HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR TEA? With one lump or two? You put the what in first!?!
Tea to us Brits is as much of a lifeline as water. We love it. It’s hot, easy to make, soul enriching goodness that suits every season and occasion. Whether we are celebrating at the end of a feast, need a heart to heart or just what we do when we arrive home. Tea is always there in its many forms.
Afternoon Tea is as much of a British Institution as the drink itself, but you might be forgiven for thinking it’s been around since the early centuries. It was first introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840 (yes, we MK folk can have a claim to being near the birthplace of Afternoon Tea).
Afternoon Tea was created when the Duchess would get hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. With the evening meal being served at around eight o’clock, the long stretch between lunchtime and dinner was just a bit too long for her to tolerate. The Duchess asked for a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake to be brought to her in the late afternoon as a stopgap until dinner. This started to become a firm habit and the Duchess started asking friends to join her and here we have the birth of Afternoon Tea.
These days Afternoon Tea is available around the world in many different ways but it will always be fondly and unapologetically British.
Traditional Afternoon Tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and cakes and pastries. Some real traditionalists will say one of the sandwich flavours will need to be thinly sliced cucumber but as long as they are small and delicate I don’t mind seeing more adventurous flavours on Tea Menus.
American author Alice Walker speaking on Afternoon Tea said “Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors” and I totally understand why she thinks this. With Britain infamous for struggling with our picnic weather, the aristocrats who created taking tea in afternoon prominent in history with their porcelain china skin from choosing to avoid the outdoor sun. It really is a posh indoor picnic with none of the plastic tableware.
There is a whole week dedicated to celebrating Afternoon Tea and it’s happening this coming week 8 August – 14 August 2016 so join me as I scour to find the best Afternoon Tea in Milton Keynes or if you can’t bear to leave the house, dust off your teapot, invite your friends over and do what we do best, eat cake, drink tea and be fabulous.