Discover English Tea Time Traditions

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. 

The Introduction of Tea into England

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. 

History of Afternoon Tea

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. 

Typical Afternoon Tea Dishes

Tradition is a key part of afternoon tea. 
Here are a few classic teatime dishes. 

  • Finger Sandwiches 

Go for fillings like cucumber and smoked salmon, or egg and cress.

  • Scones 

Sweet scones are often paired with clotted cream and jam. They’re best served warm.

  • Cakes 

The cakes should be small and delicate – afternoon tea is meant to be a light meal.

History of High Tea

Afternoon tea isn’t the only type of tea in Britain, high tea is also common. Some think high tea is the same as afternoon tea, but they’re actually quite different. 

Afternoon tea was traditionally for the upper class as the working classes were, well, working during afternoon tea hours. 

High tea, on the other hand, was started by the working classes as their meal after work.

Typical High Tea Dishes

As high tea is more of a main meal, the food served is usually hot and filling. Pies, meats, cheeses are classic high tea fare. Because of the hot, comforting food served, you’ll need a similar tea to wash it down. Lipton® Daring English Breakfast Tea, with milk and optional sweetener is the perfect partner. 


So will you join Anna Russell in a spot of afternoon tea? Or maybe you’d rather try a hearty and warm high tea to end your working day? Whichever you choose: sit back, sip and enjoy. 

Get Creative with Tea

Get Creative with Tea