• Rosa

Who invented Afternoon Tea?

Hello #brewcrewyorkshire!

Grab a brew and settle down...

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of Afternoon Tea comes from? You could be mistaken in thinking it has been around forever, but it actually didn't exist until the 1840's.

It all started with a woman after my own heart, Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford.

You see, in the mid 19th century, in high society, it was fashionable to eat dinner late in the evening, a long, long time after a light luncheon. Anna found herself getting peckish and feeling faint in the afternoon- lets face it, we've all had that 3pm slump!- and so would request a cup of tea and a cake to tide her over until the evening.

This cheeky afternoon break for tea became popular amongst the ladies in Anna's social circle. They would 'dress for tea', changing into gowns with gloves and hats before settling down in the drawing room for an hour or so of tea, cake and small savoury nibbles at around 4 o'clock, using the afternoon tea hour as a social event to have friends round and catch up.

Little dainty cakes are just the kind of thing Duchess Anna would have had as her afternoon snack!

By the late 19th century, Afternoon Tea had moved out of the home and into fashionable Tea Rooms, which were now the best places to meet up with friends and have a good old gossip over a brew. Interestingly, Tea Rooms were considered suitable for women to visit without a chaperone, as they were often run by women too! This gave women of the time the opportunity to earn their own money running Tea Rooms, and for the attendees to have freedom whilst enjoying their visit. The ladies who set up the first Tea Rooms? Legends.

In the early 20th century and up to the Second World War, 'tea dances' were THE place to go, as the serving of Afternoon Tea had been accompanied by music and dancing, creating a lively atmosphere for fashionable young people to let loose in and expand their social circle.

Afternoon Tea has become a quintessentially British tradition and is still fantastically popular to this day, served at parties, weddings and cafes everywhere.

Afternoon Tea on the traditional three tier stand

Lets be honest, you cannot go wrong with tea (from a pot of course), cake and deliciously dainty sandwiches, served up on beautiful china, and enjoyed in the company of your family and friends!

So here's to Anna Russell, seventh Duchess of Bedford, without whom Afternoon Tea would not exist!

Until next time #brewcrewyorkshire ,


Kirsten xx

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