Art Friday: Time for tea


Art Friday: Time for tea

According to the "About Food" website: It is believed that credit for the custom of the Afternoon Tea goes to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. The usual habit of serving dinner as late as 9pm left the Duchess hungry in the late afternoon. To stave off the hunger she would order tea, bread and butter and cakes to be served in her room. This was thought to be an excellent idea and the habit caught on and the afternoon tea was born.

However it is important to remember that at the time of the Duchess of Bedford, they knew nothing about baking powder, so the delicious light cakes we enjoy today at afternoon tea (such as the Victorian Sponge) were not eaten. Most cakes were heavy (rather than delicate) and more like a bread. It wasn’t until 1843 did the first modern version of baking powder was created and manufactured by Alfred Bird (1811-1878), British chemist and founder of Bird and Sons Ltd (custard makers). It took sometime to prefect baking powder and create the cakes we know today. 

One cake enjoyed at afternoon tea is the Victoria sponge cake. According to historians, after the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria retreated to her residence (Osborn House) at the Isle of Wight to mourn. Her chefs wanted to make something to cheer her up and this led to the Victorian sponge! She loved it. 


According to Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, a"Victoria Sandwiches" should be: 

4 eggs
Their weight in pounded sugar, butter and flour
1/4 saltspoonful of salt
A layer of any kind of jam or marmalade.

Beat the butter to a cream; dredge in the flour and pounded sugar; stir these ingredients well together, and add the eggs, which should be previously thoroughly whisked. When the mixture has been well beaten for about 10 minutes, butter a Yorkshire-pudding tin, pour in the batter, and bake it in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool, spread one half of the cake with a layer of nice preserve, place over it the other half of the cake, press the pieces slightly together, and then cut it into long finger-pieces; pile them in cross bars on a glass dish, and serve. Time. — 20 minutes. Average cost, 1s 3d. Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable at any time.


Afternoon tea is wonderful to enjoy with friends in the garden. Relaxing around a pretty table, using the best china with bit size cakes and a pot of tea is rather perfect. This is the time to put your worries away and enjoy time with friends. For the ladies it's the lovely excuse to get dressed up!

Traditional teatime is four o'clock; however any time between two and five o'clock is appropriate for certain areas.


What is the differences between cream tea, afternoon tea, high tea and royal tea:

* A 'Cream Tea' is usually just scones with cream and preserves served with tea.

* 'Afternoon Tea' is traditionally sandwiches, scones and a selection of cakes, served with tea.

* 'High tea' compromising of more savoury foods and an altogether heartier meal, historically taken by the lower classes.

* 'Royal Tea' is a less widely used term signifying the addition of a glass of champagne to a traditional Afternoon Tea, for those extra special occasions!  (source: Afternoon tea.co.uk)

Tea in the Afternoon by Charles Edward Chambers

However, not every afternoon tea needs to be posh. Afternoon tea for one is just as enjoyable -  a pretty mug, a pot of tea, some dainty sandwiches on a tray next to the flower  garden is just pleasant. This is a perfect time for reading a book, listening to nature, time for some quiet contemplation or getting your daily dose of vitamin D. 

Afternoon Tea by An He

Even in the middle of winter one can enjoy afternoon tea by a sunny window such as in this Susan Rios painting. It is nice to have a break in the afternoon after a busy day and taking the time to catch one's breath. 
Susan Rios

Sandra Kuck

Afternoon tea is often associated with elegant china such as Wedgwood or Royal Dolton.   These manufacturers still hand paint (with gold) the most expensive versions of their china, perhaps out of reach for most of us!! One can still serve a beautiful afternoon tea without all the expensive china, thrift stores are great places to find old fashion cups and sauces and even cake stands and plates. 


May you enjoy your next afternoon tea !

*****

Comments

  1. I am a great fan of afternoon tea its a lovely excuse to get out my beautiful tea set and share it with friends and family.

