August 12th-18th 2019 is afternoon tea week, those who know me know I have a passion for afternoon tea, so having a whole week where I can have afternoon tea every day is heaven. I agree whole heartily with this quote
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated
to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
History of Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. She would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. There evening meal 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 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. ( https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Afternoon-Tea/)
Afternoon Tea was initially developed as a private social event for ladies who climbed the echelons of society. It was only when Queen Victoria engaged in the Afternoon Tea ritual that it became a formal occasion on a larger scale, known as ‘tea receptions’. These receptions could have as many as two hundred guests with an open ‘at home’ invitation to visit between 4pm and 7pm, during which they could come and go as they pleased; this was the genesis of the Afternoon Tea as we know it.
Traditional Afternoon Tea
Traditional afternoon tea is usually served on tiered cake plates and consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, cream scones, small cakes and pastries. Interestingly, scones were not a common feature of early Afternoon Tea and were only introduced in the twentieth century. Traditionally pretty bone china tea plates, cups and saucers would be used as well as cake forks and butter knifes. A selection of tea grown in India or Ceylon would be served in silver tea pots.
Today there are many variations of afternoon tea, from themed afternoon tea parties to those with added fizz.
Afternoon Tea Week 12th – 18th August 2019
Today at home we are more likely to have a cup of tea and a piece of cake. However eating afternoon tea out can still be a traditional experience, with many different types of establishments offering there own variation on the traditional afternoon tea. Today afternoon tea is usually served from 2pm till 5pm.
Celebrate this years afternoon tea week with friends, you could hold your own afternoon tea party, dust of your three tier cake stand and your pretty china crockery, get baking and invite your friends round. The Vintage Tea Party book has some creative ideas for hosting your own afternoon tea party. BBC good food also has a guide to throwing an afternoon tea party.
If want ideas for cakes to bake click through to my recipes where you will find a selection of sweet treats. Including cream scones, Victoria Sponge, Mini lemon sponge cakes, Shortbread, Flapjack and banana cake
If you don’t fancy hosting your own afternoon tea party, then treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea in a hotel, country house or café. Meet up with friends to celebrate the tradition in style. For exclusive deals link to the Afternoon Tea website where you will find the perfect venue and some of the best deals.
I will definitely be celebrating afternoon tea week, organising an afternoon tea party at home as well as treating myself to at least one traditional afternoon tea at a hotel or café. I hope you find time to indulge in this lovely quintessentially British traditional, there is nothing quite like it.