Brits are potty for afternoon tea

It's National Afternoon Tea Week, so grab the teapot and some scones (however you pronounce it)

There is no question that afternoon tea is in vogue. And it has definitely evolved a lot over the last two hundred years. These days afternoon tea is enjoyed by many, but most of all it's now an avenue for chefs to express their creative flair and add new twists to the indulgent British tradition.

The birth of afternoon tea is credited to Anna Maria, the 7th Duchess of Bedford around 1840. At the time, it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day: breakfast and dinner (around 8pm) and Maria is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. So, the solution for the Duchess was a pot of tea and a light snack taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon. She then started to invite friends to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire and the tradition became popular within fashionable society.

Read more: 10 best teapots
50 Best tea rooms

Afternoon tea has become synonymous with opulence, which is why it has always been seen as a middle or upper class activity, however AfternoonTea.co.uk managing director Keith Newton said: “Over the last few years, there has been a renewed interest in British traditions, particularly in our food and drink - The Great British Bake Off is a good example of this.

“The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympics helped to increase our sense of national pride and we saw a big increase in the rise in people taking afternoon tea as a result.”

He added: “Afternoon tea isn’t an everyday activity, it is an opportunity to indulge and to take time relaxing with friends and family.

“For visitors to the UK, afternoon tea is a novelty and a chance to try something different. Many visitors believe that the British still have afternoon tea everyday!”

Bō Làng, Chelsea Basic afternoon tea consists of finger sandwiches, scones (accompanied by jam and cream) and pastries on a tiered plate, all washed down by a pot of tea set in a lush garden or a posh hotel. But nowadays, it goes beyond these settings, and has become a detailed and artistic experience.

“In recent years, we have seen chefs getting more adventurous with their afternoon tea menus. Most still stick to the traditional framework of sandwiches, scones and cakes but let their culinary skills go to town with delicious new sandwich fillings and flavoured breads. Their artistic flair is used to create delicate deserts and sweet treats,” says Newton.

“We have also seen a big increase in the number of themed menus on offer. Events such as Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon, Halloween and Christmas provide an opportunity to serve something different and spice up their usual menu.”

Afternoon teas are so popular that this week sees Afternoon Tea Week (August 11-17) set up by afternoon tea online guide afternoontea.co.uk.

Newton explained: “We want to celebrate the tradition of afternoon tea and encourage people to get involved, whether you are going ‘out to tea’ at a hotel, buying cakes from your local bakery or preparing and baking it from scratch at home.”

The afternoon tea aficionado’s top five London summer afternoon teas are those with a summer theme or venues that allow you to sit outdoors and enjoy the sunshine.

Afternoon tea fusions are also a growing trend. Mo Cafe and Terrace at MoMo Restaurant is a North African haven set in the heart of the city. Its chef, Soufian Larbi, puts a Moroccan twist to a quintessentially British menu. The idea of this fusion is to engage people from different kinds of backgrounds. Instead of finger sandwiches, expect Zaalouk - charcoal grilled aubergines mixed with spices on bruschetta; Cheese briouats and Mechouria - charcoal-roasted peppers with tomato and garlic on bruschetta. The Maghrebin pastries are almond-based that can only be found and eaten at the restaurant and the scones contain cinnamon powder.

Mo Cafe and Terrace Chelsea’s Bō Làng’s Anglo-Chinese fusion, prepared by head chef Chen Fang, includes the following savoury treats to name a few: Crispy duck with cucumber and duck sauce, Beetroot with fresh salad, fresh cheese with cucumber topped with balsamic pearls and crab meat and mayo. The pastries are sprinkled with green tea powder. The restaurant’s afternoon teas are served in beautiful, traditional cast iron teapots and accompanied by a range of delicate, oriental flavoured pastries.

And if one nice setting is not enough for one sitting, there is BB Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, where you can hop on a double-decker Routemaster and enjoy the sights of Central London as you tuck in sweet and savoury treats.

Bettys Tea Room, Harlow Carr Outside of the capital, there are some brilliant afternoon teas to try. For instance, Betty's in Yorkshire is known for its decadent afternoon tea experience and of course, you can experience the English social custom where it all began at Bedfordshire's Woburn Abbey at The Duchess' Tea Room.

There are certainly lots of different types to try. Some are made for tourists, but there are plenty out there that offer a wonderful dining experience to share with family and friends. Even if you want to have a go at home yourself, why not put the kettle on?

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence