The very British custom of Afternoon Tea has an interesting story, taking us on an evolutionary journey from the Aristocracy of Victorian Britain through the social climbing Middle Classes and eventually onto the masses in the 21st Century.
It all started in the 1800’s when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who, at the time was a close friend of Queen Victoria and a prominent figure within London society, complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon.
She wanted something small to satisfy her hunger, nothing too large just something to see her through until dinner time.
From this “pick-me-up” desire, the afternoon tea ritual was born. However, we need to highlight that it was traditionally only a small bite of something, not the big celebration that it is now.
Tea had been brought to Britain in the mid-17th Century and was written about by Samuel Pepys in 1660. The British East India Company had a monopoly on the supply of tea from China and it was seen as an aristocratic drink due to its high price.
However, by the mid-18th Century, tea had become inherently British, as it became cheaper, eventually becoming the drink of choice through the whole of Britain’s social hierarchy.
By the late 1800’s, Afternoon Tea had become a display of wealth, with cakes and sandwiches (there’s another interesting story!) being made by “the staff” and displayed on the finest porcelain.
Ladies dressed expansively, again displaying their ability to afford custom made dresses specifically made for the event, by renowned outfitters.
As the financial benefits of the Industrial revolution and the expansion of Britain’s international trade began to be enjoyed by the middle classes, the tradition carried on and became a staple social gathering and networking opportunity. The very fact that you could invite guests to your house for afternoon tea showed your wealth and your manners!
As with all things, Afternoon Tea has evolved, becoming a much-loved treat, enjoyed in hotels all over the UK and abroad. Here at The Green House, we have been serving Afternoon Tea for over a decade, tweaking our offering to delight our guests with beautifully prepared tasty treats.
Our latest evolution has been to develop an upgrade on regular sandwiches by offering a rotating choice of fantastic savoury items that could include mini-Quiches, Sourdough rolls or perhaps Cheese and Chutney pastry whirls – you just never know. What you can bank on is that they will be yummy!
And of course, don’t forget our fine selection of sweet treats and scones (with clotted cream and jam) all handmade by our fabulous chefs. So for one of the very best Afternoon Teas in Bournemouth, you know where to come!
We look forward to welcoming you for Tea very soon!