Posted by web_administrator | Category : The Bull
With the completion of The Bull Hotel’s stunning new Conservatory Lounge, comes the introduction of our delicious new Bull Hotel Afternoon Tea. The Lounge’s relaxing ambience, its comfortable, stylish chairs and the beautiful view of the hotel’s striking gardens, means it is the perfect place to sit down, relax and indulge in this luxurious English tradition.
However, Afternoon and High Tea is often a misnomer. Most people often refer to Afternoon Tea as High Tea because they think it sounds regal and lofty when in reality, High Tea or “meat tea” is dinner. American hotels and tea rooms continue to misunderstand and offer titbits of fancy pastries and cakes on delicate china when they offer a “High Tea.”
Afternoon Tea is also called “low tea” because it was usually taken in a sitting room or drawing room where low tables (like a coffee table) were placed near sofas or chairs.
The concept and tradition of Afternoon Tea derives from England and has an interesting history before appearing as it does today on our new Lounge menu.
It all began on December 31, 1600 when Queen Elizabeth I granted permission for the charter of the British East India Company to establish trade routes, ports, and trading relationships with the Far East, South East Asia, and India allowing the first imports of tea.
The reign of Charles II was crucial in laying the foundations for the growth of the British tea trade. In 1662, King Charles II, while in exile, married the Portuguese Catherine de Braganza. Catherine’s dowry was the largest ever registered in world history and Portugal also gave to England the permission for the British to use all the ports in the Portuguese colonies in Africa, Asia and America, thus giving England their first direct trading rights to tea.
Both confirmed tea drinkers they brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them. Her influence made tea more popular amongst the wealthier classes of society and soon tea mania spread across England and became the beverage of choice in English high society, replacing ale as the national drink. By 1700, 12 years after the opening of The Bull Hotel, tea was on sale in more than 500 coffee houses in London.
Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and the lady in waiting to Queen Victoria is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.
The Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walk in the fields.” Other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long, all of fashionable society were sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon. This was the very beginnings of the tradition of Afternoon Tea.
It is nice to know that such a popular and scrumptious English custom is still going strong. The Bull Hotel has brought the tradition into the 21st Century with the menu consisting of a variety of teas, cakes, desserts and for those who feel really indulgent and want to go against tradition why not add a glass of champagne – go on treat your self!
Menus and prices are available from the reception desk and on the Bull Hotel’s website.
Written by Michelle Mayes, Front Office Manager at The Bull