A Very British Tradition

Afternoon Tea Week is a celebration of one of the nation’s favourite traditions. The event taps into the British tradition of afternoon tea to help add a touch of elegance and pomp to an otherwise ordinary time of day.


Afternoon Tea Week was established to help secure a tradition that has graced British afternoons since the 1840s. Although much less practised in today’s modern times, it has experienced a rebirth as we strive to fashion experiences and capture moments in time that allow us to create special memories with family and friends.


This year National Afternoon Tea Week takes place from 10th to 16th August. Whether enjoyed in a 5-star hotel or as a home-baked treat, the British love the combination of savoury and sweet treats, accompanied by some of the 165 million cups of tea we drink each day in the UK.


Back in the 1840s, it was custom to eat dinner in the afternoon followed by a light supper late in the evening.  Among the upper class, the dinner hour started to move back later and later to the point where a light lunch was introduced at around midday.  However, these changes in times left a considerable gap between the light lunch and the more considerable evening meal.


The concept of afternoon tea was quickly established by the Duchess of Bedford who found herself to be hungry during this time. She started to ask the cooks to prepare some sandwiches and a slice of cake for her which she happily consumed with a cup of tea, or two.  Soon she began inviting friends to join her, to be followed by a walk in the grounds.


The custom was quickly adopted by the upper class in general and later filtered down the social ladder, especially after Queen Victoria took part in the tradition.  At this point, the ‘Tea Reception’ was born, with lavish and fancy events were hosted by prominent figures in society.


Traditional afternoon tea is usually served on cake stands of two, three or four tiers, often using vintage crockery or china.  For larger groups, it can also be served on platters and is accompanied by freshly brewed tea and coffee, or a glass of bubbles!


Afternoon tea is not an everyday activity, instead it’s an opportunity to indulge and take time to relax with friends and family.  For visitors to the UK, it is universally known as being very British, a novelty and a chance to try something different – with many of them believing that we still do ‘high’ tea daily!


Here at Relish, our signature Cotswolds Afternoon Tea is sure to delight – we just know you’ll love our divine Eton Mess Victoria sponge cake, laced with Pimm’s and rosewater and topped with fresh British strawberries and smashed meringues. The perfect accompaniment to the gooey salted caramel brownies that simply melt in the mouth and of course the obligatory freshly baked fruit scones served with rich, luxurious clotted cream and sweet strawberry jam. Simply Super!!