With the launch of our new afternoon tea imminent, we felt it fitting to share with you the ‘Royal Connection’ of this historical tradition.
The origins of afternoon tea, a quintessentially English tradition, are rumoured to date all the way back to 1662 when Catherine of Braganza married Charles II of England, she brought with her a casket of tea, introducing it to the royal court and became known as ‘the tea drinking Queen’.
The tradition of Afternoon Tea as we know it (with savouries and cakes) took a little while to develop and is attributed to Anne, 7th Duchess of Bedford who, in the early 1840’s requested light sandwiches, tea and cake be brought to her in the late afternoon to ‘stave off that sinking feeling’. Over time, she started to invite close confidantes to join her, to exchange news and stories over tea and light refreshments: one of Britain’s finest traditions was born.
Other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. This pause for tea became a fashionable social event. During the 1880s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.
Traditional English afternoon tea parties are all about socialising and enjoying time relaxing with the warmth of tea and friendship. Even though there seem to be a lot of rules, how you eat your scone or hold your teacup doesn’t really matter. But if you want to stick with tradition, good manners are all part of the authentic afternoon tea experience.