Cameron Freeman Internet Marketing, Soci-Cultural Antropology

Cameron Freeman

History of Tea: A Victorian Tradition


Table manners date back to the time of chivalry and knights-errant. The word courtesy comes from "courtier's customs", while manners comes from the Latin manuarius, meaning "the hand".

Bite not thy bread and lay it down,
This is not curtesy to use in town;
But break as much as you will eat,
The remnant to the poor you shall leave.

Prose of Curtesys, c. 1460

An invitation to "Afternoon" Tea

My favourite manner of meeting with clients as well as entertaining friends and family is getting together for Afternoon Tea. If you would you like to join me for such an occasion at:

The Royal Spencer Tea Room

Daily: 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Menu

  • Assorted Teas
  • Freshly Baked Scones served with French (St.Dalfour) Wild Blueberry and Strawberry Jam and English Double Devon cream (clotted cream)
  • Tea Pastries
  • Afternoon Tea Sandwiches which include: cucumber, egg mayonnaise with mustard cress; roast beef with horseradish; cream cheese and chives, ham and sundried tomato
  • And of course, plenty of good conversation

Contact: Cameron for Afternoon Tea

Prior to the introduction of tea into Britain, the English had two main meals-breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was ale, bread and beef. Dinner was a long, massive meal at the end of the day. It was no wonder that Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) experienced a "sinking feeling" in the late afternoon. Adopting the European tea service format, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at four o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. This summer practice proved so popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a 'walking the fields'." (London at that time still contained large open meadows within the city.) The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses. A common pattern of service soon merged. The first pot of tea was made in the kitchen and carried to the lady of the house who waited with her invited guests, surrounded by fine porcelain from China. The first pot was warmed by the hostess from a second pot (usually silver) that was kept heated over a small flame. Food and tea was then passed among the guests, the main purpose of the visiting being conversation.

The "high" in high tea does not imply that fancy, upper class, or expensive foods are served (or that high tea is enjoyed only by well-to-do Britons). It actually refers to afternoon tea served on a dining room table (a high table) as opposed to afternoon tea served on a "tea table" (a low table). High tea is a fairly substantial meal - equivalent to supper - served in working class homes. It is generally served at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., and features a hot dish, hefty sandwiches, scones, heavy cakes, biscuits - and, of course, plenty of tea.