|The History of Afternoon Tea|
History of Tea in England
Afternoon tea is an old tradition enjoyed by many different people across the world. It was actually developed in early 18th century England, when a group of shop owners decided to keep their customers company at lunchtime instead of dinner. It was a fun way to socialize with family and friends as well as a convenient way to stay cool on hot summer days. Although we now take it for granted, there's a lot history to appreciate about this favorite beverage. Learn about the origins of afternoon tea in the paragraphs that follow.
History of Afternoon Tea and High Tea
The origin of afternoon tea is somewhat uncertain; however, most agree that it started as a British custom. The high tea tradition was adopted from the practice of dining late in the afternoon so that everyone present could relax. This meal was not formalized until after the middle part of the 19th century when it became associated with the fashionable Victorian age.
In today's world, the London afternoon tea tradition has somewhat fallen out of step. There are no longer clubs or fancy dinners and the menu is often very simple as well. There is still, however, a common thread that many businesses have adopted which is that it is an actual meal that can be enjoyed by everyone present. In the US, the tradition is often adopted but it is rarely used.
Afternoon Tea Menu
In the early part of the century, there was an association between the afternoon tea and fashionable gatherings such as "the glitzy clubs". The shop owners of this time were well aware that their business was associated with social events and so they added a unique and interesting element to their business. In addition, the shop kept their menu simple. Savory foods such as cheese and meat were the norm and sandwiches and puddings were popular.
The basic idea behind the modern tea ceremony is that two white tablecloths, a cream tea bag and fresh bread are placed on the table and are then accompanied by an arrangement of flowers such as hydrangeas, citrus fruits and cherry blossoms. The flowers are used as the center piece of the table and the bread and cream are used for the main course. The guest is served with tea and then the scones are laid across the top of the dessert. This elaborate display of edible treats completes the grand dining experience.
Why is afternoon tea so popular?
During the 1660s, it became popular in England to drink this warm beverage thanks to King Charles II and his Portuguese wife. However, it was during the mid 19th-century that the idea of 'afternoon tea' was first introduced, and began to evolve into the notion of eating and drinking as we understand it today.
Although there are traditionalists who still prefer the traditional three fingers of bread and two tea spoons, there is no reason why one cannot enjoy a nice lunch or dinner today. The scones that are served are actually very thin slices of bread that are filled with a sweet cream. Although there is debate over how old this type of bread really originated, one thing is for certain. At almost every reputable institution of learning in England today, the institution will serve a full afternoon tea party. So, what better time to celebrate than right after a long day at work or an exciting game of golf?
There are a wide variety of fillings that are chosen to accompany the afternoon tea. Some of the more popular options include apple crumble, fruit salad, strawberries and cream cheese. One popular option in between the classic English breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausages and the slightly more exotic Indian curries and pakoras are what is known as Pakistani and Balinese food. Both of these foods have their own unique style and flavor and it is quite easy to see why so many people love them. A quick search online will reveal all the places in the world where you can find Pakistani and Baliian food.
The history of afternoon tea traditions in London has been chronicled in numerous books and museums. As well as these famous London locations, you will also find a wealth of information about afternoon tea in other parts of England including sandwiches in Nottingham, East Riding of Yorkshire and the north of Scotland, along with cakes in Durham and Gateshead. For those travelling from further afield there are even books and trips available to explore the history of tea in China, India, Japan, Tibet and other places.