We all use the term Morning Tea and Afternoon Tea but where do these terms come from? Is it all about drinking tea or just an excuse to have a little party? We took a deep dive into the history of tea parties and why people love them so much…
According to historians, tea parties originated in Britain in the 1840s due to the afternoon cravings experienced by one Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford and close friend of Queen Victoria.
As days grew longer with industrialisation and the introduction of gas lighting in homes, the wealthier families weren’t having dinner until 9pm leaving most extremely hungry. Lunch itself was only a light meal called a “luncheon” in between breakfast and dinner.
Anna Maria Russell began requesting bread, cake and tea into her chambers around 4pm and found it was the perfect amount to satisfy her until dinner. Soon the Duchess started inviting her friends to drink tea and eat delicious treats. These gatherings grew in popularity after Queen Victoria started attending some of them and thus the tradition of Afternoon Tea was born.
Much of high society attended these events, where tea was served in fine china and enjoyed with scrumptious cakes and sandwiches, either indoors in lavishly furnished rooms or outdoors in elegant gardens.
Types of Tea Parties
Traditionally tea parties could be separated into Afternoon Tea and High Tea but have grown since then to include less traditional or more informal tea parties such as Themed Tea and Garden Tea. So what are the differences?
Afternoon Tea, traditionally reserved for high society only, can include variants including Cream Tea, Light Tea or Full Tea. Light Tea is a lighter version while Full Tea is the heaviest serving multiple courses.
At Afternoon Tea, food is served in a tiered cake stand; one tier of sandwiches, one tier of cakes, and one tier of scones or teacakes.
- For Afternoon Tea we recommend our wonderfully fragrant French Earl Grey, which goes well with sweet desserts and is high in antioxidants.
High Tea was a name coined by working men due to the fact that it was usually eaten while standing or on stools at a high table. For this event, tea is served alongside heavier foods like meat dishes as well as desserts. Steak and kidney pie, pickled salmon, crumpets, and potato cakes are dishes often seen at a traditional High Tea.
- Our Moroccan Mint Green Tea is light and balances heavier meals well. It also protects the body against disease and supports the immune system.
Tea usually served with sandwiches, scones, sweets, and champagne. The addition of expensive champagne is what makes this Tea a Royal Tea because it was associated with the upper class and aristocrats who could afford it.
- For a modern twist on Royal Tea we recommend trying our Iced Tea Cocktails. Our recipes show you how our iced teas can be mixed with alcoholic beverages such as champagne for a delicious and refreshing cocktail.
Takes place, as the name suggests, in the garden and can also be in the form of a picnic, with people often swapping hot tea for iced tea. Fresh fruit is also often served, depending on which fruit is in season.
- We recommend our Lemon Lime and Bitters Iced Tea, which not only provides refreshment when you’re out in the sun but also has the added benefit of supporting the immune system and calming the nervous system.
Themed Tea can encompass any of the other types of tea parties with the inclusion of a theme. This could be for a birthday, Christmas, Easter, or even baby shower. Food that matches the chosen theme is usually served such as gingerbread for Christmas tea parties or chocolate crème eggs for Easter tea parties.
- For a festive and Christmas Themed Tea we recommend our Mulled Spiced Tea, which has a variety of warming spices guaranteed to lift the spirits. It is also packed full of antioxidants and has immune supportive benefits.
The benefits of a Tea Party
In today’s society these exclusive events have changed and become less about the decadence and more about celebrating special events or catching up with friends and family.
Taking time out from our busy schedules to celebrate momentous occasions with our loved ones can do wonders for the body and mind. According to Mayoclinic, talking with friends and family can alleviate stress and boost your mood.
Furthermore, the time spent outdoors have an array of health benefits too and studies have found that spending time or living close to nature “reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration”.