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Afternoon Tea in England

afternoon tea

In England tea is consumed all day long: in the morning and afternoon, in the evening and of course also in between. The term “Five o’clock Tea” that is often used in german-speaking countries, is entirely unknown to the British. This world-renowned tradition of enjoying tea in the afternoon is actually called “Afternoon Tea”. British tea culture developed as early as the 17th century and today reaches even beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. It consists of many traditions, each with their own meaning – from Early Morning Tea and Cream Tea to Afternoon Tea, Royal Tea and Bedtime Tea. Drinking tea has been and always will be part of the British way of life and their daily routine. It is no wonder that in England more than 2 kilos of tea are being consumed per person every year, an amount that grants them 9th place in the world ranking of tea consumption.

It’s tea time!
Due to its high price only the elite was initially able to afford and enjoy tea, which quickly turned it into a status symbol. Queen Anne made tea for breakfast popular and it also became fashion to enjoy tea in public places. About a century later the famous Afternoon Tea made its first appearance, thanks to Anna, Duchess of Bedford. In the beginning it was simply a means to an end, since supper was usually served very. To prevent her famous fits of dizziness she enjoyed a little snack in the afternoon (between 3 and 5 p.m.) that is today known as Afternoon Tea, the lovely tradition of enjoying tea with sweet and savoury delicacies. During Afternoon Tea, or Low Tea, Scones, Shortbread, Cakes and Sandwiches with cucumber, salmon and paté are served, traditionally at a lower table (hence the name). Even more elaborate versions of this ritual are Royal Tea, where also champagne and sherry are served and High Tea. Served at the dinner table, or high table, it is basically an early cold supper between 6 and 7 p.m. that is held for special occasions. For High Tea you can enjoy cold roast, chicken, salads, cooked vegetables, cake and fruit.

Scones, Clotted Cream & Co.
The simplest form of Afternoon Tea is Cream Tea, where only scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam are served. Scones are a pastry made from flour, baking soda, eggs and sweet milk, that is broken in two halves and topped with clotted cream, a type of cream made from unpasteurized milk, and jam. With it the British enjoy only black tea with a dash of milk, preferably non-flavoured strong blends. Traditionally the tea is prepared by leaving the loose tea leaves in the teapot and – once the tea gets too strong – filled up with hot water again.


“Kluntje & Rohm” for Teetied in Eastern Frisia


Ostfriesische Teestunde

Tea has been popular in Eastern Frisia since the late 18th century and they developed a unique and interesting tea culture, where the eastern Frisian tea time (Teetied) is an important part of daily life. Tea is also offered as a welcome, that no guest should deny. Only after the third cup one can put the spoon in the cup to signal the host, that one does not wish for more tea.

The typical blends are aromatic teas from Assam, since their strong flavour can’t be harmed by their hard water. Besides the tea the ceremony calls for “Kluntje” (large pieces of rock sugar) and “Rohm” (cream). As the saying goes „Tee as Ölje, Kluntje as’n Sliepsteen un Rohm as’n Wulkje“ (Tea as dark and strong as oil, sugar as big as a grindstone and cream like a cloud).

As for preparation: put a large piece of rock sugar in the cup, pour hot tea over it (you can hear the sugar crack), dip the cream spoon in the hot tea quickly and then pour the cream into the cup slowly in small drops. If you succeeded small white clouds (Wulkje) should rise from the tea. Stirring is forbidden, so one can enjoy the three different experiences in taste – the mildness of the cream, the strong flavour of the tea and at last the sweetness of the rock sugar.


Austrian tea culture

Teekultur Österreich

Us Austrians might not be able to look back on festive rituals filled with great tradition when it comes to tea, nevertheless Austrian tea culture has been established a long time ago. Tea reached Europe in the 16th century through a dutch commercial fleet and quickly took over England and Spain. In the beginning of the 18th century the Austrian aristocracy had followed. Tea was consumed regularly for breakfast in the lower Austrian upper class. Vienna celebrated exclusive tea parties on Sundays. Even the general public consumed tea in great amounts. It might have been used as a base for spirits and schnapps, but it was tea nonetheless and created what today is a typical Austrian specialty: the famous “Jagertee” – a strong black tea with rum.

Since the 1990s tea is on the rise and trends change quickly. From sweet Rooibos to earthy Pu Erh to refreshing Matcha, Austria knows all the variety and specialties of tea. Today every third Austrian has a cup of tea per day, which makes a total of 3000 tons per year. Compared to tea nations like Ireland or Poland, which consume about 2 or 3 times as much, Austria might still have a lot of catching up to do. Both tradition and culture linked to tea as well as the trend to live more consciously and healthy give tea a boost. Especially high quality teas are becoming more and more popular, leaving teabags behind in the shelves. It’s hardly surprising, considering how diversified tea can be, cold and hot, strong and sweet, pure or blended, and always an indulgence. With the seemingly endless variety of tea there is the right taste for everyone.

Austrians mostly prefer herbal and fruit infusions, followed by black and green tea..