Scones with lashings of jam and cream, cucumber sandwiches and lots of tea = heaven for a Brit! If you’ve ever wondered why then here are 10 reasons why the British love afternoon tea
Afternoon tea is a long-running British tradition, dating back to the early 18th century when it was used to bridge the gap between the two main meals of the day, lunch and dinner. Today, the custom remains an extremely popular pursuit, enacted in tea rooms, hotels and households across the country. But what exactly is it about the custom that we adore so much?
Whilst there are now a number of modern variations of the quaint tradition, socialising over a pot of tea and tucking into finger sandwiches is all part of re-creating a sense of old-fashioned finery. The ritual allows us to revisit traditional values, reminisce about times gone by and exercise some good old English etiquette.
HIGH TEA CONNOTATIONS
Contrary to popular belief, high tea actually originated from the lower classes, which was later transformed into an event predominately for the upper class. However, with many prestigious hotels now offering elaborate high tea experiences, much of the appeal can be attributed to the element of sophistication and refinery associated with this style of dining.
Just like having a roast beef dinner on a Sunday, afternoon tea is quintessentially British. In fact, people from all over the world still think of the ceremony as a daily occurrence, when in reality, it’s often considered a treat saved for a special occasions. Still, we’re proud of our traditions, and call it narcissistic, but one of the reasons why we love the tea-drinking custom so much is because we invented it!
Being presented with an assortment of tasty treats is guaranteed to get anyone’s taste buds going. Many food venues are now extending their afternoon menus with customised specialties, including English muffins, pies or even champagne-based versions. Even the tea, traditionally made with milk and sugar, is often available with a selection of exciting fruit and herbal flavours.
There’s no hiding from the fact that as a nation, we’re obsessed with the idea of having a good cup of tea – so much so that the idiom ‘not my cup of tea’ is commonly used to describe something that is not to your taste. Thus, an activity that centres around tea-drinking, with some additional sweet treats on the side, is to experience British drinking culture at its very best.
Whether you prefer the informal atmosphere of a cosy tea room or want to indulge in the grandeur of London’s most high-end hotels, the tradition is as much about food and drink as it is about the location. To get the full experience in one of the capital’s leading hotels, The Landmark London offers an impressive selection of sandwiches, cakes and chocolate treats with herbal and brewed teas, all served up in the stunning surroundings of their exclusive Winter Garden Restaurant.
BREAKING UP ROUTINE
There’s no denying that we’re all prone to being creatures of habit, meaning that when we deviate from our everyday routine, it’s all the more enjoyable. By replacing lunch and diminishing the need for a proper dinner, dining at a time that strays from our daily eating patterns can be a fun way to try something different, especially with busy weekend schedules that call for a quick bite to eat.
Whether it’s a birthday celebration, a baby-shower or simply an excuse to catch up with old friends, sharing a pot of tea is very much a social occasion. Having a civilised get-together in the middle of the day provides the perfect chance to engage in conversation, share food and relax in good company.
FOOD WITH A DIFFERENCE
Offering a refined take on the everyday ‘builders tea’, there’s undeniably something fun about using a cup and saucer, not to mention making your way down a three tier platter and nibbling on a whole host of finger foods. The delicate nature of bite-sized sandwiches and tiny samples of cakes offers a different way to enjoy food.
A POPULAR TREND
Even back when it started with the high-born ladies of the18th century, afternoon tea has always been a fashionable event. Whilst drinking tea can certainly be performed at home, the ceremony of dressing in your best and heading out to some of the most sought-after venues in London for an afternoon of indulgence still remains a popular form of recreation for the style-conscious crowd.