by Sue | Aug 11, 2017 |

Afternoon Tea Week, 14th - 20th August


“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James

The very British tradition of afternoon tea is a relatively new custom. It was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the 1800's. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess would often become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and asked that a tray of tea, a small sandwich and cake be brought to her room around this time. It quickly became an established habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey. On her return to London she introduced the 'Afternoon Tea' there and it became very fashionable among the upper classes.

By the late 19th century tea rooms were THE place to meet friends and were especially attractive to single women as they could visit one without a chaperone. At a later date music was added and before long the afternoon tea dance became fashionable with young people, a custom which continued until the Second World War.  

Nowadays afternoon tea is served up & down the country in small tearooms and grand hotels alike and the menu has changed from a few dainty nibbles to several courses in some places. Wherever you choose to enjoy yours it will usually consist of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and preserves plus a selection of cakes and pastries. Savoury items such as sausage rolls, mini scotch eggs & cheese scones may also be on offer plus for a special occasion you can start with a glass (or two) of bubbly. Tea grown in India or Ceylon was traditionally poured from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups but this can vary with some places even using mugs & teabags (whatever would the Duchess think...)

Starting on Monday August 14th this great British custom will be celebrated nationwide and if you are staying in Suffolk the only problem you may have is how many you can fit in! The White Lion in Aldeburgh is offering several options, including 'Tea on the Beach', full details can be found here: White Lion - Afternoon Tea
Other venues include: the Swan At Lavenham, the Westleton Crown and Baileys 2 in Bury St Edmunds.

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