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A very brief history of Afternoon Tea

A celebration of all things tea and scones, Afternoon Tea Week runs every year and sees tea rooms, coffee shops, hotels and country homes offer discounts on this quintessentially British pastime.

The perfect excuse to not only celebrate the traditional cup of tea (and scone) but entice the customer for more than just a quick cup.

With over 165 million cups of tea drunk in the UK every single day, maybe afternoon tea is a great way to entice those customers into your business.

A brief history of Afternoon Tea

Originally introduced to the UK by Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in approximately the 1840s.

The Duchess is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the period in-between breakfast and dinner.

The problem being, that at the time it was more common for people to have just two main meals a day.

Breakfast and then dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening.We think we might collapse if we had to go through that today!

We think we might collapse if we had to go through that today!

The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.

Proud of her idea, she soon invited friends to Woburn Abbey for “tea and a walk in the fields.”

It proved so popular that other social hostesses took to the idea and before long fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.

So we’ve a lot to thank Ms Russell for, not least the excuse for a little bite in an afternoon!

The evolution of Afternoon Tea

This simple desire to ‘fill a gap’ has now burgeoned into big business of it’s very own.

More commonly associated with tourists and as a special treat, we are now starting to see a shift in the dynamic of how Afternoon tea is being served.

TV shows like the Great British Bake Off have seen an explosion in the popularity of baking and intricate pastries.

This major TV event has helped increase the interest and popularity of the traditional tea room.

So much so that now, even more, places than ever are capitalising and putting a twist on a traditional classic.

Evolution has seen Afternoon tea hit the high street, with more and more places offering cheaper alternatives with less traditional menus to cater for our changing tastes and attitudes.

So if you haven’t already considered adding Afternoon tea to your menu, you might want to give it a second look…