate, elegant aroma.
An elegant, sparkling lemon tasting tisane, a refreshing digesif.
Large leafed Chinese black tea with refreshing citrus bergamot, silky and smooth with a delightful aroma.
A semi-fermented tea from Taiwan, attractive amber hue, slightly nutty taste yet fully developed aroma.
JASMINE WITH FLOWERS
A green Chinese tea from Fujian, scented with jasmine flowers, offering a wonderfully perfumed light refreshing tea.
A black tea from Guangdong, China, enriched with rose petals giving a gentle, light rose aroma to the tea.
PASSION FRUIT AND ORANGE
A truly wonderful taste, apple, hibiscus, sweet orange peel blended with passion fruit and orange.
ROOIBOS RED TEA
100% caffeine free, rich in vitamin c, mineral salts, proteins and anti-oxidants.
LAPSONG SOUCHONG IMPERIALE
Large leaf black tea from Fujian, China, which has been smoked over pine fires to give a smoky, silky tarriness.
An unfermented green tea, long fine jade leaves, elegant pale yellow liquor, lightly scented, highly refreshing velvety green taste.
A wonderfully invigorating spearmint tea, caffeine free, highly scented, stimulating in the morning, soothing digestif.
This White Tea is soft, creamy and velvety on the tongue. It has notes of fresh, honeydew melon and a pleasantly sweet aftertaste.
AFTERNOON TEA FOOD MENUS
Sofitel st james, London
Le Tea en Rose, Your choice of Jing tea. Finger sandwiches, Chef’s selection of four seasonal sandwiches.
Freshly baked, homemade scones Served warm with Devonshire clotted cream and rose scented raspberry jam.
- Your choice of freshly made miniature French pastries £24.50
- Accompanied by a Rose & Litchi Champagne Cocktail £29.50
Courtesy: 1ritz london
Afternoon Tea TRADITIONAL AFTERNOON TEA
- Ham, Grain Mustard Mayonnaise, White Bread
- Cheddar Cheese, Chutney, Onion Bread
- Cucumber,Cream Cheese, Dill, Chives, Caraway Seed Bread
- Chicken Breast, Horseradish Cream, White Bread
- Scottish Smoked Salmon, Lemon Butter, Rye Bread
- Egg Mayonnaise, Chopped Shallots, Watercress, White Bread
Freshly Baked Raisin and Plain Scones with Cornish Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve. Assortment of British Afternoon Tea Pastries and Cakes
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