Tag Archives: afternoon tea

The History of Afternoon Tea

With dainty finger sandwiches, delicate little cakes and delicious scones with lashings of jam and cream, there’s nothing quite so quintessentially British as afternoon tea. As a nation, afternoon tea has been one of our favourite pastimes since the early 19th century.

But the popularity of TV shows like The Great British Bake Off in recent years has given this great British culinary tradition a whole new lease of life. The British aristocracy is said to have introduced the tradition of afternoon tea. In 1840 Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford started to dine on bread, butter and tea in the afternoon, as a bridge between breakfast and supper. The Duchess began to invite her friends to join her, and before long afternoon tea was established as a private social function across fashionable society.

Today, afternoon tea is enjoyed throughout the world. From traditional afternoon tea to champagne afternoon tea and cream tea, this treasured tradition has never been more popular. Read on to discover some interesting facts about our favourite pastime…

6 interesting facts about afternoon tea

Scones didn’t feature in afternoon tea until the 20 th century. The correct order in which jam and cream should be spread onto a scone varies according to where you come from. According to tradition, if you’re from Devon, it’s cream first and then jam, whilst people in Cornwall prefer to add jam first followed by cream.

Afternoon tea was introduced as a social event for the upper classes. Unlike afternoon tea, high tea was a much more substantial meal comprising of tea, bread, cakes, meat and pies. Traditionally enjoyed by the working classes, it became popular in Britain during the 19 th century Industrial Revolution. High tea still exists in some parts of Northern England and Scotland. Tasty savory dishes, followed by tea, cakes and scones are traditionally served from late afternoon to early evening.

Britain is known as a nation of tea lovers. In fact, we’re said to consume over 62 billion cups of tea a year. Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling are major types of black tea and ideal for pairing with afternoon tea. Earl Grey and English Breakfast are two of the most popular black tea blends and firm favourites.

The record for the biggest scone ever baked is held by New Zealander Shaun McCarthy in August 2010. It weighed in at 119.45 kg and measured 117 cm in diameter!

The Victoria Sponge cake, or Victoria Sandwich, was very popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. Known for having a very sweet tooth, Queen Victoria enjoyed many tea parties during her reign, and this delicious sponge cake was said to be one of her favourites.

At one time it was customary to pour milk into a tea cup first, mainly to cool the tea in order to prevent poor quality cups from cracking when adding hot water. Nowadays milk first or last is down to personal preference and taste.

Afternoon tea: a social event for all occasions

A social event for all occasions, afternoon tea is an enjoyable way to celebrate a birthday, a christening or an anniversary. Although why wait for a special occasion when you can get together with friends and family to indulge in a delightful afternoon treat anytime.

With its splendid and ornate period features, the 16th century Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford-upon- Avon is the perfect setting to savour a delicious traditional afternoon tea.

At the Billesley Manor Hotel, enjoy great company and conversation over a decadent three-tiered serving of delicate finger sandwiches with traditional fillings, mouthwatering cakes and scrumptious homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, together with the finest tea. Afterwards, take a walk around the hotel’s pretty 100-year- old topiary garden.

Spotlight on the Lake District Hotels

Popular for its glacial ribbon lakes, rugged fell mountains and historic literary associations, The Lake District is one of the UK’s scenic trump cards. From Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, to Wastwater, its deepest lake, as well as beautiful market towns, spectacular walking routes and water sports in between, it’s a peaceful holiday destination and a treasure trove of discovery, exploration and inspiration. Particularly if you know the best Lake District hotels to stay in while you’re there.

For walkers

Lake District Hotels Ennerdale COuntry House Hotel

It’s a tall order to find a more beautiful part of the world for walking than the Lake District. Combining countryside and coastline, Ennerdale Country House Hotel is beautifully located in five acres of gardens close to the seaside town of St. Bees, making it an ideal base from which to tackle the Coast to Coast Walk which takes you from the town itself to the awe-inspiring Robin Hood’s Bay. Chances are you’re not going to cover the complete 190 miles, at least not on foot, but you can head out as far as you fancy and then potter back for tea at the Grade II listed building, which has been painstakingly restored with its original fireplaces and ceilings on display. And even if you don’t fancy being quite so energetic as to head out to the coastal paths, you will be pleased to know that this Lake District hotel’s own gardens provide equally stimulating vistas with significantly less effort, thanks to the tranquil landscaped gardens surrounding a picturesque Italian fountain.

For water sports

Lake District Hotels Lodore Falls Lodge

Alternatively, at Lodore Falls Lodge it’s almost impossible to beat the dramatic beauty of the Lodore Falls themselves within the hotel grounds. The water cascades over huge boulders from a distance of some 30-metres, set contrastingly against a backdrop of unmoving mountains and placid lakes. The 200-year old hotel sits within 40 acres of grounds, and while walking is still an unmitigated pleasure here, so too is kayaking from the Lodore jetty on Derwentwater, or simply sitting in the outdoor hot tub and admiring the unrivalled views.

Lake District Hotels for foodies

What would an utterly British holiday be without a good afternoon tea? Unbearable, we say. And fortunately The George Hotel in Penrith stands out as an elegant experience known for its fine dining as well as its excellent lunches and afternoon teas. It’s something of a social hub with events peppered throughout the year, and while it’s supremely elegant with wood paneling, antique furniture and open fires, it’s also extremely friendly. Children and well-behaved dogs are all welcome, and its location makes it a splendid spot from which to explore the town as well.

