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The return of afternoon tea
The return of afternoon teaUs Brits are known as a nation of tea lovers, with 165 million cups drunk every day, but the traditional of ‘high tea’ has only recently started making a comeback. With its dainty finger sandwiches, delicate cakes and scones topped with lashings of clotted cream and steaming pots of tea, it’s a world away from the big mug of builders’ tea we often associate with a brew.
Taking afternoon tea apparently originated in the 1600s, when Charles the second’s wife brought the custom over with her from Portugal. Nowadays, many top hotels offer afternoon tea, serving up a selection of expertly crafted cakes and sandwiches with your brew, as well as the option to add a glass of champagne if you feel like celebrating. One of the most famous of these is tea at the Ritz.
Irene Gorman, head of the Tea Council, explained the resurgence of afternoon tea: "Afternoon tea was always in the background of daily life for many; now it’s moving to the forefront as more people realise it’s a nice thing to do. It’s a chance to get dressed-up and enjoy a luxurious yet affordable treat for yourself and your friends.
"When it’s done well, it doesn’t disappoint and is an ideal opportunity to sit and relax!"
Afternoon tea must, as the name suggests, be tea; no coffee allowed. Tea is refreshing and relaxing whereas coffee is more likely to leave you anxious. And don’t forget, the tea must be served in a pot; it makes a much tastier brew than just swishing a bag around a cup.
If your idea of heaven is warm, plump sultana scones slathered in clotted cream and never-ending cups of tea but your budget won’t stretch to a trip to the top Mayfair hotels, then why not make it yourself?
A typical Afternoon Tea menu should consist of:
- A selection of freshly-prepared finger sandwiches
- Warm scones with clotted cream and preserves
- A variety of homemade pastries, fruit cake and biscuits
- A choice of teas