Afternoon Tea Week – August 14-20 2018
One of the nation’s favourite traditions, afternoon tea can be enjoyed almost anywhere. From a traditional tea room at a 5-star hotel to the comfort of your own home.
The History of Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea Week, which runs from the 14th to the 20th of August 2018, is the ideal opportunity for everyone to partake in this most British of institutions. Tea has been enjoyed in various forms ever since the Chinese popularised it almost 5,000 years ago. The first written record of anyone drinking tea also comes from China, where it was included in a medical text written by Hua Tuo in the 3rd century. Fast forward thirteen-hundred years to around 1660 and the British love affair with tea begins (via Portugal!). Catherine de Braganza – wife of Charles II – started drinking tea regularly and this in turn increased its popularity in the UK. However, it wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that ‘afternoon tea’ took off as a concept.
It’s all thanks to Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who – thanks to long gaps between meals at her household – found herself regularly feeling hungry at around 4pm. She would occasionally ask for a tray of afternoon delights to be presented to her at this time to fill the gap. This would include a pot of tea, a plate of bread and butter and a selection of cake – sound familiar? These requests would become more numerous as time went on and she started inviting guests to join her for this pre-dinner treat – and thus, afternoon tea as we know it was born.
The Rise and Rise of Afternoon Tea
Anna had started something of a trend. By the last quarter of the 19th century, afternoon tea had become something of a luxurious affair; extremely popular with ladies of high society who would dress up in their finest gowns and hats and retire to the drawing room of their homes in order to partake in sandwiches, delicious cakes and of course the finest teas to wash them down. This continued through the decades and remained something of a middle/upper-class pastime until relatively recently when its availability has increased greatly.
Afternoon tea can come in many shapes or forms, but the integral selection of treats is quite traditional. Some classier hotels may offer a boozy option including a glass of Prosecco or a tea cocktail, but purists – including Hope & Glory – know that tea should always be at the front and centre of proceedings. Accompanied with a selection of sandwiches (always beautifully presented and without fail including cucumber) and scones served with clotted cream and jams, the tea served is generally Indian-grown such as Assam or Darjeeling.
Afternoon Tea At Home
If you want to create the perfect afternoon tea at home for a fraction of the price of visiting a tea room or hotel, then it can be done so simply. Afternoon tea should be an occasional treat (so don’t throw away the digestives just yet!) but is so simple to prepare. You can either enjoy it as a family or invite friends around for a natter over a beautiful selection of teas and cakes and of course shop-bought is fine if you don’t have the time to bake. At Hope & Glory, we are devoted to tea and would be delighted to supply you with a selection of teas – why not try a different tea each time? Enjoy Afternoon Tea Week and don’t forget to tag your events on our social media channels if you are using our products – we’d love to see them!