Afternoon tea is an integral part of the great British tradition. It serves as an apt excuse to take a break and bond over a cup of tea with near and dear ones. Honoring this sentiment, Afternoon Tea Week, an annual celebration, occurs every second week (entire) in August. It gives tea lovers a week-long occasion to catch up on the common love for tea. In 2022, 8 August marked the beginning of Afternoon Tea Week (ATW), and it will end on 14 August. 

ATW has a fascinating history. In the 1840s, the tradition of having afternoon tea started when Anna Maria Russell was caught with hunger pangs and lethargy during mid-day. She was married to Francis Russell, and in 1939 Anna became the Duchess of Bedford after Francis was promoted to the status of a dukedom.

During that era, dinner used to be served between 7.00pm and 9.00pm. The gap between lunch and dinner was so long that eventually, luncheon (a small meal) was created. But it failed miserably to do the needful. 

This led Anna to invent the ritual of afternoon tea. The beverage appeared as the perfect excuse to accompany an array of sandwiches and sweet cakes. Her hunger woes were over with this new midday meal. Over time, she made it a social soiree, inviting her friends to join the tea session. Slowly, the word started to spread and turned into an instant hit. Queen Victoria, also a companion of Russell's, joined this new fad in no time. It garnered fans from upper and middle-upper classes. Travelling through over two centuries, afternoon tea is now a favorite social event across the globe.  

What happens at ATW

The UK wears a festive look during this week. Numerous fascinating events take place, paying tribute to the UK's most loved pastime. Several venues, especially cafes and restaurants across the country, run an array of exclusive deals and discounts. 

How to Host Afternoon Tea Party

Tea lovers from across the globe can host an afternoon tea event, if not a whole week, in the comfort of their homes. Traditionally, there used to be special dress codes decided in advance and were followed diligently. Today, it's not a mandatory norm. However, a thematic soiree has its charm. Set up a dedicated corner with different flavors of hot tea. Though there is no strict menu for it, one can keep a wide range of finger food. Ideally, it should be a fine balance of sweet and savoury dishes. A few easy options include sandwiches, tea cakes, cupcakes, muffins, scones, pastries and cookies. 

UK's Most Popular Afternoon Tea Hubs 

If you happen to be in the UK, head to its most famous afternoon tea locations. The top ones include The Ritz, The Savoy, Fortum and Mason, The Shard and Claridges.

 Fun facts:

  • 75 % of Brits drink at least a cup of tea per day.
  • Tea is the second highest sipped beverage after water.
  • In the first 30 seconds of steeping, 80% of the caffeine in tea is released.

 So, are you ready to sip your cup of afternoon tea with friends?