As a meal, afternoon tea doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Delicate slivers of sandwiches, scones slathered with cream (not to mention jam depending on partiality) and a top tier of jewel-like cakes twinkling from a slender stand.
This is even before the champagne menu is presented, and a bouquet of tea flavours is spread before the beautifully manicured guests. Meanwhile, a harpist gently strums in the background and fellow enthusiasts murmur over the gentle tinkle of tea-cups. Oh, and then you get bloke-orientated teas with sliders, hot scotch eggs and a tumbler of ale.
So, when Buyagift told me about their petition to institute a tea emoji (which a lack thereof in my honest opinion is a travesty) it got me thinking – why do I love afternoon tea so much?
Ironically, at around 3pm one afternoon recently, the answer came to me – it is the perfect response to a hectic modern life.
We wake to alarm clocks, race through getting ready, lose our keys, run out the door, station count our commute and clock watch our computer screens, feel guilty about the people we haven’t caught up with and then repeat it all the next day.
Afternoon tea was originally an everyday affair. It came about during the Georgian period sometime from 1714 to 1830, as a small meal between lunch and dinner. The story goes that the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russel, began a daily afternoon ritual of having sliced sandwiches, small cakes along with some tea in her room by herself. Being a socially active person, she eventually began to invite others to join her. The popularity of this ritual soon started to spread and became fashionable both amongst the upper and lower classes of British society.
If you think about it, even that 3pm cup of tea and a biscuit (or cookie depending on your language setting) is a distillation of this. It covers the mid-afternoon sugar slump and lets you take a simple moment of enjoyment amidst deadlines and demands.
I simply love the chance to catch up with good friends – and spend a leisurely afternoon nibbling delicacies. In fact it’s getting so bad that when asked to recommend a central London pub the other week I went totally blank – but could reel off at least 3 afternoon teas nearby.
Now afternoon tea is a florid affair of 3 luxurious levels of treat – usually taken on weekends or in the middle of a holiday afternoon with varying levels of lavishness, quirky themes and traditions.
Some of my favourite memories were created over afternoon tea – seeing long-forgotten mates, making new friendships, an afternoon with my Mum, laughter over long stems of bubbles and the occasional good-natured argument over how to jam our scones, oh afternoon tea, how I love thee.
Buyagift kindly sponsored this post full of my own afternoon inspired whimsy in order to keep our wanderlust strong, the travel fund topped up for future afternoon teas and blog posts coming.