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BBC News – In praise of non-political tea parties

Afternoon Tea - English Style

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While the idea of breaking mid-afternoon for a sedate, superfluous meal, might seem at odds with the demands of this time-pressed, efficiency-conscious era, it made perfect sense in the 1830s when the tradition began.

Children love to have pretend tea parties with their toys as well as with their friends. You can turn their tea party into a reality by letting them help make food they can eat. Even very young children will enjoy making food themselves, whether it is cutting sandwiches into shapes with cookie cutters or threading fruit onto straws. The perfect tea party is a combination of sweet and savoury goodies and getting them involved in making the food definitely adds an extra element of fun.

Anna, Duchess of Bedford, is the woman commonly credited with inventing afternoon tea – establishing it as an occasion for upper-class women to trade gossip while filling up between a light lunch and a late dinner, says Andrea Tanner, archivist at London store Fortnum & Mason, which has long hosted afternoon teas. Those with an eye for historical dates may wonder why the invention of tea parties post-dated the Boston Tea Party – from which America’s current right-wing movement draws its inspiration – by about 50 years.  The anomaly might be explained by historian Alfred Young, who said the term “Boston Tea Party” did not appear in print until 1834 – before that it was known simply as the “destruction of the tea”. “In the Victorian era, having an economically useless wife was a sign of some prestige,” says Ms Tanner, noting how the occasion took hold and a tradition was born. By the early 20th Century the event had begun to trickle down through the social strata. Afternoon tea became a feature of expensive hotels and smart department stores, and tea houses such as ABC Tea Shops and Lyons Corner Houses.

via BBC News – In praise of non-political tea parties.

And a favourite tea song, the classic Everything Stops for Tea, sung by Jack Buchanan, from the 1935 film Come Out of the Pantry:

Featured in Buchanan’s 1935 comedy film, “Come Out Of The Pantry”
Jack Buchanan

Every nation in creation has its favourite drink
France is famous for its wine, it’s beer in Germany
Turkey has its coffee and they serve it blacker than ink
Russians go for vodka and England loves its tea

Oh, the factories may be roaring
With a boom-a-lacka, zoom-a-lacka, wee
But there isn’t any roar when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea

Oh, a lawyer in the courtroom
In the middle of an alimony plea
Has to stop and help ’em pour when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea

It’s a very good English custom
Though the weather be cold or hot
When you need a little pick-up, you’ll find a little tea cup
Will always hit the spot

You remember Cleopatra
Had a date to meet Mark Anthony at three
When he came an hour late she said “You’ll have to wait”
For everything stops for tea

Oh, they may be playing football
And the crowd is yelling “Kill the referee!”
But no matter what the score, when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea

Oh, the golfer may be golfing
And is just about to make a hole-in-three
But it always gets them sore when the clock yells “four!”
Everything stops for tea

It’s a very good English custom
And a stimulant for the brain
When you feel a little weary, a cup’ll make you cheery
And it’s cheaper than champagne

Now I know just why Franz Schubert
Didn’t finish his unfinished symphony
He might have written more but the clock struck four
And everything stops for tea

Strange Random Tea Party Quote:

Another novelty is the tea-party, an extraordinary meal in that, being offered to persons that have already dined well, it supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment.   – Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

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