Legend has it that afternoon tea was started in the mid-1800s by the Duchess of Bedford.
Around this time, gas or oil light was introduced in wealthier homes, and eating a late dinner
(around eight or nine PM) became fashionable.
At the time, there were only two meals each day — a mid-morning,
breakfast like meal and the other was an increasingly late dinner-like meal.
The story goes that the Duchess found herself with a “sinking feeling” (likely fatigue from hunger
during the long wait between meals) and decided to have some friends over for assorted snacks and tea
(a very fashionable drink at the time).
The idea of an afternoon tea gathering spread across high society and became a favorite pastime of ladies of leisure.
Later, it spread beyond the highest elites and became more accessible for some other socioeconomic groups.
Today, we still celebrate this concept of gathering daily to enjoy “Time for Tea” and socialize with friends and family.
Interestingly, the social dynamic which is created by the ritual is seen as more important that the drink itself.