zaterdag 10 januari 2009

How afternoon tea was invented - part 1

The English ceremony of Afternoon Tea dates back to the 1840s but rather than being 'invented', it actually evolved out of the rituals and routines that had surrounded tea drinking in Britain before that time.

The English started drinking tea in the late 1650s and as both the brewed beverage and the dry loose leaves were extremely expensive, it immediately became the drink of the royal family and the aristocracy. Wealthy gentlemen drank their tea in London's coffee houses and upper class ladies bought very small amounts of loose leaf tea and drank the brew at home with their friends and family.

The ships that carried the tea from China and Japan to Europe also brought in, as part of their cargo, porcelain tea pots, tea bowls and neat little jars for storing the tea. Like the new exotic drink, these attracted the attention of the rich who bought some for their own use at home. They were stored, not in the kitchens or dining room cupboards, but on shelves in the lady's private closet - a small room near or next to her bedchamber where she received visitors and offered them some refreshment. From the 1660s, that refreshment was usually tea.

Because the tea itself was so expensive, the servants were not allowed to handle the precious leaves and the lady of the house kept it in the little Chinese jars in her closet alongside the tea bowls and pots. When she wanted to serve tea to her friends, a servant would arrange the furniture, set all the tea brewing equipment on a small table and bring in a kettle of boiling water. Then the lady herself warmed the pot, took the little cap of her tea jar, measured the correct amount into the pot and poured on the boiling water. When the tea had brewed, she poured it into the little translucent, handleless, Chinese bowls and served them to her guests.

3 opmerkingen:

  1. Beste Annick,

    Ik vind het een schitterend idee.
    Ik wens je dan ook heel veel succes.
    Dunja en ik zullen zeker eens langskomen na de examens.
    Tot later.

  2. Dag Vera,
    Bedankt voor je leuke reactie! Tot binnenkort!

  3. I wrote a post about how to have English tea and put a link in there to this post, I hope that’s ok! : )