If there’s one nation that loves a good cup of tea, it’s the British. They’re as famous for tea as they are for cricket and the Royal Family. And from their morning cuppa to their afternoon tea, the Brits have a long history of making any excuse to have a brew.
Back in the 17th Century, the British were a nation of coffee drinkers. That was until King Charles II married Catherine de Braganza, a Portuguese princess who absolutely adored her tea.
Catherine introduced tea as a breakfast drink and it quickly became fashionable amongst members of court and soon spread through the wealthy classes all over the country.
For the next few hundred years, tea remained an exclusive privilege of the wealthy upper classes until our very own Sir Thomas Lipton came along, made it affordable for everyone, and tea fast became the nation’s favourite drink. The rest, as they say, is history.
The idea of afternoon tea started with the Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s. Back in those days, it was usual for the British upper classes to have just two meals a day – breakfast in the morning and then dinner around 8pm. Getting a little hungry in the late afternoon, the Duchess found a light meal of cakes, sandwiches and a cup of tea would bridge the gap perfectly.
She then began inviting friends to join her and the idea caught on. Before long, all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.