Our new Vintage Afternoon Teas are proving to be popular and so we thought it would be interesting to look at the history of afternoon tea and some legends and stories associated with the popular beverage.
The custom of drinking tea dates back as far as the third millenium bc in China. Legend has it that Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water! The British East India Company was formed in 1600 and was crucial to the history of the tea trade and began importing tea to Britain and indeed the success of the business was thanks to the tea trade. The British also introduced tea production and consumption to India to compete with the Chinese monopoly on tea. Tea was popularised in England by Charles II in the 1660s. Charles was married to the Catherine of Braganza from Portugal where she had developed a taste for the beverage and so its popularity grew.
Some interesting facts about tea!
- The tradition of afternoon tea has been attributed to Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford in 1840. She complained of being hungry between lunch and dinner and so an afternoon tray was brought to her bedroom with tea, bread and butter and cakes. She then began inviting friends to tea and it soon became the thing to do for upper class and society women. By the 1880s women would dress up for tea and it would be served in the drawing room rather than bedrooms.
- The most expensive teabag in the world was created by Boodles the jeweller to celebrate the 75th anniversary of PG Tips. The diamond encrusted teabag was valued at £7500.
- As a nation, it is estimated that the British consume around 62 billion cups of tea a year.
- Afternoon Tea was traditionally an upper class social event comprising of light finger food, sandiwiches, scones, pastries and cakes. High Tea however was heavier affair for the working classes and comprised of bread, meat, pies and tea.
- One of the most expensive afternoon teas ever was served at Cliveden at a cost of £550 per couple. The priciest ingredients were used including beluga caviar, mini canapes, chocolate opera cake using amadei porcelana – one of the most expensive chocolates in the world and Da Hong Pao tea leaves which costs more than £2000 per kilo!
- Fortnum & Mason in London is synonymous with tea and first started selling it in 1707.
- Traditionally milk was poured into the cup first in order to protect the fine china and for no other reason.
Today, afternoon teas can be found far and wide in smart hotels, restaurants and cafes around the British Isles and are largely comprised of similar ingredients with only minor differences such as jam or cream first!
Come and try our Vintage Afternoon Teas at The GInger Peanut – perfect for any kind of celebration – hen parties, baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries or purely a chance to meet up with friends and colleagues.
Booking is essential on 01398 332244 / firstname.lastname@example.org