The History of Afternoon Tea

Britain is one of the most famous tea drinking nations in the world. From the classic builder’s cuppa to elegant tea parties, there’s rarely an occasion in the UK when a cup of tea isn’t the answer.

Tea wasn’t originally popular in Britain, with many preferring coffee in the 17th century. That was until King Charles II married Catherine de Braganza, a Portuguese princess who adored tea.

When Catherine moved to Britain she brought with her the tea traditions of Portugal. Tea drinking suddenly became fashionable in court and spread through wealthy classes all over the country.

Afternoon tea was first introduced to Britain by Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, in the 1840s.

When at Woburn Abbey, Anna asked that she be brought bread, butter, cake and tea in the afternoon. She then started inviting her friends to join her for “tea and a walking in the fields” when she returned to London and the craze soon spread.