Tea is a staple in many cultures. In particular, tea time holds a special place in the hearts of many tea drinkers. Whether it's high tea, afternoon tea, or elevenses, tea time is a chance to sit down, relax, and enjoy some delicious food and tea. So how did this tradition begin?
Tea drinking as a societal norm in Europe was ushered in by the Spanish royalty in the mid-1660s. By the late 1800s, drinking tea was all the rage in Great Britain, and the British royalty had set a dedicated time for tea and snacks. This tea time fell at roughly 4 o'clock PM, between a reasonably timed lunch and the customary 8 o'clock PM dinner time. Thus “afternoon tea” was written into history and strictly maintained by the tea-loving Brits. By the early 1900s, there were several different times throughout the day when royals and regular folk alike sat down all over Britain to take tea and light snacks.
Tea time prevails because people everywhere are hungry for consistency and a continued sense of tradition. Many uphold afternoon tea and elevenses—introduced in the mid-1900s, it’s tea and snacks served at 11 AM as a “second breakfast”—as the law of the land simply because it has always been done in their life. Like most traditions, tea time is comfortable and brings joy.
The different tea services also gave people the chance to visit and to teach young people the proper way to socialize. This is why minding manners and being polite is often associated with afternoon tea time. Through the years, it as a social gathering that had many functions. In addition to polite conversation and manner lessons, there were political and business ventures that could be settled over tea. More simply, tea time put everyone in a room together and made them address each other with conversation, witty exchanges, and social performances.
Overall, tea time has endured history for its ability to bring people together. From folks who know nothing about tea to the most well-read tea aficionados, tea time is a common ground for people to talk, enjoy each other’s company and—most importantly—enjoy a cup of tea and a few treats together. While we at Culinary Teas have many cutting-edge tea gadgets and unique tea flavors, we also love keeping tea simple and enjoying its deep history.