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The History Of Afternoon Tea – Who Invented It?

The history of afternoon tea is a rich and fascinating one, steeped in tradition and elegance.

This has been a beloved English pastime over centuries by people from all walks of life. It’s is a tradition that remains as popular today as it was in the 19th century.

But who exactly invented afternoon tea? And what is the story behind this beloved tradition?

Origins Of Afternoon Tea

The origins of afternoon tea can be traced back to the early 19th century. Households served lunch at noon and dinner wasn’t served until 9 or 10pm at night.

Lady Anna Maria Stanhope, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, disliked what she referred to as “a sinking feeling” between lunch and dinner.

To ease this feeling, she began to serve tea, cakes, and sandwiches in her drawing room at 4 o’clock every day. This became known as “afternoon tea” or “low tea” due to the fact that it was served on low tables instead of a more formal dining table.

Lady Anna Maria’s invention caught on, and she began inviting friends to join her for “tea and a walk” in the grounds surrounding Woburn Abbey, her home.

As word spread about afternoon tea, it grew in popularity amongst the British upper class and elite. Soon, afternoon tea was being served in grand hotels and exclusive tea rooms across the country.

It became a ritual for the well-to-do to gather for tea and conversation in the afternoon. People believed it a mark of good breeding to be able to host a successful afternoon tea party.

Growing Popularity Until The Current Day

As the popularity of afternoon tea continued to grow, new customs and traditions began to emerge. For example, it became customary to serve tea with a variety of sweet and savory snacks. Most importantly, including scones, jam, and clotted cream.

The ritual of drinking tea from porcelain cups and saucers also became a defining feature of an afternoon tea.

Today, afternoon tea is enjoyed by people all over the world, and it remains a beloved tradition passed down through generations.

From the first sip of tea to the last bite of scone, afternoon tea is a luxurious experience. It will remain a cherished tradition for years to come.

History Of Afternoon Tea | The Birth Of The Tea Party

Tea parties were often hosted following traditional occasions such as weddings or funerals and were also used to strengthen social ties between families.

Over time these events evolved into grand affairs with intricate desserts including macaroons and petit fours served alongside delicate sandwiches and scones made with Devonshire cream.

By the 1920s all classes of English society were taking part in this delicious pastime – some even drinking champagne with their meal!

Afternoon tea including scones, cream and jam has become a feature of English culture.

5 Famous People Who Like Afternoon Tea

Many famous figures have enjoyed a cup of tea and a few light snacks in the afternoon.

Here are five of the most famous fans of this traditional English meal.

Queen Elizabeth II

The late Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She was always well-known for her love of afternoon tea. The Queen had afternoon tea at 4:00pm every day and often invited guests to join her at Windsor Castle.

Both her late husband, Prince Phillip, and her son King Charles III, shared her love for this meal.

Kate Middleton

The Princess Of Wales is also a member of the British royal family. Like the late Queen, she is also well-known for her love of afternoon tea.

When pregnant with Prince George she publicly stated her craving for scones with clotted cream and jam!

Barack Obama

Former United States President Barack Obama is another famous person who enjoys afternoon tea.

In 2015, he even hosted a state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping that featured an afternoon tea service.

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston is a famous American actress who is an enthusiastic lover of mid-afternoon tea.

She has been quoted as saying she loves the ritual of sitting down and enjoying a cup of tea and some delicious snacks.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, talk show host, and philanthropist who is also known as big fan of classic afternoon tea.

In 2012 she held an afternoon tea party at her home in California that featured over 100 varieties of tea!

So, there you have it. The history of afternoon tea and some famous people who love it too!

Whilst the meal has changed over the years, afternoon tea remains a very popular tradition.

If you want to experience a classic afternoon tea, book your table now at Stanmer House in Brighton. We can’t wait to welcome you.