For special occasions

Lake DIstrict Hotels Storrs Hall

A Grade II listed Georgian Mansion, Storrs Hall sits on the edge of the famous Lake Windermere and as a result has unparalleled views of the water. It combines everything as far as a holiday in one of the Lake District hotels goes, with incredible scenery, proximity to the water, beautiful walks, excellent food served in a restaurant that boasts three AA Rosettes, and that’s not to mention the hotel’s own grandeur and elegance at the centre of it all. In addition to 31 bedrooms the estate is home to nine log cabins to stay in and beautiful landscaped lawns to stroll throughout. So if you’re going to have an introduction to the Lake District, and take in all that makes this region so unique, it’s the perfect place to start!

But whatever your tastes a visit to this beautiful part of England and a stay in one of the Lake District hotels is a must this Summer. To check availability and book your choice just follow this link >>>

Afternoon Tea — As English as Roses

There’s nothing that evokes old-world England quite like afternoon tea. In the 19th century, and well into the 20th, it united the aristocracy and working classes as the country came to a halt at four o’clock for sandwiches, scones, cakes — and, of course, tea made the old fashioned way. As the old popular song put it, “everything stops for tea”.

Today, we might throw a tea-bag into a cup, but most of us don’t have time to stop for a full afternoon tea. We still love it, though, whenever we have the opportunity indulge ourselves at a tea-room or hotel.

Bespoke - Risley Hall Hoetl

 

Afternoon Tea in Hotels

If you’re in London, tea at a hotel like Claridges or the Dorchester is a treat everyone no one should deny themselves, but a hotel doesn’t have to be that famous or expensive for the experience to be special. Properties up and down the country offer this service both to guests and non-guests.

If you’re staying there, a traditional tea can make your break extra special. Or, if you’re in the vicinity of the right hotel, you can pop in and enjoy the elegance just as it should be.

Afternoon Tea 1

Here are just a few of the hotels around the country that offer afternoon tea:

  • Hallmark Carlisle Hotel — In the heart of the historic city of Carlisle, the Hallmark offers a comprehensive tea menu in the bar or brasserie. It’s popular, though, so you’ll need to book.
  • Tigerlily — A chic hotel in the centre of Edinburgh, Tigerlily’s celebrated restaurant offers tea either cosily inside or at its pavement tables on George Street in summer.
  • Hotel Gotham — A listed art-deco building in mid-town Manchester, the Hotel Gotham serves tea at any time between 2.30pm and 6pm.
  • Inn on the Lake — By contrast, the Lake District’s Inn on the Lake offers stunning views over Ullswater while you take your tea in either the Lake View Lounge or the Orangery.
  • The Grosvenor Arms — Situated in the picturesque Dorset town of Shaftesbury, the Grosvenor Arms serves tea in its restaurant.
  • Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth West Cliff — This elegant hotel in the middle of one of Britain’s most popular seaside resorts offers both traditional and themed teas.Afternoon Tea in Your Area

    Of course, these are just a handful of the many hotels around the country serving afternoon tea. Whether you’re on holiday or a day out, or whether you’d like to treat yourself close to home, check out your area for hotels to visit.

Crusts On or Crusts Off at Tea Time at Chic Hotels?

The importance of afternoon tea…

There has to be more than cream to afternoon tea at chic hotels to make it the popular phenomenon that it is. It doesn’t seem to matter where you’re from or how old you are, the prospect of an extra meal between lunch and dinner featuring impossibly small sandwiches and disproportionately large scones, is universal.

Chic hotels The Newton, Nairn
The Newton, Nairn

I think one of the reasons for it, is the wide possibilities for interpretation and innovation that this classic British institution allows even in modern chic hotels. Not to mention regional traditions that always provide healthy heated debate. Do you put the cream on first, or the jam? It is a question that has divided families and friends.

Whatever your cakey preference, it may well dictate the destination that you choose. After all, your afternoon tea style says a lot about your personality as well as that of those providing it. At the classically beautiful Stonefield Castle in Scotland a traditional approach of sandwiches and scones is exactly what you are looking for with your view of the loch.

Chic Hotels Risley Hall
Risley Hall Hotel

 

Others who do great justice to the customary variation on afternoon tea, and even throw in a log fire for good measure include the Lake District’s Inn on the Lake, and Cotswold House Hotel in Gloucestershire. At both hotels you will also obviously benefit from the hearty appetite generated from a bracing walk in the local area – it’s fine, all those hills nullify any calories you may or may not have been concerned about.

To take ‘chic’ to a whole new level however, you can always rely on Anouska Hempel to create great chic hotels. The interior designer who is famed for her high fashion flair and award-winning sense of luxury would no doubt be disappointed with anything less exquisite from the food that’s served on the carefully chosen plates. So when it comes to La Suite West in London, the 100% vegan, three course afternoon tea is just what Anna Wintour ordered, right down to the coconut cream and fresh strawberries. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

Perhaps in the 50 Shades world in which we live however, the best is yet to come. The upcoming opening of Hotel Gotham in Manchester in April is highly anticipated for its naughty-but-nice humour and serious sex appeal… just imagine what they might be doing with the raspberry jam and the oozing black chocolate Gotham Kirsch cake!?