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  2. Beautiful post, Jo. I love the pictures you have selected. Wish we still had such beautiful dresses to wear! I'm having Scottish tea today and wondering how the vote is going to go over there. (and in response to your comment on my blog about sweaters that pill, I have no suggestion, except perhaps an electric "sweater shaver" I've heard of but never tried. And I'd love to learn to be a better seamstress and make some of my own clothing!)

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    1. These dresses of the past were so feminine and pretty compared to anything today :(

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  3. Afternoon tea is a great addition to the day! :) I'm looking forward to sharing many opportunities to use my pretty china with my daughter over the years!! Lovely paintings and photos! :)

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    1. They are always so nice outside in the sunshine :) This time of the year is the best for afternoon teas!

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  4. I love art and beautiful photographs like in your header. I'm visiting from Essential Things Devotions and I'm now following on GFC. My favorite type of "tea" is "high tea." The Brits use the term "tea" to include dinner. I'm an American mom/missionary living in South Africa. My weekend blog hop is live at
    http://abooksandmore.blogspot.com/2014/09/home-decor-4-and-weekend-linky.html

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting :) My father always refers to his evening meal as tea which is quite an old fashion and now very outdated term, I refer to the same meal as dinner. Dad has his "dinner" in the middle of the day when I have lunch!! It can be all very confusing. High tea here is a combination of hot and cold including those little sandwiches. I will pop over and say hi soon :))

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    2. We call the evening meal "tea" (we don't mind being old-fashioned!), and we call the meal in the middle of the day "lunch". Always have. Did you know that the word "dinner" was originally an old French word that referred to breakfast??

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    3. Found this on Wikipedia: Lower-middle and working-class people, especially from the North of England, traditionally call their midday meal dinner and their evening meal (served around 6 pm) tea, whereas the upper social classes would call the midday meal lunch (or luncheon), and the evening meal (served after 7 pm) dinner (if formal) or supper (often eaten later in the evening).

      Its all very interesting how different terms are used by different people!! I changed to dinner in the evening when I went to school in the city because the girls didn't understand "tea"!!

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    4. LOL! I had no idea that "lunch" is a term used by the upper class! We have an interesting mix here then - upper class "lunch" and lower/working class "tea"... haha!

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    5. Lovely post. Thank you. I am English, and have lived in England most of my life. Clara, I am the same as you. Lunch is our midday meal, and we have 'tea' in the early evening usually, which is our main meal. I have always thought we were a bit funny with our mixed-up terms. We will, however, occasionally go out for a meal in the evening and that, we call 'dinner' : )

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    6. That is really interesting! I didn't know the English still used the term 'tea' for the evening meal! Our household has a bit of a mixed bag of names for meals from time to time - my husband is American, so on occasion he calls our midday meal "dinner" and our evening meal "supper". Nowadays he mostly uses the terms I've always used - after years of marriage, he's been influenced and 'converted'!! ;) hehe!

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    7. What an interesting topic - I must my Facebook readers what they call each meal!!

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  5. I enjoyed this post very much, Jo! The paintings and pictures were lovely to the eyes and history is a favorite subject of mine :) My favorite memory of tea was on my honeymoon at the Empress Hotel (an old castle) in Victoria Island, Canada... The high tea with my new husband was very enchanting (how sweet of him to accompany me!)... The layers of beautiful plates on the pedestal with magnificent finger foods was a delight! Thank you for sharing your wonderful posts on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week ;)

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    1. Thanks Jes - a beautiful afternoon tea is just so special - sometimes my daughter-in-law, her mother, her aunt and I go out to one at one of the posh hotels and we feel like important ladies for a few hours.

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  6. Oh, I love these! Especially the last one--so sweet! My daughters enjoy having tea with me, and I'm so thankful for the sweet fellowship we have together. Please stop by sometime!

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    1. So glad you liked these :) I can remember as a little girl playing "afternoon tea" with my dolls, which is why, I too, like that last painting. Have a wonderful and blessed weekend.

      :)

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