Sometimes the wait for dinner is just way too long, and lunch has passed far too many hours ago. It’s obvious that the length of the day is starting to wear on everyone!
When this happens, it’s time to heat the kettle and then get started with a warm cup of tea and some light sandwiches–and perhaps something sweet to finish it off. This is the opportunity to take some time to appreciate the day, and bolster up for the rest of the evening!
Afternoon Tea Week taps into the British Tradition of having afternoon tea. It is meant to help bring a bit of elegance and pomp to an otherwise unremarkable time of day in the later part of the afternoon.
History of Afternoon Tea Week
Afternoon Tea Week was established to help secure a tradition that has graced British afternoons since the 1840’s. In those days, dinner often wasn’t served until 8pm. Since a full lunch wasn’t actually a thing, what was a hungry person to do in the hours of the afternoon? Create a new mini-meal in the middle of the day of course!
Even though it is called “tea”, there is far more than just a beverage being served in the afternoon! Traditionally this light meal contains tiny finger sandwiches, as well as scones with jam and clotted cream. Plus, this time is also likely to reveal sweet dainties such as cakes and pastries to help lift the spirits, bolster energy, and see people through the rest of the day.
After a while, what started out as a simple afternoon meal grew into a social event, especially for those who spent their lives in the upper echelons of the day’s society. This became even more prominent once Queen Victoria herself took part in this tradition. At that point the concept of the ‘tea reception’ was born. This type of event included lavish and fancy afternoon repasts that could host anywhere from a close collection of friends to a couple hundred of society’s most important faces.
As the name suggests, drinking hot tea was a very important part of this meal, which was a tradition started by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. She often found herself feeling weary or worn down in the middle of the day, and a pot of tea with a snack just seemed to be the best way to take care of it. She soon invited friends to join her for walks in the field, and thus began the tradition that would eventually turn into Afternoon Tea.
The tradition continues and it is time, once again, to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week!
How to Celebrate Afternoon Tea Week
Celebrating Afternoon Tea Week is simple. For the length of a week, simply commit to taking a pause for Afternoon Tea as a part of each day. Enjoy warm tea, a few sweets, and a small repast that will help lift those spirits and drive the momentum for the rest of the day. Or try these other ideas for celebrating:
Host an Afternoon Tea Week Event
Those who really want to go all out can organize and host a special tea reception where friends and family can be invited. Gather those tea pots filled with loose leaf English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea, and get started! It might be fun to even go so far as to wear a Victorian Costume to honor the delightful history of this day.
Enjoy a Restaurant for Afternoon Tea
Those who don’t have time to prepare a formal (or simply don’t feel like it!) may be able to find a local restaurant that provides a formal or semi-formal afternoon tea experience.
Traditional Afternoon Tea is usually served based on the number of people joining. A reservation might be made as a tea for two or tea for four. The meal will be served with a pot of tea as well as three different courses of food that are usually displayed on a tall, three-tiered stand.
Typically, the stand will contain tea sandwiches, which are meant to be eaten first. After this, traditional scones will be eaten and usually served with clotted cream as well as fresh jam. Finally, after this, a plate full of sweets and pastries will be available.
Visit England for Afternoon Tea
No one can challenge the fact that the best place to have afternoon tea is in England. Sure, it might be a bit overpriced, but why not pop over to London to enjoy some of the best afternoon tea that can be found at one of these places:
- The Tea Rooms at Harrods Department Store. Served in style, sandwiches here will often include smoked salmon or salt beef. Since Harrods began as a shop with a special interest in tea, the pot is the star of the show here.
- Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason. Since this company has been selling tea for more than 300 years, it is safe to say this is a trustworthy experience. The tea room is decorated in the style of a Georgian Drawing Room and boasted a visit from Queen Elizabeth herself on its opening in 2012.
- BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. An alternative to the traditional, this tea room offers a slightly more casual feel as it takes place on a vintage London Bus as it moves about the city!
But even for people who only have time for a simple cup of tea each day, remember Afternoon Tea Week. And, of course, it’s the perfect occasion to take a few breaths in the very British tradition that lets people “Keep Calm, and Carry On.”