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British Culture: English Afternoon Tea

English Afternoon Tea

On Wednesday, Bloomsbury International arranged a social activity trip for our students to a hotel in London for English afternoon tea. In the picture below you can see all of them enjoying their tea, scones and cakes!

A group of students enjoying English Afternoon Tea

What is English Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea is usually enjoyed at around 4pm in England. People usually eat:

scones with clotted cream and jam

sweet pastries and cakes

small finger sandwiches (called this because they are cut into long thin ‘fingers’)

and of course, they drink tea in delicate china cups!


How did the tradition of English Afternoon Tea start?

Although tea drinking in England became popular in the 1660s, the tradition of ‘afternoon tea’ did not appear until 1840. Anne, Duchess of Bedford, asked that a pot of tea, small sandwiches and cakes were brought to her room in the afternoon because she became hungry in the long gap between lunch and dinner. She started to invite friends to join her and this is how the tradition began! It soon became a fashionable social event and upper-class women would take a pause in their day to have afternoon tea with friends (sometimes they even changed into smart clothing for the event!).

Do English people still have afternoon tea today?

Unfortunately, the tradition of English afternoon tea is not very common any longer. These days, people might just have a cup of tea with a small cake or biscuit in the afternoon and old-fashioned afternoon tea is just an occasional luxury (for example, a birthday treat)!

Where can I go for English afternoon tea?

Thankfully, it is still possible to enjoy a lovely afternoon tea in many places in London and the UK. There are many hotels in central London which serve afternoon tea every day, for example the Ritz, the Savoy or the Strand Palace Hotel where Bloomsbury students went this week. Harrods and Fortnum and Mason are also famous for their afternoon tea. If you are planning to travel around the UK, you could also visit a small, pretty, old-fashioned tearoom in Devon or Cornwall and order a famous Devonshire cream tea (this is one of my favourite things to do in the UK!).


Bloomsbury Student eZone

If you are a Bloomsbury International student, don’t forget to visit our brand new Student eZone on our website!! You can read more information about the school and life in London, the Bloomsbury social programme and English study tips.

You can also:
·  request letters and holidays
·  inform us of new contact details
·  check your progress
·  give us feedback
·  download the student handbook
·  connect with us on our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
There is also a detailed section about life in London and the UK especially for students!

Have fun with English

Tea quiz – do you know the answers to these questions about tea?

1. In which century did tea replace beer and gin as Britain’s most popular drink?
a. 10th century       b. 13th century       c. 18th century       d. 19th century

2. What percentage of people have sugar with their tea in Britain?
a. 21%       b. 30%       c. 67%       d. 92%

3. What is the most popular type of tea in the world?
a. black tea       b. green tea       c. fruit tea       d. chai tea

4. Why were tea bags invented in 1953?
a. To send out small samples of tea      
b. To stop people throwing the leaves down the sink      
c. It was a marketing trick so that people would spend more money for less tea

5. On average, how many cups of tea do we drink every day in the UK?
a. 80 million       b. 115 million       c. 130 million       d. 165 million

Last week’s answers

He hasn’t said a dicky bird in hours. (dicky bird = word)
I haven’t seen him in donkeys! (donkeys/donkey’s ears = years)
I need to go down the frog and toad to pick up my jack and jills. (frog and toad = road, jack and jills = pills)
That crossword was lemon squeezy. (lemon squeezy = easy)
The currant bun’s hot today! (currant bun = sun)

Have a good week everyone!!

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