It’s hard to imagine a greater British summer than this. The pageantry and tradition of the Queen’s Jubilee weekend in June, the dizzying weeks of sporting excellence and amazing spectacle of the Olympics and with so much more inspiration and excitement surrounding the ongoing Paralympic Games.
London has a lot to be proud of and how better to celebrate than over a nice spot of afternoon tea? We’re known the world over not only for our partiality to a cuppa but for taking it – with snacks! – at about four o’clock, also known as Tea Time. Afternoon tea, while not necessarily a daily staple in every household, lingers in the national soul, a quintessential English ritual, perhaps observed as a treat every once in a while.
How did this quirky custom originate? Well, it is said to have started in 1840 with Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who apparently complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. A pot of tea , some bread and butter and cake seemed to do the trick. She moved on to inviting friends to join her in the ritual at Woburn Abbey, and before long, all of high society became accustomed to ‘taking’ tea at the appointed time.
What does one get? Well, a traditional afternoon tea consists of neat little sandwiches, including the renowned cucumber sandwich with wafer thin slices, scones served with clotted cream and preserves (that’s jam to us plebs), and other cakes and pastries, all presented on fine china. This array of indulgences is elegantly washed down with tea hailing from India or Sri Lanka, poured from a silver teapot.
The world famous afternoon tea at The Ritz
You can experience a traditional English afternoon tea in numerous locations across London, with the top hotels being famed for their renderings. The Ritz describes its afternoon tea as ‘an institution in itself’, with five sittings per day reflecting the level of popular demand. You’ll get a scrumptious selection of six sandwiches on five different types of bread.
The Great British Afternoon Tea at Claridges
Claridges, proud winner of ‘The Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea 2011’ award is currently offering a seasonal ‘Great British Afternoon Tea’ which includes Pimms, Champagne and a nice helping of raspberry ripple ice cream. For tea enthusiasts, The Savoy might be for you. They offer a selection of 30 teas from across the world, including China and Iran – watch the video here.
The Fashionista tea at The Berkeley
Alternatively, you can find plenty of London venues offering afternoon tea with a twist. Check out the Fashionista tea down at the Berkeley, offering cakes and fancies ‘in the colours of the fashion season and in the style of the world’s finest designers’ or if you have a bigger hole to fill, try the Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea at Sanctum Soho for a red meat, high-carb, Jack Daniels extravaganza!
This is a guest post from Carmel Gould.Google+