Afternoon Tea in Kent
When we think about afternoon tea – that most quintessential of English traditions – we conjure up images of fine bone china cups and three-tiered platters filled with finger sandwiches, cakes, and scones with lashings of jam and cream.
Is there a better place to indulge in this ritual than the Garden of England itself? We think not. The lush, historic region of Kent is filled with chocolate-box cottages, rambling castles, distinctive cone-shaped oast houses, vineyards and orchards, and of course a delightful selection of tea rooms.
Before we show you why afternoon tea in Kent is a match made in heaven, let’s have a quick look at the origins of this custom.
The Great English Tradition of Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea has a rich and flavoursome history dating back to the early 1840s, when dinner was served at the fashionably late hour of 8 or 9 pm. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, complained of feeling faint in the afternoon as her energy levels dipped. To combat this, she asked for a pot of tea and some light snacks to be brought to her boudoir mid-afternoon.
Over time, she began inviting friends to join her at Woburn Abbey to exchange news and gossip over tea and cakes, and this afternoon interlude was an instant success. The duchess continued the ritual when she returned to London, and before long it was adopted by all of fashionable society, and eventually by society as a whole.
The Ingredients for a Perfect Afternoon Tea
Traditionally, afternoon tea begins with delicate finger sandwiches with a selection of fillings, including thinly sliced cucumber. Next are scones, served with preserves and clotted cream, and finally a selection of cakes and pastries.
To accompany this, tea from India or Ceylon is brewed in a silver pot and served in bone-china cups.
Traditions vary from region to region. While tea connoisseurs debate the merits of tea or milk first in their cups, a fierce debate rages between Devon and Cornwall over whether to spread jam or cream first over the scone.
Kent, a Beautiful Destination for Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea in Kent is a tradition honoured with style. Whether you prefer to take your tea in stately homes and country houses, or gardens and quaint tea rooms, there is a wonderful selection of venues dotted around the rich countryside, along the stunning coastline, and in the towns and villages.
The orchards of Kent produce some of the finest fruit in England and the county is renowned for its locally made preserves, which make an excellent accompaniment to the scones and cream. But are they spread on the scone before the cream? Well, that’s entirely up to you.