I have a terribly British confession to make: afternoon tea is my favourite thing in the whole wide world. There’s just something about sitting down to a delicious-looking table spread of cakes on fancy crockery and cups filled to the brim with hot, steaming tea that makes me sublimely happy. I love afternoon tea so much that it was the theme of my Higher Art and Design portfolio in fifth year. True story. My final outcome was titled ‘Tranquili-tea’. I know; I’m cringing too, don’t worry.
Imagine my excitement then, when I discovered that this week isn’t just any old week – this week is Afternoon Tea Week. And it just so happened that my mum had a tea-for-two voucher for Dobbie’s Garden Centre. Safe to say, I was ecstatic.
You may be thinking that I’m a little bit too enthusiastic about tea. Well, you’re probably right. But hey, lockdown has been hard on all of us, and you can’t deny that Dobbie’s is a great day out – regardless of whether you’ve been stuck inside for months. In my opinion, it’s at least on a par with a trip to IKEA.
We were first blessed with the concept of afternoon tea way back in the 1840’s, when dinner was served later in the evening than it is typically served nowadays. People found that they were getting far too hungry in the afternoons (I’ve been there) and so, to stop their stomachs from rumbling, they began having small meals before dinner. These meals tended to include copious amounts of tea.
It’s no real surprise that we still hold this national tradition very close to our hearts. Brits are obsessed with tea. It is estimated that over 100 million cups of tea are slurped down every single day in the UK. For those who are curious, there is an entire website where you can watch a tea-consumption-count. The internet is such a glorious place, isn’t it?
Whilst afternoon tea has come to be regarded as a social event, hosting a whole raft of guests isn’t a necessary requirement at all, and neither is venturing out to a posh café. Simply pop to the shops and grab some scones from the baked-goods section to have your own celebration at home. All you need is a generous slathering of jam and clotted cream for your scone. And tea, of course.
If you’re wanting to go the extra mile, then whipping up your own fresh batch of baked delights can be a perfect way to treat yourself and your loved ones. Alternatively, you can get fancy with a glass o’ fizz to have alongside some dainty little sandwiches. The possibilities are endless, really. There are even companies out there who can deliver afternoon tea to your doorstep.
As well as making you feel as sophisticated as Buzz Lightyear at a tea-party, preparing an afternoon tea this week could actually benefit your health – okay, maybe not the pastries…or the chocolate éclairs…or the gateau.
It has been proven that drinking tea can reduce stress, improve mood, boost energy, and help with hydration. Tea contains antioxidants, has less caffeine in it than coffee, and it has also been suggested that it can increase your memory and attention. This is what I tell myself regularly when dunking a Digestive biscuit into my third cup of the day.
So go on, have a cuppa and enjoy it. Remember to hold your pinkie up high.
Featured image credit: Prima