Its fair to say that any visit to dear old ‘Blighty’ would not be truly complete without a traditional afternoon tea experience. As Afternoon Tea Week takes over the UK this week we decided to give you a few pointers on this most quintessential of British customs.
It is believed the ritual of Afternoon Tea started way back in the 17th century, by the hand of Lady Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. During the 1880’s, in fact, it became a real fashionable affair with the upper-class and society women changing into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea, usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.
The Rules of Engagement
There is hardly another experience quite like a proper British Afternoon Tea. Typically, in a high-tea setting you should start with a lush selection of dainty finger sandwiches (including of course the very thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), followed by warm scones served with clotted cream and a variety of fruit preserves, and finish with an assortment of cakes and pastries. As for the brew itself, tradition has it that usually a tea grown in India or Ceylon should be served, and poured from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups.
At most places you can choose from a full afternoon high-tea experience, or a smaller (and cheaper) version known as cream tea. This includes warm scones with clotted cream and preserves, being served with your tea.
Top Tip: The best afternoon tea experience is usually served in the luxury 4 and 5 star hotels. However, the countryside hotels usually offer you better value for money – as an Afternoon Tea in Central London , although a once in a lifetime experience we would definitely recommend, can be quite expensive.
Other inspiring articles:
- The Downton Abbey Rules for Afternoon Tea: a Masterclass on 1920s Etiquette
- Afternoon Tea Etiquette
- Great Britain: Downton Abbey Style
Fine china cups (feature image) – Image by The Portobello Hotel via HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts
Lady Anna Russel – Image via Wikipedia
High Tea – Image by Richmond Hill Hotel via HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts
Silver tea pot – Image by Elie Hui via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Oolong and Black Tea – Image via Wikipedia
Finger sandwiches – Image by su-lin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Scones – Image by Yann via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Cakes and Pastries – Image by Dee via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)