“Tea to the English is really a picnic indoor” – Alice Walker
Afternoon tea has long been concerned as the most quintessential of English customs, which was created by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1894 due to her demand. The Duchess would be hungry around 4 o’clock in the afternoon while the evening meal was always served at 8 o’clock. To overwhelm the long gap between lunch and evening meals, she required a tray of tea, bread, butter and cake to her room that later on became a habit of hers.
Henry James has humorously concerned afternoon tea as a fashionable ceremony in which 1880’s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves, and hats for that occasion that was usually served in the drawing room between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Traditional tea rooms always serve afternoon tea with a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, miniature cakes. They also provide a variety of tea grown in India, Ceylon or China which you can choose for your own. Tea will be poured from silver teapots into delicate bone china cups.
My most favourite travelling author has mentioned that the best English cream tea is from Devonshire – a county in South West England which is famous worldwide for its Devon clotted cream.
If you have a chance to visit Yorkshire, you shouldn’t miss out Bettys Café Tea Rooms in St Helen’s Square – an 82-year-old tea room with gorgeous interiors inspired Queen Mary ocean liner, which is also home to a great afternoon tea spot I absolutely recommend. Especially, the clotted cream is such a highlight of the meal because of its super smooth texture and incredible flavour. It costs £19.95 for a Bettys Traditional Afternoon Tea with a pot of house tea.
I had a day back to 19th century when experiencing traditional afternoon tea surrounded by ladies and gentlemen wearing 19th costume at the Pump Room in Bath which was once ‘the heart of the Georgian social scene, when high society flocked to the city for the waters which they believed would relieve all their illnesses and discomforts’ These days, Pump Room is used as an elegant dining and afternoon tea establishments providing brilliant musical accompaniment until 5 o’clock. What an enjoyable spot for teatime! Revealingly, you’ll also grab 10% off meal with BathSpa ticket.
The Somerset High Tea truly surprised me by its very delightful taste, includes Free-range Scotch egg with piccalilli, Chicken and fennel sausage roll with onion chutney, a homemade cider and apple cake with apple jam.
Convent Garden is a popular shopping and tourist site where has numerous tearooms offering the quintessential English afternoon tea experience. Randomly popping into Browns Convent Garden for afternoon tea. There is a stylish and elegant spot which was once the Westminster County Court building. In fact, it’s hard to find the Devonshire cream tea with original flavour in London, so you should not have much expectation since the clotted cream will have a taste like Tesco double cream. However, the fruitcakes, home-baked chocolate brownie with honeycomb ice-cream, red wine poached pear with whipped mascarpone with English borage honey and toasted hazelnut praline are very surprising, beautiful and refreshingly light.
No visit to Great Britain is complete without afternoon tea experience. Let’s have a 1-hour pause in the late afternoon for some tea with your beloved people.