Afternoon Tea Week 2023

8th August 2023

Afternoon Tea Week is a much-loved annual event that pays homage to a tradition that blends elegance, indulgence and camaraderie. Partaking in a leisurely mid-afternoon cuppa and some sweet treats has captured the hearts of many, making it a popular ritual that stands the test of time.

Origins of Afternoon Tea

The story of afternoon tea finds its roots in the early 19th Century, when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, introduced the custom as a solution to the “sinking feeling” she experienced between lunch and dinner. In the 1840s, dining customs in Britain typically included a hearty breakfast and a late evening dinner. As a result, the long gap between meals often left people feeling famished by mid-afternoon. The duchess decided to fill this gap by requesting a pot of tea and light refreshments to be brought to her room.

This small act of indulgence quickly became a habit, and she began inviting friends to join her for tea and conversation. The tradition soon spread among the British aristocracy and evolved into a social event that was characterised by tea, delicate sandwiches, scones and pastries.

Why is Afternoon Tea so popular?

Afternoon tea’s enduring popularity can be attributed to a combination of factors that resonate with people across cultures:

Elegance and Ritual

Afternoon tea encapsulates an aura of sophistication and grace. The ritual of sipping tea from fine china cups, enjoying bite-sized treats and engaging in meaningful conversations evokes a sense of timeless elegance.

Relaxation and Indulgence

In our fast-paced world, afternoon tea offers a much-needed opportunity to slow down and savour life’s pleasures. It provides a chance to relax, unwind, and indulge in a leisurely break from daily routines.

Culinary Delights

The delectable spread of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, and pastries showcases the culinary prowess of pastry chefs and bakers. The variety of flavours and textures tantalises the taste buds, making afternoon tea a delightful gastronomic experience.

Social Bonding

Afternoon tea fosters connections and camaraderie. Whether enjoyed with friends, family, or colleagues, it encourages meaningful conversations and strengthens relationships in an intimate setting.

Nostalgia and Tradition

Afternoon tea is steeped in tradition and nostalgia. It hearkens back to a bygone era and invokes a sense of romanticism, allowing people to momentarily escape the pressures of modern life.

Afternoon Trivia

  • While the tradition originated in the UK, variations of afternoon tea have been adopted around the world. In Japan, “chakaiseki” is a formal tea ceremony with multiple courses, while “high tea” in Australia often includes heartier fare like meat pies.
  • The world’s largest afternoon tea party was hosted by the British charity Marie Curie in 2015. The event featured 978 participants and helped raise awareness and funds for the organisation’s noble cause.
  • Afternoon tea also influenced fashion trends. In the mid-1800s, women’s fashion saw the emergence of the “tea gown,” a comfortable yet elegant garment designed for informal tea gatherings.
  • The Ritz Hotel in London is renowned for its opulent afternoon tea service. It is said that King Edward VII referred to it as “tea at the Ritz,” solidifying the establishment’s place in afternoon tea history.

Celebrating in Style

During Afternoon Tea Week, people across the UK and beyond are encouraged to come together to celebrate this cherished tradition. From upscale tea rooms and hotels to quaint cafes and home gatherings, the occasion is marked by a variety of events and promotions. Tea enthusiasts can explore themed menus, take part in tastings, and relish the art of tea blending. As a nod to its roots, some venues offer a modern twist on the classic afternoon tea, incorporating contemporary flavours and culinary trends.

The Pantiles

The Pantiles is the perfect venue to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week. With a selection of independent cafes, bars and eateries, sinking your teeth into something special is a given!

The CakeShed

How can you celebrate Afternoon Tea Week without a trip to the infamous The CakeShed in the heart of The Pantiles? Their lip-licking assortment of cakes include lemon drizzle, banana, gin and tonic, classic Victoria sponge and much more. Be sure to pay them a visit and indulge in one of their many sweet treats.

Oliver Greens

Oliver Greens is now open from 8.30am each day, serving up a variety of delicious coffees and pastries. Enjoy a coffee and a pasty for just £5. Plus, there is now a cream tea option, perfect for Afternoon Tea Week. Tuck into a fruit scone with clotted cream and jam, served with a breakfast tea for just £6.50.

For more venues to tickle those taste buds, check out our full list of shops.