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What is Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a traditional British culinary custom that typically takes place in the late afternoon, usually between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. It is a light meal or snack that typically consists of tea served with an assortment of sandwiches, scones, cakes, and pastries.

The origins of afternoon tea can be traced back to the early 19th century in Britain. It is said to have been introduced by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who experienced a "sinking feeling" during the late afternoon and started to request tea and light snacks to be served in her private quarters. The practice became popular and eventually spread throughout the country, evolving into a social occasion that is still enjoyed today.

The components of an afternoon tea usually include:

  1. Tea: The centerpiece of afternoon tea is, of course, a pot of freshly brewed tea. Traditional choices include black teas like Earl Grey and Assam, but other varieties such as Darjeeling and herbal infusions like chamomile or peppermint can also be served.
  2. Sandwiches: Finger sandwiches are typically served with a variety of fillings such as cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, egg and cress, or roast beef with horseradish. The sandwiches are often cut into small, bite-sized pieces and served with the crusts removed.
  3. Scones: Scones are a quintessential part of afternoon tea. They are usually plain or fruit scones, served warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The scones are split in half and the cream and jam are spread on each side.
  4. Cakes and pastries: A selection of cakes, pastries, and sweet treats is also included in afternoon tea. This can include items like Victoria sponge cake, fruit tarts, macarons, éclairs, and mini pastries.

Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in various settings, including tea rooms, hotels, and even some restaurants. It is often seen as a social or celebratory event and can be accompanied by pleasant conversation and a leisurely atmosphere. Dressing up in smart or semi-formal attire is also common for certain occasions, such as afternoon teas at high-end establishments or special events like weddings or birthdays.

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