The UK is seeing a revival in the age old practice of taking of 'Afternoon Tea'. As well as our 'coffee mornings', we now also meet for afternoon tea with friends more often and apparently the trend is growing.
It's believed that the afternoon tea was the creation of Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford (3 September 1783 – 3 July 1857)who was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, whom she served as a Lady of the Bedchamber between 1837 and 1841.
The Duchess created the afternoon tea whilst visiting Belvoir Castle in the mid-1840s. During the 18th century, dinner came to be served later and later in the day until, by the early 19th century, the normal time was between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m. Anna became very hungry during the long hours between breakfast and evening meal and discovered that a light snack of tea and cakes or sandwiches in her boudoir was the perfect balance.
The Duchess found the practice to be such a perfect refreshment that she began inviting her friends to join her - and very soon afternoon tea became an established and convivial repast among fashionable society.
Afternoon tea can consist of anything you like but traditionally it might consist of finger sandwiches (typically cucumber; egg mayonnaise with cress; smoked salmon with cream cheese; coronation chicken; ham and mustard), scones with jam and cream, a choice of cakes and pastries and, of course, tea.
Many of our larger hotels and little tea shops offer afternoon tea or, of course, if you prefer a more relaxed setting there's always the option to do it Anna's way. You can even take afternoon tea sitting on a London Bus whilst touring round some of London's most famous landmarks. - can't think of a nicer way to be stuck in traffic. Shall I pour dear?