In Britain during the early 19th century, luncheon was typically small, and dinner was not served until well after 7 pm, so people were hungry by late afternoon. In 1840, Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, introduced “afternoon tea”, a light meal of tea and cakes or sandwiches served in the late afternoon. Afternoon tea (served between 4-6 pm) and high tea (served between 5-7 pm) remain lasting British traditions to this day.
A guide to the fifty best tea rooms in the UK . . . for those with epicurean taste.
"Fifty" is the key word in evaluating, with the help of designated tea lovers, unbiased surveys and professional opinions – which tea rooms are finally chosen for the year to be in this distinguished list of fifty.
These five criteria must be met to qualify as one of "The Fifty Best Tea Rooms in the U.K.":
1. To have a proprietor who has earned a reputation for stability and excellence for at least the past five years.
2. The wide assortment of teas must be appealing and of the finest in quality.
3. Serve outstanding food, which perfectly complements the teas.
4. The staff must be courteous, knowledgeable and professional.
5. The decor must be attractive; the ambience pleasing.