My Favourite British Tradition
Updated: May 9, 2020
I haven't really got used to standing around in pubs, as I am more of a cafe person, nor have I found love for fish and chips as it's too fatty for my liking. I don't like vinegar, so salt and vinegar crisps are out and I prefer green tea to black tea with milk. But there is one British tradition that I have wholeheartedly embraced, and that is afternoon tea.
What is afternoon tea? It is, as the name implies, taken in the afternoon, but it is not just a cup of tea, plenty of food (often way too much to consume in one go!) is also involved. The food is usually served on a tiered stand, a tier for sandwiches or other savoury snacks and two tiers for scones, cakes and sweets. Scones can be plain or with something like raisins and are eaten with clotted cream and jam.
How was this tradition born? It was introduced by the Duchess of Bedford in the early 1800s when she decided to schedule some time in the afternoons for tea and snacks as the wait for dinner was simply too long.
Where can you try some? Afternoon tea is served in numerous cafes and hotels in the UK and frequently requires advance booking. Some are very traditional with the menu and some try to make it stand out. I can't even remember all the places I have had traditional afternoon tea in, but a few that come to mind are The Lanesborough and The Landmark hotels in central London, Chateau Dessert in Chiswick and Tiny Tim's Tearoom in Canterbury (top photo).
For afternoon tea with a twist, try Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in east London and consume delicious food surrounded by cats. If cats are not your thing, you could try Teanamu Chaya Teahouse in Notting Hill for an Asian take on the British tradition (bottom photo).
If you feel this is way too much, you could simply grab a scone in a cafe or even buy in a supermarket for an abridged afternoon tea version.