Original article published at Taste Atlas.
Afternoon tea is an old British tradition of having tea between 3 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon, accompanied by sweet or savory tidbits of food. There are three types of afternoon tea: cream tea, paired with scones, jam, and cream; light tea, paired with scones and sweets; and full tea, paired with savories, scones, sweets, and a dessert.
It is said that the tradition was invented by Anna Maria Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford, in the 19th century. She suffered from a “sinking feeling“ in the afternoon, so she started having a pot of tea and a light snack privately in her boudoir.
Later on, she began inviting her friends to join her, and shortly after, all of the fashionable society at the time was drinking tea and snacking on sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon. There are some rules concerning the traditional afternoon tea; it should be served with milk after the tea is in the cup, the tea should be sipped, not slurped, and the teaspoon should never be left in the cup, especially while drinking tea.
Today, afternoon tea is an occasional luxury or a birthday treat in a fancy hotel, and it is less associated with high society, since people in the United Kingdom tend to consume it multiple times a day, in numerous ways and flavors.
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