Afternoon tea is a traditional course in Britain. It is a mini-refreshment that comprises tea, along with snacks such as sandwich, toasts, pastries, or scones. It is usually had any time between 3 pm to 5 pm in the afternoon. This fills the gap between luncheon and dinner and helps suppress hunger pangs. It also helps people refresh themselves during the afternoon hours.
The concept of afternoon tea began in the 1840s and was reportedly the idea of the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russel. The concept soon caught up with the elite ladies, who visited each other for an afternoon tea, which served as an opportunity for socialization.
Types of Afternoon Tea
The various types of afternoon tea in England include the cream tea, light tea, or a full tea.
· The cream tea in general is a light snack with tea, scones, cream, and butter. The term could also refer to a tea with cream added to it, although milk and sugar are preferred in Britain.
· The full tea is another type of afternoon tea, which consists of tea, sweets, and savories like finger sandwich. The full tea is served in a 3-tier tray, where the bottom tier holds the savories and the top two tiers hold the sweets.
· The light tea refers to the course where tea is had along with various sweets. The sweets could include scones, cupcakes, sponge cakes, or a fruit dessert.
Ideas for Afternoon Tea Menu
The items that find place in an afternoon tea menu often include various types of scones and sandwiches with condiments such as Devonshire cream, lemon curd, or rose butter. Sandwiches can be made with egg, ham, fish, or chicken. Jam and clotted cream accompany the scones. Pastries, cakes, and Madeleine cookies also go well with tea.
What is High Tea ?
Afternoon tea and high tea are terms which are often confused with each other. However, these refer to two different courses. While the afternoon tea is usually had in the afternoon, the high tea is had between 5 pm to 7 pm. The high tea menu comprises heavy dishes made of meat, fish, vegetables, or baked foods and serves as an early dinner for the working class after long hours of work.
Afternoon Tea in Modern Times
Although originally an English custom, the routine of afternoon tea spread to other parts of the world too. However, changing lifestyles and work schedules have made many to give up this routine in recent times. The modern day afternoon tea is similar to other short tea breaks, where tea is had as refreshment. Biscuits are sometimes had too. A formal afternoon tea is considered as a treat, which is had at a gathering, hotel, or tea shop.
Afternoon Tea and St. George’s Day
With the custom of the afternoon tea tradition fading away from everyday life, St. George’s day is a good occasion to host an afternoon tea party. This day is commemorated to honor Saint George, the patron English saint. It is celebrated on April 23 of every year with traditional English foods and the afternoon tea.