Afternoon Tea Week takes place every second full week in August — August 7 to 13 this year. It’s the perfect holiday for when It’s been too long since lunch and it’s still a while to go before dinner time. Starting as a means of sating midday hunger, afternoon tea is a British custom that involves people eating finger foods, sweet and savory sandwiches, and drinking tea. The menu usually contains scones accompanied by jam and clotted cream, as these items are considered a staple for any afternoon tea session. During this time of the year, restaurants and hotels offer special discounts and options for consumers to enjoy and celebrate this English tradition.
History of Afternoon Tea Week
For many people, when there’s a mention of afternoon tea, the U.K. pops to mind instantly, and rightfully so, too, because the tradition of having tea during the afternoon was started in England in the 1840s. Anna Maria Russell became the Duchess of Bedford in 1939, after her husband, Francis Russell, ascended to the position of a dukedom. While on a visit to the fifth Duke of Rutland, Russell started feeling lethargic and hungry. In the nineteenth century, it became normal to have dinner served and eaten from seven to nine at night. Because this was so late, a small meal called ‘luncheon’ was created. However, the luncheon meal also failed to keep the hunger pangs at bay.
This is when she came up with the concept of afternoon tea, and this appeared to do the trick. Tea paired with savory sandwiches and sweet cakes became Russell’s go-to midday meal. She also started inviting her friends for an afternoon tea session. This custom was soon picked up by people from the upper- and middle-upper classes.
Today, afternoon tea is enjoyed by many all over the globe. While Russell’s friends and social circle spread it to the rest of England, it didn’t become as commonplace or as traditional until Queen Victoria, who was also a friend of Russell’s, started having afternoon tea. Eventually, having afternoon tea became a social event of sorts. People from your social circle would be invited for an afternoon of social discussions over some tea and other refreshments. Special dress codes were also decided beforehand, and while today it is not necessary to come dressed in formal thematic garb, going to an afternoon tea is still considered a special occasion. You can host an afternoon tea in the comfort of your home, or you can choose to go to a restaurant or hotel to enjoy the tea, food, and service.
Afternoon Tea Week timeline
Tea is initially discovered in China and people chew the leaves to get energy and rejuvenation.
After the reduction in heavy import duties, tea becomes a bit cheaper, allowing more and more people to buy it.
Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, creates and introduces afternoon tea sessions in England as a way to cure hunger pangs experienced at midday.
Queen Mary outlines the perfect etiquette and menu for having afternoon tea.
Afternoon Tea Week FAQs
Is there a National Afternoon Tea Day?
Every year, National Afternoon Tea Day is celebrated on the last Friday of June. But, if one day is not enough for you, then you can also celebrate Afternoon Tea Week from August 8 to 14.
What is a typical afternoon tea menu?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to an afternoon tea menu. However, if you want to follow a traditional menu, you can have sandwiches, cakes, scones, and teacakes. You can also choose to include biscuits and pastries.
What time is afternoon tea in the U.K.?
Afternoon tea is usually served between three and five in the U.K.
Afternoon Tea Week Activities
Prepare afternoon tea
If you are a lover of tea, this is your week. But if you are a lover of coffee, then this is also the perfect time to try something new. Afternoon tea is a beloved English tradition that not only involves food but also catching up with friends and family as you relax and wind down for the day.
Host an afternoon tea party
This is the perfect opportunity for you to invite your friends and family for a midday hangout. You can prepare light finger foods and sandwiches. You can also go ahead and make some cupcakes and brownies as you brew your selection of tea. All these items may be small and simple to prepare, but they do make for great snacks.
Have afternoon tea at an eatery
If you don’t feel like doing all the preparations at home, don’t worry as you can still celebrate the day by going to a restaurant or hotel that offers afternoon tea. Keep an eye out for discounts and offers to get the best food at great deals.
5 Facts About Tea That Will Blow Your Mind
Tea is very healthy
Drinking tea regularly can prove to be quite healthy as it is packed with antioxidants that help your body to fight off cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, and several other ailments.
It’s great for long-term energy
If you are looking to feel energized for a long period, then having tea is the answer, as the antioxidants present in it will allow for a slower absorption of caffeine, leaving you feeling energized for longer.
Ice tea for summer
Americans first tasted iced tea when the tea merchant Richard Blechynden dumped ice into his tea brew to give the drink an appeal to passersby at the 1904 World Fair.
Herbal tea is not real tea
Drinks labeled ‘mint tea’, ‘turmeric tea’, or similar are not tea, but merely infusions as real tea comes from a camellia plant.
The tea-making process indicated social class
Before modern times, people who poured hot tea before milk into their China cups would be considered wealthier as their China would be able to handle the hot temperature of tea without cracking or breaking.
Why We Love Afternoon Tea Week
It’s a celebration of togetherness
Afternoon tea is an English custom that has continued for centuries. People from all over the world take part in it as it is a fun activity involving tea, food, and the company of our loved ones. Such combinations make for having a great time overall.
It’s a celebration of tea
Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage after water? Now that’s some dedication and passion because while we do need water for the sake of survival, there’s no scientific proof that says we need tea to survive. People have it because it tastes great, has tons of health benefits, and provides one with the right amount of energy.
It’s a celebration of social customs
While afternoon tea is only as old as the 1840s, the idea of having tea as a snack during midday goes further back. Many people in South Asia, for example, have frothy tea as they sit down for a break from the day’s work. This brief tea break session is accompanied by light snacks such as samosas, rotis, and cake rusks.
Afternoon Tea Week dates