Afternoon Tea is something very close to us at Cacao Catering and is one of our favorite events to cater to because the history and story resonates with us and also simply because it is a spectacle in its own right.
Being a very, if not the most, famous English tradition, Afternoon Tea, also referred to as High Tea, began in the mid 1800s. Funnily enough, it is called afternoon tea because it was exactly that before it became a huge social event.
The 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna, was the first to introduce afternoon tea to England who literally wanted a meal in between her luncheon and dinner. The Duchess would ask for a tray of bread & butter with tea and cake during this time as she would get hungry – considering the big gap in time between lunch and dinner, this is not surprising. Ironically, the Earl of Sandwich, who would bring her this tray with her “afternoon tea” would sometimes add a filling of some sort between the slices of bread. Soon this became a norm for the Duchess and she began to share this habit with her friends by inviting some of them during the late evenings when she would enjoy her afternoon tea.
Toward the late 1800s, this habit or personal preference became a huge social event for the upper-class in England. It would be very Downton Abbey-esque with Afternoon Tea being served in the “drawing rooms” of the houses, with tea grown in Ceylon and India served with cakes, scones and sandwiches.
If you live in or visit England, you can experience an authentic Afternoon Tea at hotels such as the Ritz, the Dorchester and the Savoy or even have a private afternoon tea with a local catering company. Hotels such as the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and The Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur are also famous for their Afternoon Tea traditions.