High tea tradition
Have you ever wonder about high tea or rather afternoon tea? English tradition of drinking tea as a social event dates back to the days when kings and queens had all the power in the world. Actually, it dates back to the year 1840 when the Duchess of Bedford couldn’t wait for late dinners in her household.
Early lunch was responsible that she became hungry around five o’clock and being a wealthy Duchess she had the power of responding to her wishes. That is why she rang her servants to bring her some tea and snacks to her room. Who wouldn’t enjoy the delicious snack in the afternoon, especially if there is a long way to dinner? So it’s completely understandable to me that this afternoon tea became a habit of hers.
It’s commonly known that good things become even better in a company and so she invited her friends over for the afternoon tea. All of us can get used to good things very quickly, now and back in the old days. Afternoon tea quickly became a social event for which high society women wanted to present themselves in the most glamorous way.
The display of fashionable hats and clothes was usually held in the drawing room around five o’clock. However, I believe that it took place also in well-maintained gardens that were usually part of palaces. With new habits, new rules of drinking tea also arose to make social events smoother.
Rules at high tea
To prevent the misunderstanding whose were that dainty porcelain cups, different patterns were painted on each cup. The rule of stirring tea makes less sense to me as one should only back and forth in an up-and-down motion. Maybe this stirring rule was meant to make the event a little quieter as when there are a lot of ladies in one room and things can get loud. And it would be also totally inconvenient if a precious cup would break. Yes, this used to be more or less a ladies’ event.
When gentlemen joined for the occasion there was a lot of pressure put on them, as ladies were assessing their every move. Absolutely no raising extended pinkies and a way how he put down the spoon after the pleasant stir could determine his future.
Now when we aren’t so sensitive about gender issues, gentlemen are comfortable in enjoying the lovely tea time. It doesn’t matter who drinks tea, or when the tea is served. What matters is that the tea is delicious and tasty food is neatly displayed in front of the guests. Just like there are more tea selections the finger food also got some extra dimensions.
Simply enjoy it
Today, fewer rules apply to enjoy afternoon tea etiquette. You can have a simple version of tea with scones, some all you can eat varieties or a lavish gourmet treat. As in many things in the modern world, the sky is the limit. The trend is also a modern approach with different bites or more locally inspired bites. There is only one requirement – good scones with a delicious jam and clotted cream.
Colonial England took high tea tradition on other parts of the world
A powerful kingdom like England used to colonize quite a few countries around the world. And just like that, they incorporated new habits into the everyday lives of people that didn’t even speak the same language. However, the language can be overcome when delicious food is on the table. That habit of drinking afternoon tea is still alive in England and its former colonies.
Actually, there are even places around Thailand and South America where you can have afternoon tea experience. And to be honest amazingly good ones. We had our unforgettable afternoon tea in Bangkok at Erawan Tea Room, for example. Here you can try traditional Thai food and enjoy it with Thai tea. Actualy this is a great way to try as much good traditional food as you can.