Friday, July 20, 2007

Tea time in the UK

Like so many things in life...tradition of afternoon teas in the UK has its story behind it. It is believed that Anna Maria Stanhope, Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857), "invented" this tradition in 1841. With drinking tea and having a bite to eat in the mid-afternoon she tried to make the gap between lunch (eaten at about 1:00 pm) and dinner (eaten at about 7:00 pm) somehow easily bearable. Everything soon developed into an important social occasion organized daily at 5:00 pm.Inviations were made verbally or by note. Everything was rather flexible as guests were free to arrive when it suited them and leave when they wanted to. Little bit about the event itself...Well, the hostess would pour the tea, butit was duty of the men to hand the cups around. If there was no men present,this was done by the daughters of the hostess or the young women present. It was fashionable for women to wear tea gowns, which were not so formal like evening gowns. Oh yes, many for women to wear gloves too. That is why hosstes would offer some biscuits as person wearing gloves could eat them easier than for example sandwiches.Tea time and tea drinking in generally still play are huge importance in life of people in the UK. The British are one of the largest per capita tea consumers in the world with each person consuming on average 2.1 kg per year.Tea is usually black tea served with milk (not cream) and sometimes with sugar. Strong tea served with milk and often two teaspoons of sugar, usually in a mug. This is called builder's tea. Drinking tea is not ceremoniously done like in past. For working people in the UK drinking tea is part of their day at work. Tea breaks are organized by emplyers. Biscuits are sometimes served too.

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