Afternoon tea was commonly known as a mid-to-afternoon snack that is eaten typically between 2 pm and 5 pm. Though this custom was most common in The United Kingdom, other places have also been known to nickname their mealtimes “tea,” such as Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. They refer to dinner as “tea.” Who knew that tea could take on the meaning of an entire meal?
The whole idea of having meals in between meals, and referring to it as “afternoon tea,” began in the 1800’s in England. For the upper class, the English ate lunch in the middle of the day, and dinner around 8 pm or later. Therefore, a meal in between lunch and dinner was usually desired, and it included tea (which is a very common beverage in England), so hence the title “afternoon tea.” The lower classes ate what they called dinner around 11 am and a small supper at 7 pm. They too had an afternoon tea in between the meals. Now that class status isn’t an issue and meal times aren’t as ritualized, afternoon tea is something you will only find in a fancy hotel or teashop. Although, that doesn’t mean that tea still isn’t a great treat in the afternoon, or that the British (or others) don’t tend to find themselves craving a great snack with a flavorful tea in the middle of the day.
So, if you are wondering what the big deal was about having to have afternoon tea everyday, you need to understand how appetizing it really was. Let’s walk you through the preparation of afternoon tea. It was common to brew loose leaf tea and serve it with milk and sugar (you may know this as a tea latte). Of course, you may want to choose a black tea, because the caffeine will surely give you a boost to get you through the day. Also, black tea is great as a latte when you mix it with milk. Chai tea (a spiced black tea) is also a great, spicy choice as well, and also makes a delightful tea latte. Then of course, you have to have a snack with your tea. The tea was often paired with a small sandwich, think cucumber sandwiches, which by the way, are great with cream cream cheese. Other types of sandwiches that were popular were egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon. Pastries were also present. Scones, fruitcake, sponge cakes, crumpets, and muffins were common at afternoon tea as well.
If you’ve ever been to a tea party or a fancy hotel, you have probably seen these types of goodies served on a decorative tiered stand. If you’ve never hosted a tea party before, it can be a very fun way to get your favorite group of ladies together. It’s fun to bring back the ritual of afternoon tea, and it is such a delicious excuse to have a yummy snack and a rich tea with a touch of sweetness in the middle of the day, it makes one wonder why this delicious tradition had to come to end.
To kick off your very own afternoon tea delight, here is a tip on how to make a chai tea latte:
- You’ll need : black tea bags as desired(or you can always prepare loose leaf black tea), 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of ground ginger, a quarter teaspoon of allspice, one cup of water (for one serving), one cup of milk, a quarter cup of sugar or sweetener, 2 tablespoons of French refrigerated vanilla non-diary creamer (optional), and whipped topping with nutmeg (optional).
- Then: Place water, tea bags and spices in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then, add in sugar or sweetener. Next, stir in the milk and creamer if desired. Give the mixture a nice stir to blend all ingredients together. Pour into your favorite tea cup. Follow up with whipped topping and nutmeg if desired.
Now, grab your favorite pastry and take time out to have a pleasurable afternoon tea.