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A History of Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is one of the simplest yet most elegant English culinary rituals and we owe it all to the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell.

Anna Russell, in the year 1840, would complain of having "that sinking feeling" between breakfast and dinner and would become hungry around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. As it was typical of people during the 1800s to only eat two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, it is no surprise she searched for a way to overcome her hunger. 

The solution for the Duchess was a small pot of tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the Afternoon. This consisted of a small tray of tea, bread and butter and slices of cake. In fact, it became such a habit of hers that she started inviting her friends to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey. She would send a card asking her friends to join her for a "tea and a walking the fields"; hence the beginning of the Afternoon Tea we know and love today...

Before long, all of fashionable society was indulging in 'light refreshments' in the middle of the afternoon, even proving popular with the middle and lower classes of society once they had arrived home from work.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIGH AND LOW TEA

Many ask the question, what is the difference between high and low tea, and it is actually quite interesting...

The names simply derive from the height of the tables on which the meals are served.

Traditionally the upper classes would serve a 'low' tea around 4 o'clock for a light snack on what we now call a coffee table. Whereas, the middle and lower classes would have a more substantial 'high' tea after work and on the dinner table. 

Nearly 200 years later, sitting down for Afternoon Tea, whether high or low, still remains a quintessential part of the British way of life.

QUEEN VICTORIA AFTERNOON TEA

If you haven't already heard, the Royal Garden Hotel has created a delicious new themed Afternoon Tea with a nod to Queen Victoria's eating habits and adventurous appetite in life. So if you care to step into the life of a 19th-century monarch and experience tea in the 1800s, now is the perfect time to make a reservation

You will take a seat in the Park Terrace restaurant to the sound of their resident pianist, before indulging in delicate treats and fine loose leaf tea.

As you turn through the pages of their menu, in style of Victoria’s childhood scrapbook, you will learn more about her unusual Sunday lunches, expose her extravagant Christmas traditions and reveal her all-time favourite pies.

Take it one step further and enjoy life as a true royal by upgrading with the delicious ‘Queen Victoria Tipple’, taking inspiration from Victoria’s lifelong love for Scotch whisky…

Either way, you can experience a royal tea, next to royalty.

FIND OUT MORE

 

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