Anyone for Tea?

June 7, 2011

Afternoon Tea is a British tradition going back 150 years.

It is said to have originated with the 7th Duchess of Bedford who found she got peckish mid afternoon and took a pot of tea and a light snack in her private boudoir.

At this time tea was an expensive commodity in Britain, a far cry from the drink of the people it has become. The Duchess of Bedford began inviting friends to join her for afternoon tea whilst at Woburn over the Summer. It was so popular that on her return to London she, and many other fashionable hostesses, continued the practice in the elegant drawing rooms of high society.

For the record, High Tea is something altogether different. A far more substantial meal taken around 6pm by the working classes when they get in from work!

Now afternoon tea can mean anything but a light snack. A traditional afternoon tea menu can feature finger sandwiches, a selection of cakes and scones served with cream and jam.  Visitors to the UK see afternoon tea as an essential British ritual and it is available everywhere from corner tea rooms to high class hotels.

Sadly most of us have to go out to work all day and the practice of taking a leisurely afternoon meal whilst gossiping with friends isn’t really part of our everyday lives.

It’s ideal as a treat, or a weekend indulgence, and whilst hotels that serve champagne with afternoon tea can be on the pricy side, there are tea rooms and cafes that offer it at a bargain price!

Here are some local suggestions if you fancy treating yourself to Afternoon Tea:

Biddy’s Tea Room

A Vintage Norwich favourite. Afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, cake and tea starts at just £6.75 per person.

The Assembly House

An elegant setting, for a real treat. Finger sandwiches cake and tea starts at £25 for 2. Add Champagne for special occasions for £5 per person.

St Giles House Hotel

Another elegant hotel in Norwich with beautiful decor. Afternoon tea is £11.50 per person for tea, sandwiches, cake and scones with cream and jam. The hotel has a bar where cocktails and champagne can be ordered.

Café Benjamin – Jarrolds

From 3:30pm every Wednesday afternoon Jarrolds department store cafe serves an afternoon tea consisting of sandwiches, blinis, brioche, handmade pastries, mini scones with cream and jam plus tea or coffee for £12.50 per person.

Plantation Gardens

Norwich’s rediscovered Victorian gardens offer afternoon tea every Sunday between 2:30-4:30pm from April to September. Tea and cake is just £2.50.


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Gemma is one of the UK’s top vintage lifestyle bloggers at Retro Chick. She has lived in Norwich since she graduated university and feels passionately that Norwich has a great deal to offer anyone who’s interested in vintage or alternative cultures, if only they know where to find it.

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