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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Afternoon Tea

Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford introduced the idea of Afternoon Tea around 1840. Because the noon meal had become skimpier, and there was no other meal until eight o’clock dinner, the Duchess used to suffer from "a sinking feeling" at about four o'clock in the afternoon. Adopting the European tea service format, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu included ham, tongue or beef sandwiches, small cakes, assorted sweets, and tea. This summer practice proved so popular, the Duchess having returned to London, sent cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walking the fields."

By the end of the decade the practice of the Duchess of Bedford, of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon has been picked up by other social hostesses in Britain and its empire. Afternoon tea was swiftly becoming a daily social occasion for the aristocracy and buttered scones were an important part of this fashionable "taking tea” ritual.

By the mid 1860s, Queen Victoria had adopted the new craze for tea parties. The Queen and her ladies adorned formal dress for the afternoon teas. The Victoria sandwich cake, named after her was one of her Majesty's favorites.

The terms ‘low tea’ and ‘high tea’ were coined according to whether tea was taken at low coffee style tables or high dinner tables. 

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