The consumption of a small meal in the afternoon usually consisting of tiny sandwiches, small cakes and a cup of tea was established in the mid nineteenth century. At the time lunch would have been served around noon and dinner (this was only in the great houses of the aristocracy and wealthy merchants) not until eight in the evening and so this small snack in the afternoon was desirable.

From this a great British tradition – Afternoon Tea – was born which became common in many households and still continues today.

Typical English Afternoon Tea.
Typical English Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon tea should be elegant

It is a time for relaxing with family or friends over ‘polite’ conversation enjoying good company but without the pressures of a large complicated meal such as dinner or lunch.

The food should be small and dainty – tiny sandwiches, small cakes or scones and a delicate cup of tea.

It should be served in small, fine china cups with small plates for the food.

You should be sitting on armchairs or a sofa or, in the summer, outside maybe on the lawn

The table should be beautifully laid with a neat table cloth, a small vase of flowers and beautiful crockery. The food can be arranged on a cake stand or on pretty china serving plates.

Afternoon tea 2Afternoon Tea is becoming very popular again

Although the tradition of afternoon tea is long and established in the UK, in the 70s and 80s there was a decline as many of the traditional tea-shops closed and coffee became more popular. However, over the past few years it has regained its popularity with many people choosing to have afternoon tea to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries often with the addition of champagne!

Personally, I prefer a more traditional, low-key affair.

Afternoon tea at Swinton Park
Afternoon tea at Swinton Park

Afternoon Tea at Fleetham Lodge

We will always include afternoon tea on our courses either in the house and/or outside at a tea-shop, such as the very famous Yorkshire tea-shop Betty’s.

In the winter, we will sit around a roaring open fire and eat fruit cake, crumpets or muffins. In the summer, we will have the table outside on the terrace (on those rare warm days) and eat cucumber sandwiches and scones with cream and home-made strawberry jam. Our students will sit around the garden among the flowers and trees, perhaps after a game of tennis or croquet or an afternoon visit.

We would love you to sample afternoon tea for yourself

Every month, we have 10 small afternoon tea parcels of tea and cake to give away. We would love you to sign up for one of these and we’ll post it directly to you.

Click here to receive your special afternoon tea pack

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