Afternoon Tea... A Brief History


Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, is said to have complained of "having that sinking feeling" during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o'clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.


Later, friends were invited to join her in her rooms and other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea.  The practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room and before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.  


Afternoon Tea is a meal composed of sandwiches (usually cut delicately into 'fingers'), scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes. 


Many visitors from overseas still imagine that we are a nation where, in the words of the well-known song, 'at half past three, everything stops for tea'. Sadly these days Afternoon Tea is usually only an occasional luxury for the British; a birthday treat in a country house hotel, or a welcome break from a hectic days shopping 'in town'. 


Essence of Cake believe that Afternoon Tea should be enjoyed by all, children and adults alike, which is why we offer a package to suit all.  Check out our bites, delights and infusions and design your own tantalising menu.