History of the Afternoon Tea Party

May 13,2013

The Afternoon Tea Party is one of England's most well-known customs and it is belived that Anna the Duchess of Bedford (Queen Victoria's lady-in-waiting) was the first to invent the notion. It began in the early 1800s when Anna asked for something sweet to stave off hunger pangs between meals. In those times, it was typical to eat only two meals a day - breakfast and dinner. For sustenance, she requested small baked goods, with tea, to be delivered to her private quarters and soon began to invite friends to join her. By the middle of the 19th century tea as a social event was all the rage in every social class.

This British pastime has become increasingly popular with families and couples seeking alternative ways to spend their leisure time. Many restaurants and hotels across the country provide clients with the opportunity to experience Afternoon Tea for themselves. Hotels in Knightsbridge, London offer up the perfect opportunity to enjoy an afternoon of splendid relaxation in the form of tea and treats.

Various Tea Times

Although Afternoon Tea is the most commonly known, there are various other times in which tea can be enjoyed.

Morning Tea - Also known as Elevenses, it usually consists of tea and a snack to stave off hunger until lunchtime.

Cream Tea - Baked scones with cream and jam are served with a pot of tea.

Afternoon Tea - Quintessentially British, this tea service includes little crustless sandwiches, scones and macaroons and is served upon a platter or tiered stand along with a pot of tea.

Low Tea - Service is the same as Afternoon Tea, however guests are seated in low armchairs with side tables to place their cup and saucer on.

Royale Tea - This is more of a social event where champagne is served upon arrival and sherry is offered at the end of tea.

High Tea - Commonly misconstrued as Afternoon Tea for the upper classes, it is in fact a meal served at a dinner table, associated with the working classes. It consisted of cold meats, pickled salmon, crumpets and other baked goods. However, in today's society High Tea is often used interchangeably with Afternoon Tea..

Tea Party Etiquette

Here's a few etiquette tips to remember when attending a formal tea party:

How do you take your tea? For those that prefer a lemon infused tea, add a slice once the tea is poured, same with milk/sugar - never mix milk and lemon as it will curdle.

Cup and Saucer Conduct: Once you have finished stirring, place your spoon on your saucer. Using both hands, lift both the cup and saucer - no pointed pinkies.

Food for Thought: When considering the order in which to eat your foods, start with savoury and head to sweet. Scones should be eaten hot; preference of jam to cream is of choice.

Fingers, please? A desert fork should be used for the larger pastries; however fingers can be used for bite-sized cakes. Remember to use your serviette correctly, placing it on your lap or on the seat when you need to be excused.

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