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Where to Find Afternoon Tea in London

Where to Find Afternoon Tea in London

Where to Find Afternoon Tea in London

Cucumber sandwiches are a must!

Photo: Shutterstock

Tea drinking has been popular in Britain since the 17th century, when the great diarist Samuel Pepys recorded drinking his first “Cupp of Tee,” in September 1660, but it was a 19th-century duchess who popularized Britain’s signature ritual. Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, was reacting against the pesky Victorian trend of eating dinner at 9 p.m. when she instituted a mid-afternoon stopgap of tea with rounds of bread and jam that quickly caught on with the neighbors.

It took the gregarious Edwardians to elevate this humble snack into a social event, by taking tea out of the home and into the lobbies of London’s fashionable hotels, such as the Savoy in Covent Garden, which still does it best, and Claridge’s in Mayfair. Wherever you end up, if you don’t find cucumber sandwiches, and scones with clotted cream (always from Devon or Cornwall), you’re doing something wrong.

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