Tea Time Traditions: A Journey Through the UK’s Best Afternoon Teas


The custom of drinking tea dates back to 3rd millennium BC China, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ emerged in England15. Introduced by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford in 1840, it began as a private social event for ladies who enjoyed finger sandwiches, cake, and tea as a late-afternoon refreshment.

Queen Victoria adopted the ritual herself, and soon tea gardens, tearooms and teahouses began popping up across Britain as the tradition gained widespread popularity among all social classes.

Today, afternoon tea remains a beloved indulgence for both locals and tourists alike. From London’s grandest hotels to the humblest countryside tearooms, one can experience this quintessentially British tradition in all its glory – a delightful way to spend an afternoon sipping tea, savoring treats, and reveling in a cherished piece of culinary history.

Difference between high tea and afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea

  • Afternoon tea is a light meal typically served between 3:30 pm and 5 pm
  • It originated among the wealthy social classes in England in the 1840s
  • The menu focuses on small, dainty finger foods:
    • Finger sandwiches (cucumber, smoked salmon, egg salad, etc.) with crusts removed
    • Scones served with clotted cream, preserves, and lemon curd
    • Small cakes, pastries, and sweets
  • It is traditionally served on low tables in a sitting room or garden
  • Afternoon tea has an air of elegance and is associated with leisure and high society

High Tea

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