No need to pass one’s way in front of a afternoon tea, whether for fear of not matching Her Majesty’s elegance or ignoring the history of this mythical English tradition. Do not panic, the editorial staff has concocted a summary of this tradition and its evolution. Something to shine with your friends on sunny terraces and even, why not, hold your porcelain teacup with your little finger in the air!
The essential British afternoon tea : between tradition rooted in the 1880s …
The English began drinking tea in the 17th century, but the tradition ofafternoon tea only emerged 200 years later. This light, home-cooked meal originated from the voracious appetite of the Duchess of Bedford Anna, who went hungry at 4 p.m.
Champions of the many small snacks throughout the day and early lunches, our English friends quickly have a rumbling stomach while waiting for dinner served at 8 p.m. L’afternoon tea does not replace dinner, but thus fills the small gap between midday and evening meals in the daily life of wealthy families of the time. Subsequently, the first gatherings of tea parties took place in private homes. This model was then exported more widely on the territory when Queen Victoria also began to participate.
Has a afternoon tea worthy of the name, the essential tea is accompanied by an assortment of sandwiches, quiches, cakes, pastries, scones, jams and other rolls.
… And modernity
Widespread in England, this tradition has also been exported across the globe. The content of the meal remains the same, although nowadays champagne or the incorruptible Prosecco are also offered, which the British. Moreover, gathering and cooking no longer take place at home. Today’s more active lifestyles no longer allow for a sitting break in the afternoon, as was once the case for the wealthiest people. Hence the fact that this daily tradition has become only an occasional holiday pleasure.
Our best addresses for a royal afternoon tea
To make you salivate, the editorial staff shares its traditional addresses of chic hotels and restaurants such as the Ritz, Savoy, Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, The Rubens Palace opposite Buckingham Palace, Oblix at the Shard, or the Wolseley in London .
For lovers of warmer and more cozy atmospheres, don’t miss Brigit’s Bakery in Covent Garden, where everyone talks in a friendly way. For a fancier, cocktail vibe, head to Sketch, Claridge’s, or Lyaness at Sea Containers London.
A word of advice: don’t forget to book in advance, and to arrive well before the 5 p.m. crowd due to the start of the ‘early dinners‘.
A little more from the writing for a total immersion in English culture: go there during the Halloween or Christmas period. The English are never short of ideas to amaze young and old alike with new, unusual recipes in astonishing colors (such as pumpkin cake). Beware of the most greedy because this alleged ‘light meal‘ is ultimately not the lightest.
The pitfalls to avoid to pass for a real British!
Do not confuse the afternoon tea with the ‘high tea’, which is the worker’s tea at the end of work, served at the table and seated. It consisted at the time of the Industrial Revolution of a hot and hearty meal accompanied by strong tea to sustain the workers at the end of a day of hard work.
Also, surely you have already heard an Englishman offer you a ‘tea‘ or one ‘supper‘. This term nowadays refers to the evening meal in working-class households. Beware of confusion during your next tea with an English friend: do not start heating water in the kettle to help him, but rather start setting the table or helping him cook the meal. An experience lived by the editorial staff, who shares it with you to avoid this pleasant discomfort, which was ultimately a funny opportunity to compare our cultures.