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History of Afternoon Tea

History of Afternoon Tea & High Tea

Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese born Queen to Charles II, introduced tea drinking to English Royalty and the aristocracy in the mid Seventeenth century.

Tea drinking became popular in the male dominated coffee houses of London. Loose leaf tea was sold enabling women to brew in the privacy of their homes and indulge in elegant Afternoon Tea Parties.

However, John Wesley and the Methodists argued that tea was harmful to health and called for abstinence from tea. Others suggested that tea drinking by the working classes be discouraged as it was the preserve of high society. Dr Samuel Johnson disagreed and advanced its cause.

In the late eighteenth century Tea Rooms and Tea Shops became popular and tea drinking became more prevalent especially amongst women, and featured prominently in the works of Charles Dickens.

Tea served outside in Tea Gardens also became popular from this time on. Tea Dances evolved from Tea Garden events, but popularity peaked by the mid nineteenth century.

Afternoon Tea

The ritual of taking quintessential English traditional Afternoon Tea with sandwiches during the late afternoon was started by the Duchess of Bedford in 1841 and soon afternoon tea parties became fashionable in high society with accompanying Rules of Tea Etiquette. A British Institution was born.

High Tea

High Tea evolved as the working class equivalent of Afternoon Tea albeit taken later in early evening as the prelude to the main meal of the day.

Society also split on ways to make tea, with the more affluent classes preferring milk in first, rather than the working class habit of pouring tea followed by milk.


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