Afternoon Tea History
Since the mid -19th century afternoon tea has been a time-honoured British institution that has enlivened afternoons.
How it all began? Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, pioneered the concept of afternoon tea in England. Back then traditional eating patterns included a substantial breakfast followed by a late supper around 8 o’clock, leading to a significant gap between meals. As a result, the Duchess introduced a light meal to satiate her appetite, which consisted of cut fingers sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries, and cakes.
Soon the Duchess would host summer get-togethers for friends in her chambers at Woburn Abbey growing so popular that she kept it going once she returned to London. Other aristocratic women jumped on the bandwagon not long after and, quick as a flash, afternoon tea became a social event among the upper classes.
What is High Tea?
Tea drinking underwent significant changes, including its newfound status as a social event where tea was consumed. The fact that many people didn’t have supper until 8 o’clock turned it into a “mini-meal” to tide them over until dinner time.
But what was enjoyable for the upper class wasn’t for the working-class. First, they couldn’t afford to waste precious tea on superfluous meals and, second, they had a very different lifestyle. Workers wouldn’t get home until seven o’clock, exhausted and hungry. In response to the working-class’ needs, high tea evolved into hearty evening meal composed of a mug of tea, bread, vegetables, cheese, and occasionally meat.
Eventually, the upper classes adapted their own version by combining both afternoon tea and high tea. This new concept of the meal also included pigeon, veal, salmon, and fruit.
What’s the difference between high tea and afternoon tea?
High tea was a regular meal for the working-class, whilst afternoon tea was a social event for the upper-class. The term “high tea” alludes to how it was traditionally served at the dinner table. Afternoon tea, on the other hand, was served in a more relaxed setting, on luxurious couches and low chairs.
Best Places for Afternoon Tea in Guernsey
A trip to Guernsey wouldn’t be complete without partaking in this old-fashioned British tradition. There are loads of locations available, from luxury 5-star hotels, unique venues with a difference to cosy tea rooms. Guernsey offers something to suit everyone, here a few recommendations:
Fermain Valley Hotel is home to The Valley Tea Rooms. The extraordinary location, on a cliff overlooking one of Guernsey’s most stunning bays, is ideal to take in an scenic afternoon tea with bubbles.
The Garden Room at Bella Luce Hotel is a beautiful choice for a decadent experience in the countryside. As you sip your tea and savour dainty cakes, you’ll step back in time to those sociable afternoons when Anna was the Duchess of Bedford.
Hideaway Pâtisserie & Brasserie. After a stroll along the waterfront and a little window shopping on the High Street, refuel your energy levels at Moores Hotel, which is located in the heart of town and boosts an authentic Austrian pâtisserie. You’ll indulge in the finest gateaux of Guernsey over a cuppa or glass of champagne!
The Valley Tea Rooms at Fermain Valley Hotel
Join the celebrations to help to preserve the tradition! We highly recommended to book in advance to avoid disappointment as this time of year is usually a busy period in Guernsey.