The Quintessential English Afternoon Tea
The tradition of taking afternoon tea originally began when the Duchess of Bedford having complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon requested tea and a little something to eat. It was usual for people to eat only twice a day during the early nineteenth century – once at breakfast and then again at dinner. It is easy to imagine blood sugar levels plummeting by 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon which is probably why this new fashion took off.
Having invited her friends to join her for afternoon tea at Woburn Abbey in her rooms, the Duchess continued the fashion on returning to London. Ladies of similar social standing quickly followed suit and the fashion became so acceptable that it wasn’t long before taking tea moved into the drawing room. Soon all of London’s fashionable society were sipping tea and nibbling dainty sandwiches.
The London upper classes would have had ‘low tea’ or ‘afternoon tea’ at four o’clock. This was just before they would take a stroll around Hyde Park. The middle and working classes would have ‘high tea’ a little later, around five or six o’clock instead of a later dinner.
The difference between high tea and low tea refers to the height of the table where it is consumed; low tea served on the sofas in the drawing room; high tea at a dining table.
At The Pilgrims Rest we have teamed up with some of our wonderful suppliers to offer a Vintage Tea Wedding. Glasses of Prosecco and all sorts of delicious sweet and savoury things to tempt your taste buds served on beautiful vintage crockery makes a very elegant and alternative wedding breakfast.
After all, as A.A. Milne once wrote: “A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards.”
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