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Tea time, uses and customs of the most British tradition

25 mayo, 2021

It is impossible to separate the image of a teacup from the British Isles. And if British gastronomy is known for something, it is for everything that surrounds it. tea time. Lavish teapots, triple-decker cakes, the hated cucumber sandwiches … All of that and more make Afternoon Tea, without a doubt, one of the most celebrated British traditions.

Let’s say that if one does not adapt well to the local cuisine, one can survive on teas with pastas in that country. Tea is part of the daily life of the islands and a good cup of tea can solve everything: moments when you don’t know what to say, sudden hunger attacks, emergency situations when you don’t know what to do … in these and other situations, a cup of tea is always welcome.


In 1662, King Carlos II married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, a great consumer of tea, who made the infusion fashionable at the British court. But it is not until the early nineteenth century that the custom of teatime seems to be established, the invention of which we must attribute to the Duchess of Bedford, who felt faint and ordered that a cup of tea with a light snack be served to her before have dinner. The invention suited the Duchess so well that she began to gather her friends around afternoon tea, where she served the drink accompanied by cakes and sandwiches, thus popularizing “Afternoon Tea”.

tea rooms

The afternoon tea ritual

Although the English drink tea at all hours, the “Afternoon Tea” has fallen into disuse, and is reserved only for certain occasions despite the fact that the most conservative continue to drink it. Typically, a classic “Afternoon Tea” serves a black tea kettle, usually of the Earl Gray types, the one flavored with bergamot, a Darjeeling or Ceylan, or a mixture of black teas, accompanied with a jug of milk or some lemon slices to flavor the tea.

Tea time is accompanied by the usual small sandwiches of sliced ​​bread with cucumber, watercress and egg, salmon and cream, roast beef and mustard, and cheese and tomato. In the sweet section some type of cake is served such as coffee and walnut cake or glazed cakes, and the famous “Scones“, some rolls accompanied by strawberry or raspberry jam and the excellent clotted cream, literally clotted cream originally from the county of Devon, whose creaminess is between cream and butter and that once tasted, it will never be forgotten. Upmarket hotels also serve a glass of champagne with all that banquet.

cream tea


Tea time is between 3 and 5 pm.

A Cream Tea It is an “Afternoon Tea” composed only of tea, Scones, jam and clotted cream. Although it is originally from the South West of England, you can take it almost everywhere and it is more abbreviated than that. Do not settle for the whipped cream, ask them to bring you authentic clotted cream.

Never blow over the cup to cool it down, it is considered very tastelessness, it is stirred with the spoon.

To have an “Afternoon Tea” in the big hotels in London, that is to say the Ritz, The Savoy, Claridge’s, the Brown’s Hotel, The Dorchester or Fortnum & Mason, you have to reserve a table as if it were a restaurant and you have to dress jacket and tie, no sneakers and jeans, that’s the protocol. Having a full tea in these places can cost a few 40 pounds per person but it is an unforgettable experience.

To feel like Jane Austen nothing like having tea at The Pump Room, in the Roman Baths of the city of Bath.

Good tea is usually served in translucent porcelain cups called bone chine. The most British teapot is the domed brown one called brown betty and the ridiculous crochet hat with which they cover the kettle so that it does not get cold is called tea cozy.

Image | Slimmer_jimmer on Flickr More information | UK Tea Council En Directo al Paladar | British Gastronomy Direct to the Palate.