Feature Photo Credit: Rainer Online

Afternoon tea is something that we all absolutely love! A “meal” between lunch and dinner, in which one can sinfully indulge in soothing tea and amazingly beautiful confections is a thing of gastronomic beauty (to us, anyway)! But the question is: who and how did it all begin?

A Brief History:

While Catherine of Braganza (Charles II of England’s wife) introduced afternoon tea to the court upon her arrival in 1662, popular opinion indicates that it was, in fact, Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, who truly transformed it into a light mid-afternoon meal. During the 18th/ 19th century in England, a time where the luncheon was only just created, people were still left hungry and unsatisfied due to the long, empty gap between lunch and dinner. It was around this time, however, that Anna Maria Russell discovered a light meal of cakes or sandwiches, accompanied by a pot of freshly brewed tea, was the perfect combination for an afternoon refreshment, and soon began to invite her friends to join.

Image title

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

More Fun Facts:

  • Afternoon tea also draws influences from Chilean culture, upon its introduction by British settlers in Chile. They put their own native twists to the British tradition by incorporating local produce such as deli meats and avocados.
  • For labourers, a pre-packed single baked good or a small sandwich would only sometimes accompany the tea. 
  • For the more privileged, their afternoon tea would always be accompanied by:  

1) A batch of luxury sandwiches, which consisted of:

– Cucumber egg and cress

– Fish paste

– Smoked ham

– Salmon

Image title

Photo Credit: Pinterest

2) Scones:

Raisin & plain, served with jam and clotted cream

Image title

Photo Credit: Pinterest

3) Cakes and pastries

  • The emergence of the afternoon tea highlighted the British custom of dunking biscuits into tea, which was then later done around the world.
  • By the end of the 19th century, the British-Chilean fusion transformed into the afternoon tea we all know and love today, fit for both the upper and middle class. 

  • There was a huge difference between high tea and afternoon tea. While afternoon tea (or “low tea”) was originally the province of the upper class, indicating it as a light meal or snack before the main (dinner), high tea, on the other hand, was originally regarded as a working class man’s main meal of the day, as indicated by the term “high” in its name.

Win tasty prizes in our Valentine’s Day giveaway!

Join our biggest giveaway yet and win prizes for you and your partner