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A Millennial's guide to Afternoon Tea

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It is a world-famous fact- British people love their tea. And, there are so many different ways to have a cuppa. In fact, it can turn into quite the occassion- with Afternoon Tea being served to celebrate birthdays, Mother's days, bridal showers and baby showers. But for Milennials, especially students visiting the UK, the etiquette and history of the Afternoon Tea may be a territory not yet explored. 

History

The whole idea of afternoon tea is surprisingly rather new to British culture, rising in 1840 when introduced by the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna. Now tea drinking in itself dates back to China in early BC, becoming popular in Britian through King Charles II in the 1660's. Albeit, Anna was the one to bring afternoon tea to the table, initiatied after she would become hungry at 4pm in the afternoon with her evening meal served late at around 8pm, thus leaving an extensive gap between lunch and dinner.

So, to avoid such a long period without food, the Duchess would ask for tea, bread and butter, as well as cake, to be brought to her in the mid afternoon- It was a matter of time before it became a social habit, inviting her friends to this way of life also, manifesting into a fashionably social event within society.

Afternoon Tea Etiquette:

In regards to afternoon tea etiquette, there are a few things to bare in mind.

The dress code for most afternoon teas across the country is a smart-casual code in the modern day. However, wearing sportswear and/or trainers in a big no, no!

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There are a few misconceptions in relation to afternoon tea. For one, afternoon tea is actually a completely different event to the term 'High Tea'. Visitors from others countries have a tendency to mistake afternoon tea for high tea or royal tea. The high tea is made up of mainly savoury items of food and is of a heartier nature, whilst royal tea includes a glass of proessco! Another misconception is that you need to stretch your little finger whilst drinking tea, aiding the balance of your cup- Sorry to break this to you all, but this is a myth which does not need to be followed through. British society is probably going to be devastasted by having to acknowledge this fact now!

The Scone Debate:

One of the most important subjects in British history....Scones! How do you pronounce the term 'scone' and how do you prepare one? Well, unfortunately, this remains a mystery and probably shall do for the rest of human existence. As long as you have butter, cream and jam with your scone, the way that you consume it is mearly personal preference. What is an afternoon tea guide though without mentioning our most loved debate?

What does an afternoon tea consist of?

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An afternoon tea is made up of a selection of quaint sandwiches, including the memorable cucumber ones, a variety of cakes and pastries, as well as tea and of course, the beloved scones! An afternoon tea in your home is different to that at a professional tea shop and so on. Therefore, it is not etiquete to dunk any biscuits into your cuppa at a trandtional afternoon tea- Resist the urge to do so!

Is there a particular way to stir your tea?

Indeed there is! It is one of the traditional rules of an afternoon tea- Place your spoon at the 6 o'clock position with your cup, whilst folding your tea towards the 12 o' clock position. Alongside this tea stirring method, be sure to avoid your spoon making noise with your cup and to not leave your spoon in your tea after you have finished stirring.

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There is not a rule on how long you should allow your tea to brew for, but bare in mind that the longer you let your tea brew, there is a higher amount of antoxidines within your tea, which through research has found a correlation with benefits for your health!

The afternoon tea is an event which has taken a positive toll on British society and regardless of how much generations change, afternoon tea is likely to remain special and an enjoyable event for people of all ages.

Happy National Afternoon Tea Week!

 

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