The history of afternoon tea


An afternoon cup of tea. The greatest of British institutions. Brilliant in its simplicity, and its modest cost means the culture will survive even the most austere of times. But where did the British affinity with tea begin?

It is reported that tea consumption in Britain increased quite dramatically in the 19th century. During this era, it was commonplace to only have two square meals a day – breakfast and dinner.  It was around this time in history that Anna – the 7th Duchess of Bedford, commented of having depressive feelings in the afternoon and was in need of an afternoon “pick-me -up”. A cup of tea and a light snack became the ideal solution.

She would later invite friends to join her at Woburn Abbey for afternoon tea. It soon became a popular social event and the practice was taken up amongst the higher classes throughout the country, thus becoming a favourite national past time.

High tea and low tea

Despite tea being an everyday refreshment in modern times. In the 19th century it was considered a luxury and quite costly. As such, the working classes largely consumed it as an evening treat after a hard day’s work. This evening tea became known as high tea. High tea became a meal in itself that comprised of tea, vegetables, cheese and bread. On occasion it could also include potatoes, pies and meat.

It is largely considered that the terms ‘high tea’ and ‘low tea’ were derived from the level of height the table the food was consumed on. Therefore, low tea was consumed at mid-afternoon on shorter tables or coffee tables. High tea was consumed at the taller dinner table, hence the term ‘high-tea’.

National Afternoon Tea Week

For a country in which its population reportedly consumes a staggering 60 billion cups of tea per year, it is only fitting that we commemorate our national past-time with a week of celebration. Therefore, from Monday the 8th of August, through until Saturday the 13th August, it is certainly justifiable that we celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week.

To savour this occasion there can be no better location to indulge yourself for afternoon tea in Leeds other than in the idyllic surroundings of Weetwood Hall. Whether a social gathering or an opportunity to find some solitude from today’s fast-paced world, afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall is the perfect setting to enjoy a great cup of tea and immerse yourself in this celebration of our nation’s favourite brew.

We all have our favourite tea, so whether you prefer a traditional tea or something more distinguished, afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall is an experience to savour. Choose from Classic, Decaffeinated Classic, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Camomile, Masai Chai, Peppermint, Fruit Infusion, Rooibos, and Green tea.

To have the perfect experience of afternoon tea in Leeds, drop in and see the friendly staff at Weetwood Hall the perfect way to relax in the idyllic surroundings of old English charm.




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Categories: Dining