Afternoon tea was first introduced in the British upper class by an influential aristocrat, the Duchess of Bedford, when she began to invite her friends to take tea with her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. It was at this time when gas-lighting was introduced to upper class homes and eating supper later in the evening was made possible, and even fashionable. Aristocratic ladies would take light snacks late in the afternoon while drinking tea to tide them over until supper.
Traditionally, Darjeeling or Assam black tea were served for afternoon tea with a choice of milk or lemon and sugar. A variety of crustless sandwiches, sweet scones and pastries were served alongside tea as a customary gesture. The host usually serves the tea and let the guests add milk and sugar according to their preference.
Afternoon tea is now enjoyed between 2pm and 5pm where one would either skip lunch or dinner, and is more of an occasional indulgence than an everyday occurence. A good selection of teas around the world are now available, including Chinese green tea, oolong tea, black tea, pu-erh tea, fruit teas and herbal infusions that are equally enticing, if not more adventurous to the palette. Macarons, cupcakes, pies and cakes are common desserts served alongside afternoon tea.
For enticing fruit-blended tea selections, check out our unique tea blend collection here.