Have you ever had Afternoon Tea? You may be surprised to learn that I still have not had one; at least not a formal one. Of course, I have had pastries with coffee in the afternoon, but never a formal Afternoon Tea. My impression of an Afternoon Tea is a tray consisting of three levels with pastries on each level. This is accompanied by a pot of English tea and usually served to two or more people. I have seen others having afternoon tea in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Tokyo, and it looked tempting. Out of curiosity I decided to learn more about Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon Tea began as a tea-related ritual in the early 1840s in Britain. In those days, dinner was served late at around 8:00 p.m. Afternoon Tea made it easier to wait for dinner without being too hungry. Traditionally it consisted of sandwiches cut into delicate slices which were called “fingers”, scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes. Actually, the scones were not part of Afternoon Tea until the twentieth century.
Initially Afternoon Tea began as a private social event for ladies who were trying to gain higher positions and status in society. Once Queen Victoria also did Afternoon Tea it then became a formal occasion, often held on a large scale and called a “tea reception.” As many as 200 guests might attend these receptions. They were given an open “at home” invitation which meant the guests could come and go as they pleased between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Today in Britain Afternoon Tea is usually enjoyed on special occasions, such as a birthday, with friends. I have a “sweet tooth” so I think the next time I have a craving and want to pamper myself, I think I will get dressed up, invite a friend (who also likes sweets!), and go to the Ritz Carlton for Afternoon Tea! If you have a sweet tooth like me, then perhaps we can go together!