Afternoon tea is generally considered an old English tradition, but it actually only dates back to Victorian times. It was started by one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, who complained of a ‘sinking feeling’ at about four or five in the afternoon. Since the fashionable hour to eat dinner was at around half past eight, it’s easy to see why she felt there was room for some genteel snacking in the afternoon. She began inviting friends to join her and the tradition of afternoon tea in the upper classes was born, soon to be imitated by the middle classes.
For the lower class of people who had their main meal in the middle of the day, such as my main character Victoria and her family, afternoon tea was a luxury they couldn’t often indulge in. Though Victoria does once have friends to tea on a weekend as a special treat! Tea itself had a bit of a struggle for popularity with the established drink of the day- weak beer. However, alcohol began to get an increasingly bad press and temperance movements recommended replacing it with tea. After that it wasn’t long before tea took over as the drink of choice. And the rest is history!
Did you know? Tea replaced beer at about the same time as mills began refining flour to make white bread. As a result of these two things nutrition levels in Victorian Britain plummeted due to the lack of grain in people’s new diets.
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