Afternoon tea is a quintessentially English custom started in the early 1800s by the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell. At that time, it was normal to only eat twice a day with dinner being late. The Duchess didn’t like the hunger pangs that she was getting mid-afternoon so she started the habit of taking tea with a snack. She invited friends to join her, it became fashionable (we can understand why) and the tradition was born!
Where does the phrase ‘high tea’ come from?
The upper classes were served tea on low tables so became known as ‘low tea’. The middle and lower classes generally had their tea a little later and it generally took the place of dinner. Because it was served at the dinner table it became known as ‘high tea’. It generally included savoury items. The term ‘high tea’ has become synonymous with afternoon tea, particularly overseas.
Scones – jam or cream first?
Scones were only included as part of afternoon tea in the early 1900s. Whether you out the jam on first or the cream largely depends on where you are in the country. If in Cornwall, then the jam goes on first, if in Devon, the cream!
Tea – milk first or tea?
Historically, milk was put into the cup before the tea to protect the fine porcelain china.
Where did the tea bag come from?
The tea bag was invented by accident. In 1908, an American tea merchant would give his customers small samples of his teas in silk bags. One customer thought that you were supposed to immerse the whole thing rather than extract the leaves from the bag!
It’s estimated that we drink a staggering 165,000,000 (that’s 165 million!) cups of tea each and every day in the UK.
Great places for afternoon tea in the Peak District
It may be wise to book ahead:
Biggin Hall, Biggin-by-Hartington
Bow Boutique, Matlock
Upstairs at Charlotte’s, Buxton
East Lodge Hotel, Rowsley
Merchants Yard, Tideswell
World of Wedgwood, Barlaston